Tuesday, August 16, 2016

From Ian:

Al Jazeera: Diabetes is the the leading indirect cause of death in Palestine
An estimated 15 percent of Palestinians have been officially recorded as suffering from diabetes, compared with a global average of nine percent. But Abu al-Halaweh believes the real number in Palestine is higher - more than 20 percent.
"In the surrounding areas of Yatta, we believe half of the adult population has Type 2 diabetes. But many of them don't know they have it," he told Al Jazeera, blaming the region's high unemployment rates and lack of education for the increased rates.
The Israeli occupation has exacerbated the diabetes crisis in a number of ways, "especially the psychological stress that comes from it", Abu al-Halaweh added.
"People in Gaza or Palestinian refugees suffer from an even poorer diet," he said, noting that one-third of Palestinians are considered to be short of food. "They may not have nutritional deficits in terms of calories, but the food aid they receive can be pallets of canned tuna eaten for weeks. Such an unvaried diet is not optimal."
The mobile clinic roaming the streets of the occupied West Bank is the only such service in Palestine for screening and treating diabetes patients. It also functions as a tool for educating Palestinians about the dangers of diabetes.
IsraellyCool: Fatah Slams Hamas For Stealing Humanitarian Aid Money & Arresting Journalists
The following cartoon was posted on the official Fatah Facebook page.
They seem to be taking a swipe at Hamas for misusing funds earmarked for humanitarian organizations like World Vision and the UN.
Interestingly enough, even though they post everything in Arabic, they accompanied the cartoon with the words “No comment” in English – clearly aiming it at an international audience.
They have also posted the following – again with an English description.
This all follows their biting video response to the Hamas video showing how great life in Gaza is.
Fatah are clearly on the warpath against Hamas. One can only hope this goes beyond social media and leads to a terrorists vs terrorists war of epic proportions.
My only concern is whether I have enough popcorn in the house.

Hezbollah terror cells, set up via Facebook in West Bank and Israel, busted by Shin Bet
Israel’s security services broke up two terror cells, which had been created by the Hezbollah terrorist organization, arresting nine suspected members over the past few months, officials revealed Tuesday.
Hezbollah operatives from the group’s Unit 133 — its foreign operations unit — working out of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip recruited members in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and within Israel through social media sites, notably Facebook, the Shin Bet security service said.
The terror cells had planned to carry out suicide bombings and ambush IDF patrols in the West Bank. They received funding from Hezbollah, and some members had begun preparing explosive devices for use in attacks, the Shin Bet says.
“The Hezbollah organization has recently made it a priority to try to spark terror acts, doing so from far away, while attempting to not clearly expressing its involvement,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
The terror operatives were arrested earlier this summer, but information about the case was kept under a court-issued gag order. The Shin Bet has credited their operation with thwarting a number of terror attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank and Israel.
According to Israel’s security forces, the ringleader of the West Bank terror cell was Mustafa Kamal Hindi, 18, a resident of Qalqilya.
During his interrogation, Hindi told interrogators that he’d been recruited through a Facebook page, “Palestine the Free,” where Hezbollah posted “anti-Israel and pro-jihad content,” the Shin Bet said.

Danon to UN: Designate Hezbollah as a terror organization
In the wake of confounded attempts by Hezbollah to instigate terror attacks within Israel, the Israeli representative to the UN, Dani Danon, called on the UN Security Commision to officially define Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
"Hezbollah terrorists are working as representatives of the Iranian regime, threatening not only Israel, but stability in Syria, Lebanon and the entire region," Danon said.
Danon emphasized that "Hezbollah needs to know that every terror act it does will have serious repercussions for the organization."
He urged the international community to condemn the organization, saying: "the international community must condemn attempts by Hezbollah to hurt innocent Israeli citizens; the UN Security Commission must proclaim them a terror organization."
Hezbollah's sting operation
A little more scrutiny in vetting an interview offer from the "international media" would likely have prevented the embarrassment felt by Israeli leaders who were tricked into speaking to a journalist working on behalf of the South-Lebanese terror organization.
