Monday, August 22, 2016

From Ian:

JCPA: The PA, Based in Ramallah, Faces Opposition in Other Towns
As the Palestinian Authority prepares for municipal elections in October, the rift between Fatah and the official PA security forces is growing in Samaria towns. Nablus and Tulkarem have seen real battles in which both official PA security operatives and Fatah members have been killed.
In Nablus the tension has risen to even higher levels after the Al-Aghbar family of the Nablus casbah issued condemnations of the Palestinian security forces for, they claim, having “executed” their son, Khaled Abd al-Nasser, while he was a detainee in their hands after his release from an Israeli prison,.
According to the Nablus Facebook pages, the city’s main thoroughfares are strewn with fires.
Fatah Opposition to the PA
The question that arises, of course, is if the elections do take place, who in Nablus will vote for the pro-Ramallah candidates – if there are any? Who can stop the lists of candidates from Hamas and the pro-Iranian organizations, such as the Popular Front?
In Hebron, the clans are considering whether to draw up lists that are loyal to the city and the district, and not to Ramallah.
Fatah elements have expressed bewilderment as to why, given these gloomy prospects, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the supposed head of Fatah, is insisting on holding the elections.

Vic Rosenthal: They hate Bibi but they know he’s right
I’ve been reading Ha’aretz lately and listening to some of our left-of-center politicians, and it seems like they are living in an entirely different world than I am.
The usual piece starts off with an attack on Binyamin Netanyahu, each one trying to find a new angle. Ari Shavit tells us that he’s dishonest, he’s obsessed with his father, he hates Arabs, he will destroy the country, he is little by little crushing democracy, and on and on. Avraham Burg claims that Israel is becoming a dictatorship and refers to Iran and the Hamas terror tunnels as “some … Netanyahu phobia.” Phobia!
Former PM Ehud Barak claims that Netanyahu has made serious errors recently that have made Israel vulnerable to a “central security threat.” But he won’t say what, exactly, so we are waiting for it to leak. This from the guy that opened the door to the Second Intifada, and who allowed Druze IDF soldier Madhat Yusuf to bleed to death because he didn’t want to anger the Palestinians.
Most of these writers and politicians admit that Israel is doing well economically and that Bibi has made some serious diplomatic gains, with Turkey, the Sunni Arab states, several African nations, India, even China to some extent. They have to admit that there have been few wars during his years as PM, and they’ve been limited in extent. He has kept us from getting entangled in Syria, seems to have reached a modus vivendi with the Russians, and avoided the big one with Iran/Hezbollah.
They blame him for our bad relationship with the US. They might as well blame him for climate change too, but anyone with eyes can see that the Obama Administration – correctly viewing our PM as the main obstacle to realizing their goal of reversing the outcome of the 1967 war – has it in for him and for us as a result. That’s why they blame him for the PLO/PA’s refusal to even sit down to negotiate and why they tried to intervene in our last election.
The (Supposed) Right-Wing Israeli Fanatic Who’s Making Life Easier for the Palestinians
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s recently appointed defense minister, has a reputation as a hawkish right-wing nationalist. To those who know him solely by this reputation, it might be surprising to learn that his first major initiative regarding the West Bank has been to expand the access of Palestinians living in Areas A and B (under, respectively, complete and partial Palestinian Authority control) to economic opportunities in Area C, which remains under direct Israeli control. David Makovsky writes:
The eleven projects [the defense ministry announced last week], ranging from a medical facility to residences, will be carried out in locations adjacent to Areas A and B. While the projects may only occur in a limited geographic space in Area C, they certainly create an interesting precedent. . . .
This week’s move suggests that Lieberman, obviously with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support, will back an emphasis by the Israel Defense Forces on taking stabilizing economic steps during a period of diplomatic stasis. In particular, the IDF has resisted pressure from the most right-wing forces within the Israeli government to reduce sharply [the number of] work permits granted to Palestinians in response to the wave of stabbings that began last October. IDF officials generally believe that any such overreaction will only worsen the situation, and they feel vindicated by the dissipation of the stabbings. . . .

