Friday, March 17, 2017

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Know thine enemy
There are iron rules of warfare. One of the most basic rules is that you have to know your enemy. If you do not know your enemy, or worse, if you refuse to act on your knowledge of him, you will lose your war against him.
This basic truth appears to have eluded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
This week we have been beset by the bizarre and sudden appearance of Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s negotiations chief.
Greenblatt’s mission is apparently to reinstate the mordant peace process between Israel and the PLO.
The peace process that Greenblatt is here to reincarnate died 17 years ago.
In 2000, PLO chief and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat killed the peace process when he initiated a massive terrorist war against Israel, right after he rejected peace and Palestinian statehood at the Camp David peace conference.
In rejecting peace, the architect of modern terrorism made clear that his claim seven years earlier that he was willing to reach a compromise with Israel, based on partition of the Land of Israel between a Jewish and an Arab state, was a lie. As the nationalist camp had warned at the time and since, the PLO was not remotely interested either in statehood or in peace. Arafat’s willingness to engage Israel in negotiations that led to its transfer of security and civil control over Gaza and the Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria to the PLO was simply another means to the only end the PLO ever contemplated. It was a means of weakening Israel as a step toward achieving the PLO’s ultimate goal of destroying the Jewish state.
PMW: Fatah blatantly supports terror - findings presented in US Congress
A new collection of examples shows that Fatah continues to blatantly incite and glorify terror in 2017 (March 17, 2017)
Yesterday, Palestinian Media Watch presented its report Fatah Votes for Terror to the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East. Included as an appendix to that report is a new collection of examples which show that Fatah continues to blatantly incite and glorify terror in 2017.
The picture to the right, which Fatah posted on its official Facebook page and appears in Appendix 2 of PMW's report, is just one of countless examples of the party's violence promotion.
Click to view Fatah Votes for Terror Appendix 2: Fatah terror promotion continues in 2017
Fatah promotes terror during times characterized by daily terror attacks as well as during relatively peaceful times. In Fatah Votes for Terror Appendix 3, PMW documents that Fatah actively glorified terrorism on its Facebook page throughout the terror wave of 2015-2016.
[Official Fatah Facebook page, Jan. 17, 2017]
The image below, which Fatah posted to its official Facebook page and appears in Appendix 3, glorified the ongoing violence and promised more to come:
UN Watch: UN chief rejects Richard Falk’s ESCWA report accusing Israel of ‘apartheid’
U.N. chief Antonió Guterres rejected a report published by ECSWA, a Beirut-based agency of the world body— ECSWA—comprised entirely of 18 Arab states, which accuses Israel of “apartheid.”
The report’s chief author is Richard Falk, a former U.N. official who was condemned repeatedly by the UK and other governments for antisemitism.
In 2011, Falk was also denounced by his own boss, former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, for espousing 9/11 conspiracy theories which accused the U.S. government, instead of Al Qaeda, of perpetrating the 9/11 terror attacks.
The new report, said Guterres’ spokesman, “does not reflect the views of the Secretary‑General.”
U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley blasted the report, and called on the UN to withdraw it:
What the media doesn't want you to know about Richard Falk's new U.N. Report

NGO Monitor: NGO Sources from the UN Report on the "Question of Apartheid"
On March 15, 2017, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) published “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid: Palestine and the Israeli Occupation, Issue No. 1.” The report, co-authored by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley, accuses Israel of being “guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid.”
The two authors have long histories of anti-Israel activity. Richard Falk, former “UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” is a fringe “9/11 conspiracy theorist” and has been widely denounced, including by the former Secretary-General of the UN, for vile comments blaming the Boston terrorist attack on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.” He is also the author of an article “Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust” that compares Israel to Nazi Germany.
Virginia Tilley has contributed articles to Electronic Intifada, a major online media outlet active in promoting antisemitism, extreme anti-Israel views, and propaganda. In one of Tilley’s articles, “On the Academic Boycott of Israel,” she states that “Israeli academic arguments are indeed too reminiscent of apartheid South Africa to escape the comparison.”
