Monday, December 22, 2014

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: EU Gives Hamas Green Light to Attack Israel
The EU court's decision represents a "severe blow to the Palestinian Authority and Egypt," according to Palestinian political analyst Raed Abu Dayer.
Any victory for Hamas, albeit a small and symbolic one, is a victory for the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalist groups, and causes tremendous damage to those Muslims who are opposed to radical Islam.
Hours before the EU court's decision was made public, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar announced that his movement would never recognize Israel, and that Hamas seeks to overthrow the Palestinian Authority and seize control of the West Bank.
The EU court's decision also coincided with a rapprochement between Hamas and Iran. Now, the Iranians and other countries, such as Turkey and Qatar, are likely to interpret the EU court's decision as a green light to resume financial and military aid, including rockets and missiles, to Hamas — not only to Gaza but to the West Bank as well — to support those Palestinians whose aim it is to eliminate Israel.
Europe doesn't care about dead Jews
As long as Europe maintains its prejudice against Israel, Israelis will have little reason to believe that further concessions will win them Europe’s favor.
Instead, they will continue to shrug their shoulders and rightfully recall that the “goyim” are always against us and will remain so despite the Palestinian terrorism that will inevitably follow the next concession.
At the same time, Europe’s obsession with Israel leads Palestinians to view Europe and the international community, their institutions, and the various pro-Palestinian non-governmental organizations they fund as tools and forums which can be utilized to force Israel to meet their demands outside of a negotiated peace. With Europe as their advocate, they can win concessions – as they did with the 2005 disengagement, the 2010 settlement freeze and the recent release of 78 terrorists – before negotiations even begin or merely for participating in negotiations. There is no need for them to relinquish their quest for Israel’s ultimate destruction, or cease acts of terrorism and indoctrination, incitement and funding of terrorism.
Even more disturbing than the negative consequences for the prospects for true peace is the unspoken, but readily apparent disregard for Jewish life implied by these European resolutions and actions.
Israel’s security concerns are real. A century of Palestinian violence against Jews is not a mere excuse that Israel conjures to avoid Palestinian statehood or other concessions. Europeans, however, are unfazed. Even as Palestinians plow their cars into pedestrians with encouragement from Palestinian Authority institutions, European officials do not even attempt to explain why Israelis shouldn’t worry about the concessions they demand. They want Israel to give the Palestinians what they believe the Palestinians deserve, even if unaccompanied by a termination of violence on the part of the Palestinians. If that results in more dead Jews, that is none of their concern.
How the State Department Annually Perpetuates Palestinian Misery
This constitutes an UNRWA commitment to update its human resources manuals, nothing more. There is no mention of UNRWA's refusal to use U.S. or Israeli terror watch lists to ensure any commitment to combat terrorism.
The unreality is compounded by the still more ludicrous statement that the U.S. "notes with appreciation efforts taken by UNRWA during the course of 2014 to strengthen the Agency's neutrality compliance, including but not limited to the development of social media guidelines for official UNRWA communications…"
Whether the UNRWA spokesman crying on camera while being interviewed constitutes "neutrality compliance" is unclear, as is the celebration of the recent Jerusalem murders of rabbis on  the Facebook pages of UNRWA teachers [EOZ link]. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect UNRWA employees, the vast majority of whom are Palestinian, to express neutrality. But if that is the case, then the Framework's endorsement of "UNRWA's human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance education program" may also be questioned, or at least its implementation.
But a deeper look at the document and the background of the American commitment to UNRWA suggests another vast disconnect. The framework states "All U.S. foreign assistance programs are required to demonstrate performance and accountability, and clearly link programming and funding directly to U.S. policy goals." How prolonging the Palestinian "refugee" issue through the permanent institutionalizing of UNRWA serves U.S. policy goals is mystifying.
Beyond that, UNRWA officials at the top continue to defend the Palestinian "right of return," in speeches as well as on official web pages, not to mention its pervasive promotion in UNRWA schools. How does promoting the Palestinian ideology that they are entitled to return to places once occupied by parents, grandparents and great-grandparents which are now in Israel, and in the process transform Israel into a Jewish minority state, serve U.S. policy, much less the cause of peace?