JPost Editorial: A new UN
The appointment of a new secretary-general and next month’s General Assembly meeting present an opportunity for a reevaluation of the UN’s treatment of Israel.
The UN’s predisposition against Israel is well documented. A low point was undoubtedly a 1975 resolution pushed by the Soviet Union that equated Zionism with racism.
The demise of the Soviet Union did not improve matters. Arab countries and other third world nations have consistently voted en bloc against the Jewish state.
For decades Israel has been the only member state consistently denied admission to a regional group, which is the organizational structure by which member states can participate in UN bodies and committees. Arab states refuse to allow Israeli membership in the Asian Regional Group, Israel’s natural geopolitical grouping. Though eventually accepted to the Western and Others Group in May 2000, Israel’s membership is limited and does not allow it to participate in the UN’s Geneva-based activities.
Israel is the only country in the world that is singled out to appear on the UN Human Rights Council’s permanent agenda. Countries that regularly commit horrific human rights abuses such as Sudan and Iran are mentioned by the HRC – if at all – as part of the general debate. Not only does the number of resolutions brought against Israel by the HRC outstrip resolutions brought against any single country, it exceeds the number brought against all other countries in the world – by a long shot. In 2015, for instance, the HRC brought 20 resolutions on purported human rights abuses against Israel and just three against all other countries – one against Iran, one against Syria and one against North Korea.
JPost Editorial: Gaza surprise
Hamas is not known for its culture of democratic discussion or tolerance of those who break the vow of silence regarding Gaza’s Mafia-like terrorist regime.
A dramatic change occurred last week in the Gaza Strip, one whose effects are yet to be known. Muhammad Nazami Nasser, a co-founders of Hamas’s “military wing,” Izzadin Kassam, announced on Facebook that he apologizes for bringing destruction upon the Palestinian people.
Going further, Nasser also apologized for Izzadin Kassam’s bitter rivalry with various Palestinian factions, “within and outside [of Palestine],” such as “the immortal Palestinian president Yasser Arafat,” Fatah, the PFLP, the DFLP and others.
He said he was sorry for the “horror of hatred that lived within me toward you [i.e. the political factions],” and for his “relentless work so that you would not have a geographical or political place on the national map.”
Nasser lives in Gaza, where he belongs to a political movement called Wataniyyin, or “Patriots,” an organization of former Fatah and PFLP members who work for reconciliation among the Palestinian factions. He blames Hamas for the disunity and for prolonging it, and apparently for attributing this to Islam.
“I ask God to forgive me for this [deception] from the Devil [i.e., Hamas], that this hatred would bring me to the highest height of Paradise. O God, O God, O God, I have been deprived of the blessing of diversity... My homeland has been destroyed because I couldn’t comprehend the acceptance of others. And what is worse, I thought I was working with religion.”
Israeli delegation in Cairo to discuss peace push — report
An Israeli delegation was reportedly in Cairo on Sunday to meet with Egyptian officials on President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s proposal to revive the peace process.
Israeli officials were scheduled to meet their Egyptian counterparts on Palestinian peace talks, as well as other matters related to the two countries, the DPA news agency reported.
The talks were set to last several hours, according to the report by the Germany agency.
Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly informed Egypt he is no longer opposed to participating in a regional or international peace summit in Cairo.
According to a report on Israel Radio on Friday, the Palestinian leader told an Egyptian delegation in Ramallah that he was willing to attend such a conference, but stressed that the Egyptian peace push would not replace the French initiative to revive talks, which the Palestinians have favored, but Israel has strongly opposed.
The PA president also reportedly asked that France, Russia and Switzerland attend the summit.
Missing fallen IDF soldier's paintings to be displayed at UN
Artwork by an Israeli soldier killed in the Operation Protective Edge, waged in the Gaza Strip in 2014, will be featured as a special exhibit at the U.N. held as part of the General Assembly meeting scheduled to take place in September, Israel Hayom learned Sunday.
Givati Brigade Lt. Hadar Goldin was killed in a clash with Hamas operatives in Rafah. His remains, and those of Golani Brigade Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul were abducted and are being held by Hamas.