Oddly, the 74-page report contains only 90 citations and footnotes. Of these, only contains 11 citations to non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Nikki Haley Restores Morality to the UN Mission
Perhaps the most promising display of righteousness occurred this week when Ambassador Haley condemned the repulsive report issued by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). The report, issued by a group based in Beirut comprising 18 Arab nations—including the non-existent “state of Palestine”—accused Israel of imposing apartheid on the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. Among the report’s authors was former special UN rapporteur Richard Falk, whose anti-Israel prejudice is matched by few. Falk has praised terrorist organizations like Hamas, likening them to the French resistance, excused the targeting of Israeli Jews in attacks, and claimed that U.S. officials have given rise to “conspiratorial explanations” for the 9/11 attacks. The report is so obviously detached from reality that even the United Nations Secretary-General’s office refused to endorse its findings.
“The United States is outraged by the report,” read a statement from Haley. “The United Nations Secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”
She added: “That anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising.” It is a sad commentary on the recent history of the United Nations that displays of basic morality are in such short supply. That’s in part why Haley’s defenses of Israel from a depraved institution like the United Nations are so refreshing.
Haley’s ascension to the post of UN ambassador represents a repudiation of the Obama administration’s approach to creating “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel, but not a solitary one. Barack Obama’s efforts to remake the Middle East and rehabilitate Iran had the unintended effect of drawing Israel closer to its Sunni Arab-dominated neighbors. The Trump administration’s renewed commitment to Israel ensures that the Jewish State is less isolate than ever, and never has the Palestinian question been less relevant to the matter of Middle East peace. Ambassador Haley and the Trump administration deserve praise for helping to strengthen the Middle East’s only democracy, but they couldn’t have done it without Barack Obama.
UN human rights "expert" calls antisemites and terrorism advocates "Human rights defenders"
A UN human rights "expert" is attempting to cover-up the antisemitic and violent records of individuals he labels "human rights defenders" while slamming Israel for interfering with their "human rights" work. The allegations come in a new report just released by the UN "Human Rights" Council on the "situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.," The report was written by UN "Special Rapporteur" Michael Lynk – a man chosen by the Council for the UN expert position fully aware he has called Israel's creation an instance of "ethnic cleansing." Lynk's report is one of five reports condemning Israel that is now being considered at the month-long session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Lynk specifically lists Palestinian "human rights defenders" who he alleges have faced "interference" with their right to peacefully protest, and "who all engage in non-violent activity." In fact, among those listed are individuals with violent and highly antisemitic records.
Manal Tamimi – Described only as a "leader of a protest movement" and "field researcher" by Lynk, Tamimi is in fact a notorious antisemite and, whose social media accounts are filled with:
- Messages supporting terrorists who have stabbed Israeli civilians
- Calling Israeli settlers "nazi settlers"
- Calls for attacks against "Zio-Nazis"
- Expressions of hope for the death of all "Vampire Zionist[s]"
- "[G]enocidal wishes, denial of Jewish history and identity, Nazi-era imagery, mocking of Jews, co-opting the Holocaust, and outright libels demonizing the Jewish people."
U.N. chief condemns Richard Falk for 9/11 Conspiracy Theories
In 2011, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took the floor of the Human Rights Council to issue an unprecedented condemnation of U.N. official Richard Falk, for his 9/11 conspiracy theories, saying they were “preposterous” and “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack.” Falk was also condemned by the U.N. chief and other worlds leaders for blaming the April 2013 Boston terrorist attack, which left 4 dead and 300 wounded, on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”

Falk Should Have Been Discredited Decades Ago
The outrageous report released this week by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia — which concludes “beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid” – should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with its co-author, Richard Falk.
This is not the first time that the former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories has given bias a bad name. Indeed, throughout his career, the American legal “scholar” has shown a deep loathing for Western democracies, including his own, while not even attempting to disguise his deep attraction to and affinity for evil Islamists.
Though infamous since 2001 for blaming the US for the 9/11 attacks, linking the Boston Marathon bombings to America’s Mideast policies and warning that Israel was committing genocide, Falk was busy apologizing for bloodthirsty radicals and their regimes long before that.
In January 1979, when he was still a professor of international law at Princeton, Falk accompanied former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Don Luce, a prominent member of “Clergy and Laity Concerned” (established in 1965 by the National Council of Churches to “struggle against American imperialism and exploitation in just about every corner of the world”) on a private, eight-day fact-finding mission to Iran. At the end of the trip, the trio stopped over in France to meet Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had been living in exile for 14 years.
