Friday, July 29, 2016

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Time to walk away from US aid
Today, both economics and strategic arguments indicate that the opposite is the case, even if walking away involves ending US military aid.
If Israel cuts its losses and begins to develop a fifth generation jet fighter that meets its own specific needs, rather than one designed by a committee to meet other countries’ needs poorly, it will end up both far safer and far more prosperous than if it goes ahead with the F-35 project. It will produce a better plane, better suited for Israeli defense needs, and simultaneously stimulate the growth of Israeli military industries, providing jobs for thousands of Israelis.
If Israel walks away from the military assistance package currently under discussion, it will be in a position to sign joint development deals with the US and other governments on a project by project basis and so ensure that we develop the weapons systems we need, not the ones the US thinks we should have, as we need them. Just as India is investing billions of dollars in joint projects with Israel, so will the US in the future.
It is far from clear that the US can afford its $400b. white elephant. It is abundantly clear that Israel cannot afford it.
Whether or not a Trump or Clinton administration will be more forthcoming is really beside the point. The point is that the US aid deal is really a deal for Lockheed Martin, not for Israel. And we need to say no.
Elliott Abrams: The New State Department Assault on Israel
Why is this approach stupid? For two reasons. First, it’s false: construction in outlying areas of the West Bank may indeed appear to be a problem in creating a Palestinian state, but construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem is not, nor is construction in major blocs Israel will keep. Second, this failure to make distinctions means Israelis will disregard U.S. complaints instead of listening to them. If the State Department criticized construction by settler groups in remote West Bank areas, it would actually have most Israelis on its side. But when it treats Jerusalem neighborhoods and a place like Maale Adumim as indistinguishable from any and every settler activity no matter how remote, Israelis will mostly shrug and wonder why the Americans are so dumb.
And that’s actually a good question. Why are we, or rather why is the State Department? I suppose State is just following orders from the White House, but that only raises the stakes; it does not answer the question. Who is the intended audience for this attack on Israel? If the answer is Israelis and their government, it will fail due to its continuing refusal to make logical distinctions. If the answer is Americans, including members of Congress, then this attack–launched by a lame duck administration during this convention week– will have zero effect.
So here’s a theory: the intended audience is European governments, and others around the world. This kind of assault makes their own assaults on Israel easier: they can see us and raise us in the level of criticism of Israel. They can be encouraged in planning attacks on Israel in the UN General Assembly in September. They can offer six-paragraph screeds where they explain how these new housing units threaten peace, security, and the two-state solution.
The State Department statement came the same week that the Palestinian Authority announced it would sue the British government over the Balfour declaration. It is true that this was in many ways a comic announcement, but it displayed a complete lack of serious intent to move forward toward peace or peace negotiations. In that sense it is completely consistent with the way the Palestinian Authority and the PLO have behaved throughout the Obama years.
With all the misery and bloodshed in the Middle East; with all the terrorist attacks Israel must face; with chaos in Iraq and Syria; with a PLO thinking not about talks but about lawsuits against the UK, it’s remarkable that housing construction strikes State as the critical problem we face. Meanwhile, also this week, a Saudi delegation visited Jerusalem. As The Times of Israel reported, “a retired Saudi general visited Israel this week, heading a delegation of academics and businessmen seeking to encourage discussion of the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative.”
When the Saudis have a more realistic approach to Israel than the State Department, American policy is far out of whack.

FBI Chief Warns "Terrorist Diaspora" Will Come to the West
Hundreds of terrorists will fan out to infiltrate western Europe and the U.S. to carry out attacks on a wider scale as Islamic State is defeated in Syria, FBI Director James Comey warned.
“At some point there’s going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before,” Comey said Wednesday in New York. “We saw the future of this threat in Brussels and Paris,” said the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, adding that future attacks will be on “an order of magnitude greater.”
Comey’s blunt warnings echo those of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has scoffed at Obama administration efforts to defeat Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq. Nonetheless, the FBI chief’s comments reflect a consensus among U.S. intelligence officials that the group inevitably will strike out abroad as it continues to lose ground militarily under attack from a U.S.-led coalition.
CIA Director John Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee in June that “our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach.” Using an acronym for Islamic State, Brennan said, “as the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.”
Comey, who called violence directed or inspired by Islamic State “the greatest threat to the physical safety of Americans today,” said that “a lot of terrorists fled out of Afghanistan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This is 10 times that or more.”
