Thursday, December 17, 2015

From Ian:

More Lies from Abbas about The "Intifada"
We still have never encountered even one case where a terrorist complained about the absence of a two-state solution. Also, contrary to Abbas's claim, none of the terrorists has ever complained about checkpoints or settlements. This latest wave of terrorism is not about "despair," unemployment, poor living conditions or freedom of movement. Instead, it is another attempt by Palestinian "youths" to eliminate Israel, again using the false excuse that Jews are "desecrating" and "destroying" Islamic holy sites.
A review of the Facebook accounts of most of the terrorists shows that their main intention was to murder as many Jews as possible in order to become "martyrs" -- to impose a reign of terror Jews, to force them to leave Israel.
Abbas is well aware that the "youths" are not complaining about the "occupation." The "occupation" these " youths" have a problem with is the one that began with the creation of Israel in 1948.
A new generation of Palestinians has once again been deceived into believing that the Jews are plotting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Al-Aqsa Mosque stands, as always, unharmed in its place.
UN Watch: Paris attacks: UN official blames US, West & Israel; “They came to us because we went to them”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the UN ambassadors of the U.S., UK, France, and Germany, must condemn a UN Human Rights Council official for his offensive and morally perverse essay blaming last month’s Paris attacks on the U.S., Western colonialism, capitalism, and “Israeli settlers” — and implicitly justifying them as “a response to grave injustices and ongoing abuses perpetrated by the dominant, primarily developed countries, against populations of less developed countries.”
Leading figures at the United Nations need to condemn the remarks. Indeed, the UN chief had done so in a virtually-identical case in 2013, when in a blog post former UN expert Richard Falk similarly blamed the Boston Marathon terror attacks on “American global domination” and “Tel Aviv.”
The UN Secretary-General must publicly reject Mr. De Zayas’ highly offensive comments, and clarify that no grievance, real or imagined, could ever justify the horrific terrorist attacks that killed 130 innocent people in Paris, wounding hundreds more. To grant even the slightest exoneration to the Islamic State and its criminal perpetrators is to insult the memory of the victims.
The UN Secretary-General must remind all special rapporteurs of the need to understand that while they have independent status, their public comments — when the so-called attempt to “understand” terrorism crosses the line into moral exoneration — can undermine the work and credibility of the United Nations.
Sadly, with the Human Rights Council’s democratic credentials about to sink to the lowest level ever — only 38% of the incoming 2016 membership will be free democracies — we fear more appointments of UN rights experts who will serve as apologists for dictators and terrorism, adding to existing figures like De Zayas, Jean Ziegler and Idriss Jazairy.
Saudi Shura Council Member Al-Buleihi: Arab Culture Immersed in Violence and Hatred of the Other
In a recent TV interview, Saudi Shura Council member Ibrahim Al-Buleihi said: "We produce this kind of people [who carried out the Paris attacks and 9/11], this kind of hostility." "We are immersed in this violence, because we are immersed in the hatred of the other," he said in the interview, which aired on December 5 on Al-Arabiya TV. While the West is not perfect, "the Westerners are apologizing today for what their forefathers did, whereas we are still praising the conquests and raids [of early Islam]," said Al-Buleihi.

Father of 15-Month-Old Whose Leg Was Severed in Palestinian Car-Ramming Attack: ‘I Hope My Son Will Smile Again’
Yotam Sitbon was among 14 Israelis who suffered various degrees of injury when a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into a crowd of people waiting at a Jerusalem bus stop on Monday afternoon.
“We still don’t know what what’s going to happen,” members of the family said, as they prayed in the hospital where the toddler was undergoing surgery on his lower extremity. “It’s not clear whether his body is going to reject the [nearly severed] limb.”
Binyamin Sitbon, the child’s father – who immigrated to Israel from France six years ago — told a forum on the site Kikar Hashabat, “I was at work, and my sister-in-law phoned to say, ‘There was a terrorist attack; come quickly.’ So I grabbed a taxi and went straight to the hospital.”