Top US Jewish Groups Slam UN Report Accusing Israel of ‘Apartheid Regime’ Over Palestinian People
Top US Jewish groups have issued strong condemnations of a report published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on Wednesday, which accused Israel of establishing an “apartheid regime” that “dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”
“This latest outrage perpetrated against Israel by a UN body must not be allowed to stand,” Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein stated.
Greenberg and Hoenlein called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “unambiguously reject the ESCWA report and undertake to prevent similar unwarranted attacks in the future.”
World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer called the report — authored by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley — “a sad attempt to reinstate the infamous 1975 UN resolution that considered Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination” and said UN leaders and member states should “dissociate themselves from this report and to condemn it for what it is: a piece of vile anti-Israel propaganda that has not basis in fact.”
The authors of the report, Singer went on to note, “seem to live in a parallel universe. They don’t care about facts when these don’t fit into their one-sided narrative. It is sad to witness how time and again the United Nations is being hijacked by people whose agenda it is to deny the Jewish people’s right to a democratic and free state in its ancient homeland, Israel.”
Top US Foreign Policy Expert Elliott Abrams: UN Human Rights Council Must Bar Countries That Are Themselves Great Human Rights Violators
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) this week that it must reform or the US will withdraw from it, Foreign Policy reported.
In an interview with The Algemeiner on Wednesday, Elliott Abrams — a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush — said, “The key reform must be to bar from membership countries that are themselves great human rights violators.”
“The council was created [in 2006] due to the scandalous failings of the UN Human Rights Commission,” Abrams explained. “It was obvious to us in the Bush administration that the council had not cured those failings, so we refused to join. The Obama administration reversed that decision [in 2009].”
“So, there is certainly a precedent for leaving and refusing to participate,” he went on to say. “The usual counter is that our presence ameliorates the problems and allows us to protect Israel. There is some truth to that, but it is also true that our presence lends credence and weight to council’s activities.”
“On balance,” Abrams concluded, “we should not dignify the place with our membership unless it changes, exactly as Secretary Tillerson says.”
Speaking with The Algemeiner earlier this month, two UN experts — both staunch critics of the council — offered divergent views on the wisdom of a potential US pullout from the body.
At UN-Promoted Event, Venezuelan Official Libels Israel as Committing 'Genocide' Against Palestinians
On March 16, 2017, at a Palestinian-sponsored event organized on the side of the annual session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, a Venezuelan official asserted that Israel had committed genocide against the Palestinians during Operation Cast Lead, the 2008/9 Israeli military operation to stop the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets from Gaza onto Israeli civilian areas. The event was advertised on the UN's Calendar of Side Events for the annual session. The libel was greeted with thunderous applause from the overflow crowd of approximately 85 people attending the event on the Palestinian economy.
Blanca Eekhout, the Venezuelan Minister for Women and Gender Equality said the following (Editor's note: the remarks were simultaneously translated from the original Spanish by a Venezuelan staffer at the event; grammatical errors have not been corrected):
"After the genocide action that had been perpetrated, called Cast Lead Operation, Venezuela assumed a very strong position and break relations with Israel regarding this issue. We are against these types of action, so we always are solidarity with the Palestinians in this issue."
Dictators Praise Zimbabwe at U.N., Hillel Neuer Responds
After Iran, Veneuzela & North Korea hailed Zimbabwe's "promotion and protection of human rights," UN Watch's Hillel Neuer took the floor to object to the false report. March 16, 2017, UN Human Rights Council.

Trump keeps Obama era aid to Israel amid massive State Department cuts
A budget outline published by the Trump administration on Thursday respects an agreement made during the Obama administration to transfer $3.1 billion in US foreign military financing to the Jewish state in 2018, despite massive cuts at the State Department and elsewhere.
Last year, the US and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding meant to govern American defense assistance to Jerusalem for the next decade. That will begin in fiscal year 2019 when the old agreement expires. At that point, aid will increase to $3.3b. annually.
Consistent with the MoU, Trump’s first budget “provides $3.1b. to meet the security assistance commitment to Israel, currently at an all-time high.” The administration further vowed to ensure that Israel “has the ability to defend itself from threats and maintain its Qualitative Military Edge.”