JCPA: Iran Accelerates Arming of Hizbullah and Hamas for Possible Clash with Israel
The Encirclement of Israel
Iran does not obscure its security concept but rather gives it public expression. Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank form inseparable components of this doctrine, which Iran updates from time to time. In Iran’s view, the steadily developing rocket capabilities of both Hizbullah and the Palestinians – capabilities that Iran, with Khamenei’s encouragement, is striving to extend to the West Bank as well – constitute a main element of the deterrence against Israel that Iran seeks to develop. The aim is to deter Israel from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities – or, if Israel nonetheless decides to attack, to use these rocket capabilities as a key part of its retaliatory response.
In this context, under Khamenei’s direction, Iran views the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as a single unit under Hamas’ leadership. Consequently, Iran is gradually improving its relations with Hamas after they hit a nadir with the eruption of the Arab Spring in Syria and the removal of Hamas’s headquarters from Damascus. Iran now hopes that Hamas will rule the West Bank as well as Gaza, and will develop similar capabilities in the West Bank to threaten Israel.
From a broader perspective, Iran, as statements by its senior officials suggest, is working to encircle Israel from the north (Hizbullah), the south (Gaza), and the east (the West Bank) and to turn the rocket threat into an unbroken ring around Israeli territory.
This Iranian activity is incessant, and it includes persistent smuggling of weapons into Gaza as well as shipments and convoys to Hizbullah via Syria. According to foreign reports, sometimes Israel thwarts these weapons shipments in Syrian territory; they are viewed as posing a threat to the IDF’s freedom of action in Lebanon or to Israeli naval craft and strategic sites. These reports note that some of the weapons destroyed in an attack on December 7, 2014 included advanced Russian-made antiaircraft systems (perhaps the S-300 SA), Fateh-110 missiles (see below), and Iranian UAVs.
Revealed: The "Mass Uprising" That Was Not Spontaneous
For years, Palestinian leaders and their media allies have claimed that the "Second Intifada" (a.k.a. The Oslo War), the mass violence of 2000-2006, was a "spontaneous" uprising against Israeli "oppression."
But occasionally they tell the truth: it wasn't spontaneous at all. It was organized by the Palestinian Authority leadership itself.
Last week Mahmoud al-Zahar, co-founder of Hamas and its former foreign minister, let the cat out of the bag in an interview with the Hamas television station, Al Aqsa TV, on December 12. He revealed that PA chairman Yasir Arafat himself personally approved of Hamas's terrorist attacks as part of the Second Intifada. Not only that, but Arafat provided Hamas with weapons to carry out the attacks.
Al-Zahar revealed that the PA and Fatah -- the political party also chaired by Arafat -- set up a terrorist front group in Gaza called "Omar Al-Mukhtar." It carried out attacks against Israelis and transferred weapons, including RPG grenade launchers, to Hamas. A senior official of Arafat's Preventive Security Forces personally coordinated the relationships with Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh.
CAMERA: The price of Israeli restraint
Israel emphasizes restraint and expects a world enamored of the “Palestinian narrative” of dispossession and oppression (serial rejection and self-inflicted damage are more accurate) to approve. It periodically releases hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, many with the blood of murdered Israelis on their hands, in exchange for one or two captured soldiers or their bodies. This is done both to keep faith with the prisoners of war and their families and ostensibly to “build Palestinian confidence” in negotiations for a “two-state solution.”
Both actions apparently miss the point. Except for Egypt, particularly in 1967 and 1973, war has not yet been hell for Israel’s enemies. Allowed to keep thinking that time is on their side, that provocation won’t spark an overwhelming response a la “the Powell doctrine” against Iraqi forces in Kuwait in 1991, and able to use images of destruction caused by Israeli self-defense to demonize the Jewish state, they keep fighting.
“Tohar haNeshek?” Of course—as proportionately applied to a legitimate military objective. But what if, over time, fighting for “calm” instead of victory contributes to domestic weariness and international hostility to the exercise of the right of self-defense, no matter how proportional?
When it comes to Hamas, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority and their supporters, who and what is the enemy and what is the military-political objective? Is it a series of truces broken by the Palestinian side, serially re-imposed by Israel, each forcible re-imposition providing selected fodder for the enemy’s psychological warfare objectives? Repeated, indecisive “wars for calm” can dispirit the Israeli home front and contribute to delegitimizing the state abroad. If the objective is renewing the Jewish state’s legitimacy and at last securing it against implacable foes, the level of what’s militarily proportional may need to be raised, the bar for corresponding restraint lowered, say to the standard at which the United States and coalition allies operate elsewhere in the greater Middle East.