Monni's Hezbollah handlers attempted to stand by him, claiming he was sent to perform the interviews due to his connections with the Israeli top brass. We found a hook, they explained. The interviewees didn't check his background with thoroughly enough, and the interviewer didn't see the full picture either.
Michele Monni is on his way out. He's already been suspended from his position at Italian news agency ANSA. This was the position that allowed him to receive a journalist certificate from the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) in Jereusalem. When he took the job – whether he knew he'd be working for Hezbollah or not – he did not inform his superiors or ask their permission.
I assume that expressions of contrition will not help Monni in his disciplinary hearing. He acted dishonestly. When he requested the interviews (with the aid of an Israeli official with ties to the media), he made two promises: The first was that the interviews would be shown on the BBC and Al-Jazeera. The second was that it would be broadcast on "international media" outlets. It just so happened that politicians, experts, and one IDF major general casually fell into the trap. Who would give up an opportunity to speak to the "international media," after all?
ISIS Copies a Palestinian Tactic
In my last post, I discussed how Palestinian culture encourages suicidal youngsters to kill by offering a simple bargain: Murder a Jew, and you instantly become a hero. While the West has long turned a blind eye to this behavior, its refusal to look reality in the face is now coming back to haunt it. For today, the Islamic State is making the very same tempting offer to distraught Muslims in Western countries–murder a Westerner, and you can instantly become a hero instead of a failure.
It’s no accident that several recent terror attacks in Western countries have been carried out by people who apparently had histories of mental illness, including Nice, Orlando, and several attacks in Germany. Nor is it any accident that the Islamic State is cultivating such people. As with many other terrorist techniques pioneered by the Palestinians, ISIS has copied this one precisely because it proved successful–and not just as a means of recruiting assailants.
This tactic also serves two other important purposes. First, it encourages an already strong Western tendency to ignore the terrorists’ true aims. I discussed this with regard to the Palestinians in my previous post; a classic example concerning the Islamic State was Kenan Malik’s op-ed in the New York Times on Tuesday. “In the past, groups employing terrorism, such as the Irish Republican Army or the Palestine Liberation Organization, were driven by specific political aims: a united Ireland or an independent Palestine,” Malik wrote. “Jihadists are different. They have little or no explicit political aim but are driven by a visceral hatred of the West.”
In reality, Islamic State is quite open about its aims: It wants to destroy the West and establish a global Islamic caliphate. Indeed, being open about its goals is part of how it attracts new recruits, just as Palestinian organizations attract support by boasting of their efforts to destroy the Jewish state. But at the same time, both the Palestinians and ISIS would prefer that the West not take their goals too seriously since, if it did, it might stop supporting the Palestinians or actually get serious about destroying ISIS.
Medalists arrive back in Israel to Olympic hero’s welcome
Waving flags and singing songs, hundreds of people turned up at Ben-Gurion International Airport late Monday to welcome Israel’s Olympic medal-winning judokas back home.
“I didn’t expect so much craziness,”Yarden Gerbi said upon landing, according to news site Ynet, which reported nearly 1,000 celebrants who came out to the airport outside Tel Aviv.
Gerbi and Or Sasson both took away bronze medals in judo in Rio, Israel eighth and ninth medals ever, instantly transforming the two into national heroes.
Entering the cavernous airport arrivals hall, Gerbi and Sasson were showered with flowers, as well-wishers waved flags, sang patriotic songs and held up pictures and posters with the two winners, stopping them every few moments for a selfy or a hug.
“I think I dropped to 57 kilos just from all the craziness here,” said Gerbi, who competed in the 63-kilogram category. “I had a few days of quiet in Rio as I took in the accomplishment. My next dream is some vacation.”
Egyptian Judoka Who Refused To Shake Israeli Competitor's Hand Sent Home By IOC
Egyptian judoka Islam el-Shehaby, who refused to shake hands with an Israeli athlete after a match, has been reprimanded by the IOC and sent home by the Egyptian delegation. The IOC said that el-Shehaby's actions were against the values the Olympic Games stands for, and that Egypt needs to do a better job educating its athletes about the meaning of the Games.