The doctrine of qualitative military edge commits the US to ensuring Israel’s military capacity remains greater than that of its neighbors.
Aaron David Miller: The wildest Middle East peace process yet
Over the last two days, President Donald Trump's senior adviser on international negotiations and longtime lawyer, Jason Greenblatt, held meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process -- now in a virtual coma.
The chances of the Trump administration waking the patient up, let alone facilitating a real road to recovery, are well ... pretty close to zero. Even Greenblatt opined he was in a listening only mode.
Very little has changed in either the Palestinian or Israeli willingness to take risks on the big decisions required to sustain any kind of peace process that might move -- even over time -- to a two-state end game. Indeed, one of the results of the Netanyahu-Trump meeting in Washington was to call into question the whole premise of the feasibility and desirability of such an outcome.
Still, there's definitely a new peace process conductor in town and a new tune, too, which has moved away from the one-note, two-state solution that has characterized US policy for almost 30 years. That approach may well be the least bad option for solving the Israeli-Palestinian problem. But, so far, it's proven unworkable.
So does the Trump administration have a new approach? And can it work?
Donald Trump stuns the Middle East by sending an honest broker
During his February 15 press conference with Netanyahu, the president said whatever solution both parties want would be fine with him, be it a one-state or a two-state solution. It seems a safe assessment that many of Greenblatt’s interlocutors here argued passionately for the need for a Palestinian state.
And it is in this context that the envoy’s unfinished negotiations with Netanyahu over settlement expansions should be seen. The White House has so far refrained from endorsing a two-state solution, but the fact that Netanyahu in two lengthy meetings did not manage to convince Greenblatt to give him free rein in the West Bank indicates that the Trump administration is determined to keep the prospect of Palestinian statehood alive.
Netanyahu publicly promised to build a new settlement for the recently evicted residents of the illegal Amona outpost, and vowed to reach an agreed-upon policy with the administration regarding settlement construction, but no such deal was done by the time the US envoy flew back to Washington. When this reporter tweeted on Thursday evening that Greenblatt’s second powwow with Netanyahu had ended without concrete results, the US envoy replied that “complex matters are not black and white and require significant time and attention to review and resolve.”
According to various sources, significant gaps remain between the two sides. If Netanyahu thought Trump would give him the green light to build wherever he wants, he has to think again.
Some Israeli politicians and pundits surmised on Friday that Netanyahu started missing Barack Obama this week. In the past, he could always blame the former president’s perceived anti-Israel attitude when pressured by his right-wing rivals over the slow pace of settlement constructions. With Trump, who etched his friendship to Netanyahu onto the White House website, this is no longer possible.
In 2nd meeting, Netanyahu and Trump envoy fail to reach agreement on settlements
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held his second meeting this week with US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, on Thursday for further discussions that focused heavily on West Bank settlements but apparently failed to reach an agreement.
Netanyahu and Greenblatt made “progress on the issue of Israeli settlement construction following up on President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s agreement in Washington last month to work out an approach that reflects both leaders’ views,” said a statement from Netanyahu’s office issued after the three-hour meting.
“Those discussions are continuing between the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office,” it said.
The discussions also explored prospects for renewing peace talks and bolstering the Palestinian economy.
Channel 2 TV reported that Netanyahu made clear to Greenblatt during the meeting that there would be no political possibility of freezing settlement activity, implying that he would not have his coalition’s backing.
Netanyahu and the Trump White House have been trying to reach an understanding on Israeli settlement activity since last month’s meeting between the Israeli leader and the US president, who in a joint press conference told Netanyahu that he wanted him to “hold back” on the settlements.
Trump Mideast Negotiations Envoy Jason Greenblatt Conducts ‘Positive’ Closed-Door Meeting in Jerusalem With Settler Leaders
US President Donald Trump’s envoy for Mideast negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, met with Israeli settler leaders on Thursday in Jerusalem, in what the Hebrew news site nrg reported was a historic “first.”
According to the report, the meeting between Greenblatt and Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan and Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi — who is also the chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council — was unusual, as American governments have refrained from public encounters with settler leaders in the past, due to the potentially controversial way in which such rendezvous would be perceived.