Strasbourg’s world: Hamas is not terrorism and Palestine is a State
Still, something way more saddening is the EU Court’s decision to reconsider its 2003 choice to put Hamas on the blacklist, made after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and after those of the Second Intifada. The Court stresses that its choice was based on merely procedural grounds: Hamas contested the measures in the light of another similar action by the Sri-Lankan Tamil Tigers.
As in the Tigers’ case, the General Court decided that the allegations against Hamas are backed up only by political news and press reports, not by suitable evidence for a court of law. The Court explains – and it appears somewhat preposterous in this, since we all had the misfortune to see the blood shed by Hamas’ hands – that the organization will be put back in the list if evidence is presented in the next three months. Yet, Hamas rejoices for now.
The 28 judges of the EU Court have been law-abiding, but all this could pave the way for some dangerous legalistic procedures. However slippery the definition of “terrorist” may be, Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its principles are comparable to those of ISIS. In order to seize the power in Gaza in 2007, Hamas threw its Fatah enemies from the roofs; when Osama Bin Laden was killed, Ismail Haniyeh condemned the US.
Palestinians Are Not Ready for Palestine
Against this unstable backdrop of conflict and mayhem, the push for establishment of a Palestinian state is as strong as it has ever been. European governments are passing resolutions supporting an independent Palestine and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is seeking a UN resolution on the matter with the utmost urgency.
Before I proceed further, let me state the following: I firmly believe that the Palestinians should have their own state. I believe it is the only long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I challenge those who disagree to provide a viable, long-term alternative.
With that said, I believe that the establishment of a Palestinian State at this time would be a horrible development for the Middle East and the world at large. Deserving a state and being ready for a state are two very different circumstances, and the blurring of the line between the two is dangerous for all parties. The Palestinians are currently plagued by a myriad of issues that would almost immediately classify an independent Palestine as yet another failed state in the Middle East. Particularly given the intimate proximity of a Palestinian state to Israel, a failed Palestine would serve as the ideal springboard for radical Islam to launch attacks on Israel and deepen the abyss of Middle Eastern violence to extreme levels. It is in the best interest of all world powers to avoid such an eventuality and the international ripples it would cause.
Netanyahu promises to ‘vigorously’ oppose Palestinian moves at UN
He said that the current “diplomatic attack led by the Palestinian Authority” is “designed to deny us our very right to defend ourselves and seeks to deny us the legitimacy of our very existence.”
Earlier in the day, at the weekly cabinet meeting, during which National Security Council Adviser Yossi Cohen briefed the ministers on the various moves in the diplomatic arena on the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu said: “Parts of Europe have been rife for many years with anti-Israel sentiments and anti-Semitism.”
Along with working with friends in the US and in Europe to push back against these forces, Netanyahu said Israel is “working to advance and develop new alliances and partnerships, for example with countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa and other places in the world.”
His words came on the same day PA officials said that consultations were under way with various parties aimed at paving the way for a vote on their draft resolution, which calls for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The officials said that until now they have not been able to secure the required nine votes of the Security Council permanent members. According to the officials, only seven permanent members have thus far announced their intention to vote in favor of the proposed resolution.
Abbas Zaki, a senior Fatah official, said that some countries – including the US – are seeking to delay the vote in the Security Council on the Palestinian statehood resolution.
Palestinian FM: We won’t push off UN bid until Israelis vote
The Palestinian Authority has refused to postpone a vote on a UN Security Council statehood bid until after Israel’s March 17 elections, despite international pressure, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Monday.
Separately, top PA official Saeb Erekat said the resolution will be ready for a vote “in the next few days” and denied that US Secretary of State John Kerry had urged the Palestinian leadership to push off the vote until after elections.
Recent reports indicated that Kerry had been pushing for the Palestinians to delay the vote, worrying that it could strengthen the Israeli right wing ahead of election day.
In an interview with the Palestinian Al-Ayyam newspaper, al-Maliki said the PA discussed the timing of the UN Security Council resolution with Kerry, and how it would affect the Israeli elections.
Vote on PA's Anti-Israel Resolution Likely to be Postponed
The vote on the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) unilateral resolution at the United Nations is likely to be postponed, diplomatic sources told the Walla! Hebrew-language news website on Sunday.