"The Disciplinary Commission (DC) considered that his behavior at the end of the competition was contrary to the rules of fair play and against the spirit of friendship embodied in the Olympic Values," the IOC said.
"The DC issued a 'severe reprimand for inappropriate behavior' to the athlete. It noted....the shaking of hands after a match is not in the competition rules of the International Judo Federation."
"As well as a severe reprimand, the DC has asked the Egyptian Olympic Committee to ensure in future that all their athletes receive proper education on the Olympic Values before coming to the Olympic Games," the IOC said.

On Twitter, fans encouraged el-Shehaby to forfeit the entire match to avoid fighting an Israeli. El-Shehaby defended not shaking hands after the match, saying he wouldn't shake hands with anyone who represented Israel for "personal reasons."
Egypt officially recognized Israel in 1979.
Honestly, good on the IOC for standing up for athletes. The games are not a time for political statements.
Economist twists story about Egyptian racism into lie about Israeli “apartheid”
A serious journalist who wished to provide an analysis to news consumers on the recent Olympic scandal involving an Egyptian judoka who refused to shake the hand of his Israeli competitor may have contextualized the incident by noting endemic Egyptian antisemitism. Indeed, though Cairo and Jerusalem signed a peace agreement in 1979, and ties between the two countries (on the governmental level) have never been closer, there is little if any sign that Egyptian animosity towards Jews – not just Israelis, but Jews qua Jews – has waned.
In 2011, a Pew Global poll revealed that only 2% of Egyptians had favorable attitudes towards Jews.
More recently, an ADL commissioned poll reported that 75% of Egyptians held antisemitic views – a sign of an entrenched hatred that persists despite the fact that there are almost no Jews left in the country.
Yet, remarkably, the Economist’s “N.P.” (presumably Nicolas Pelham), in ‘Politics hogs the Olympic spotlight‘, Aug. 15, ignores Egyptian antisemitism in his report on the conduct of the Egyptian athlete, and does his best to turn the story into one of Israeli hypocrisy.
Signs of Pelham’s impatience with Israeli ‘claims’ of Egyptian racism are evident throughout the article. After citing additional examples of athletes from Egypt (and other Arab countries) refusing to compete with – or otherwise showing disdain towards – Israeli athletes, Pelham derides the suggestion that Israelis are the victims, mocking those “Israeli athletes” who “might cheer the free pass they gain when Arabs refuse to compete against them“.
“Free pass”? For which crimes do Israeli athletes require such impunity?
New York Times Casts Olympians' Anti-Israel Hostility As Mutual Animosity
In a sports story on the Egyptian judoka who refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent, The New York Times misleadingly depicts a pattern of anti-Israel hostility on the part of Muslim and Arab Olympians as "animosity between Israeli and other Middle Eastern athletes," as if the two sides are equally engaged in hostile acts directed against the other side. In his Aug. 13 article about Islam El Shehaby's snub of Or Sasson ("Egyptian Refuses Handshake After Losing to Israeli"), Victor Mather writes:
There is a history of animosity between Israeli and other Middle Eastern athletes at the Olympics, including in judo.
Mather helpfully goes on to cite examples, all of which tellingly point to one directional hostility: Arab and Muslim athletes snubbing Israeli competitors. First, he cites last week's incident in a Lebanese team prevented an Israeli team for boarding a bus. Then, he notes that last Tuesday, a Saudi judo player forfeited a match, reportedly to avoid competing against an Israeli. Finally, The Times' Mather cites a 2004 incident in which Iranian judoka Arash Miresmaeili apparently binged in order to be disqualified so as to not to face off against an Israeli.
Indeed, Israeli Olympians are consistently on the receiving end of Arab and Muslim animosity so why misleadingly characterize the hostility as "animosity between Israeli and other Middle Eastern athletes"?
