Wednesday, June 28, 2017

From Ian:

Iran targeted Star of David in ballistic missile test
Iran used a Star of David as a target for missile test last year, according to satellite images of the site distributed by Israel to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday.
“This use of the Star of David as target practice is hateful and unacceptable,” Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon wrote in a complaint to the Council.
Photos provided to UN members showed the Jewish and Israeli symbol as the target in a test of a ballistic missile carried out in November with the impact crater visible next to it.
“The missile launch is not only a direct violation of UNSCR 2231, but is also a clear evidence of Iran’s continued intention to harm the State of Israel,” Danon said, adding that “the targeting of a sacred symbol of Judaism is abhorrent.”
'The next war will be bloody' A trip along Israel’s tense northern border
Israel’s northernmost village of Metulla with a population of close to 2,000 people sits on the Lebanese border and despite the ever-present risk of conflict with Hezbollah, the community continues to grow. Metulla is one of the communities that is expected to be evacuated in the event of a war between Israel and the Shiite Lebanese terror group.
“The next war will be pretty bloody for both sides. Israel will evacuate its population and I suggest the Lebanese do the same,” Lt. Col. (Res.) Sarit Zehavi, the head of Alma, an organization that gives briefings on Israel’s security challenges on the northern border told The Jerusalem Post. As Lebanesefarmers worked a field in the distance, and tractors waddled down the streets of Metulla, the situation seemed quiet, but threats overshadow the border.
Israel has never carried out a mandatory evacuation of any community since the founding of the state. However, the IDF is now concerned about the very real possibility of ground attacks by the terror group against Israeli civilian communities in border communities in addition to the threat posed by Hezbollah’s stockpile of more than 100,000 rockets.
“Hezbollah knows how to fight and how to move large forces,” Zehavi said, stressing that the group will likely not “occupy” any Israeli villages but aims to create fear by massacring Israeli civilians.
“It will be a totally new battlefield than what we saw in 2006,” she said i reference to the Second Lebanon War, explaining that the group has significantly increased its battlefield knowledge due to its fighting in Syria for the regime of Bashar Assad.
“Everything they learn in Syria, including from the Russians, is being brought here.”
Iran's flag on Israel’s border: ‘We are coming’
Lebanon seems to be having a flag sale. Iranian flags, Hezbollah, the UN, Spain, Palestinian flags. They are all flying provocatively along the border with the northern Israeli community of Metulla. Just meters from the fence that separates the countries, not far from the site of a 1985 terror attack, Hezbollah has festooned the roads with signs of its presence. It’s purposely done so Israeli residents can see the flags and the billboards next to them. In Metulla there is a memorial for the 12 Israeli soldiers killed in the 1985 suicide bombing, while just across the border a huge billboard celebrates the same killing.
I spent Tuesday touring the Lebanese and Syrian borders with Israel to see the tense situation in the north of the country. The flags across the border seemed representative of the situation that prevails today. Next to the Hezbollah flags is a small post that has a UN logo. Near it the Amal Shia Lebanese movement has erected a large banner reading “to he of pure hands and a generous soul, thank you speaker of parliament Nabih Berri.” On the banner is the Iranian flag. Here is a visible presence of Iran just a stone’s throw from Israel. It’s not the only Iranian symbol here. On a hill overlooking new houses being constructed in Metulla is another huge poster with a photo of the Dome of the Rock. The face of Ayatollah Khomeini glowers down over the dome and Hezbollah has written “we are coming” in Hebrew and Arabic. They’ve put a giant Palestinian flag next to the poster.
The message is clear, as it is disconcerting. Here is Iran glowering down on Israel from the north. As we toured the border area with Lt. Col. (Res.) Sarit Zehavi, the head of Alma, an organization that gives briefings on Israel’s security Challenges on the Northern Border, what should be a tense situation seemed quiet. This area has known war for many years. There is an old British police fort here from the 1930s when terror also struck at Jewish communities. Zehavi stresses that the situation along the Lebanese border has not affected tourism or housing prices, and the new construction is evidence of that.

Pressuring the PA Is Key to Ending Terrorist Payments
By 13 Senior Former Israeli Security Officials
The Palestinian Authority considers legitimate all forms of "struggle" to achieve their goals and therefore pays salaries both to incarcerated and released terrorists from every terrorist organization, including Hamas, according to PA law that refers to the terrorists as the "fighting sector of Palestinian society."
Providing funds to the PA to enable it to keep paying those salaries, which are soliciting terrorism, is illogical, illegal and immoral.