French Prime Minister predicts more Isis terror attacks as ban on foreign funding for mosques considered
The French government is considering banning the foreign financing of mosques as it reshapes its counter-extremism strategy following a fresh wave of terror attacks.
Manuel Valls, the Prime Minister, told Le Monde the prohibition would be for an indefinite period but gave no further detail on the policy.
“There needs to be a thorough review to form a new relationship with French Islam,” he added.
France boosts regional security after ISIL-claimed church attack
“We live in a changed era and we must change our behaviour. This is a revolution in our security culture…the fight against radicalisation will be the task of a generation.”
Following the murder of a priest by teenage Isis supporters at a church in Normandy and the Nice attack, Mr Valls said France was “at war” and predicted further atrocities.
“This war, which does not only concern France, will be long and we will see more attacks,” he added.
Video: The Nature of Radical Islamic Warfare - Dr. Harold Rhode (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
We in the West are in a war at the moment with Islam. It's not a religion. It's a civilization, it's a culture. The religion is part of the civilization. Islamic warfare, from the time of the Koran (the Muslim holy book which is from the 630s), is anything that works to advance Islam is okay. You can lie, you can cheat, you can say whatever you want as long as it helps advance the cause of Islam.
We're not talking about the religion. We don't care how other people relate to God. It's their business. But when it comes to politics and when it comes to survival, we need to care.
The goal here is that the entire world will eventually become Muslim, and after we all convert to Islam there will be one people living in one state ruled by a caliph under sharia (the Muslim holy law).
There's only one problem with this. Muslims don't agree on who should rule or what the sharia is. Many Muslims have different views of the sharia, some of which we in the West could frankly get along with.
It's not about big armies fighting each other. It's raiding parties, based on the culture in pre-Islamic Arabia which was small groups raiding other small groups. We in the West call that "terrorism."
When small groups come and they wreak havoc on others, there is a simple goal to terrorize the other side, that they become afraid and they run away. Then you take the property and land that is left behind. That is what Islamic warfare is.

French police arrest Syrian refugee over church attack
A Syrian refugee was arrested by French police on suspicion of being involved in a deadly jihadist attack on Tuesday on a Catholic church, a source close to the probe said Friday.
The arrest, which took place in central France on Thursday, raises to three the number of people currently being held as part of the investigation into Tuesday’s murder of an elderly priest at a church in the northwestern town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy.
The suspect was arrested near a refugee center in the rural Allier region of central France, Reuters reported.
There was no immediate information on the two others being detained.
The perpetrators of the attack, Adel Kermiche, 19, and Abdel Malik Petitjean, also 19, were shot dead by police after a standoff at the church on Tuesday.
Petitjean was listed in June on France’s “Fiche S” of people posing a potential threat to national security after trying to reach Syria from Turkey. Kermiche had been on house arrest and wearing a monitor after attempting to reach Syria twice.
French Declare Barghouti ‘Honorary Citizen’ 48 Hours After Catholic Priest ‘Sacrificed’ by ISIS
Just two days after two Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists ritually sacrificed an elderly Catholic priest by slitting his throat on the altar of his own church as he was serving Mass, the people of France has once again bestowed the title of “Honorary Citizen” upon another cold-blooded terrorist killer.
Palestinian Authority terrorist Marwan Barghouti is the darling of the movement to create a new Arab state nestled right up against the State of Israel. He is also popular on the Palestinian Authority street, where citizens still vote for him during elections though he is sitting in a jail cell. Hamas has attempted during every parlay with Israel to free him; but he is one of the terrorist prisoners least likely to ever be released.
The leader of the Tanzim paramilitary terrorist organization, Marwan Barghouti is serving five consecutive life sentences plus 40 years for the particularly brutal murders of five Israelis. Among the dead was a 3-year-old girl.
That doesn’t include the deaths of the “hundreds of civilians, both Israelis and citizens of other states,” that he is also responsible for, said Israeli Ambassador to France Aliza Ben-Nun (Bin Nun) in an open letter published in France.
This is the eighth time since 2009 that Paris has bestowed the honor upon Barghouti. No fewer than 20 cities in France have honored the child-killer with the title of “honorary citizen,” according to the French L’Humanite newspaper.
None have invited him to come live within their municipal boundaries, however.
The Palestinian Distortion of the Balfour Declaration
Almost every word in Malki’s statement is a lie. Britain reneged on its promises to the Zionists. It gave 70 percent of Palestine to Transjordan in 1921 and curtailed Jewish emigration, sealing the fate of countless Jews trapped in Nazi-occupied Europe.