Reuters Bureau Chief Deletes Tweet Saying Palestinian Leadership Doesn’t Allow Athletes to Train in Israel
The Jerusalem bureau chief for Reuters deleted a tweet he posted last week about the plight of Palestinian athletes, after engaging in an exchange with pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon.
Luke Baker erased a claim he made last Thursday that Palestinian leaders oppose letting Palestinian athletes train in Israel.
This was an apparent reference to reports by media outlets such as Mondoweiss, that “Mary al Atrash, a 22-year-old swimmer from Beit Sahour in the West Bank who was part of the largest delegation Palestine has ever sent to the Olympic Games…[had] difficulties to train in a swimming pool that does not match the Olympic standards, and explained that although she technically lives close to Jerusalem, where such swimming pools, exist, she could not go there to train.”
It turned out, however, that Atrash had never applied for an Israeli entry permit, possibly due to a Palestinian Authority anti-normalization policy.
Baker then modified his comment to: “The conflict is the responsibility of both Israel and the Palestinians, who have opposed letting athletes train in Israel.”
Removing the radicals
Canada needs to revamp its approach to Islamic extremism if it hopes to prevent another homegrown radical from setting off a bomb, says the founder of an international anti-radicalization think tank.
In an exclusive interview with Postmedia, Maajid Nawaz - a former Islamist radical and founder of the U.K.-based Quilliam Foundation - called for a society-wide effort to undercut the intellectual and theological planks of Islamist and jihadist ideology.
“There certainly needs to be training. Counter-radicalization training involves de-radicalization training on how to disengage somebody from the theory of violence, and it involves taking them beyond that actually and discrediting the theory of Islamism in their minds,” said Nawaz.
“A lot of this, Muslims simply don’t know.”
Nawaz was in Niagara Falls Saturday to address the third annual Non-Conference at the Americana hotel as the event’s keynote speaker.
Although the event was billed as a conference for non-believers, Nawaz, a Muslim seeking to reform the faith, told his audience he looked upon them as allies in combating radicalization.
Obama will leave his successor a ticking time bomb
Barack Obama likes to credit himself with getting America to step back from the abyss of the Middle East. When he shops around the story of his legacy, the president says he was proudest of his decision not to follow the "Washington playbook" and commit to toppling the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
It would be a fitting story to tell of the man who ascended to the presidency while simultaneously winning a Nobel Peace Prize. Obama returns America's sword to its sheath, and earns the praise of his fans and admirers. Just as he passed on a better economy to his successor than the one he inherited from Bush, so he passed on a safer world.
Unfortunately this story is a lie from end to end. The world the next president will inherit is full of traps.
In Afghanistan, Obama has slowed down the pace of withdrawing troops. Corruption is rife, and there seems to be no progress on talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The latter has gained momentum and re-captured parts of the countryside. A continued drawdown after Obama's presidency may make his successor appear to be running from the Taliban.
In Iraq, American special forces are back on the ground as the U.S conducts airstrikes against ISIS. Although the U.S. seems to be sending ISIS into a smaller corner of the country, Iraq's political settlement is as shaky as ever, with Shia Muslims threatening to revolt.
In Syria, the U.S. wants to force Assad out of peace negotiations, and so acts to strengthen various rebel groups. The civil war is thus extended indefinitely, leading to increasing death totals. Russia acts to shore up Assad in negotiations, making Syria look more and more like a proxy war between two global nuclear powers.
UN Ignored Desperate Pleas Of Gang-Rape Victims In South Sudan, A New Country Bush Championed And Obama Abandoned
Several years after former President George W. Bush facilitated South Sudan’s long-awaited independence, the young nation has fallen, once again, victim to what amounts to a civil war. Sectarian violence fueled by ethnic divisions are tearing the country apart, once-again, as President Salva Kiir’s central government in Juba struggles to fend off long-time rival and former vice president Riek Machar’s paramilitary force stationed outside the city. The international community has so far failed to respond to reports of mass violence. In fact, the UN is actively turning a blind-eye to the war’s most desperate victims: women.
As the conflict escalates and the country descends into chaos, sectarian militias have fallen back on primal savagery, exercising control over women’s bodies to establish some ill-conceived notion of power.