Though a spokesman for Revivi told The Algemeiner the content of the closed-door meeting could not be revealed, Dagan told nrg that there was a positive atmosphere.
“The conversation was interesting and pleasant,” Dagan was quoted as saying. “We greatly respect Trump and the new administration, and are happy that it is sympathetic and open to dialogue. [But] it is important for me to emphasize that our requests and demands are first and foremost from our own government and its ministers: that there be a meaningful change [in policy] and a stop to the decrees that have infringed on the fundamental human rights of half a million citizens in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. We demand a halt to the construction freeze, and to be able to build without hindrance.”
Trump Envoy Jason Greenblatt Hosts Interfaith Meeting in Jerusalem
Jason Greenblatt, the US administration’s Special Envoy for International Negotiations, on Thursday met with senior Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders in Jerusalem, reportedly calling the meeting “the most important” of his visit.
Greenblatt — a close confidant of US President Donald Trump — hosted the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land at the US Consulate-General in Jerusalem just before he met for a second time this week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to one participant, Greenblatt said the 90-minute encounter, attended by both Israeli chief rabbis and the chief justice of the Palestinian Authority’s Sharia court, was the most important meeting of his weeklong tour through the region.
“The leaders agreed that the search for peace must be governed by respect for life and human dignity for all people; to work together for peace, reconciliation, and a just solution; and to reject all incitement to violence,” said a statement released by the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.
On his Twitter account, Greenblatt said the clergymen were “promoting tolerance.”
Abbas says US envoy didn’t make any offers, just listened
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas denied reports that US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, presented any offers to renew negotiations with Israel during a meeting on Tuesday in Ramallah, according to an interview published Thursday.
In the hours before Greenblatt’s meeting with Abbas, there were reports, including from I24news and the United Arab Emirates newspaper al-Khaleej, that the US envoy had offered Abbas a deal: in return for coming back to the negotiating table, the Israelis would agree not to announce any new settlement construction, and the US would give additional economic incentives to the Palestinians.
But in a long interview with the Qatari news site al-Watan published on Thursday, Abbas denied Greenblatt had come to Ramallah with anything but a willingness to listen.
“Greenblatt did not propose any ideas or carry any offers. Rather, he came just to listen to what’s on our minds in order to later inform President Trump,” Abbas said.
“So when we meet the US president,” Abbas added, “there will be answers to what he has heard from us, enough to make a clear picture.”
“I think Trump will start with us from the beginning; he has not concealed this,” Abbas said.
Abbas: Global Terror Will Remain Until Palestinian Conflict Solved
Terrorism won’t be eradicated until the Palestinian issue is settled, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday, expressing hope that recent meetings with US President Donald Trump’s team would lead to “peace” in the region.
“The world is completely convinced that neither could the events taking place around us and across the world nor the issue of terrorism can be handled without solving the Palestinian question,” he said at a press conference in Ramallah with Bosnian President Mladen Ivanić, according to a transcript from official Palestinian news outlet Wafa.
Palestinians and their supporters often link the Israeli Palestinian conflict as a catalyst for terror groups who sow hatred and destruction in the Middle East and the world. Israeli officials reject the linkage, pointing out that extremist terror preceded the creation of Israel and many ills plaguing the world have no relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas met with Ivanic two days after sitting down with US special envoy Jason Greenblatt as the Trump administration made its first major foray into the moribund Israeli Palestinian peace process.
MEMRI: Reports On Creation Of Muslim Brotherhood Lobby In U.S. To Prevent Trump Administration From Designating The Movement A Terrorist Organization
Following Donald Trump's election to the U.S. presidency, the issue of designating the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a terrorist organization resurfaced. During and after his presidential campaign, Trump's Middle East advisor Walid Phares repeatedly stated that the new president would act for the passage of a bill doing so. For example, following Trump's September 2016 meeting with Egyptian President 'Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi on the margins of the UN General Assembly, Phares told the Egyptian daily Al-Watan that Trump had promised Al-Sisi that he would promote a bill that is already before Congress that designates the MB a terrorist organization. After the election, Phares reiterated these remarks to the press.
