Thursday, October 20, 2016

From Ian:

Archaeologists find battle site where Romans breached Jerusalem walls
Israeli archaeologists found the site of a fierce battle where the Roman army bombarded and breached the walls of Jerusalem before conquering the city and destroying the Second Temple almost 2,000 years ago, officials said Thursday.
They said that the discovery, made last winter during an excavation of a construction site for the new campus of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design outside the Old City, also finally confirmed the description of the wall that was breached provided by the historian Josephus Flavius.
During the dig, the archaeologists found the remains of a tower surrounded by scores of stones and boulders fired by Roman catapults at the Jewish forces guarding the wall, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.
“This is a fascinating testimony of the intensive bombardment by the Roman army, led by Titus, on their way to conquering the city and destroying the Second Temple,” the statement said.
“The bombardment was intended to attack the sentries guarding the wall and provide cover for the Roman forces so they could approach the wall with battering rams and thereby breach the city’s defenses,” it said.
The part of the wall that was breached was known as the Third Wall. It was found in the area of modern Jerusalem known as the Russian Compound. According to accounts by Josephus, this part of the wall was designed to protect a new quarter of the city that developed outside the other two existing walls.

Israel’s antiquities chief compares UNESCO to Islamic State
The director of the Israel Antiquities Authority on Wednesday slammed UNESCO for its resolution on Jerusalem holy sites, comparing the UN cultural body to Islamic State jihadists.
Speaking at the opening of the new IAA headquarters in Jerusalem, director Yisrael Hasson said the resolution adopted last week and confirmed on Tuesday put the UN organization in the same league as IS jihadists who have destroyed and looted hundreds of archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq to fund their “caliphate.”
“Around us, world heritage treasures are being destroyed… They murdered Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad, who tried to protect heritage,” Hasson said recalling the 82-year-old retired head of antiquities in Palmyra who was beheaded by IS militants last year.
IS overran Palmyra — a UNESCO world heritage site known as the “Pearl of the Desert” — in May 2015 and used its ancient amphitheater for public executions.
The extremist group blew up temples and tower tombs as part of it campaign against pre-Islamic monuments it considers “blasphemous.”
“And recently UNESCO in essence joined this system of destruction by diplomatic means. This is essentially the same action by a diplomatic course,” Hasson said. (h/t Yoel)
Erasing the West
The UNESCO vote seems clearly a response to the expansionist, jihadist aspirations of members of the OIC who sponsored it: Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan.
Some analysts consider a vote to abstain to be a victory for Israel, but for Spain, Greece, France, Sweden, Slovenia, and Italy it was blatant appeasement and fear of their own often-violent Muslim minorities: "Please, please, don't blow up our capital cities. We will reject Jewish and Christian history and pretend Jesus chased the money changers from the steps of Montmartre."
UNESCO's Director General Irina Bokova had already announced her opposition to the resolution, a position for which she received death threats.
Having demonstrable historical fact, such as Jewish patrimony on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, subject to the whims of the UN, in which, as the late Abba Eban said, Arabs could muster a majority to decide the sun rises in the West, is not a positive proposition.
The question remains how to convince nations in the West to stand for themselves in the face of Islamists committed to replacing them.

PMW: PA Security Forces cartoon: Netanyahu’s hands drip with blood
Although the Palestinian National Security Forces coordinate with Israel on security issues against Hamas, this does not stop them from demonizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli soldiers.
This cartoon, with the logo of the Palestinian security forces and posted on its official Facebook page, presents Netanyahu with blood dripping from his hand. He is shown holding a magnifying glass with the word "Sharon," i.e., walking in the footsteps of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who the Palestinian Authority likewise demonizes as a person who sought to kill Palestinians. [Facebook page of the PA National Security Forces, Oct. 14, 2016]
Palestinian Media Watch has documented that demonizing Israel is a fundamental component of Palestinian Authority leadership messaging to its people.