One case in particular illustrates the horror inflicted upon South Sudan’s most vulnerable victims.
Nearly one month ago several women were gang-raped at a “safe house” by soldiers celebrating their victory over opposition forces. One of the women was raped by 15 different soldiers. The disturbing attack occurred in the Terrain hotel complex, less than one-mile away from a UN peacekeeping force. Despite a deafening cry for help, the United Nations refused to respond, allowing the soldiers to indulge, openly, in sexual violence against their female victims.
German bank funds 'Arabs only' water purification plant
The German bank KfW is funding a waste treatment plant in Samaria - on condition that it only serve the Arab population, the Legal Forum for Israel said on Tuesday.
According to the Forum, this same bank perviously funded the establishment of a water purification plant which has been noted for polluting the water flowing through the nearby valley of Wadi Kelt.
The Legal Forum warns that the establishment of the new waste treatment plant near the Jewish community of Rimonim will cause serious damage to a nearby archaeological site dating to biblical times.
Yesterday, the Knesset held a hearing which addressed an incident this week during which Palestinian Authority police opened fire after a confrontation at the site of the new building plans.
Although the Legal Forum and other environmentalist groups have repeatedly appealed to the Civil Administration to stop the construction plans, so far, the Administration has rejected their claims.
PA submits more anti-Israel material to ICC
Saeb Erekat, secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) Executive Committee, announced on Monday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) transferred to the International Criminal Court in the Hague a detailed file concerning Israeli “settlements”.
In a radio interview Erekat expressed hope that the court will soon decide to open a criminal investigation into the "settlement crimes".
“Palestine” officially joined the ICC on April 1, 2015, and immediately filed a series of legal complaints with the court, including a claim that Israeli “settlements” are “an ongoing war crime”. Additional complaints revolve around the war in Gaza in 2014, the issue of terrorist prisoners in Israel, and others.
Palestinian Arab non-governmental organizations, collaborating with Israeli organizations, have submitted evidence of Israel's alleged “crimes” against civilians and UNRWA schools in Gaza in the summer of 2014.
Erekat's announcement comes after a recent report that the PA is mulling more lawsuits against Israel at the ICC.
In his remarks Monday, Erekat also called on international institutions to act to halt the Israeli moves which harm peace and a two-state solution.
He added that the PA sent letters to various countries regarding the unprecedented “settlement activities” which takes place in parallel to the “settlers' daily attacks against the Al Aqsa Mosque, the confiscation of land and intensifying attacks against the Palestinian people.”
PreOccupiedTerritory: UN: Israelite Raid After Arad Captures Prisoners ‘Disproportionate’ (satire)
International condemnation followed the Hebrews’ military operation to free prisoners taken by the Canaanite ruler of Arad this week, an action deemed out of proportion to the situation.
In Resolution -2133 the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to condemn the nation for its raid on Canaanite territory after the king of Arad attacked them and captured an unknown number of prisoners. The raid wiped out the cities and towns from which the Arad kingdom launched their attack, and succeeded in freeing the captives, but the Council believed the operation use excessive force and could not be justified under laws of armed conflict expected to come into effect only 3,300 years from now. The United States and Great Britain abstained from the vote, declining to use their vetoes, in a move largely seen as a rebuke to the Israelites for not allowing themselves to be attacked with impunity.
“The ruthlessness of the retaliatory attack cannot be justified,” read the resolution, which was drafted by France. “We call on the Israelite nation and its leader Moses to withdraw at once from the areas it occupies.” The Israelites as yet occupy no territory, but have declared they aim to take up residence in the area presently known as the Land of Canaan.
Numerous UN envoys expressed satisfaction that the resolution passed, but urged further action to prevent more violations. “The Israelites need to be hit with military and economic sanctions, at the very least,” argued EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. “They have to understand this is no way to act in the community of nations. My colleagues and I are concerned that only a firm response will discourage such behavior.”