No Arab states were enjoined to respect the civil rights of their Jewish citizens. These Jews were unceremoniously thrown out of the Arab world without apology and without compensation — and their pre-Islamic communities were destroyed.
The Palestinians say they cannot be held responsible for what happened to the Jewish refugees. While Israel can legitimately discuss Palestinian refugees in peace talks, Jewish refugees would have to address their grievances with the Arab states.
Arab League states, which instigated the 1948 war against Israel, did indeed create both sets of refugees. However, an extremist Palestinian leadership, which collaborated with the Nazis and incited anti-Jewish hatred all over the Arab world, dragged five Arab states into conflict with the new Jewish state — a conflict they lost and whose consequences they must suffer. The Palestinian move to sue is as if Germans sued the Allies for starting World War II.
From the outset, the Palestinian cause was a pan-Arab nationalist cause. It has also a powerful Islamist, antisemitic dimension. In Arab eyes, the Jews have no claim to a single inch of “Palestine.”
A Palestinian fiction
The idea behind the new bill allowing for the expulsion of a member of Knesset from the parliament is to limit an MK’s public expressions of identification with Palestinian nationalism and its violent manifestations. But the bill also raises a more basic question: Is Palestinian nationalism real or is it a fiction whose sole aim is to wipe us off the face of the Earth? The fact that the question affects us directly requires that we examine it closely. The fundamental aspiration, the ultimate dream, of every national movement is a state of its own. A little bigger, a little smaller – it doesn’t matter, just as long as it’s their own independent state. By definition, the purpose of a national movement is to work to realize that dream.
A quick review of Palestinian activities over the past hundred years reveals no evidence of any efforts of that sort. In Zionism’s early decades, there was no such thing as a Palestinian nation. At most, the Palestinians were a vestige of some pan-Arab nation, which also turned out to be an oriental fairy tale (pan-Arabism breathed its last with the death of Nasser).
Until the UN Partition Plan in 1947, Zionism devoted all its energy to creating national institutions and making preparations for the establishment of a state.
What were the Palestinians doing during that time? Were they also busy preparing for the founding of their state? No. Their efforts were directed entirely toward preventing the founding of ours.
Had they accepted the Partition Plan, they would now have a state the same age as Israel. All the territory they are demanding today – and more – would already belong to them, and there wouldn’t be a single Palestinian refugee. But they didn’t even consider that option. As far as they were concerned, their rejection of the plan was a foregone conclusion.
Why? Because they didn’t aspire to a state of their own. All they wanted was to thwart the establishment of ours.
I Agree With Cornel West
Speaking to a Jerusalem Post reporter on July 26, on the floor of the Democratic convention, West said that he was disappointed the platform did not go further, but he vowed to continue his struggle. He declared: “The Palestinians will be free, brother. Ain’t no doubt about that.”
And that’s where Cornel and I agree.
Since 1995, more than 98 percent of the Palestinians have been living under the occupation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) (and, since 2007, 100 percent of the residents of Gaza have been living under the occupation of Hamas). Ain’t no doubt in my mind: one day, brother, the Palestinians will be free of the cruel totalitarian Palestinian regimes that occupy and oppress them.
One day, brother, the Palestinians will have the freedom to democratically choose their leaders. Mahmoud Abbas was elected head of the Palestinian Authority in January 2005 for a four year term. Yet somehow he is still in office, seven and a half years since his term expired. And Hamas has not held a democratic election since taking over the Gaza Strip nine years ago.
One day, brother, the Palestinians will have the right to freedom of speech. Najat Abu Baker, a member of the Palestinian parliament, recently hid out in the parliament building for seventeen days to avoid being arrested by the PA police. The warrant for arrest was issued because — as the New York Times put it — “Ms. Abu Baker said Mr. Abbas should resign and suggested that there would be money to pay educators if ministers were not so corrupt.”
One day, brother, the Palestinians will have the right to free assembly. Earlier this year, 20,000 Palestinian public school teachers went on strike because they had not been paid (those were the unpaid educators to whom Ms. Abu Baker was referring). When some dissidents tried to hold a rally in support of the strikers, “the PA security services set up rings of checkpoints to prevent the teachers from attending the demonstration,” according to Ha’aretz. Twenty teachers and two school principals who did manage to reach the rally were arrested for doing so.