The PA National Security Forces demonized Israeli soldiers in another cartoon. Two Israeli soldiers with long noses standing at a checkpoint are ordering dogs that are shaped like assault rifles to attack Palestinians, who are lying bleeding on the ground. [Facebook page of the PA National Security Forces, Oct. 17, 2016]
Hamas TV Host Sheikh Wael Al-Zarad: Israel, the Jews Live on Blood and the Sight of Body Parts
Speaking on the Hamas-owned Al-Aqsa TV on September 15, Palestinian cleric Wael Al-Zarad said that it was their destiny to "chop off the hand of the occupation," describing it as a "small and vile gang" of Jews, who "came to our country like a cancer" and who "spread corruption throughout the land."
Al-Zarad continued: "The entire world knows no peace from the filth of these people who live on blood… and the sight of body parts… to sell weapons worldwide, and to incite civil strife in different countries."

The Palestinian Authority’s Fatah Faction Calls Violent, Antisemitic Children’s Drawings ‘Innocent’
The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Fatah faction called violent antisemitic, anti-Israel children’s drawings it posted on Facebook “innocent,” a Jerusalem-based research organization reported this week.
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) revealed that in one drawing, Israel is portrayed as eating a murdered Palestinian, while drinking a glass of his blood.
In another, a Palestinian Muslim woman is seen “crucified” by Israel. Still others promote violence through images of slingshots and rifles aimed at Israel.
In a Twitter post, Fatah claimed drawings like these “express the feelings of children of #Palestine.”
PMW director Itamar Marcus said that the drawings reflect the PA and Fatah’s consistent message that the entire state of Israel is occupied Palestinian territory.
Children’s TV programs teach that “[Israel] will all return to us,” Marcus said, adding that the PA and Fatah have been exploiting the innocence of Palestinian children for years, by brainwashing them to believe that Israel is a monster and that terrorists are role models to be emulated.
'World War Three has already started - it began on 9/11' says Colonel Richard Kemp
Britain's former commander in Afghanistan has dismissed a warning made by Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister that the conflict in Syria will lead to World War Three.
As the battle for Mosul carries on, Numan Kurtulmus has said that the conflict in Syria will eventually lead America and Russia to war.
But Colonel Richard Kemp suggested the third global conflict has already begun - in fact it's been raging for 15 years.
"I think we're well into the Third World War," he told James Whale. "The major beginning of WW3 was 9/11.
"I don't subscribe to the view the conflict in the middle-east will lead to nuclear conflict. I don't think it will lead to that, like what some people are predicting.
"We've seen fighting take place in virtually all countries around the world since then, albeit not in a form that we would recognise.
"The modern version of a world war is what we're seeing."
Analysis: Leaks Show Clinton Diverged from Obama on Iran, Israel, Syria
Leaked e-mails show Clinton to be more attentive to concerns of skeptics of the nuclear deal with Iran. In a December 2015 e-mail exchange between Stuart Eizenstat, a senior State Department official under Bill Clinton, and Jake Sullivan, Hillary Clinton’s chief national security adviser, Eizenstat quoted a senior Israeli official who wrote that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “always had a ‘surprising good relationship’ with Hillary; she is ‘easy to work with,’ and that she is more instinctively sympathetic to Israel than the White House.”
In another speech, Clinton criticized the president for his failure to enforce the “red line” he declared when the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilians in September 2013, killing more than 1,400 people. “You can’t squander your reputation and your leadership capital,” Clinton said at a Goldman Sachs event in October 2013. “You have to do what you say you’re going to do. You have to be smart about executing on your strategies. And you’ve got to be careful not to send the wrong message to others, such as Iran.”
The WikiLeaks transcripts comport with other indications Clinton has given about what shape U.S. foreign policy might take under her administration. In a speech at the Brookings Institution in September 2015, Clinton outlined five steps she would take to counter Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East: an “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s military security;” defending the Persian Gulf and assuring Gulf allies that America will act if they are threatened; building coalitions across the Middle East to battle Iran’s proxies and to enforce embargoes of Iranian arms shipments; taking a strong stand against Iran’s humans rights abuses; and adopting a “comprehensive regional strategy that promotes stability and counters extremism.”