New mall for settlers and Palestinians opens in Gush Etzion
Politicians on Monday afternoon dedicated a new mall for settlers and Palestinians at the Gush Etzion junction, an area that has been a hot spot for terrorist attacks during the last year.
“The opening of this mall sends an unequivocal message to our enemies that you won’t break us,” said MK Nurit Koren (Likud).
“I hope the mall will be a symbol of co-existence based on economic peace,” Koren said.
She spoke at the small ribbon-cutting ceremony on the top floor of the three-story, 5,000-meter structure with 15 shops, including a clothing outlet and a home goods retailer from the well-known FOX chain.
Below the ceremony, on the second floor, Muslim women wearing hijabs and traditional dress, shopped along side religious Jewish women in skirts and scarves tied over their hair.
Politicians call to oust Israeli-Arab MK from Knesset for pro-BDS talk
Joint List MK Basel Ghattas should be sanctioned for calling for a boycott of Israel at a far-left conference in Montreal, Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer said Monday, reacting to the lead story in The Jerusalem Post.
The lawmaker from Balad, one of the four parties that make up the Joint List, called Israel an oppressive, racist and apartheid state. He said he is pessimistic that there will be peace soon, and international sanctions were the most effective way to combat Israel.
“The theater of the absurd in the Knesset continues and the Joint List continues to prove that its MKs do not belong in the Knesset,” Forer said. “A member of parliament calling Israel racist and calling upon countries to boycott and sanction it is an unheard of act in any sane country in the world. It is not only delusional, it is against the law.”
Forer said he checked the laws prohibiting action that would harm Israel via boycotts and he intends to ask the finance minister to remove special tax status from any organization connected directly or indirectly to Ghattas.
Parents of terror victim: Razing terrorists' homes is not enough
The parents of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, a 13-year-old girl who was murdered by a terrorist in her Kiryat Arba home on June 29, said this week that razing the terrorist's home was not enough.
On Thursday, the home of 17-year-old Mohammed Tarayreh, from the Palestinian village of Bani Naim, near Hebron, was demolished in retaliation for the late June attack. Tarayreh himself was killed shortly following the attack by Kiryat Arba security personnel as he was attempting to flee the scene.
"The terrorist's family should be deported. We need to generate a reality where terror is entirely not worth the cost," said Rina, Hallel Yaffa's mother. "The ownership of every house like this should automatically be transferred into Jewish hands. The current situation is ridiculous: The terrorist's family is not deported, the house isn't fully demolished, and the areas that we [Jews] can settle aren't being settled. These things actually encourage terrorism."
Amichai, Hallel Yaffa's father, added, "I would prefer that the State of Israel seize the terrorists' property rather than demolishing it. It would serve as a bigger deterrent."
The Sbarro massacre, a Palestinian terror attack in a Jerusalem family restaurant
The Sbarro massacre, a Palestinian terror attack in a Jerusalem family restaurant, in which 15 civilians were murdered, including 8 children and a pregnant woman, and 130 wounded.
Ahlam Tamimi, a terrorist who helped plan the attack, has no regrets. Watch her chilling reaction at the end of this video.

Some 35 Palestinians injured in clashes with IDF near Hebron
Some 35 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with IDF troops in the southern West Bank on Tuesday, according to Palestinian medical officials.
The clashes erupted when a large convoy of Israeli military vehicles entered the al-Fawar refugee camp, near the flashpoint city of Hebron, witnesses said.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said live fire struck about 10 people after rioters threw large rocks at Israeli troops. It says the 25 others were struck by rubber bullets.
The IDF said its forces were on an overnight operation “to uncover weaponry” in the camp, when “dozens of Palestinians hurled IEDs (improvised explosive devices), blocks and rocks” at them.
Palestinian Arab organizations call for 'Day of Rage'
A coalition of Palestinian Arab organizations on Monday called for a “Day of Rage” of popular protests in “all districts of the homeland” to take place this coming Thursday.
The reason for the “Day of Rage” is to protest the Israeli policy towards hunger striking Palestinian Arab terrorists prisoners and to demand their release.