According to the sources, the PA wants to postpone the vote on the resolution because it realized that its current wording is unacceptable to countries such as France and Luxembourg, two countries that the PA had hoped would support the resolution.
The resolution, submitted last Wednesday by Jordan on behalf of the PA, calls for Israel to “end the occupation” - that is, to withdraw from Judea and Samaria - by 2017.
Liberman: Gaza rockets are response to EU decision to remove Hamas from terror blacklist
Friday's mortar attack from Gaza was the terrorist organizations' answer to the EU High Court of Justice's decision last week to take Hamas off the EU's list of terrorist organizations, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday.
Liberman, speaking before a meeting with visiting South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, said that South Korea understands better than most Israel's challenges and the meaning of having a threatening and menacing neighbor.
“Just last Friday a rocket was fired from Gaza into communities in the south,” Liberman said. “That was the response of the terrorist organizations in Gaza to the court decision in Europe to take Hamas off the terror list. As South Korea knows from its challenges in the struggle against terrorism, it is forbidden to send a message of weakness, and it is forbidden to give any concessions to terrorism.”
IDF Blog: Rocket Testing and Tunnel Reconstruction
Four months after the end of Operation Protective Edge, Hamas is back on track creating terror. As it commemorates 27 years since its inception, Hamas has begun to reconstruct the destroyed underground tunnels in Gaza and rebuild their weapons arsenal.
Last Friday, December 19, a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel, the third projectile launched at Israel since the IDF’s most recent operation. In response, the Israeli Air Force hit a Hamas terror site in southern Gaza.
During Operation Protective Edge, the IDF took action in Gaza to stop incessant rocket attacks from Gaza – like the one that took place last week – and stop the threat posed by underground terror tunnels. As a part of the battles that took place across Gaza, civilian structures were targeted because they were used by the terrorists to attack IDF troops.
In order to aid in the reconstruction of the coastal enclave, the IDF began to facilitate the transport of construction materials into the Gaza Strip in mid-October. Only two months later, reports indicate that Hamas has resumed investment in its terror infrastructure. Israeli media report that Hamas has started to take advantage of the import of iron and other “dual-use” materials to rebuild its rocket and missile arsenal, as well as its terror tunnel system.
Hamas conducts rocket tests in Gaza, drawing the attention of the Israeli military
The IDF said it detected rocket experiments in the Gaza Strip on Monday. During the experiments, Hamas fired rockets from Gaza towards the Mediterranean Sea.
Hamas fires rockets into the sea every few days, as part of its weapons program. The launches are used by Hamas arms designers to experiment with various projectile models.
The experiments naturally have attracted the attention of the Israel Navy.
“They are doing experiments and checking their rockets. This is a part of their domestic weapons production. We did not doubt, at the end of the war, that their focus would be on building more weapons. We monitor every such launch, noting the quality of the rocket and its range,” a senior navy source told The Jerusalem Post after the summer conflict with Hamas.
Palestinian held after trying to stab soldier
The incident took place at the Nitzanei Oz crossing near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, and there were no injuries.
“Forces at the scene stopped and apprehended the suspect and he was taken for further investigation,” the IDF said.
The foiled attack came during a period of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and a wave of unrest in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
On Sunday, two Palestinians with knives were detained by the army near the West Bank settlement of Adam, north of Jerusalem.
French driver plows into crowds ‘for children of Palestine’
At least 11 people were wounded Sunday when a motorist rammed his car into a number of crowds in the city of Dijon in eastern France.
The driver was arrested by police after targeting passersby at five different locations in the city, a police source said.
The driver, who authorities believe to be mentally unstable, was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) and “that he was acting for the children of Palestine,” a source close to the investigation said.
“The man, born in 1974, is apparently imbalanced and had been in a psychiatric hospital,” the source told AFP, adding that “for now his motives are still unclear.”
The source said nine people were lightly injured while two more were severely wounded.
The incident was reminiscent of a series of vehicular attacks by Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank over November that left several dead and over a dozen injured. (h/t Yenta Press)
1,500 Jews Find Vandalism at Joseph's Tomb for Hanukkah
After more than a month with no Jewish visitors allowed, over 1,500 Jews on Sunday night went to Kever Yosef (Joseph's Tomb) in Shechem (Nablus) located in Samaria to pray at the grave of the Jewish patriarch from the Torah - only to find it vandalized.