Senator slams Obama for 'nickel and diming' Israel on defense aid
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is criticizing the Obama administration over the terms of the defense deal that Israel reportedly intends to sign with the U.S. According to The Washington Post, which quoted an interview the senator gave to the paper's conservative blog Right Turn, Graham said that "now is not the time to nickel and dime Israel."
The subcommittee Graham heads has already passed legislation to increase aid to Israel from $3.1 billion to $3.4 billion in 2017. While the administration is refusing to step up aid to Israel either this year or in a 10-year memorandum of understanding, Graham argues that Congress is not bound by any Memorandum of Understanding and has the prerogative to increase aid.
According to The Washington Post, Graham also said he plans to allocate an additional $1.5 billion in defense aid to Israel.
"Shouldn't Israel get 1% of what Iran got?" Graham asked, referring to the $150 billion released to the Islamic Republic under the terms of the nuclear deal.
The South Carolina senator reportedly said he wished President Barack Obama had taken as tough a stance against Iran as he has taken against Israel.
PM welcomes Cairo peace push: ‘There’s so much we can do together’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Egypt’s regional role on Thursday, saying there was “so much that we can accomplish together” and praising President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for his efforts to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Speaking at an official reception at the Egyptian ambassador’s home to mark Egypt’s independence day, known as Revolution Day, the prime minister said Israeli-Egyptian peace had survived storms and turbulence to become “an anchor of stability and security in our region.”
He extolled the virtues of that relationship, which he said “made history by showing the world that peace between Arabs and Israelis is possible and sustainable.”
And he welcomed “the effort to incorporate other Arab states in this larger effort of a broader peace between all the peoples of the Middle East.”
The event was also attended by President Reuven Rivlin, who said Egypt’s leadership was indispensable in the Middle East. He called Cairo “a strategic partner: in security, commerce, and regional cooperation.”
He added that “There are many economic projects that we can only develop in cooperation, and I hope that we can work together to carry out these projects for the benefit of all peoples.”
Israel reiterates support for a two-state solution amid GOP shift
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still believes the best outcome in the conflict with the Palestinians is a two-state solution, in which a demilitarized Arab state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel, his envoy to the US, Ron Dermer, said on Thursday.
His comments come amid a significant shift in language in the Republican Party Platform, adopted last week in Ohio, which now intentionally omits any reference to a two-state settlement and suggests leaving Israel to its own devices to end the conflict.
Speaking at a lunch on the sidelines of the Democratic National Convention, Dermer– a close confidante of the prime minister– said that Israel "is prepared to have a negotiated settlement."
But what Israel is not prepared for, he said, is to settle for an agreement "that will continue the conflict with Israel."
"He believes the best solution is a demilitarized Palestinian state" recognizing the Jewish state, Dermer said, responding to the change in Republican language.
The Quartet Report: An International Attempt to Keep the Two-State Solution Alive
On July 1, 2016, the Middle East Quartet published its latest report, focusing on major threats to achievement of a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and offering recommenda- tions to advance the two-state solution. Despite the criticism of Israel, from Israel’s perspective the report includes three central positive elements. First, it frames the situation as a political conflict in which both sides carry a sizable share of the blame. In this respect the report is a refreshing change from international reports, documents, and movements that frame the conflict as a human rights issue in which Israel is the occupying power purposefully violating basic human rights of Palestinian victims. Second, the report clearly raises the issue of Palestinian incitement as a practice that must be seriously addressed. Third, the report specifically states that a permanent status agreement to end the conflict can only be achieved through direct bilateral negotiations and not through unilateral actions. Thus, the report does not imply that the international community supports the current Palestinian strategy of internationalizing the conflict, or that this approach is likely to bear fruit.
In Saudi Delegation’s Visit to Jerusalem, Signs of Broader Change
Th​is​ visit reflects far more ​change in​ Saudi views than those in Israel. The Jewish state has long pressed for normalization with the Arab states, particularly those in the Gulf. Such a public visit suggests Saudi willingness to test the waters. Changes in the region wrought by the Arab Spring, the rise of Iran, and shared worries over the Iran nuclear agreement have narrowed the divide between Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Saudis appear to be more worried about Iran and the rise of ISIS than about being seen with the Israelis. The logic of shared enemies has created more intimacy in Israeli-Egyptian relations as well. Egypt and Israel both have interest in restraining Hamas and the jihadis operating in Sinai. What’s striking is that Saudi Arabia and Egypt seem to be using the Palestinian issue not to isolate Israel but as a basis to engage.