His son, he said, “is a hero. It will work out, and he will be able to run again, God willing. My son and my wife were miraculously rescued. I still feel like this is a dream. I never believed such a thing would happened to me. I’m in shock.”
He concluded, “I hope my son will smile again.”
Average of 24 Rock Attacks Per Day Since Start of Palestinian Terror Surge in September
Thousands of rock-throwing attacks have been carried out by Palestinians since the start of the current terror wave, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Wednesday.
Channel 2 marked the September 13 stoning of Alexander Levlovich’s car — and subsequent death of the motorist, who drove into a pole as a result — as the beginning of the surge in Palestinian violence that has been directed at Israelis on a daily basis.
According to the report, in the three months since that date, there have been 2,225 rock attacks — an average of 24 per day.
Following the attack on Levlovich on the even of Rosh Hashanah, another 290 incidents of rock-throwing were carried out in the second half of September. In October, the number rose dramatically — to 915 attacks — and slightly decreased in November, when there were 730. Thus far in December, there have been 290.
West Bank stabbing attempt thwarted by soldiers — IDF
Israeli troops shot a Palestinian man in the West Bank as he approached them with a knife in an apparent stabbing attempt, the Israeli military said Wednesday.
The incident occurred during a routine security assignment in the Palestinian village of Hawara in the northern West Bank outside of Nablus.
“Forces noticed a suspicious Palestinian during a road protection mission in Hawara and approached him in order to investigate,” the IDF said.
As they walked towards him, the suspect took out a knife and ran at the soldiers, the army said.
“The forces responded to the immediate threat, shooting the perpetrator, resulting in his death,” the army said in a statement.
No Israelis were injured in the incident.
Thousands of Intifada Bound Firearms, Knives, Tasers, Explosives Confiscated by Port Customs
The “Intifada Warehouse” is located in a large room under heavy security in a customs building at the Ashdod harbor. It contains, among other items, 50 thousand knives, tens of thousands of tasers, and thousands of balaclavas, camouflage uniforms, air guns, swords, clubs, pocket knives, slingshots, brass knuckles, night vision systems, and tools for encryption and disrupting communications. All these items have been seized by Israel’s customs service in recent months and confiscated before reaching their intended Arab recipients.
According to customs officials, the Palestinian arming efforts started a few months before the outbreak of the current wave of terror. It began with a huge confiscation of containers of smuggled fireworks and firecrackers, which were intended for addresses in eastern Jerusalem. “We seized a record 27 tons of firecrackers,” Director of Customs in Ashdod harbor Rafi Gabai told Walla on Wednesday. “Police sappers who checked the containers with us insisted that we clear the area to a distance of several hundreds of yards. They said this amount of explosives could blow up everything inside a 300 yard radius, anyone inside that area would have been killed.”
The seizures were a daily affair, customs officers are saying. Over time, the smuggling methods have become more and more ingenious. For example, military equipment was discovered between the double walls of furniture, in laundry powder bags and even in bags of wheat and semolina. “If we miss one container loaded with TNT or weapons, I don’t want to imagine what might happen,” Gabai said.
Indictment: Terrorist tried to murder elementary school students
The Jerusalem District Prosecutor on Thursday served an indictment against one of two Arab terrorists who committed a stabbing attack in Beit Shemesh, which left a yeshiva student hospitalized with multiple stab wounds.
Muqdad Alkhikh, a 20-year-old resident of the village of Tzurif near Hevron, is charged with attempted murder and possession of a knife.
Alkhikh traveled to the Ramat Beit Shemesh neighborhood on the morning of October 22 along with an accomplice with the intent to murder as many Jews as possible. They were armed with a total of four knives between them, and were wearing t-shirts bearing the logo of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
The two terrorists waited at a bus stop for an opportune moment to carry out their attack. When a school bus filled with elementary school-age children stopped to pick up students, the two would-be murderers attempted to board with the intent of slaughtering the children on board, but were prevented from doing so by the driver, who shut the doors and told them it was not a public bus.