The exhibition, titled "The Final Peace," will be showcased in the main lobby, where world leaders will see it upon their arrival at the General Assembly.
Goldin's parents, Simcha and Leah, and his twin brother Tzur, will arrive at the U.N. headquarters in New York for the exhibit's premier, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon will attends as well.
The idea for the exhibit followed a visit by an art curator, who visited the Goldin family while they were sitting shiva, the traditional weeklong mourning period, and was impressed by the fallen soldier's art.
Goldin was killed during a U.N.-backed humanitarian cease-fire, his family said it holds the U.N. as one of the main bodies responsible to ensure his remains are returned to Israel.
Poll: Slim majority of Israelis, Palestinians still favor peace deal
The results of the joint poll may provide some small signs of encouragement when peace prospects appear bleak. The last round of negotiations broke down two years ago, and a resumption of talks, much less progress between the sides, at this point seems unlikely.
Tamar Hermann, an Israeli political scientist who conducted the survey with Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki, said that under the current circumstances, the results were “not amazingly encouraging,” but also “not discouraging.”
“It showed there is still some basis for optimism with the right leadership,” she said. “Right now I don’t see on the horizon a leader on either side willing or capable of using this as a springboard for intensifying the negotiations. But it’s not impossible.”
The poll found that 51 percent of Palestinians and 59 percent of Israelis still support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On the Israeli side, 53 percent of Jews support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Among Israel’s Arab minority, the number is much higher, at 87 percent. Conversely, just 34 percent of Palestinians and 20 percent of Israelis support the idea of a single shared state where they are both citizens with equal rights.
Putin said willing to host Israeli-Palestinian peace talks
Amid speculation over a developing Egyptian bid to revive stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said late Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing to host Israeli and Palestinian leaders for direct talks.
In a briefing with newspaper editors in Cairo, Sissi said Israel is increasingly convinced of the need for achieving peace with the Palestinians, according to media reports in Israel and Egypt.
No peace process could be successful, he told the journalists, without reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
He also said Israeli-Palestinian peace, which could enable further burgeoning of Israeli-Arab alliances generally, is the key to regional stability, a sentiment that echoed comments heard in recent months from Jordan’s King Abdullah and other Sunni Arab leaders.
Sissi’s comments follow meetings earlier Sunday between an Israeli delegation in Cairo and Egyptian officials on the Egyptian president’s proposal to revive the peace process.
Israeli officials were scheduled to meet their Egyptian counterparts on Palestinian peace talks, as well as other matters related to the two countries, the Germany news agency DPA reported.
Egypt FM defends Israel, says policies not terrorism
In an unusual display of understanding from a senior Arab official, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Sunday reportedly told a group of high school students in Cairo that Israel’s policies toward Palestinians do not constitute terrorism and that given Israel’s history, it has strong concerns regarding its security.
“You can look at [the question of Israeli ‘terrorism’] from the perspective of a regime of force, but [looked at from a more traditional understanding of terrorism,] there is no evidence showing a link between Israel and armed terrorist groups,” Shoukry told students visiting the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Cairo, according to a report on the Ynet news website.
“There is no conclusive [proof] leading to that conclusion,” he said.
Shoukry’s remarks came in response to a student who asked the foreign minister why Israel and the United States were not considered terror organizations by the international community despite their ongoing military operations in the region.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Moses Smashes Tablets At Seeing Nation Worship Two-State Solution (satire)
The leader of the Israelites returned from atop Mount Sinai this morning to find the people in wild, cultic dance around the Two-State Solution, and brought the orgy to an end by smashing the divine Tablets of the Covenant, eyewitnesses report.
Moses came down from his forty-day communing with the Almighty, holding two stone tablets engraved by God with the Ten Statements He had made during the Revelation at Sinai last month, to be placed in a special Ark as a testament to the special relationship between the Lord and His people. On the final day of the session, God alerted Moses that the people had strayed from the divine path and begun to revere the Two-State Solution.