Palestinian Arabs were asked to confront IDF soldiers and Judea and Samaria residents in military checkpoints, in their communities and at other points of friction.
In a meeting held in Ramallah on Monday, the representatives of the national and Islamic Palestinian Arab organizations called on the Palestinian public to also confront IDF troops on Friday in protest of Israel “harming” the Al-Aqsa mosque, administrative detentions and the treatment of the prisoners.
The Palestinian organizations expressed opposition to any manifestation of normalization with the "occupation" and called on Arab countries to boycott Israel and to refuse to have any relations with it - visible or covert.
Gaza merchants say Israel withholding permits, stifling trade
Gazan businessmen staged a protest at a crossing point Monday over what they said was the mass cancellation of travel permits by Israel, which they blamed for suffocating trade.
Palestinians accuse the Jewish state of having scrapped hundreds of travel documents allowing them to enter Israel and the West Bank as well as other countries for trade.
The permits are crucial to the economy of the impoverished Gaza Strip, which some international official say is on the brink of collapse after 10-years of Israeli and Egyptian blockades, imposed following the take over of the enclave by Hamas, considered a terror group by Israel and most Western governments.
Israel, which allows hundreds of trucks into the Strip each day, says the blockade, which restricts shipments on certain items, is necessary to prevent Hamas and other terror groups from rebuilding its military infrastructure, including rockets and a network of tunnels.
Hamas Terrorist Electrocuted in Tunnel as Gaza Families Await Power
The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas announced that one of its operatives was electrocuted to death while working on a tunnel in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Israel Army Radio reported. The news comes as residents of Gaza who seek to rebuild their homes face difficulty in securing the necessary electricity and other resources, which are routinely appropriated by Hamas.
Israel was forced to increase the amount of electricity it sends to Gaza in June after repeated shutdowns at Gaza’s only power plant due to a payment dispute between Hamas and Fatah. Because of this infighting, Gaza residents usually only have six to eight hours of electricity per day. The lack of power has also caused failures at Gaza’s new $100 million sewage treatment facility, which was built with financing from the World Bank.
Hamas’ mismanagement and misappropriation of resources meant for civilian construction have increasingly come into the spotlight in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the Shin Bet charged Mohammad el-Halabi, the Gaza director for the international charity World Vision, of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas. El-Halabi admitted under interrogation to diverting World Vision funds to Hamas for the purpose of purchasing weapons and building terror tunnels and military bases.
John Bolton: Dismantling the Iran Nuclear Deal
Barack Obama’s cash transfer to Iran of $400 million to trigger the release of four American hostages highlights yet again the strategic errors infecting his entire policy regarding Tehran’s ayatollahs.
Abject and humiliating though it was, however, the real lessons of the January ransom payment are even broader. Obama’s view of the world — and America’s place in it — is fundamentally flawed, as is that of his former secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. To avoid further significant harm to the United States, we should reject their grand strategy at the first opportunity, starting with abrogating the Vienna nuclear-weapons agreement.
Obama tried to minimize the significance of the cash transfer (itself only a “down payment” on the $1.7 billion settlement of a long-standing dispute), decoupling it both from the hostage release and the Vienna pact. He knew that pictures of pallets of shrink-wrapped foreign currency being delivered to the world’s largest funder of international terrorism would unravel nearly eight years of his appeasement policy and devastate his carefully-cultivated image.
Endless media interviews by Obama’s press flacks intoning that the payment was not a quid pro quo for freeing some (but not all) of the Americans kidnapped by Iran actually reduced administration credibility both on the deal and more generally. Moreover, the ransom-for-hostages swap was not even the first secret side-deal to the Vienna accord. Just weeks before, we learned of another agreement to allow Iran to swap out its existing uranium-enrichment centrifuges for more-efficient, more-productive centrifuges without violating the supposed commitments to limit its nuclear activities.
One wonders what else might yet emerge.
WATCH: Smuggler Swapped for U.S. Hostages Plotted to Ship Military Equipment to Iran
A video released last week of a man convicted of smuggling military equipment to Iran has shed new light on the activities of the Iranian national and six Iranian-Americans who were released by the U.S. as part of a deal to free several of its citizens from Iranian captivity, ABC News reported on Friday.