It should be mentioned that in November 2015, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) announced that they had introduced a bill designating the MB a terrorist organization. In January 2017, Cruz tweeted that he and Diaz-Balart had reintroduced the bill on this matter: "Proud to introduce Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act w @MarioDB [Mario Diaz-Balart]. It's time to call the enemy by its name."
In light of this bill, and in light of statements by Trump administration officials about its intent to promote it, the MB began preparations to confront the bill and prevent its passage. Launching a widespread informational media campaign, including the hiring of U.S. lobbying and legal firms, outreach to the press in the U.S., and dissemination of informational content aimed at improving its image in the West, particularly in the U.S., the MB attempted to convey that it is not a terrorist organization, but rather an ideological movement whose methods of operation are peaceful.
Daniel Pipes: The Threat of Radical Islam and the Future of the Eastern Mediterranean
Dr. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum offers a comprehensive survey of political developments, largely related to the rise of the Islamist threat in the eight nations of the Eastern Mediterranean – Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Libya. He also notes the rising involvement of Russia and China in the region. He sharply criticizes the gap between President Erdogan's immense skill in domestic politics and his failure to read right the regional and international challenges; and gives Israel high marks as a master of her own fate.
February 21, 2017
"Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean" -- BESA Center-B'nai B'rith conference

IDF says overnight sirens, explosions followed Israeli strikes in Syria
Israeli warplanes struck several targets in Syria, the IDF said early Friday, an attack that led to sirens and sounds of explosions in Israel in the middle of the night.
A little before 3 a.m. local time, warning sirens, which warn residents of Israeli towns of incoming rockets, sounded in the Jordan Valley. At least two distinct explosions were heard as far west and south as Jerusalem.
Initial reports said the sirens and explosions were believed to be from rocket launches in either the West Bank or Jordan.
But military officials said the sirens sounded when Israeli missile defense systems detected a missile launched at the Israeli Air Force planes during their strike against unnamed targets in Syria.
The explosions, the army said, were launches of Israeli air-defense missiles against an incoming Syrian anti-aircraft missile.
The IDF statement said neither civilians on the ground nor IAF pilots were in any danger at any point during the incident.
IAF ‘Arrow’ battery intercepts Syrian missile, in first reported use of the system
Israel shot down an incoming Syrian anti-aircraft missile with the Arrow defense battery early Friday morning, military officials said, in the first reported use of the advanced system.
At approximately 2:30 a.m., Israeli “aircrafts targeted several targets in Syria,” the Israel Defense Forces said, prompting a Syrian attempt to down the Israeli jets.
According to Arab media, the target of the IAF strikes was a Hezbollah weapons convoy.
“Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and IDF aerial defense systems intercepted one of the missiles,” the army said in a statement.
The anti-aircraft missiles were fired from eastern Syria by Bashar Assad’s military, traveling over Jordan and toward the Jerusalem area. They were apparently SA-5 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
The Arrow is primarily designed to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere, intercepting the weapons and their conventional, nuclear, biological or chemical warheads close to their launch sites.
Israel dismisses Syria’s claims it downed IAF jet, hit another
Israel on Friday dismissed a claim by the Syrian army that it shot down an Israeli warplane and hit a second one as they were carrying out predawn strikes near the famed desert city of Palmyra.
“Our air defense engaged them and shot down one warplane over occupied territory, hit another one, and forced the rest to flee,” the Syrian army said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.
The IDF denied the allegation.
“We repeat, at no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or the IAF aircraft compromised,” an army spokesperson said in response to the claim, referring to a statement made earlier on Friday morning.
The Syrian military also vowed to use “all possible means” to confront attacks by the “Zionist enemy.”
Bashar Assad’s army said the Israeli strikes were conducted to support “[Islamic State] terrorist gangs and in a desperate attempt to raise their deteriorating morale and divert attention away from the victories which Syrian Arab Army is making in the face of the terrorist organizations,” the statement read.
Jordan finds chunks of debris from Syria-Israel missile clash
Two large chunks of debris, apparently from an Israeli Arrow interceptor of a Syrian missile, fell near the Jordanian city of Irbid, causing no injuries and minor damage, Jordanian officials said Friday.
Syria fired anti-aircraft missiles at IAF warplanes that were on a predawn strike in Syria. Israel intercepted one of the missiles using the advanced Arrow system, reportedly for the first time in a real event.