Upon hearing the news Moses descended from the mountain and beheld the uncontrolled passion with which the masses were dancing about the idol they had adopted, and which blinded them to the destructive path down which they had embarked. He smashed the Tablets, burned the Two-State Solution, ground up its ashes, cast them in water, and forced the people to drink the mixture as if they were wayward wives suspected of infidelity.
“He was fuming,” recalled his brother Aaron, who had proffered the Two-State Solution to the people when they were on the verge of panic amid fears that an apparent delay in their leader’s scheduled return meant he had disappeared, leaving them rudderless. “I was just trying to delay them and to keep things from getting out of hand before Moses would come back and restore clarity. But I messed up – I underestimated the desperate passion driving this phenomenon. When my friend Hur tried to resist they killed him. It was a disaster.” Aaron confessed he felt forced to go along with the Two-State Solution Zeitgeist even though he did not support the movement.
Israel strikes 50 times in Gaza after rocket attack
The Israel Air Force conducted 50 airstrikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip late Sunday night, following a rocket fired into Israel by Palestinian terrorists earlier that day, but was not seeking an escalation in hostilities, an Israeli official said on Monday.
“There were approximately 50 airstrikes within two hours. There is no intention to escalate the situation further, and that is basically where the situation falls at this time,” a senior military official told The Times of Israel.
Palestinian security sources in Gaza said several targets in the northern Strip were struck by Israeli fire, and that a reservoir in Beit Hanoun was damaged. Israel also hit a base belonging to Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in nearby Beit Lahiya, witnesses said. Palestinian health and security sources said between two and five people were lightly wounded by Israel’s retaliatory fire.
This was the second Israeli bombardment of the day. Immediately following the rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon, Israeli aircraft and tanks also targeted Hamas installations in the northern Gaza Strip.
After the late-night airstrikes, the Islamist Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip blamed Israel for escalating tensions in the Palestinian enclave.
“The escalation shows Israel’s desire to change the status quo in the Gaza Strip,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Sunday night.
With 50 raids in 2 hours, has Liberman begun to implement his new security plan?
Within a two-hour period, the Israel Defense Forces conducted approximately 50 strikes against Hamas installations in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday night, according to a military source.
This was the second round of combined aerial-tank strikes on Sunday, following a similar but smaller assault on Hamas installations in the Beit Hanoun area in the northern coastal enclave, and the largest Israeli bombardment since the 2014 Gaza war.
One rocket fired at Israel generally results in one retaliatory airstrike by the Israel Air Force. Israeli military officials have therefore described the large-scale strike, which came hours after a single projectile was fired at the southern city of Sderot, where it landed between two homes and near a college, as “exceptional” or “irregular” — though it may be a sign of things to come.
The Israeli airstrikes, though numerous and powerful enough to be heard from Israel, targeted Hamas infrastructure and caused little collateral damage, with Palestinian media reporting two to five people lightly injured; the most serious case appeared to have been a shrapnel wound to the foot.
Reuters Turns Rocket-Fire into Fibs, Fabrication and Fraud
Yesterday, terrorists in Gaza fired rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot. By a tremendous stroke of luck there were no injuries, but at least one rocket landed in a residential area, exploding next to a house. The terror organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) took responsibility, as did a Salafist group with ties to Islamic State (ISIS).
Reuters then wrote an absurd story: misstating facts, covering up context, and even changing quotes from the Israeli military.
Reuters fabricated statements by the Israeli military to make it look like the IDF had shelled a town.
The Reuters story begins,
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip launched a rocket that landed in the Israeli border town of Sderot on Sunday and Israeli aircraft and tanks responded by shelling the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, the army and police said.
The IDF said nothing of the kind.
HonestReporting has obtained the original text messages and the formal press release from the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. The press release says (in relevant part):
Earlier today, August 21st, 2016, a rocket hit the city of Sderot. The rocket was fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. No injuries have been reported. In response to the attack, IAF aircraft targeted Hamas positions in the northern Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of 2016, 14 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have hit Israel.
IsraellyCool: Mainstream Media Parrots Latest Pallywood Water Libel
Yesterday, I posted about the latest pallywood “water” blood libel – the water tower in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, which was damaged at least last year, and possibly earlier, which they are now claiming we deliberately damaged only yesterday.