After three months of terror, survivors share fears
Over 270 Israelis have been wounded so far during three months of terror attacks, and some are struggling to readjust to life; Moshe has received psychological treatment and cries when he is reminded of the car that exploded next to him. Daniel sees the pictures, remembers the smell and is afraid to stay alone. Meir is scared of his surroundings and goes out in a bullet-proof vest. "I'm afraid on the inside, I go out wearing a bullet-proof vest in Hebron, Kiryat Arba and even Jerusalem. The attack has made me decide things quickly, there's no time to lose."
These are the words of Meir Pavlovsky, 25, who was critically injured in a stabbing attack on October 8 at the western gate to Kiryat Arba settlement in the West Bank.
With the third month of the current wave of terror nearly at a close, Pavlovsky told Ynet that he is constantly doing everything he can to protect himself: "I don't want to die, and I don't want to find myself in that situation again."
Statistics show that since the stone-throwing attack that killed Alexander Levlovich, seen as the incident that sparked the intifada, 22 Israelis have been murdered and 276 wounded in 170 terror incidents.
Terror victim Naor Shalev celebrates Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel
Just over two months after he was critically injured in a brutal stabbing attack in Jerusalem, 13-year-old Naor Shalev celebrated his Bar Mitzvah Thursday morning at the Kotel.
Shalev arrived at the Jerusalem holy site for the celebration along with family and friends. He was called up to the Torah to read from the weekly portion of "Vayigash."
The October 12 attack in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev nearly took Shalev's life.
Two Arab cousins, 13 and 15-year-old cousins Hassan and Ahmed Mansara from Beit Hanina, seriously wounded Shalev and another young Israeli man.
Shalev remained under anesthesia and on a respirator for several weeks after the stabbing as doctors fought for his life. He miraculously recovered from his near-fatal injuries giving a special meaning to the Bar Mitzvah celebrations.
Israeli Vehicular Terror Victim Gets Engaged While in Rehab; Says He Plans to Dance at His Wedding
An Israeli victim of a Palestinian terrorist attack affirmed his commitment to life this week by getting engaged, Israel’s Army Radio reported on Wednesday.
Roi Kapach, who is undergoing strenuous rehabilitation and physical therapy for wounds sustained in a car-ramming attack at the Tapuach junction in the West Bank last month, asked his girlfriend to marry him on Tuesday.
“I did it, but without getting down on one knee, which is impossible for me at this point,” Kapach said, noting progress in his recovery — and expressing optimism that he and his bride “will dance at our wedding.”
Volunteer medic group rejects treating terrorists and victims equally
The ZAKA voluntary emergency service organization said on Thursday that it would not abide by a directive from the Israel Medical Association instructing doctors and medics to triage all casualties at a terror scene according to the severity of their wounds — including the terrorists who carried out the attack.
In a statement, ZAKA chairman and founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav made it clear that the organization’s medics would turn their attention to the victims first, regardless of the injuries sustained by their attacker.
“We direct ZAKA volunteers to first treat the Jewish victims of a terror attack — without blinking an eye,” he said. “Only after they have been given medical assistance, should they begin treating the murderous terrorist who carried out the attack.”
Earlier this week, the Ethical Bureau of the Israel Medical Association issued a directive saying doctors should treat the most severe casualties in an attack first without differentiating between attacker and victim.
Resolution adopted by the State Executive of the Labor Party in WA on the current violence in Israel
Condemns in the strongest possible terms the attacks on Israeli civilians carried out throughout Israel and the West Bank by Palestinian terrorists, frequently targeting children and the elderly, which have left dozens of Israelis dead or injured;
Deplores the acts of incitement by Palestinian clerics and political leaders which have precipitated the current violence, including inflammatory declarations by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which appeal to racism and claim that “Jews have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet,” and calling upon the Palestinian people to “spill blood in Jerusalem”;
Rejects any attempts to draw a moral equivalence between Israeli victims of terror and Palestinian perpetrators whether in media reports or public statements by Australian political leaders;
Conveys condolences to the Government of Israel and its people, particularly to victims of terrorism and their loved ones;
Rejects claims that the ‘root cause’ of these attacks is Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and settlement construction, noting that the Arab rejection of peaceful co-existence with Jews pre-dates both the occupation and the commencement of settlement building in 1967, and even pre-dates the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948, noting for example the religiously motivated massacre of Jews by Palestinian Arabs in Hebron in 1929;
Affirms: the rights and duties of the Israeli authorities to take appropriate measures to defend and protect its population from terrorism
US government issues updated travel warning on Israel
The U.S. State Department on Wednesday reissued a travel warning for Israel, Judea and Samaria, and the Gaza Strip.