The undercover video shows Arash Ghahreman and an associate, Ergun Yildiz, discussing the potential sale of sensitive equipment to Iran with two suppliers, who were actually undercover agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Ghahreman was convicted in April 2015 and sentenced to six and a half years in prison for his involvement in the plot. He was one of seven convicted smugglers who were released by U.S. authorities in January for the release Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former Marine Amir Hekmati, and several others by Iran. The U.S. transferred $400 million in cash to Iran at the time, despite the objections of the Justice Department, which warned that the payment looked like a ransom.
Could Iran Blind Civilian Planes?
Nowhere has Iran made greater strides in indigenous military technology than with unmanned aerial vehicles. It flew its first UAV, a crude surveillance drone, over Iraqi trenches in the latter part of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War and in recent years has worked satellite-GPS guidance so as to no longer rely on line-of-sight operations. It has also armed drones with missiles and crafted others for kamikaze operations. Now, Iranian authorities have announced a new capability: counter-electronics and jamming. While the Iranian military might gear these to enemy communications or seek to blind other drones, Iran’s willingness to share UAVs and technology with Hezbollah and other terrorist groups might mean new threats to civilian air traffic in the region.
Consider Bahrain, for example. Iranian leaders have threatened Bahrain openly since 2007, but they have become particularly blunt and virulent with their threats over the past two months. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, for example, suggested he would “remove the barrier” to “radical and armed movements.” The Bahraini opposition has long sought to wage economic warfare against the island because of its discrimination and repression of Shi’ites. Hence, it has encouraged multinational firms to leave Manama and has also protested the Bahrain Grand Prix. Gulf Air, Bahrain’s national airlines, might not have the reach of Emirates or Qatar Airlines, but it still brings significant revenue to the island. Could Iranian drones—operated directly by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or by proxy—be used to temporarily jam air traffic communications over the island’s airport? No accident need occur—just news of the incident would cripple air traffic into Manama.
Or, consider Israel: The Federal Aviation Administration briefly banned U.S. airliners from flying into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport after Hamas fired a rocket in the direction of the airport. That ban was likely a political decision on the part of the Obama White House and basically rewarded terrorism and put a target over the facility. Hezbollah has already used drones to overfly Israel. Might the Iranian-sponsored proxy try to jam communications with airliners descending into Israel?
Russia deploys bombers to Iranian air base
Russian bombers based in Iran on Tuesday struck militant targets inside Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said, after Moscow deployed Russian aircraft to an Iranian air force base to widen its campaign in Syria.
The ministry said the strikes, by Tupolev-22M3 long-range bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers, were launched from Iran's Hamadan air base.
It is thought to be the first time that Russia has struck targets inside Syria from Iran since it launched a bombing campaign to support Syrian President Bashar Assad in September last year.
The move shows Russia is expanding its role and presence in the Middle East and comes amid Russian media reports Moscow has asked Iran and Iraq for permission to fire cruise missiles at Syrian targets across their territory from the Caspian Sea.
Iran fan in Rio allowed sign backing women spectators
Iranian sports fan and activist Darya Safai returned to the Olympic volleyball venue Monday repeating her message and hoping the whole world hears: “Let Iranian Women Enter Their Stadiums.”
After discussions with about a half-dozen venue officials leading up to the Iran men’s team’s match with defending champion Russia, she was allowed to stay and hold her sign in a front-row, courtside seat.
“They said I can stay. I am here to stay,” she said.
On Saturday, she was in tears when security officials told her she would have to leave if she kept it. Olympic officials do not allow political statements at the games, though the 41-year-old Safai insists “it’s a gender message.”
Her tears were of joy Monday, when Iran lost in straight sets but her voice was heard. She posed for photos with fans, giving the thumbs-up sign and a peace sign.
“This sign to me, it means a lot,” said Safai, born in Tehran but living in Belgium. “The people protect me.”

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