Th​is willingness to engage ​is driven by King Salman–still a relatively new ruler, having ascended to the throne in 2015–and his young son Muhammed Bin Salman. A decade ago sending a Saudi delegation to Israel without some significant quid pro quo or breakthrough in the peace process would have been unimaginable. To do it when Israel has one of the most right-wing governments in its history underscores the depth of change in regional priorities and Saudi thinking. Whether battling the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, waging a proxy war with Iran in Syria, or implementing economic reforms at home, the Saudis are acting more boldly and independently.
How that manifests on the Palestinian issue remains to be seen. Testing the waters is one thing; to ​mak​e​ major​ and unmatched​ concessions​ on ​a matter that still resonates broadly and deeply amid the Arab world’s divides and dysfunction would be quite another. The Saudis may be less hostile to Israel, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t require big concessions as the price to get closer.
Saudis: Israel Visit Doesn’t Reflect Government Stance
The Saudi government distanced itself on Wednesday from a recent visit to Israel by a delegation of Saudi citizens, which included a former military general.
An unnamed Saudi Foreign Ministry official told the state-owned al-Hayat newspaper that the visit “does not reflect the views of the Saudi government,” the Associated Press reported.
Last week, a rare delegation of Saudis, headed by outspoken retired Saudi general Anwar Eshki, visited Israel. The delegation met with Israeli Foreign Ministry officials including Director-General Dore Gold at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The group also met with opposition Knesset members and Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the COGAT, the military body that coordinates Israeli activities in the West Bank and Gaza.
Eshki reportedly lead the delegation of “businessmen and academics” to promote the stalled Saudi-led 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, AFP reported.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Me Have Solution To Arab-Israeli Conflict By Cookie Monster (satire)
Not that cookies not play a part in the solution – cookies must be part of EVERY solution. Cookies part of compensation package for Palestinian descendants of refugees, for example. They hold on to old keys, and keys symbolic of property left behind in 1948 – but of course one cannot say “cookies” without the word “keys” – naturally, it part of solution. Me surprise you with that observation, me know.
Problem not with refugee descendants themselves – problem with Palestinian leadership and host countries who not allow them full citizenship and use statelessness as political weapon. But cookies also play part in solution to that dilemma: provide enough cookies as incentive to Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and other countries that discourage Palestinian integration, and problem disappears as quickly as plate of cookies. Omnomnomnomnomnomnom.
Me get asked what Israel’s role in this solution. Good question. Israel can supply cookies. Not cookies they produce right now. Israeli cookies just plain awful. Me not have very high standards when it comes to cookie quality – quantity far more important – but Israeli cookies not up to snuff. Other countries must step in with aid package to allow Israeli cookie production to meet minimum quality requirements for this to work. Decent chocolate chips a good start.
Me realize solution appears to involve only cookies after all. Me cannot say me all that surprised. Can ideas – or solutions to problems – ever be complete if they not involve cookies?
Me should have known.
Building friendship between Kurdistan and Israel
The ties between Israel and Kurdistan run deep. We the Kurds tend to see Israel as a role model for an independent Kurdistan; a small nation surrounded by enemies and bolstered by a strategic partnership with the United States.
If we look at Israel, it has long developed alliances with non-Arab countries on the periphery of the Middle East. Today, that policy rests on partnerships with Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria and Caucasian and central Asian countries. Kurdistan fits perfectly into that framework.
It is my dream to see an independent Kurdistan with strong diplomatic relations with Israel. We are the only nation in the region with no hatred toward Israel or America.
The Kurds are different from Arabs in numerous ways. Generally, Islamists are more powerful in the Arab world; they think that Islamic Sharia is the solution. On the other hand, most Kurds are open to Western values, but need much help to improve governance.
On the bright side, Kurdish intellectuals in the diaspora are active and professionally well connected, which brings hope for a better future of Kurdistan and its building partnerships around the world, including a solid friendship with Israel.
With few friends in the region, the Kurds will likely look to Israel to help us gain security and closer relations with the United States. As Arab governments in the Middle East totter and fall, and Islamists look to exploit the chaos and terrorism, the alliance is one that both countries may find beneficial.
The Kurds are waiting for the right opportunity to declare independence from Baghdad. Our fight against Islamic State (ISIS) is still ongoing, thanks to our brave Kurdish Peshmerga who are not only defending our own territories but also fighting on behalf of the Western civilized countries, as well as Israel, for stability in the region.