In the same speech, Clinton said that “not being able to follow through on [the “red line” violation] cost us.” She also pledged to keep disagreements with the Israeli government private, and to invite the Israeli prime minister to Washington during her first month in office, which she reiterated in an op-ed in The Forward.
What Dems Really Think About Israel
The good news to be gleaned from this chilling exchange is that there were at least some influential voices inside the Clinton machine that thought Israel was important. Some in the Clinton camp wanted to highlight their candidate’s support for the Jewish state and opposition to terrorism targeting its citizens. Much like Thomas Friedman’s celebration of the fact that Wikileaks reveals Clinton to be a supporter of global free trade rather than the Bernie Sanders clone she has pretended to be, pro-Israel activists should be somewhat encouraged. If her comments to her presumably pro-Israel donors are what she really thinks as opposed to a campaign profile that largely ignored the Middle East that might give friends of the Jewish state some hope that she will, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has hinted, at least be less hostile than President Obama.
But it also illustrates that the Clinton brain trust’s evaluation of opinion among rank and file Democrats conforms to the view of many conservatives who saw Sanders’s openly hostile stance toward Israel as a source of strength for his primary campaign. Polls have long shown Democrats are far less sympathetic to Israel than Republicans. But this trend has now gotten to the point that not only do Democrats not even bother to pretend that Israel is as much a reflection of the deep partisan divide in the country as any other issue but they also worry that even a mention of it will alienate their base. So, while it’s possible to argue that the policies of a second Clinton presidency will resemble those of her husband more so than those of President Obama, the internal pressure from the Democratic Party may be pushing her hard to continue her former boss’s desire for more daylight between the two countries.
That’s a significant problem. While Israelis remember Bill Clinton as a good friend, there was plenty of tension within his administration was between those who prioritized the peace process over Israel’s security. The former generally won the day. The truth about Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority was suppressed to maintain the fiction that the Oslo Accords were a great success. With Hamas now running an independent Palestinian state in all but name and Arafat’s successor Mahmoud Abbas still trying to appease both a Palestinian public that applauds terror and his Western donors, the situation even more dangerous today. How can a Democratic president continue to uphold an alliance that her party’s base opposes? Thanks to a Donald Trump campaign that can’t seem to get out of its own way, it looks like we’re about to find out.
PM denies he called Obama ‘existential danger’ to settlements, but confirms concerns
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied telling the residents of the Amona outpost in the West Bank — slated for evacuation in December by court order — that US President Barack Obama poses “an existential danger” to the settlement enterprise.
Channel 2 television on Wednesday evening quoted him saying, at a meeting last week: “It isn’t just Amona, in the coming period, between the elections in the United States and the end of Obama’s term, the entire settlement enterprise is in existential danger.”
The Prime Minister’s Office swiftly denied the report.
“The prime minister did not make the comments attributed to him, but noted that in the past there were presidents who, at the end of their terms, pushed initiatives that were inconsistent with Israeli interests,” a statement from his office said.
“The prime minister added that he hopes the situation will not repeat itself and he anticipates that the US will not change its longstanding policy, for decades, to prevent anti-Israel decisions at the UN Security Council.”
An unnamed source present at last week’s meeting quoted Netanyahu, slightly differently, as saying that “unwise behavior” by Israel during Obama’s final weeks in office was likely “to endanger the entire settlement enterprise,” Haaretz reported. This report said the meeting took place at the Prime Minister’s Office, lasted two and a half hours, and involved Likud activists, including some from Amona and the nearby settlement of Ofra.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar: UNESCO: The death penalty for Tel Aviv residents
UNESCO's decision on the Temple Mount made historic headlines, but their decision on Tel Aviv's Bauhaus architecture areas is lethal.
Then along came the lawmakers and opened an avenue for urban renewal. They called it T.M.A. 38, a law in aid of those wishing to refurbish existing buildings, strengthen their foundations, improve their physical condition - or take them down and build new ones, complete with underground parking. Each new or renewed apartment would receive a "safe room," thereby transforming these homes from potential tombs to protective shields for their residents.
What could be more important than this plan? What could be more important than the lives of these apartment owners and their tenants?