I pointed out various tweets of the haters making this claim, but now I see the mainstream media has joined in on the act.
For instance, Reuters:
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip launched a rocket that landed in the Israeli border town of Sderot on Sunday and Israeli aircraft and tanks responded by shelling the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, the army and police said.
The rocket caused no injuries or damage in Sderot, where it landed in a residential area, police said.
An Israeli shell during an initial retaliation damaged a Beit Hanoun water tower and there were no casualties, local residents said.
Turkey detains 5 protesters trying to enter Israeli consulate
Turkish police on Monday detained five people who tried to break into Israel’s consulate in Istanbul to protest Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, a state-run news agency reported.
The Israeli military carried out a series of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late Sunday, targeting Hamas positions in response to a Palestinian rocket attack that hit the Israeli border town of Sderot.
Anadolu Agency said the five entered a business center housing the consulate early Monday and were detained by police who were called to the scene. Security around the building was increased, Anadolu said.
The incident came days after Turkey’s parliament approved a reconciliation pact reached with Israel last month, ending a six-year rift and paving the way for the mutual re-appointment of ambassadors.
Turkey slams 'hostile' Israeli actions in response to Gaza rocket attack
Turkey on Monday slammed Israel for its retaliatory strikes on Gaza overnight in response to a rocket attack launched by terrorists in the Strip, saying it would not desist from such condemnation despite the reconciliation of ties between Ankara and Jerusalem.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry lambasted Israel for its "hostile attitude," while avoiding any denouncement of the Gaza projectile strike that landed in a populated area of the southern Israeli city of Sderot.
"The attacks, which caused injuries to innocent Palestinian civilians, are not acceptable regardless of their grounds," Turkey's Andalou News Agency quoted the Turkish ministry as saying.
The Turkish government vowed to back the Palestinian side against what it said were disproportionate Israeli actions that breach international law.
"Normalizing ties with Israel does not mean that we will keep silent in the face of attacks against the Palestinian people," the Turkish Foreign Ministry was quoted as stating.
Israeli NGO to US: Get Turkey to extradite Hamas mastermind amid Gulen debate
An Israeli NGO announced on Monday that it has requested that the US compel Turkey to extradite Hamas mastermind Saleh al-Arouri for the murders of US citizens in Israel. This urging comes as the US enters negotiations about Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's request that it extradite Fethullah Gulen from his Pennsylvania residence for allegedly masterminding a coup against the Turkish leader.
The NGO Shurat HaDin, The Israel Law Center, sent a letter on Wednesday to US Vice President Joseph Biden, US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch (all of whom are visiting or sending representatives to Turkey soon), but only announced the request Monday.
Shurat HaDin represents the families of murdered US citizens Naftali Fraenkel and Rabbi Eitam Henkin.
Fraenkel was one of three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered by Hamas agents of Arouri in June 2014. Arouri took credit for the murder on August 20, 2014.
Remembering Daniel
Two years ago today 4-year-old Israeli Daniel Tragerman was killed by a Hamas rocket fired from a UN School. Here is the story I wrote at the time. With Hamas preparing to launch another terrorist war expect exactly the same level of public support for the terrorists and disdain for the true victims.

Re-Arrest of Palestinian Days After His Release Highlights PA’s Terror Incentive Program
A Palestinian man named Sufian Abdu has been re-arrested for incitement on Thursday, just three days after being released from an Israeli prison after completing a 14-year sentence. Israeli public radio said he was taken back into custody for “waving Hamas flags” and “voicing calls to violence and incitement against Israel.” He was originally arrested for plotting to poison diners at an Israeli restaurant.
Abdu’s re-arrest raises key questions about the nature of prisoner releases under the Palestinian Authority. Many convicted Palestinian terrorists receive salaries and stipends for their families from the PA as a reward for their crimes. “[T]he more serious the act of terrorism, the longer the prison sentence, and consequently, the higher the salary” the convicted terrorist will receive from the PA, Edwin Black explained in the Guardian in 2013. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) referred to this program as “pay to slay” during a Capitol Hill hearing last month.