According to the warning, which replaced a travel warning that was issued on Feb. 18, "Visitors to and residents of Israel and the West Bank should familiarize themselves with the location of the nearest bomb shelter or other hardened site."
The warning informs U.S. citizens that "the security environment remains complex in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. U.S. citizens need to be aware of the continuing risks of travel to areas described."
Addressing the current heightened tensions, the State Department warning states that "since October 2015, there have been frequent clashes between protesters and Israeli authorities, checkpoints and barriers have been set up by Israeli security forces that restrict movement of residents, and acts of terrorism have taken place, resulting in death and injury, including to U.S. citizens."
While the clashes are not anti-American "in nature," the warning continues, politically motivated violence in metropolitan areas has killed or injured at least 12 U.S. citizens in 2014 and 2015.
PM Vows Tens of Millions of Shekels to Bolster Judea and Samaria Security
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to invest tens of millions of shekels in bolstering security in Judea and Samaria.
Netanyahu spoke with the head of the Samaria Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, about how the Israeli government will continue to strengthen security in Judea and Samaria, Haaretz reported, citing Israel Radio. Judea and Samaria as well as Jerusalem have been hit particularly hard during the current wave of Palestinian terror.
“We are acting with all the means at our disposal to strengthen security in Judea and Samaria. The activities of the security forces are focusing at this stage on the roads. The IDF is acting and will continue to act with the full support of the political leadership at all times and everywhere it is needed,” Netanyahu said.
Israel government funds will cover lighting on roads, better cellphone coverage, and fortifying security in places with frequent terror attacks.
MEMRI: Palestinian Women On The Frontlines Of The Current Uprising
In the current wave of Palestinian violence, young Palestinian women have been visible on the frontlines of protests and of violent clashes with security forces, and have also been carrying out knife attacks. Their participation cuts across social sectors: they have been seen wearing hijabs and veils and with their heads and faces uncovered; in traditional or modern garb, including makeup; carrying handbags or even school backpacks; throwing stones and firebombs; carrying out stabbing attacks, and verbally and physically confronting Israeli police and soldiers.
This visibility has prompted Palestinian and Arab media to feature dozens of articles on the issue of women in the Palestinian resistance. The vast majority of writers stressed that the phenomenon was hardly new, since Palestinian women have always played an active role in the Palestinian struggle, including in the armed struggle, and especially in the second intifada. But, they argued, it is different this time, because their presence is more noticeable, and because they have moved "from behind the scenes... to the forefront of the conflict." Some even claimed that these women are seen as the leaders of the current struggle, more so than the men.
Many writers praised the women's beauty and modern appearance; some lauded their active participation, especially their courage and willingness to become martyrs for the sake of their homeland, and called them "the ladies of the land," "the glory of Islam," and "the new Canaanite women."
At the same time, some on the Arab street and on social media voiced a conservative view, claiming, for instance, that the modern dress of some women protesters contravened the values of Palestinian society and that women should not participate in the intifada because their place is in the home. For example, Muhammad Shalabi, known as Abu Sayyaf, a prominent figure in the Jordanian Salafi-jihadi stream, called on the Murabitat to return to their homes because their activity might result in harm to their honor, which is even worse than harm to Al-Aqsa.
Guardian: Not clear if ‘rock throwing dolls’ were heading to Palestinian Authority
The shipment, noted Beaumont, “was found last week hidden among other goods coming into the port at Haifa”, and was purportedly “shipped from a supplier in the United Arab Emirates.”