The Syrian surface-to-air missile was fired from eastern Syria over Jordan and was heading toward the Jerusalem area. The Syrian missiles were apparently SA-5 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
After the interception, one large cylinder fell in the eastern district of the city of Irbid, while the second landed in agricultural area in the nearby city of Inbah, causing minor damage to property, said Otoum Radwan, the governor of Irbid, according to the official Petra news agency.
MK Ghattas cuts plea deal for 2 years in jail, resigns for cellphone smuggling
Balad MK Basel Ghattas signed a plea bargain agreement late on Thursday in which he confessed to smuggling cellphones to security prisoners in Ketziot Prison in the Negev and agreed to serve two years in jail and resign his Knesset seat, the Justice Ministry announced.
The ministry statement said the state prosecution would also seek a fine, along with a finding of moral turpitude, which would block Ghattas from public service for seven years after completing his sentence. The statement implied that Ghattas will be indicted and the plea deal will be filed next week.
Ghattas confirmed late Thursday night that he had signed he deal.
The case has ratcheted up tension between the Balad Party and authorities over whether Ghattas perpetrated a serious security offense or is being hunted by law enforcement as part of a crackdown on loud politicians among the country’s Israeli-Arab minority.
A related indictment against Asad Daka, Ghattas’s handler, said that Daka asked Ghattas to help smuggle items into the prison, relying on the MK’s parliamentary immunity from being searched when visiting prisoners.
Israel blacklists shadowy PA-linked fund as terror group
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman declared the Palestinian National Fund to be a terrorist organization on Thursday, accusing the Palestinian Authority-linked organization of providing “massive support” to terrorists and funneling “tens of millions of shekels” each month to Palestinian security prisoners and their families.
“The fund has a crucial role in the financial support for Palestinian terrorist operatives imprisoned in Israel, and it is used as the most significant route for transferring money,” Liberman said in a statement.
The Palestinian National Fund is said to contain billions of dollars from wealthy Arab donors and profits from various investments. It is run by Ramzi Elias Yousef Khoury, a high-ranking member of the Palestinian Authority.
There is little transparency or oversight in the management and use of the fund, which is ultimately controlled by PA President Mahmoud Abbas — something that grants him considerable influence and power.
According to a fact sheet put out by the Palestinian Embassy in Italy, “revenues for the fund come from financial contributions by Arab governments and peoples, quite substantial in the past.”
MEMRI: Currently Tweeting: Terrorist Ahlam Al-Tamimi – Just Added To FBI Most Wanted List For Involvement In Deadly 2001 Jerusalem Bombing – Shares Photos Of Bombing She Facilitated, Lauds Hamas Leaders And Martyrs, Promotes Her TV Show
Ahlam Aref Al-Tamimi, facilitator of the deadly August 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem, who on March 14, 2017 was placed on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list and is being charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the U.S. resulting in death, has been on Twitter (@dreamsnnn) since October 2013 (see MEMRI Special Announcement No. 527, U.S. Justice Department Announces Charges Against Hamas Terrorist In Connection With 2001 Jerusalem Bombing – From The MEMRI TV Archives: Interviews With Ahlam Tamimi – 'Everybody Was Congratulating One Another... Everyone Was Happy'; 'I Would Do It Again Today', March 15, 2017).
At the time of this writing, she has tweeted 1,228 times from her Twitter account, is following 386, and has 5,949 followers. She also has posted 345 photos and videos.
On March 16, 2017, a hashtag was started in support of Al-Tamimi: "#We are all Ahlam Al-Tamimi."
Her tweets have included videos and photos of the scene at the 2001 Jerusalem bombing that she facilitated, including one marking the 14th anniversary of the attack and praising the bomber; a model of a bombed-out Israeli bus against a mural of Jerusalem featuring Al-Aqsa; promotion of her program "Breeze of the Free Men" on the Al-Quds satellite channel; and images, photos, and poems on Palestinian topics, including photos of Yasser Arafat, Hamas bombmaker Yahyah Ayyash aka "The Engineer, Hamas cofounder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, Hamas cofounder Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi, and imprisoned Hamas commander Abdallah Al-Barghouthi.