The Jewish visitors discovered that the electric system of the tomb compound was destroyed, with light bulbs and fluorescent light fixtures smashed, leaving the Tomb in utter darkness.
In an almost symbolic act hearkening to the Hanukkah story in which the Maccabees rededicated the Second Temple with light after the Greek occupiers desecrated it, the visitors lifted the darkness at the Tomb by lighting a massive hanukkiya (holiday candelabrum) for the sixth night of Hanukkah.
Deputy Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan noted "today, the sixth night of Hanukkah, we discovered serious vandalism: they broke the fluorescent lights, destroyed the (traditional) eternal light and again harmed this holy place. It's particularly painful to see this on the Hanukkah holiday."
"Nevertheless, we lit here together with the IDF and residents the Hanukkah candles on the roof of Kever Yosef," said Dagan. "We are certain that as opposed to our entry here today like thieves in the night, we will merit to come here openly with a flag of Israel on this site forever."
IDF forces guarded the 20 busloads of Jewish visitors, with the effort headed by Samaria Brigade Commander Col. Shai Kalper, Efraim region Commander Col. Guy Berger, and other senior officers.
Palestinians, Leftists Uproot Israeli Olive Grove
Some two hundred Palestinian Arabs descended on a Jewish-owned farm near the Samarian town of Elon Moreh and uprooted dozens of young olive trees last Friday.
Local Jewish residents and members of the Samaria Residents Committee say they had been warning for several weeks of Arab provocations and riots in the area, and had turned to authorities - but to no avail.
One member of the Committee described the deteriorating situation in the area as akin to "Bil'in", referring to the Arab village that is the scene of regular violent riots by Palestinian and foreign left-wing activists.
The Israeli owner of the olive grove in question told how he rushed to the scene and saw Arab and left-wing activists begin uprooting his trees, while IDF soldiers stood by and did nothing to remove them from his private property.
Residents say they had decided not to react to the Arab protest themselves, assuming that the IDF and security forces would deal with it appropriately.
PreOccupied Territory: Israel To Move All Tel Aviv Embassies To Ashkelon (satire)
Many countries see any Israeli control of “Palestinian” land, including the eastern part of Jerusalem, as illegitimate, though there has never been a sovereign nation of Palestine, and the legitimacy of previous “foreign” rulers of the territory was never challenged. Given Israel’s insistence that Jerusalem remain the country’s undivided capital, many countries refrain from endorsing that claim by keeping their embassies in Tel Aviv instead. Still others maintain the city should not be part of Israel at all, even the western section, and should instead be an international city that is part of no country.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman told reporters the new policy penalizes nations for wholesale rejection of Jewish links to the lands under dispute by forcing them to maintain their offices in the relative backwater city of Ashkelon instead of the country’s economic, social, and cultural hub of Tel Aviv. “If our friends overseas cannot accept that this is Jewish land going back millennia, and recognize that Jerusalem was and always will be at the center of our national life, then they, too, can be relegated to an area outside the area they see as central.”
As a bonus, said Lieberman, delegations in Ashkelon would get to experience firsthand the ordeal of conducting their affairs within range of more Hamas rockets from the Gaza Strip than they do in their cloistered Tel Aviv environs. Additionally, the left-wing activists with whom pro-Palestinian diplomats tend to fraternize are fewer and farther-between in Ashkelon, giving those officials a more palpable experience of what is politically realistic.
Israel is more comfortable with the trio that wants to replace Abbas
Abbas, now 82, has no clear successor. There are also no obvious candidates within the ruling Fatah party to fill the three positions held by Abbas: Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Chairman of the PLO and head of the Fatah movement.
These are first and foremost power struggles for succession - and Israel is very possibly involved in them. Journalists in Ramallah believe it to be no coincidence that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently attacked Abbas over and over, accusing him of inciting terrorist attacks, and that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman repeatedly calls him a terrorist. Anyone looking for hidden conspiracies - and there are many such people in Ramallah - might well assume that the government of Israel is part of attempts to get rid of Abbas and replace him with the trio Dahlan, Fayyad and Rabbo.
What kind of power do these three have? The most prominent among them is Dahlan, who headed the security services in Gaza and was a minister in the Palestinian government until he was accused of corruption and of conspiring to overthrow Abbas. In recent years he has been living in the Gulf and in Cairo. Dahlan has published a long list of allegations against Abbas, especially focusing on corruption, and has accumulated power in recent years as security consultant to General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Egypt and to the Emirates in their fight against Islamic terrorist groups. There is no doubt that he is also a successful businessman who has accumulated a lot of money, and has for years been considered a protegee of US intelligence agencies.