The report quoted Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely thusly:
“These dolls were making their way to the Palestinian Authority with one clear purpose, and that was to poison the minds of innocent children. The Palestinians are continuing to incite their youth using any means necessary to educate them about violence and hatred. Here, it’s in the form of a doll.”
Beaumont then responded:
Despite her claim, it was not entirely clear who the recipient was intended to be.
However, multiple news reports on the incident cited Haifa Customs inspectors’ comments confirming that the dolls were indeed heading to the PA.
A report in USA Today on the row noted that Haifa Customs inspectors “found the dolls in a container that was supposed to hold rugs and plastic items shipped from the UAE to the West Bank via Israel.“
Additionally, a NBC News report on Dec. 9th, more than a week before Beaumont’s piece was published, quoted the Head of Enforcement for Haifa Customs (Doron Samara) saying that “this shipment was intended to reach the Palestinian Authority“
Netanyahu’s Office Tells Israelis Traveling Abroad to Be on Alert in Light of Increased Global Terror Threat
The Prime Minister’s Office of Israel has called on citizens traveling abroad to heighten their awareness in light of the terrorist threat posed by ISIS.
The message to the public, posted recently by the National Security Council, encourages Israelis to avoid or remain extra cautious in crowded areas, especially over the holiday season.
While it said there was no “concrete information” about any specific attack, the notice indicated a marked increase in terrorism since November, both in scale and scope, by global jihadi groups like ISIS.
Among the areas singled out for increased caution were “tourist attractions, sports stadiums, cultural sites, shopping and recreation centers, hotels, airports and public transportation hubs.”
Paris synagogue daubed with poisonous substance
Fourteen people were mildly poisoned by a toxic substance that was applied to the keypad of an electronic lock of a synagogue south of Paris.
Members of the Jewish community of Bonneuil-sur-Marne on Monday called rescue services to report a sudden strong burning sensation in their eyes and itchy rashes on their skin, Le Parisien reported.
Some 25 firemen rushed to the synagogue, which is under police and military protection whenever it is open. They treated congregants who were poisoned and traced its source to the lock. Described as a nonlethal irritant, the substance found on the pad was sent for analysis at a police forensic lab.
The substance was applied to the pad when the synagogue was closed and the military personnel guarding it were not present, according to the daily. Two of the victims filed a police complaint against unidentified individuals believed to have been responsible. Police believe the substance was deliberately placed there to cause harm.
Police dispatched to Jewish school in Zurich, say no indication of criminal action
Zurich police said on Thursday a suspicious car near a Jewish school led to an intervention by officers but there was no indication of criminal action.
"A Jewish school on Schoentalstrasse informed us on Wednesday evening of the presence of a suspicious vehicle that passed the school several times. An unknown man also manifested suspicious behaviors near the school on Wednesday afternoon," police said in a statement on Thursday.
"So far, there is no indication of criminal action."
Police said the blocked street would likely be cleared within the next few hours.
Swedish Citizens Receive Threatening ISIS-Style Messages to Convert or Die
Dozens of Swedish citizens received threatening letters with “ISIS” signatures, calling for them to either convert to Islam, pay a tax to the terrorist organization, or be killed — according to a Russia Today (RT) Arabic report, which was translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).
Official Swedish television reports that police are taking the threats seriously, since the messages were disseminated in Swedish to people throughout the country. The messages included the national identity number of the targeted individuals in an effort to enhance the terrorists’ credibility.
“The messages gave a choice between Islam, tribute, and murder by beheading or perhaps blowing up houses of the owners, after the deadline set by the sender three days from the date of dispatch,” reads the report.
On Saturday, Swedish police confirmed receipt of multiple threats from similar letters distributed in several Swedish regions, including the capital Stockholm.
Australian Foreign Affairs Dept.Official advice - Do not travel
The Government of Iraq has begun to take measures to improve the structural integrity of the Mosul Dam. It is currently impossible to predict if or when a dam failure might occur. A dam failure could cause significant flooding and interruption of essential services. If you are in Iraq, particularly in areas near the Tigris River, including Baghdad, you should ensure that your contingency plan covers the need for you and your family to evacuate ahead of any rising waters. You should not expect the Australian Government to facilitate your departure should commercial options be unavailable (see Additional information). We continue to advise against travel to all of Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan.