There is no chance that the PA will stop paying those salaries unless it is pressured politically, legally, and most of all economically. The U.S., Europe and Israel have approached the Palestinians on this matter many times and beyond cosmetic adjustments nothing has changed.
Even confronted with direct demands from the new U.S. administration, the PA makes it clear that it is not going to make a real change in its terrorist payments policy. Only real, tangible pressure will make the PA leadership seriously consider the need to change.
There is no reason to believe that if the U.S. Congress passes the Taylor Force Act, the PA's security cooperation with Israel is going to stop. The security cooperation serves the interests of the PA. It is focused on thwarting terrorist attacks planned by Hamas, the PA's nemesis, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Islamic State. These attacks may kill Israelis, but are also intended to embarrass the PA and weaken it in the power struggle against Hamas.
The real threats to the PA are its commitment to unattainable political goals and to a long-lasting struggle against Israel instead of a genuine peace process, its low level of functioning, the corruption and the lack of a system that guarantees popular trust in the leadership.
There is little we can do about these, but supporting the just demand to stop paying terrorists with real pressure is very much in accord with Israel's security interests.
Israel changes tactics to tackle street terror
Most of the recent attacks in the Old City of Jerusalem have been with knives, occasionally with guns and rarely now with bombs.
The pattern of individual “lone wolf” assaults matches those in the UK, France, Germany and Belgium. Many are carried out by one or two individuals, armed with knives and crashing into crowds or bus queues with hijacked vehicles. Israel is undergoing a continuous update of its counter-terror strategy, involving public awareness, new police and counter-terrorist force tactics and improved surveillance.
The fresh thinking has lessons from which Britain could learn as it also faces the threat of street terrorism, although the circumstances are very different. “London and Jerusalem are very different in scale alone,” says Micky Rosenfeld, the senior police liaison officer in Jerusalem. “You can cross central Jerusalem by motorbike in around eight minutes.”
In the past 18 months there have been 12 attacks near the Damascus Gate. Earlier this month Hadas Malka, a 23-year-old border police sergeant major, was fatally wounded when three men attacked officers at the entrance with a knife and home-made pistol. In all there have been 45 victims of lethal attacks since the autumn of 2015. Most were Israelis but two were American and one British. Last April exchange student Hannah Bladon, 20, was stabbed on a tram by a deranged man armed with a kitchen knife.
“Unfortunately, I think we really have to learn to live with this kind of terrorism — and just do everything to minimise its effect,” the commander at the Israeli Defence Force’s Counter Terrorist Training School explains. “Their tactics change all the time, and we must change ours.”
The commander, who declines to be named, says the public has to be made vigilant, though not anxious. He ventures that he thinks more public awareness is needed in Britain now.
But there are huge differences between Israel and Britain. He shows us practice videos of attacks at bus queues with crashing cars and knives. In most examples a bystander draws a weapon and shoots the perpetrator.
JCPA: Whatever Happened to the Term “Palestinian State?”
Abbas and senior Palestinian Authority officials also have not heard Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say the words “Palestinian state.” On the contrary, Netanyahu made it clear that he is willing to give the Palestinians a “state minus” and made it clear that that security control along the Jordan River will remain in the hands of Israel, as well as full Israeli sovereignty in east Jerusalem.
The political contacts made between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority and Israel are supposed to get new momentum after the Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday. Senior teams with five people from each side are scheduled to go to Washington for separate discussions. The American administration is still formulating the “deal,” but there is no sign so far that the “deal” includes the establishment of an independent “Palestinian state” whose capital is east Jerusalem.
Senior officials in Fatah say in private conversations that Mahmoud Abbas may still regret that he rejected the deal proposed by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, because it now seems that what President Trump is going to offer him is much less than what Olmert offered.
The pressure on the Palestinian Authority leadership is great. Abbas is afraid of betrayal by the “moderate” Arab states on the Palestinian issue. There are signs that they are ready to begin the normalization process with Israel before the Palestinian issue is solved, and after the Riyadh conference attended by President Trump on May 20, 2017, there is a feeling among the Palestinians that Trump can recruit the Arab countries for almost any mission.
There is no doubt that President Trump is trying to square the circle and find a creative solution that both sides will find difficult to reject. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority still don’t know what he is planning, but it appears the Palestinian side is much more worried than the Israeli side. It appears that the Palestinians who crave to hear the words “Palestinian state” will need to wait at least several more weeks in order to understand the essence of the “deal” formulated by President Trump. In the meantime, they are very worried and probably with good reason.