UN remembers Israeli athletes murdered in 1972 Olympics
With the Olympic Games set to open in Rio de Janeiro next week, the Israeli Mission to the United Nations on Thursday held the first of its kind memorial event at the UN to honor the Israeli athletes murdered in the attack on the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Michal Shahar, the daughter of slain Olympic shooting coach Kehat Shorr, addressed the gathering.
In his speech at the event, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said, “The Olympic games should represent hope and peace, and a world without war and hatred. This hope was shattered during the Munich Olympics when terrorists infiltrated the Olympic village and struck at one of the world’s few sources world of unity – athletics.”
The Ambassador also noted, “Today we are lighting the torch that was extinguished in Munich. A torch of hope, which will shine brightly against those who incite to terrorism and violence. We will never let terror win.”
During her remarks, Michal Shahar noted, "The evil and terror that killed my father and the other Israeli athletes has only increased since that terrible day forty-four years ago. The UN, like the Olympics, represents the hope that the nations of the world will work together for a better future. I see the terrible attacks in Israel and around the world, like in Germany recently, and I hope that my words today will encourage all countries to put politics aside, and unite against terrorism."
MKs push to complete Judea and Samaria security fence by 2018
A new bill introduced Thursday strives to facilitate completing the construction of the security fence in Judea and Samaria by 2018. The legislation proposal was presented by Zionist Union MK Omer Bar Lev, with the backing of 20 Zionist Union lawmakers.
Bar Lev explained that over the past few years, and especially during the current wave of terrorism, Palestinian terrorists have been able to infiltrate Israel through the incomplete sections in the security fence.
There are currently four incomplete sections in the fence: one near the Jerusalem suburb of Maaleh Adumim, one in the Gush Etzion area, and two in the Mount Hebron sector.
While the government has several plans in progress to complete the security fence, the new bill seeks to designate its construction a "high-priority national project" that must be completed within 18 months.
Being a security-oriented project, the designation will give the Defense Ministry jurisdiction over the bill's implementation, including the authority to enact auxiliary bylaws and regulations with aim of completing the fence.
A fortified Sderot continues life under the threat from Gaza
Situated at its nearest point 840 meters from the Gaza Strip, Sderot is synonymous with rocket attacks and bomb shelters.
But a recently concluded NIS 1.3 billion Construction and Housing Ministry fortification project has engendered some optimism in the city, and in 43 nearby communities, that family and friends will be safer in the future.
The fortification project, headed by the ministry and coordinated with the Jewish Agency and the Prime Minister’s Office, began in February 2008 and received an extension in October 2012.
According to the ministry, “the project to fortify homes in Gaza-vicinity communities provided 9-sq.m. bomb shelters for 10,140 housing units that previously had no shelters.”
Sderot and four regional council areas – Sha’ar Hanegev, Eshkol, Hof Ashkelon and Sdot Negev – were included in the project.
The Construction Ministry’s goal, which is to “ensure the continuation of normal and safe life” for residents of the so-called Gaza envelope, who number around 50,000, is a difficult one. These communities lie within 7 kilometers of the Gaza Strip, and residents have less than 15 seconds to find a bomb shelter or protected area when sirens warn of a rocket attack.
Hundreds wed in Hamas-sponsored Gaza event
Hundreds of couples tied the knot in northern Gaza this week in a Hamas-sponsored mass wedding.
Three hundred and thirty brides and grooms celebrated with music, dancing, fireworks and entertainers in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip in an event attended by many senior members of the ruling Hamas group. The grooms arrived on horses and had only words of thanks for Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules Gaza.
In addition to covering the costs of the wedding, Hamas also gave each couple a cash gift of $700, donated by a Saudi Arabian charity fund.
“These happy (occasions) are (steps) on the way to the greatest happiness of all, the happiness of liberty, independence and returning to all the lands of Palestine. The happiness of prayer at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s top leader in the Strip, said at the event.
In keeping with local custom, the grooms danced outside with their younger sisters who wore white, while the brides danced indoors due to modesty concerns.