Hamas Co-Founder: We Must Remove the Jews From Palestine “In Its Entirety”
Jews must be driven out of all of Israel, not just the areas that the Jewish state took over in 1967, a co-founder of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas proclaimed in a televised speech last week.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, who still serves as a prominent leader of the Iran-backed terror group, said on Al-Aqsa TV on March 8 that the Quran “talks about driving you out ‘from where they have driven you out.’
From where did the Jews drive us out? From within the 1967 borders or the 1948 borders? From within the 1948 borders. So you should drive them out from within the 1948 borders, like they drove you out. Hence, removing the Jews from the land they occupied in 1948 is an immutable principle, because it appears in the Book of Allah.
Al-Zahar went on to criticize other “Palestinian factions that talk about the 1967 borders,” saying that on the issue of borders, “we base ourselves upon our religion, while you do not.” He emphasized this point later in his speech: “Let me advise our brothers and sisters from the Islamic movement—from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad—never to use the term ‘1967 [borders].’
These remarks may undercut recent reports that Hamas plans to change its charter to endorse a Palestinian state based on the 1949 armistice agreement lines.
Iran's Economy Post-Nuclear Deal: A Misleading IMF Scorecard
Iran's budget and banking system are being held hostage by unaccountable revolutionary institutions like the IRGC, but for some reason the IMF is not calling Tehran out on the glaring lack of transparency.
On February 27, the International Monetary Fund released its annual report about the Iranian economy. The report is important not only for what it reveals about the Islamic Republic's economic situation, but also for what it says about how respected international technical agencies respond to a government that has no effective control over revolutionary institutions that act at cross-purposes to its policies.
The IMF report praises Tehran for carrying out a "prudent fiscal policy" that has "kept the budget deficit low in spite of challenging circumstances." It adds, "Over the past 5 years, the overall fiscal deficit of the central government was kept below 2 percent of GDP despite the drop in oil revenues."
Yet a closer look at the report's specifics shows that none of that praise is true in any meaningful sense. In fact, the authors openly acknowledge that President Hassan Rouhani's government has "recognized" arrears equal to 25% of GDP, and mention in passing that total arrears may turn out to be 3,980 trillion rials (about $130 billion USD), which would be 36% of GDP. A government whose annual deficits are "below 2 percent of GDP" does not accumulate arrears of 25% -- that is only possible with the type of massive annual deficits characteristic of imprudent fiscal policy.
Official Claims Organization of Islamic Cooperation is "Dedicated to Empowering Women" (not satire)
On March 16, 2017, at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)-sponsored event on the side of the annual session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, an OIC representative claimed that the organization - whose member states (including Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia) oppress women in the name of shariah law - is devoted to supporting women. The event, on the role of religion in female empowerment, was advertised on the UN's Calendar of Side Events for the annual session.
Speaking to the approximately 85 attendees of the event, Fadila Grine, the Director of the Family and Social Affairs Department of the OIC, said the following:
"The Organization of Islamic Cooperation is dedicated to empowering women."
PreOccupiedTerritory: Mossad Infecting 72 Virgins With STDs (satire)
Paradise, March 16 – Heavenly sources are reporting that Israeli agents have infiltrated the Supernal Realm and are spreading venereal diseases among the virgins allotted to Islamic martyrs.
Archangel Jibril told journalists that unusual numbers of virgins have been visiting heavenly clinics to receive treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, a phenomenon that the angel said should not exist among the non-sexually-active, and that therefore must be attributed to a nefarious infection scheme to deny shahids their rightful booty in the afterlife.
“The obvious suspects are the Jews, the eternal enemy of all that is just in Existence,” explained Jibril. “No one else has demonstrated the capacity, skill, or motive to manipulate the very laws of time and space to falsify history to make it seem as if they, not the Islamic Umma, are the chosen people of Allah. Stealing into Heaven to infect virgins with STDs is child’s play for them.”
Jibril observed that the full extent of the infection plot remained unknown for now. “It seems the Jews have hacked the databases just enough to stymie our efforts at getting a comprehensive picture of the phenomenon, but not enough to conceal it entirely – evidently, I would say, because they want it known that such troubles are afoot, that they may profit by the ensuing confusion and unrest. Brilliant, if evil. Stereotypical, I would say.”

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