US ‘not pulling out in any way’ from Mideast peace efforts, says official
The State Department rejected claims that a meeting last week between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and senior White House official Jared Kushner went awry and an unconfirmed report that US President Donald Trump was ready to pull the plug on efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert reiterated that Trump has made Mideast peace “one of his top priorities,” adding that allegations that Abbas left his meeting with Trump’s son-in-law fuming were “false,” while conceding that “some meetings and conversations may be a little bit more difficult than others.”
Palestinian sources told Hebrew and Arabic media last week that the sit-down had not gone well and that the Palestinian leader had accused the US of taking Israel’s side while refusing US demands that Ramallah cut off payments for some convicted terrorists and their families.
Kushner met with Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday, along with Trump’s international negotiator Jason Greenblatt.
Nauert said Tuesday that the Trump administration knows “that this is not going to be a one-shot deal” and that peace would not materialize “in one meeting or one trip.
Haley promises to block any appointment of Palestinian official to senior UN post
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley indicated she would block any appointment of a Palestinian official to a senior role at the UN because Washington “does not recognize Palestine” as an independent state.
Speaking on Tuesday before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Haley was asked about the move by the US in February to oppose the appointment of former Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad to be the new world body envoy to Libya.
“Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the US, called Mr. Fayyad a peace partner,” Representative David Price (D-NC) was quoted by the Jewish Insider as saying during the hearing. “Was Mr. Fayyad denied simply because of his nationality? Would any Palestinian have been blocked? As you know, this isn’t a state representative.”
Haley said that while Fayyad was “very well qualified and is a good, decent person,” the decision was based on the fact “that the US does not recognize Palestine… and because that is how he was presented, we did oppose that position.”
“If we don’t recognize Palestine as a state, we needed to acknowledge also that we could not sit there and put a Palestinian forward until the US changed its determination on that front,” she said.
Reenactment of historic partition vote at UN this November
This November, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon will host a reenactment of one of the key moments in the process of the establishment of the State of Israel, the United Nations General Assembly vote to partition the British Mandate in the land of Israel into an Arab and a Jewish state.
The reenactment will be held on the 70th anniversary of the vote, which took place on November 29, 1947.
Diplomats who voted in favor the establishment of a Jewish state will take part in the event along with their colleagues from around the world. Jewish community leaders and pro-Israel supporters will attend the event as well. During the reenactment of the vote, the hall will be redesigned to appear in its original state and the delegates will sit in their designated seats from 1947.
“We are proud to celebrate next year seventy years since Israel’s establishment,” said Ambassador Danon. “The vote on November 29, 1947 was a milestone on the path leading to the creation of the State of Israel. Despite the attempts at the UN to question our right to exist, we will present the support that Israel receives from so many countries around the globe as we celebrate seventy years of success and prosperity,” the Ambassador concluded.
Conflict Will Remain until Palestinians Accept Israel
This [month] marks the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, in which Israel captured parts of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, including the Old City of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.
Since that time, even as every Israeli yearns for peace, we have been subjected to constant pressure to make a deal with the Palestinians and to exchange land for it. We've tried many times, but every effort has fallen apart.
Most see this as an issue of negotiations and compromise. Nevertheless, a process to end a conflict without one side emerging as victor while the other accepts defeat in its aims would be ahistorical.
Throughout history, peace has emerged only when war and conflict has ended. As many historians and political scientists have attested, victors have achieved long-term peace by identifying the core of the enemy's ideological, political, and social support for a war, fiercely striking at this objective, and demanding that the enemy acknowledge its defeat.
In fact, a cursory reading of modern history amply demonstrates that defensive positions and appeasement bring about greater conflict and bloodshed. This has certainly been true of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which has cost both sides more lives since the Oslo Peace Process began than in the many decades leading up to it.
US court to decide if Israel terror victims can be paid with Iran artifacts
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to decide on a long-running legal battle over whether Persian artifacts in Chicago museums can be seized as compensation for victims of a terror attack in Israel.
The court will have the final word in the more than decade-long saga between Iran and five US citizens, who blame the Islamic Republic for its support of terror group Hamas.
The case highlights the difficulty for victims in obtaining judgments in their favor against sovereign states accused of supporting organizations considered by Washington to be terror groups.
The last decision in the case favored Tehran: a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled that the artifacts being kept at the Field Museum and at the University of Chicago were immune to seizure.