British government opposes banning Muslim Brotherhood
Links to the Muslim Brotherhood should be considered a “possible indicator of extremism,” but the group should not be banned, according to a British government review published on Thursday.
“Parts of the Muslim Brotherhood have a highly ambiguous relationship with violent extremism,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement, according to Reuters. “Both as an ideology and as a network, it has been a rite of passage for some individuals and groups who have gone on to engage in violence and terrorism.” He described the group as “deliberately opaque, and habitually secretive.”
Last year, Cameron ordered British intelligence to launch a probe into the Islamist party, after reports suggested it was planning militant activities from London following a harsh crackdown on the organization in Egypt.
The Brotherhood — the oldest Islamist movement in the Middle East — describes itself as a peaceful charitable and political movement. Saudi Arabia and Egypt, however, consider it a terror organization. In Egypt, Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi was ousted as president in 2013.
The British review described the Brotherhood’s form of political Islam as primarily “a political project,” but said that a minority of its supporters in Egypt “have engaged alongside other Islamists in violent acts.”
Forged ISIS Video Praises Obama Backing
An apparently forged ISIS video disseminated online Monday praised President Obama and called for joint U.S. action with the terrorist group against Russian intervention in Syria.
The five-minute video also called for designating Obama as the caliph, or ruler, of ISIS.
ISIS supporters on Twitter were quick to denounce the video as a forgery.
The production appears to be a foreign intelligence operation using disinformation to fuel anti-U.S. sentiment in the Middle East, where propaganda alleging U.S. support for ISIS is widespread.
The video in both Arabic and English was removed from YouTube after it was disseminated through Twitter. However, screen captures from the video were posted online, including its title, “A Message to Obama.”
Capitulation: Kerry Yields to Russian Demand for Assad to Remain in Power
Secretary of State John Kerry formally accepted Russian demands during talks in Moscow this week to keep Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in power.
“The United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change,” Kerry said from Moscow, as reported by the Associated Press, before announcing a “major international conference on Syria” to be held later this week in New York.
Kerry reiterated the U.S. position that Assad, accused by the West of massive human rights violations and chemical weapons attacks, won’t be able to steer Syria out of more than four years of conflict.
But after a day of discussions with Assad’s key international backer, Kerry said the focus now is “not on our differences about what can or cannot be done immediately about Assad.” Rather, it is on facilitating a peace process in which “Syrians will be making decisions for the future of Syria.”
Kerry’s declarations crystallized the evolution in U.S. policy on Assad over the last several months, as the Islamic State group’s growing influence in the Middle East has taken priority.
JPost Editorial: Talking Turkey
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled openness to renewed relations with Israel over the weekend. Returning from a trip to Turkmenistan, he told reporters that there was an opening for “normalization” with Jerusalem if certain issues that Turkey has long demanded are resolved. “There is much the region could gain from such a normalization process.”
The importance of this invitation should not be underestimated.
Erdogan is in a process of re-positioning Turkey in the region amid the rise of Iran. It is no surprise that Iran’s Press TV was smitten in reporting that Israeli officials had spurned Turkey’s advances. They quoted an Israeli official as saying “the Turks are isolated…it seems that Ankara wants to normalize relations with Israel, and is especially interested in a gas deal.”
The policy of writing off the Turkish comments and bragging over Turkish isolation is not helpful to Israel’s relations in the region. Israel sits at a delicate crossroads now in the region. Beginning in 1977, Israel was able to break down the iron wall of rejectionism that had greeted the creation of a Jewish state in the Middle East.
In the 1990s there was a brief flowering of relations as Israel cultivated ties not only in Amman, but also in Tunisia, Morocco and the Gulf. Unfortunately, the second intifada, the Mavi Marmara affair and other issues have caused setbacks in Israel’s relations with one country after another.
Russia's Putin lashes out at Turkey as tensions remain high
Russia's Vladimir Putin subjected Turkey to a furious tirade on Thursday, using barrack-room language to wonder aloud whether it had shot down a Russian warplane last month to curry favor with the United States.