Hamas Summer Camp For Junior Terrorists in Gaza
It's no joke. Hamas' summer camp brainwashes the minds of tens of thousands of children in Gaza by encouraging them to become future terrorists and to follow the way of violent jihad. Children should not be a part of Hamas' terror machine.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Hamas Accidentally Digs Wrong Way, Floods Tunnels With Seawater (satire)
Khan Younis Refugee Camp, July 27 – Hundreds of Hamas personnel and civilian workers in the underground system crisscrossing this militant stronghold were forced above ground today when a team of laborers was misdirected and dug a passage into the Mediterranean, allowing hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of water into the system.
Evacuation of the tunnels in the camp began in earnest sometime after midday Wednesday when, according to witnesses, fighters, workers, and child laborers scurried out of the passages via shafts in homes, mosques, schools, and public health facilities. No deaths or injuries were reported in the incident, but use of the subterranean passages in the vicinity has been made impossible for the foreseeable future.
Worshipers at the Saad Ali Mosque in the southwestern section of the camp were forced to interrupt midday prayers to allow several dozen men to flee through the building, from a hole in the ground behind a concealed partition next to a side wall. The men were followed by a harried group of boys holding shovels, pails, and picks, some of whose clothes were soaked from the thighs down.
A similar sight greeted summer camp attendees and staff at a UNRWA school who were about to sit down for lunch. Falestin Jaabari, 19, a counselor at the camp, told reporters there was a sudden stampede from a storage room next to the principal’s office.
“Somebody’s started yelling about a flood, but I couldn’t see anything, and nobody was sure what direction to go, or even to look,” she recalled. “A few minutes later the story came out, and we were able to help some of the diggers – the same age as many of the kids in the camp – dry off.”
Iran-Backed Houthis Set Up Governing Council, Threatening UN Peace Talks
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebel movement and its political allies have announced the creation of a governing council, threatening United Nations-sponsored peace talks, Reuters reported on Thursday.
The Houthis, a longtime Zaydi Shiite insurgency in the country’s north, took advantage of political paralysis in Yemen after protests forced the country’s strongman president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to step down in 2012. By early 2015, the Houthis, buoyed with support from the ousted Saleh and from Iran, seized control of the nation’s capital and overthrew the internationally recognised government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a U.S. counter-terrorism partner. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies then launched an airstrike campaign to back the government’s remnants in Yemen’s south.
Peace talks between the country’s factions are underway in Kuwait, but no breakthrough is in sight. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the United Nations’ special envoy for Yemen, said the Houthi’s latest move breached U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216, which called on them “to refrain from further unilateral actions that could undermine the political transition in Yemen.”
“The announcement of unilateral governing arrangements is not in line with the peace process and endangers the substantial progress made during the Kuwait talks,” Ould Cheikh Ahmed told Reuters in a statement.
Another American Has Been Detained in Iran, the Fourth in Five Months
Before Reza “Robin” Shahini flew to Iran to visit his ailing mother in May, he was careful to delete years-old postings about Iran on his social-media accounts. He was not a political activist, but Shahini wanted to avoid attracting any attention from Iranian authorities.
For the first six weeks, the trip went as planned. The San Diego resident texted friends photos of his sightseeing in the country of his birth.
But on July 11, Shahini, 46, was arrested in Iran on suspicion of crimes against the Islamic Republic, becoming the latest Westerner with dual citizenship to be detained.
He joined two other U.S. citizens known to be detained, and at least four dual nationals from Britain, Canada and France, three of whom have been arrested in the past five months.
Friends and sources close to the family say that nothing in Shahini’s past suggested he would be targeted. He had made several uneventful trips to Iran before.
But his arrest reflects a shift in tactics by hard-liners in Iran trying to keep the country isolated despite a nuclear deal signed a year ago. Prominent people are not the only ones in the crosshairs. Now, ordinary people are being swept up.
Iran threatens to shut off Strait of Hormuz
Iran has threatened once again to close the Strait of Hormuz if the nation faces military action by its “enemies.”
The Iranian army’s Deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier General Ali Shadmani said Tuesday that “If the enemy makes a small mistake, we will shut the Strait of Hormuz, kill their sedition in the bud and endanger the arrogant powers’ interests,” according to the Fars news agency.
In May the deputy commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Hossein Salami, warned that Iranian forces would close the strategic gateway to the Persian Gulf to the United States and its allies if they “threaten” the Islamic Republic.
Tehran and Washington have often clashed over the narrow strait, through which nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes.
The Gulf has seen a number of naval incidents between Iran and the US in the past year, including test rocket fire by the Islamic Republic and the brief capture of American sailors who strayed into its territorial waters.

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