UNESCO knows the answer. In it comes, the organization that proved this week that its entire approach is anti-Jewish by passing a revolting and delusional statement about Jerusalem. It proclaimed the 4000 Bauhaus buildings in Tel Aviv a "white city" (white? are they color blind by any chance?) and a World Cultural Heritage Site of the kind that it is crucial (to whom?) to preserve unchanged - a proclamation preventing urban renewal, strengthening the construction and building those "safe rooms." By doing this, UNESCO has declared that the lives of Tel Aviv residents and their ability to survive earthquakes and attacks are less important than the external appearance of their dwellings, most of which are actually quite ugly because of their age, peeling plaster and hodge podge additions like porches and air conditioners added haphazardly to their outer walls over the years.
They claim that many of the buildings were constructed in the Bauhaus style, and therefore must be preserved forever and ever to the end of time - exactly as they are now . Lovely. Why, however, not dictate terms to the urban renewal architects and insist that if they destroy one of these homes, they must ensure that the new home built in its place is in the same style? The only difference would be that the old building had three or four storeys, and the new one will have six or more storeys, so that selling the additional apartments can pay for the renewal as well as the underground parking lot. Is that a problem? Will that destroy the sacred Bauhaus style?
On the contrary, the 80-year-old Bauhaus buildings are covered with crumbling plaster, which is either falling off or turning dark and ugly from absorbing the coal and dust of decades. The new buildings - in the Bauhaus style, of course - can be coated with materials that will keep them white and shining for years. Not only that, but the planners can be forced to build hidden air conditioning units so that there will be no more thickets of air conditioners covering the outer walls of the buildings.
Recommended Reading: National Post Commentary – “UNESCO vs. Israel”
Israeli leaders suspended co-operation with UNESCO, and hammered the UN for its fecklessness in presiding over such nonsense. Amazingly — given the UN’s usual indifference to Israel’s moral claims — UNESCO and UN leadership were embarrassed by the brazenness of this Palestinian mischief-making and scrambled to distance themselves from the resolution. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon firmly upheld the Temple Mount’s status as “the holiest place in Judaism,” while in a response to a denunciatory letter from the Zionist Union Knesset member, Tzipi Livni, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova (in a move reminiscent of Elizabeth May finessing her role in a recent Green party anti-Israel resolution) protested “such decisions are discussed and taken by the member states” and have nothing to do with her.
The chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board, Michael Worbs, apologized for the resolution’s wording, and proposed a delay to a formal vote on the resolution (scheduled for Oct. 18, after the time of writing), which must be validated by the 58 members of his board, in the hope that the wording will be changed. There is little chance of that, though.
The absurd part of this story is that even if the resolution passes, it cannot void the fact that Jerusalem, its Old City and its walls have already been intractably inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982, denoted as having meaning for three religions. So today’s resolution would have no political teeth.
The Palestinians know that. But, like the campus boycott, divest and sanction crowd, they also know that it is “narratives” that win hearts and minds. In shamelessly propagating the crazy idea that Palestinians — who in reality trace their history as a people to 1948 — have been a people for thousands of years, historical deniers know they can count on widespread historical ignorance, enough to win a critical mass of hearts and minds. Truth means nothing to such schemers. As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who actually knows the truth, taunted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2011: “Oh, Netanyahu, you are incidental in history; we are the people of history. We are the owners of history.” By “you,” he did not mean Israel. He meant Jews.
The Palestinians are using UNESCO-conferred credibility to keep playing their long game of delegitimating Israel as a nation. UNESCO should consider its own long game: what does it want to be perceived as? A credible organization committed to cultural pluralism and actual heritage protection, or hand maiden to anti-Semitism? If the former, then the Palestinians must be expelled from UNESCO.
Danon slams UN for meddling in Israeli politics
UN Ambassador Danny Danon slammed the world body Wednesday for meddling in Israeli politics by funding the left-wing NGO B’Tselem.
In 2016, three UN agencies provided funding to B’Tselem, which Danon said is “no coincidence.”