Addressing almost 1,400 reporters in a cavernous hall inside a Moscow conference center, the Russian president dedicated a chunk of his annual news conference to spelling out why he saw no prospect of a rapprochement with Ankara.
"If someone in the Turkish leadership decided to lick the Americans in a particular place I don't know whether they acted correctly or not and I don't know ... whether the Americans needed that," said Putin, referring to the shooting down.
Putin said he could imagine a scenario where there was a deal for Turkey to shoot down a Russian plane in return for Washington turning a blind eye to Turkish troops entering Iraq.
"Perhaps there was such an arrangement," he said.
Turkey Detains 27 Russian Ships in Retaliation for Russia’s Detaining 8 Turkish Vessels
Turkey has tightened its inspections of Russian ships docked in its harbors in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and has so far detained 27 Russian ships which failed to meet sailing criteria. This move is in retaliation for the Russian authorities detaining Eight Turkish ships in Russian ports, denying them permission to travel since Nov. 24, the day when Turkey downed a Russian military jet. The Turks said the Russian ships were too old to sail.
According to Turkish daily Habertürk, citing shipping officials in Ankara, Turkish and Russian authorities contacted each other via email, with the Russian side agreeing to a meeting to resolve the crisis, although how and when the parties will meet is yet unclear.
According to Daily Sabah, as soon as the Russian Su-24 fighter was downed over Turkey’s airspace, Russia implemented non-reciprocal trade ties and customs practices. It detained Turkish business travelers, blocked Turkish trucks from crossing the border into Russia, and denied Turkish civilian vessels entry into Russian ports, forcing them to wait in open waters.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Abbas takes aim at political enemies with mass dismissals, cabinet reshuffle
Palestinian officials accused President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday of abusing his powers to settle scores with political rivals in the Palestine Liberation Organization and his own Fatah faction, by his unexpected cabinet reshuffle and dismissal of two dozen other officials in the past week.
In the reshuffle announced at the beginning of the week, Abbas replaced three cabinet members with men more loyal to him, as ministers of culture, justice and social welfare.
In a second controversial decision, Abbas dismissed 25 members of the board of directors of a foundation created to preserve the cultural, literal and intellectual heritage of Mahmoud Darwish, the famous Palestinian poet and author who died in 2008.
Abbas dismissed Yasser Abed Rabbo as head of the Darwish Foundation this week, six months after firing him as PLO secretary-general.
Abbas’s critics see both moves as an attempt to remove his political rivals from key positions.
Expert: Israel Alerting Western, Arab Nations About Growing Hamas-ISIS Coordination
Israel has been alerting Western and Arab nations to the growing coordination between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and ISIS-affiliated groups in the Sinai Peninsula, a researcher with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote on Tuesday.
While the intelligence-sharing was met with skepticism at first — Israel was reluctant to share its sources — the growing body of evidence has apparently led to a widespread reassessment among diplomatic and intelligence agencies, wrote Ehud Yaari, Israeli Channel 2‘s Arab affairs analyst.
Egypt, Yaari wrote, is convinced Hamas is aiming to undermine security in the Sinai even as it negotiates improving ties with Cairo — a relationship which soured after the Egyptian army deposed former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and launched a sustained crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Egyptian army has also been battling armed terrorists in the Sinai, including locally recruited Bedouins, who carry out almost daily attacks against security outposts, road blocks and administrative facilities.
Is Hamas Becoming a Second ISIS?
Yet there’s a reason why Hamas is training Wilayat Sinai rather than the other way around; Hamas has far more experience and, in many ways, better tradecraft. Indeed, the Paris attacks themselves underscored Hamas’s skills: Though the gunmen were well-trained and deadly, the three suicide bombers collectively managed to kill exactly one person. By contrast, Hamas suicide bombers routinely produced double-digit fatalities until Israel figured out how to arrest most of them before they struck. In short, a Hamas free to focus on the West would be no laughing matter.