Once released, many prisoners revert back to terrorism; Abdu is certainly not the first. Nearly half of the 13,000 terrorists Israel has released since 1985 have reportedly returned to the battlefield. There is even a special unit within Hamas consisting entirely of released prisoners—it is responsible for carrying out deadly attacks against civilians.
Indictment reveals how Hamas pays the families of their operatives
Cash was allegedly transferred to Hamas families through a Jerusalem man who owns clothing stores in Israel and Turkey.
The indictment of a Hamas operative in the Jerusalem District Court who was providing funds to the families of inmates and “martyrs” (slain terrorists) was announced on Sunday, mapping out aspects of the terrorist group’s financial tactics.
Seif al-Din Abd al-Nabi, a 39-year-old resident of Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood, was charged late on Friday by the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office with illegal use of assets for terrorist purposes and contacting a foreign agent, but the public announcement came two days later.
He allegedly received a total of $25,000 in cash from a Hamas operative in Turkey to transfer to the families of other operatives. According to the indictment, the money was transferred to Nabi by Zakaria Najib, a Hamas operative in Turkey.
Nabi had served a lengthy prison sentence for involvement in the October 1994 abduction of Sgt. Nachshon Waxman of the Golani Brigade.
Waxman and another soldier were killed along with three terrorists during a rescue operation.
Nabi was subsequently released and deported as part of the 2011 Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange deal.
Hamas threatens to abuse Israeli hostages, renew fighting
The Hamas terror group threatened Thursday to maltreat Israeli hostages being held in the Strip, saying it would offer them the same conditions its own members are given in the Jewish state’s jails.
Hamas is holding the remains of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in the 2014 Gaza war, as well as 29-year-old Avraham Mengistu and Juma Ibrahim Abu Anima, both of whom entered the Strip in 2014 and have not been heard from since.
Speaking at a massive rally in Rafah in the southern Strip, Abu Obieda, spokesperson for Hamas’s military branch the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, accused Israel of “racist” and “repressive” measures for Hamas prisoners.
Speaking hours after a Gazan rocket struck the Israeli border town of Sderot, Abu Obeuda also threatened that hostilities could renew, after two years of relative calm.
“The enemy [i.e., Israel] knows that its prisoners will receive the same treatment as our prisoners in Israeli jails,” Abu Obieda said.
Children Make Up More Than 25 Percent Of Syrians Killed By Russia
Children make up over 25 percent of the civilians killed by Russian airstrikes, according to a report by a Syrian human rights organization.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) released a report Friday that claimed Russian airstrikes in Syria killed approximately 2,704 civilians, 746 of which are children. In just over 11 months, Russia killed more Syrian civilians than the Islamic State killed in three years.
The report documents several examples of Russian transgressions against civilians, many of which appear to be intentional, and have little or no military purpose. Many of the examples provided in the report show a Russian penchant for targeting schools.
“Russian warplanes bombed a building that we were [using] to educate children in the neighborhood,” Abu al-Fatih, a resident of Aleppo’s al-Hollok neighborhood, told the SNHR. “The bombing was at a time when students were leaving their classrooms, which led to a number of deaths among children and the teaching staff.”
Iran says Russian raids from its airbase ‘over for now’
Iran said Monday that Russian raids on Syria from one of its airbases had ended for now, shortly after accusing Moscow of “showing off” when it revealed the bombing missions.
“It was a specific, authorized mission and it’s over for now. They conducted it and they are gone now,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told reporters in Tehran.
He left open the possibility of future Russian combat flights from Iran, saying it would depend on “the situation in the region, and according to our permission.”
That came a few hours after defense minister Hossein Dehghan made a rare public criticism of Russia for revealing that its warplanes were using Iran’s Hamedan airbase to attack insurgents in Syria.
“Naturally, the Russians are keen to show that they are a superpower and an influential country and that they are active in security issues in the region and the world,” Dehghan told Iran’s Channel 2 television.
Watch: ISIS uses 12-year old suicide bomber in Iraq
After a 13-year old suicide bomber killed 53 and wounded dozens more Saturday night, on Sunday police in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk captured a 12-year old boy carrying an explosive vest.