Last week, Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of B’Tselem, participated in an informal Security Council meeting, initiated by the Palestinian delegation to the UN, in order to discuss settlements as an obstacle to peace.
“It is part of a cynical cycle in which the UN funds B’Tselem and similar organizations that have a particular political agenda, and then invites them to provide so-called ‘expert testimony,’” he said at Wednesday’s Security Council meeting on the Middle East. “This constitutes a direct interference in our democratic process by anti-Israel elements here at the UN.”
Danon then called on the council to put an end to UN funding for extremist organizations that seek to harm Israel.
Danon continued pointing a finger at the UN and its agencies, addressing the recent UNESCO resolution denying the historical connection between the Jewish people and holy sites in Jerusalem, which he called “an embarrassing stain on the pages of UN history.”
Democratic Congressman: UNESCO Exists in “Alternate Universe” with Unicorns But No Jews
Rep. Ted Lieu (D – Calif.), an Air Force veteran and a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, harshly criticized the vote by UNESCO, the UN’s cultural organization, to approve a resolution that did not acknowledge Jewish and Christian connections to Jewish holy places in Jerusalem.
Lieu released a statement on Sunday accusing the organization of living in an “alternate universe…where you will see unicorns and flying dragons,” but no Jews or Christians.
Many people have told me that they have heard the following greeting upon entering the alternate reality known as UNESCO: Welcome to UNESCO, where we live in the land of make believe. The “S” in our name actually stands for science fiction. We at UNESCO don’t care about historical facts and some of our members are rabidly anti-Semitic and anti-Christian. That’s why we at UNESCO like to pass bigoted resolutions, such as this silly one that revises history and denies the known Jewish and Christian connections to the Temple Mount. Please visit our alternate universe often, where you will see unicorns and flying dragons. But in the UNESCO alt-reality, you won’t encounter any Jews or Christians because they don’t exist.
The vote was also criticized by outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, and nearly 40 other members of Congress. The U.S. was one of only six countries to vote against the resolution, along with Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and the UK.
Czech lower parliament: UNESCO Jerusalem resolution strengthens antisemitism
The Czech Republic’s lower parliament voted 119-4 on Wednesday to condemn UNESCO Jerusalem resolution which it warned only strengthened anti-Semitism.
The parliamentarians called on their government not to vote for UNESCO resolutions containing text that ignores Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
They also asked the Czech Republic to protest “against the politicization” of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization, a body originally designed to be dedicated to the preservation of the world’s heritage.
The vote in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies was taken with 149 parliamentarians present.
It comes as Israel is gearing up to sway a majority of the 21-member World Heritage Committee not to support any text at its October 24-26 meeting in Paris that refers to the Temple Mount and it’s adjoining Western Wall solely by their Muslim names of Al-Haram Al-Sharif and the Buraq Wall.
Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama- Hacohen welcomed the vote and said the Czech Chamber of Deputies was the first European Parliament to take such a vote but that it would likely not be the last.
Defying UNESCO and Ramallah, foreign lawmakers tour Jewish Hebron
The UNESCO resolution approved last week did more than shortchange Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem. The text also has a section on the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, which it calls a “Palestine site.”
While the resolution acknowledges that the building — which it refers to as “Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs” — is of “religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” it declares it to be “an integral part of Palestine.”
On Wednesday, one day after UNESCO’s executive board ratified the controversial resolution, 15 Christian parliamentarians from Europe, Africa and Latin America visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs and other parts of Jewish Hebron in a striking affirmation of support for the Jewish claim to the Holy Land.
The lawmakers, part of a network of 35 pro-Israel parliamentary caucuses counting over 1,000 members, were treated to a guided tour through Jewish Hebron and were hosted by the community’s spokespeople and other pro-settlement leaders.
The foreign dignitaries, who hailed from countries including Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa and Uruguay, seemed empathetic. “This land belongs to the Jews, and especially this place,” said Reverend Malani Mtanga, an MP from Malawi. “We respect this land as a place that belongs to Abraham. It was bought by and belongs to Abraham and is to be respected as such and protected as such.”