WATCH: Palestinian cleric says husbands must know password for wives' Facebook accounts
Muslim women who wish to maintain an account on social media must grant access to those accounts to their husbands, a Palestinian cleric told worshipers at Al-Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Sheikh Khaled al-Maghrabi made the remarks as part of a sermon that was documented and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, an organization that monitors speeches and news reports from the region.
Hamas: We have the right to respond to Israeli aggression

Hamas has the right to respond to Israeli aggression, the Islamist group said in a statement on Saturday following an Israeli air strike earlier that day.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck a Hamas training facility in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses and the army said, hours after a rocket from the Palestinian enclave hit the Jewish state.
"We call on the international community to bear responsibility for the Israeli aggression," the group said. "The resistance has the right to respond to Israeli aggression at a time and place of its choosing."
A spokesman for Gaza's health ministry said there were no casualties in the attack, the first air strike by Israel on the Palestinian enclave since the summer truce that ended the deadly 50-day war between the sides.
The Israeli army confirmed the strike, which it said "targeted a Hamas terror infrastructure site" in the area of Khan Yunis.
Egypt opens Gaza border crossing for two days
The official, Maher Abu Sabha, said the Rafah crossing will remain open for two days. Several hundred Palestinians have already crossed into Egypt, AP reported, with more expected to leave the Strip within the next day.
The crossing is the main gateway to the outside world for Gaza’s 1.7 million residents.
Egypt had kept the border closed to Palestinians leaving the territory since an October 24 attack in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers.
Syria: Israeli drone downed near border
An Israeli drone “was brought down” near the Golan Heights town of Quneitra, Syrian state TV reported Sunday night.
The state-run SANA news agency said the unmanned vehicle was doing reconnaissance over Quneitra, a town just over the Syrian side of the border from Israel, when it was downed.
It was not clear if the UAV was shot down or crashed.
The report described the drone as a Skylark. There were no other details or confirmation of the report.
The IDF said it had no knowledge of losing any drone in Syria.
ISIS reportedly selling Christian artifacts, turning churches into torture chambers
The Islamic State is turning Christian churches in Iraq and Syria into dungeons and torture chambers after stripping them of priceless artifacts to sell on the black market, according to reports.
Ancient relics and even entire murals are being torn from the houses of worship and smuggled out through the same routes previously established for moving oil and weapons in and out of the so-called caliphate, a vast region the jihadist army has claimed as sovereign under Sharia law.
"ISIS has a stated goal to wipe out Christianity,” Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice and the author of "Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can't Ignore," told “This why they are crucifying Christians -- including children -- destroying churches and selling artifacts. The fact is, this group will stop at nothing to raise funds for its terrorist mission.”
Iran Suddenly Fighting Sunni Groups Along Two of Its Borders
Iran is confronting a nightmare scenario with Islamic State militants just kilometers from the country’s western border and increasingly radical anti-Shia militants to the east in Pakistan.
A new militant Sunni terror group has recently been stepping up its activities in the Balochistan region in the Iran-Pakistan border. Balochistan, an impoverished region that has some 3 million residents. Iran has neglected the region and persecuted its residents, who are Sunni. This repression may be transforming the area to a fertile ground for terrorist organizations to move into Iranian territories.
A Balochistan Sunni movement the Justice Military recently carried out a series of attacks and assassinations against Iranian Border Guards and Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
The Balochistan region, where there is increasing armed activity, stretches along the borders of three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Most of the area of the region is in Pakistan but a third of it is in Iran.
According to Iranian news sites, jihadist activists who are already operating in Balochistan expressed loyalty to the Islamice State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Price tag for Middle East chaos: $35 billion
The Policy Research Working Paper released in December analyzes the economic effects on Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, finding that Syria and Iraq have been the hardest hit.
These countries suffered a loss of $35b. in output, according to 2007 prices.
“In other words, the cumulative economic size of these economies, measured by their Gross Domestic Product, could have been $35b. larger had the war not occurred,” wrote the authors in a follow up article published on Thursday on the World Bank website.
The direct negative effects on Syria caused its economy to shrink “by almost a third due to the massive outflow of Syrian refugees and war casualties,” said the report.

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