The boy, who was sent by the ISIS terror group to kill locals in the predominantly Kurdish city, was captured hours after another suicide bomber blew himself up near a mosque in Kirkuk, wounding three.
After he was captured, the would-be bomber burst into tears as police removed the explosive device, which was later detonated in a controlled explosion by an Iraqi bomb squad.
FM Zarif to Begin South American Visit as Fears of Iranian Influence Grow
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is kicking off a six nation tour of Latin America on Sunday amid increasing fears of Tehran’s influence over the region.
Zarif will begin his visit in Cuba on Sunday, then travel to Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, and Venezuela, according to Iranian media. More than 60 Iranian business leaders will accompany the minister on the trip, which was planned in an effort to bolster Iran’s commercial ties in the wake of last year’s nuclear deal.
While Iranian media focused on the potential boost in trade with Latin American countries, analysts warn that Tehran’s activities in the region are not limited to benign business dealings. “Iran’s asymmetric warfare against the West demands commercial engagement because it allows Tehran to deploy political operatives specializing in propaganda, intelligence and terrorism and to finance their activities under the guise of business activity,” Wall Street Journal editor Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote in June.
“Authoritarian Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have welcomed the presence and influence of Iran. But others are being surreptitiously invaded, beginning with embassies, cultural centers and mosques. Peru’s southern rural communities are typical targets for launching networks. Front companies in the beef and oil industries in Brazil and Uruguay are used to provide cover for Iranian operatives,” she added. “It’s not hard to see how the end of sanctions on Iran—triggering the liberation of $150 billion in assets and the reopening of international economic channels—will increase Iran’s penetration of the Western Hemisphere.”
STUDY: Negotiating With Terrorists Means Up To 87 Percent More Kidnappings
Negotiating with terrorist kidnappers significantly increases the likelihood of further kidnappings, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas found in a new study that will be published next month.
UTD professors Todd Sandler and Patrick Brandt looked at data on transnational kidnappings from 2001 to 2013 and found that successful negotiations meant a 66-87 percent increase in the likelihood of further kidnappings.
“We provide strong evidence that terrorist negotiation success results in more hostages being abducted because of terrorists’ anticipated future payoffs, consistent with our conceptual model’s predictions,” the authors noted.
The study also found that casualties suffered by terrorists did not deter future kidnapping attempts, a result the authors chalked up to the “religious fanatacism” of many terrorists.
MEMRI: Egyptian Columnist Mocks Those Who Regard Michael Phelps' Cupping As Proof Islam Is Right
The purple cupping marks visible on American swimmer Michael Phelps and other athletes participating in the 2016 Olympic Games sparked great interest in the Arab world. Some claimed that the practice of cupping is Islamic in origin and that the athletes' use of it proves the truth of the Prophet Muhammad's sayings about it. Thus, for example,, which bills itself as "a scientific initiative" by researches and scientists to convey scientific knowledge to Muslim readers, stated in an article titled "The Benefits of Cupping Take the Rio Olympics and the Global Media by Storm": "Congratulations to those interested only in questioning the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, even if science proves them accurate every day," and included quotes from Muhammad's praise of cupping. Another website explained that cupping was "a practice known in Islamic societies for centuries... The roots of this practice in Arab societies are the so-called 'Prophet's medicine,' which is based on recommendations of the Prophet Muhammad..."
Khaled Montasser, a columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Watan, mocked these claims and accused those who make them of hypocrisy. He said that such claims are a mark of shame for Islam, and that, had the Prophet Muhammad lived today, he would have adopted modern medicine.
The following are excerpts from Montasser's article:
"The fact that many Muslims, particularly Salafis, were happy to see the purple marks on the body of American swimmer Michael Phelps at the Rio Olympics attests only to the scope of the disaster afflicting the minds, thought, and souls of [Muslim] believers... The great joy that overcame them was caused by the fact that these marks were the result of cupping, making them think that Phelps had become convinced of the principles of Islam and had converted to Islam, and that this was proof that Islam is right, and that the Prophet's medicine [is also right]...

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