UNESCO’s resolution is not only unfair to the Jews but to the whole world, since it also denies Christianity’s roots in the Holy Land, Mtanga told reporters on the steps leading to the site, revered by Jews as the final resting place of biblical patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, and by Muslims because of Abraham’s significance as a Quranic prophet. “UNESCO has no power to erase the history of this land.”
UNESCO proved it doesn’t recognize Israel, says Dutch MEP
The UNESCO vote on Jerusalem shows the international body does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, a European Parliament member told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“When you do not want to recognize the Jewish state you are looking for [an] argument to deny the Jewish past,” said MEP Bas Belder, who is from the Netherlands.
His country was one of six nations that voted against Tuesday’s resolution before the 58-member UNESCO Executive Board, which ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. It is part of a drive by the Palestinians to change the language by which UNESCO refers to that area, so that it would be referenced solely by its Muslim name of al-Haram al-Sharif.
Belder spoke while on a tour of Hebron and Gush Etzion. He was part of a delegation of 23 parliamentarians from 18 countries who have come to for the annual Jerusalem Chairman’s Conference. It is organized by the Israel Allies Foundation and is sponsored by the World Jewish Congress and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.
Mexican Jews welcome government change of heart over UNESCO resolution
The Jewish community of Mexico lauded its government’s decision to withdraw its support for a UNESCO resolution that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. Mexico initially voted in favor of the resolution, but later called for a new vote so that it could change its vote to abstention. Under pressure from Western states it backed away from this call, but noted for the record that its position on the matter was one of abstention.
The Central Committee of the Jewish Community of Mexico released a statement Tuesday night expressing its gratitude to the Mexican government, and particularly to the president and Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its change of heart, which it described as “just, in light of the more than 3,000 years of continuous Jewish history in Jerusalem, since King David made it the capital of his kingdom, and his son King Solomon built the Holy Temple right in the esplanade of the Temple Mount.”
“As Mexicans, and as Jews, we will continue to promote UNESCO resolutions that focus exclusively on educational, scientific and cultural issues, and leave politics to the appropriate forums,” concluded the letter, whih was signed – alongside three other Jewish community leaders – by Salomon Achar, president of the Central Committee, the umbrella organization of Jewish communities in Mexico.
A statement posted on the Mexican Foreign Ministry website said it decided to change its vote to abstention in recognition of the undeniable Jewish cultural heritage that is located in east Jerusalem, and out of a deep appreciation for the contribution the Jewish community has played in Mexico’s economic, social and cultural development.
Video of Israeli forces shooting Palestinian assailant goes viral
A video which appeared to show four Israeli Border Police officers shooting a Palestinian assailant went viral on Thursday morning.
The short clip opens in the middle of Wednesday's attack, when the assailant, identified on social medias as Raheeq Shajeea Mohammad Yousef, 19, is already lying on the ground a few feet away from a bus stop at the Tapuach Junction, in the Samaria region of the West Bank.
The four policeman are seen already having drawn their guns and rapidly shooting bullets at her. They manage to fire some 10 bullets within seconds before halting their fire.
In reporting on Wednesday's incident, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that Yousef had aroused the suspicion of a border policeman who was at a lookout post by the junction. He warned the Border Police officers standing at the junction that she seemed suspicious.
The security forces called out to Yousef to stop walking, but she refused, Samri said. They fired warning shots in the air, but Yousef continued walking toward them.
'Islamic Jihad plotted to blow up Israeli wedding hall, kidnap IDF soldier'
Security forces announced Thursday that they had thwarted an Islamic Jihad plot to carry out a terror attack at a wedding hall in the South and to kidnap and kill an IDF soldier for the purposes of bargaining with Israel.
Mahmoud Yousef Hassin abu-Taha, a resident of Khan Younis in Gaza, was arrested last month while entering Israel through the Erez Crossing, ostensibly for purposes of commerce.
Abu-Taha was enlisted by Wael Sufian abu-Taha, a senior Islamic Jihad official in Gaza. He instructed abu-Taha to form a cell in order to carry out a terror attack in the South and to kidnap a soldier to be used in a prisoner swap deal, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said.