Fortunately for the West, Hamas isn’t free to do so, because the pesky Zionist state is still in the way. ISIS is what happens when a terrorist organization encounters a power vacuum it can fill – i.e. when there’s no strong, stable state like Israel to contain it. Hamas is what happens when a terrorist organization does run up against a state like Israel: Its ability to harm the rest of the world is minimal.
Yet instead of leaving well enough alone, much of the West is ardently trying to create a new Mideast power vacuum tailor-made for Hamas to fill: a Palestinian state. Obviously, a Hamas-run state isn’t the goal. But the last time the Palestinians held anything approaching free and fair elections, in 2006, Hamas won. And according to a new poll published this week, the same would happen if elections were ever held again, which shouldn’t surprise anyone: The poll also found that two-thirds of Palestinians support murdering Israelis, while sizable majorities oppose both the “two-state solution” and the “one-state solution in which Arabs and Jews enjoy equal rights,” meaning the only “solution” they’d accept is Israel’s eradication. So obviously they’d prefer the party that consistently espouses both goals to the one – Fatah – that does so only in Arabic while saying the opposite in English.
Last month, veteran peace processer Aaron David Miller shattered peace process Orthodoxy by asking whether another weak, failing state is really what the Mideast needs right now. Given the similarities between Hamas and ISIS, anyone who doesn’t want a second ISIS in the region ought to answer “no.”
​​Egypt Second Largest Jailer Of Journalists, China Takes #1 Spot
Egypt is second only to China as the world’s worst jailer of journalists, according to a new report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
“Perhaps nowhere has the climate for the press deteriorated more rapidly than in Egypt, now the second worst jailer of journalists worldwide,” the report stated.
Eight journalists were imprisoned in 2015 alone, bringing the number of journalists Cairo is holding in jail to 23. In 2012, there were no journalists in jail in Egypt.
According to the report, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi continues to use the pretext of national security to clamp down on dissent following his ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Many of the journalists belong to news outlets owned by Islamists.
One journalist, Ismail Alexandrani, who was arrested when he arrived in Egypt from Germany, is a freelancer whose writing focuses on the troubled region of the Sinai Peninsula.
The number of journalists jailed in Turkey also rose dramatically in 2015, doubling to 14. In 2014, the country released dozens of journalists in response to international pressure, but general elections, the precarious situation in Syria, and the tentative ceasefire with the PKK party have meant new arrests.
Jordanian air force pilots pay ‘working visit’ to Israel
Jordanian media reports that pilots from the Royal Jordanian Air Force conducted a “working visit” to Israel recently.
One pilot, Majdi Asmadi, refused to join the delegation and was subsequently ejected from the air force, according to the reports, which were cited on Wednesday by the Israeli daily Haaretz.
The reports quote Asmadi saying he had joined the air force in order to fight Israel, not visit it or cooperate with it.
His removal, like the trip itself, was not publicized by officials in Amman. Asmadi reportedly did not receive severance pay after his removal.
His actions earned him widespread praise on Arab social media networks, and sparked a debate within Jordan over the country’s military cooperation with Israel.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Sarlacc Discovered In Arabian Desert (satire)
Zoologists have uncovered the first known specimen on Earth of a legendary galactic creature that embeds itself in the ground and waits for prey to fall in, digesting it over the course of a thousand years.
Researchers from the University of Pinewood in England surveying desert fauna in remote areas of the Arabian Peninsula came upon the Sarlacc about seventy-five miles (120 kilometers) northwest of Jedda, which sits on the Red Sea, along the country’s west coast. The specimen’s circular maw measures nearly three meters in diameter, making it one of the largest known specimens.
The discovery occurred last month. An article in the journal Large Unusual Creatures in Asia-Southwest (LUCAS), due out next week, describes the process by which the researchers found and identified the Sarlacc. Lead author Bob Afette recounted a number of dramatic moments along the way, including the loss of a camel to the creature, which caught the animal in one of its tentacles and slowly dragged in into its spiked mouth. Some of the team’s important equipment met a similar fate, but the human members made it away unscathed, thanks in part to shots fired by their local Bedouin escort, from a group called the Jedda Knights.

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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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