The three men who Abu-Taha enlisted to help him with the attacks were also arrested.
One of the suspects, 55-year-old Shafik Hamed Ahmed abu-Taha was illegally residing in Israel and was an employee of the wedding hall that the cell planned to attack. A second suspect, 39-year-old Ahmed Tisir Abdulrahman abu-Taha from Gaza, was also illegally residing in Israel. A third suspect, a 40-year-old from Deir al-Balah in Gaza, was living in the South legally after having gained residency through marriage by way of the "family reunification" law.
The suspects had carried out reconnaissance at the wedding hall, devising a plan that would claim the lives of a maximum number of victims, the Shin Bet stated.
At the same time, Mahmoud began planning the kidnapping of the soldier, receiving thousands of shekels from Wael abu-Taha in order to rent an apartment in Israel to which he planned to lure a soldier. According to the Shin Bet, Abu Taha planned to kill the soldier, bury him and send his belongings back to Gaza to use as bargaining chips with Israel.
"This grave affair yet again exhibits the efforts of terrorist elements in Gaza to carry out murderous terror attacks in Israel," the Shin Bet stated.
Arab-Israeli couple charged for joining Islamic State with kids
An Arab-Israeli couple was arrested last month after returning from a year of living under and fighting for the Islamic State terror group in Iraq with their three children, Israeli security officials said Thursday.
Wissam, 41, and Sabrin Zabidat, 30, from the northern Arab town of Sakhnin, spent over a year with the jihadist group before eventually escaping and making their way back to Israel, the Shin Bet security service said in a statement Thursday as charges were filed against the pair.
Details of the case were permitted for publication as northern district state prosecutors filed indictments against the couple at the Haifa District court on charges of contact with a foreign agent, membership in an outlawed organization, membership in a terrorist group, aiding an illegal group and undergoing unlawful military training.
The couple were arrested at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on September 22 after they returned from Turkey with their children aged 3,6, and 8 after spending over a year with IS, the Shin Bet said in a statement.
During questioning they told investigators that they had decided to join the Islamic State after viewing propaganda material and IS videos.
On June 16, 2015, they flew to Romania with their children to attend a family event. From there, without the knowledge of their extended family members, they continued on to Turkey where they made contact via Facebook with an Arab Israeli in Umm al-Fahm who had joined IS in 2013.
Israel refuses to allow arch-terrorist to be buried in PA territory
The remains of Abu Jihad, the former deputy to Yasser Arafat head of the armed wing of Fatah who was assassinated by Israel in 1988, will not be transferred to Palestinian Authority territory for burial. Head of the Coordination for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai made the decision final on Tuesday.
The Palestinian Authority made the request to transfer the remains after the cemetery in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus - where Abu Jihad is buried - was destroyed by ISIS.
Abu Jihad, who is also known as Khalil Ibrahim al-Wazir, was born in 1935 in the city of Ramla, between Jerusalem and Jaffa. His family relocated to Gaza following the War of Independence. Abu Jihad was studying at Alexandria University in Egypt where he became friendly with a young Yasser Arafat in the 1950s. The two would later found the Fatah movement. He would lthen ater become one of the chief architects of attacks against Israel, orchestrating the Savoy hotel attack in March 1975 and the coastal road massacre in March 1978.
IsraellyCool: WATCH: The Palestinian Big Bang Theory
Following my post yesterday on the Palestine Office Tourism Website and its claim the palestinians have been around for over one million years, I knew what I had to do.
The Palestinian Big Bang Theory

Ex-army head, Hezbollah ally Aoun tipped for Lebanon presidency
Lebanon’s powerful ex-premier Saad Hariri is expected to endorse Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun for president, a post that has been vacant for almost 30 months, a senior politician said Wednesday.
Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014 when the mandate of Michel Sleiman expired amid deep rivalries among Christian and Muslim politicians exacerbated by the conflict in Syria.
Since then parliament, which has twice extended its mandate, has met on 45 occasions to elect a president but deep rivalries and disagreements saw most deputies boycott the sessions.
The assembly is due to convene next week for the 46th time amid high expectations that a president will be elected and that the job will go to Aoun, a Maronite Christian and former army commander.
“Since Hariri has decided to endorse him, and save any last minute change, Michel Aoun will be elected by parliament on October 30,” said the senior politician, who declined to be named.
Hariri, a former Sunni Muslim prime minister whose party belongs to a Western- and Saudi-backed political bloc, had fiercely opposed Aoun’s candidacy.
Aoun is allied with the Shiite movement Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and has dispatched fighters to neighboring Syria to bolster the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Hariri’s father, former premier Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in February 2005 in Beirut. An international tribunal has accused the Assad regime of carrying out the assassination, which led to mass protests and the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country.
Assad claims photo of bombed child in ambulance faked
Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a Swiss television interview that a photo of a 5-year-old boy covered in dust and blood inside an ambulance that drew worldwide attention was “forged.”
Assad also told state broadcaster SRF that a planned pause in fighting Thursday in the northern city of Aleppo was an important step “but not enough.”
He said civilians want to leave the city but “terrorists” won’t let them.
In the wide-ranging interview in English aired Wednesday and conducted Tuesday, Assad rejected claims that he’s a war criminal, brushed off criticism from US Secretary of State John Kerry, and portrayed the “White Helmets” rescue teams as a “face-lift” of al-Qaeda-linked militants in Aleppo.
Assad rejected the iconic image in August of Omran Daqneesh following an airstrike in Aleppo as “manipulated” and said he would send the journalist conducting the interview photos to prove his claim.
Iran Seeking ‘Many Billions of Dollars’ Ransom for Release of US Hostages
Iran is seeking “many billions of dollars” in payments from the United States in exchange for the release of several U.S. hostages still being detained in Iran, according to reports by Iran’s state-controlled press that are reigniting debate over the Obama administration’s decision earlier this year to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash.
Senior Iranian officials, including the country’s president, have been floating the possibility of further payments from the United States for months. Since the White House agreed to pay Tehran $1.7 billion in cash earlier this year as part of a deal bound up in the release of American hostages, Iran has captured several more U.S. citizens.
Future payments to Iran could reach as much as $2 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter, who said that Iran is detaining U.S. citizens in Iran’s notorious Evin prison where inmates are routinely tortured and abused.
Iranian news sources close to the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which has been handling prisoner swaps with the United States, reported on Tuesday that Iran expects “many billions of dollars to release” those U.S. citizens still being detained.”
“We should wait and see, the U.S. will offer … many billions of dollars to release” American businessman Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer, who was abducted by Iran after the United States paid Iran the $1.7 billion, according to the country’s Mashregh News outlet, which has close ties to the IRGC’s intelligence apparatus.
Netanyahu’s Office Denies Palestinian, Iranian Reports of Secret Phone Conversation With Saudi Defense Minister to ‘Stir Insecurity’ in Islamic Republic
A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told The Algemeiner on Monday that Palestinian and Iranian reports of a recent phone conversation between the Israeli leader and the Saudi defense minister were untrue.
David Keyes was referring to an item in the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Manar, which was picked up by Iran’s semi-official state news agency Fars, according to which Netanyahu and Mohammad bin Salman spoke last Thursday about “relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, the situation in Syria and Lebanon, security coordination between the two sides and Riyadh’s purchase of weapons from Tel Aviv to continue support for the terrorist groups in Syria and attacks against Yemen.”
In addition, Fars reported on Tuesday that the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) accused the two countries of being in cahoots to foment unrest in Iran.
“Saudi Arabia, the Zionists and the world arrogant powers are spending huge amounts of money to stir insecurity in our country and we have intel indicating that Saudi Arabia is collaborating with the Zionists to this end,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari claimed at a political forum.
As The Algemeiner reported in July, Amos Yadlin, the director of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies and a former IDF intelligence chief, said that cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel was taking place under the radar, and that both countries viewed Iran as a threat.
This assertion came about two months after an Israeli delegation – headed by then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon — allegedly visited Saudi Arabia to meet with officials in Riyadh.

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