The case stems from a 1997 suicide bombing in Jerusalem that was carried out by Hamas.
Togo blocks Syrian efforts to thwart 'Africa-Israel' summit
A Syrian bid to have Israel's invitation to an "Africa-Israel" summit in Togo this October revoked has been thwarted by the host country.
Israel's improving ties with African countries, a process Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu helped kickstart by visiting the continent earlier this month, appears to be making Arab countries anxious.
After Israel was invited in January to take part in this October's AU summit in the Togolese capital of Lome, Arab League member states called for an emergency summit to impede Israel's participation.
Syria, which was itself expelled from the Arab League amid the civil war there, submitted an official letter of protest over the conference. According to the document, which has been obtained by Israel Hayom, Syria is demanding that Israel's invitation be revoked. Syria also said it does not want Israel to regain observer status in the AU.
The Syrian Embassy in Nigeria delivered the letter to the Togolese Embassy there on June 1.
According to the Syrian letter, the pro-Israel initiative would "adversely affect the Palestinian cause and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights, and could lead to a rift in the Arab-African relations."
Army nabs would-be stabber at Bethlehem checkpoint
A Palestinian woman was detained Wednesday while trying to cross a West Bank checkpoint with a knife, apparently while on her way to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.
Border police officers who searched the 36-year-old at the crossing near the city of Bethlehem found the weapon during a search, police said.
The woman, from the town of Yatta, near Hebron, was taken for questioning, where she reportedly told investigators she wanted to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.
Nobody was injured during the incident, which came less than two weeks after three Palestinian men carried out an attack in the Old City of Jerusalem that killed a Border Police officer, 23-year-old Hadas Malka.
Since September 2015, some 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans, an Eritrean national, a Palestinian man and a British student have been killed in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks by Palestinian assailants. In that time, more than 270 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, a majority of them attackers, according to authorities.
Israeli airlines sued over claims of 'violating' Arab passengers
Israeli airline companies Arkia and El Al were presented with a legal challenge this week after being sued by three female Arab-Israeli students who claim to have been brutally frisked without cause before boarding a flight from Serbia to Israel.
The three students booked an organized tour in Serbia that was offered by Israeli airline Arkia.
Upon their return to Israel they were asked to step away from other group members and frisked in a manner that they claim to be brutal and without due cause.
El Al is jointly being sued as it provides all Israeli airlines with security services outside the country. The students are being represented by the lawyer Awni Banna.
The students had been asked to remove their clothes and were thoroughly frisked by an all-female team of Israeli security workers.
Allegedly, the students were told that unless they comply with all of the demands made to them by the female security team they would not be allowed to board the flight home.
They were asked to remove their clothes, searched in a way they felt is inappropriate, and one student was ordered to hand over her mobile phone for further inquiries, claim their lawyers.
Allegedly, one student fainted during these procedures.
'Israeli readiness prevented mass damage from global cyberattack'
Three Israeli companies reported they were hit on Tuesday as part of a global cyberattack that began in Russia and Ukraine and quickly spread across Europe and to the United States, wreaking havoc on government and corporate computer systems.
The National Cyber Defense Authority in the Prime Minister's Office said that Israeli companies hit by the ransomware attack should contact it for assistance and not pay the hackers.
The virulent data-scrambling software infected scores of computers across Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Italy, Germany, France, the U.K. and the U.S. Several multinational firms said they were targeted, including U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck, Russian state oil giant Rosneft, British advertising giant WPP, and the French industrial group Saint-Gobain. But the impact on Israel seems to have been marginal.
The attack came two months after another global ransomware assault, the "WannaCry" virus, hit 100 nations.
Some IT experts identified the latest virus as "Petrwrap," a modified version of the Petya ransomware that hit last year and demanded money from victims in exchange for the return of their data.
60% of illegal Palestinian homes in Area C still standing, IDF says
Sixty percent of illegal Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank have not been destroyed since 2010, the head of the area’s enforcement division Marco Ben-Shabat told a Knesset committee on Tuesday.
Until 2010, only 10% to 15% of such structures were taken down and over the last seven years only about 30 or 35% have been demolished, which means that about 60% are still standing, Ben-Shabat told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee during a hearing on the matter.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avi Dichter of Likud mused that any mayor of a city with those kinds of tax collection numbers would have been replaced.
Ben-Shabat blamed the enforcement failure in part on the 100% increase from 2015 to 2016 in petitions to the High Court of Justice against such demolitions.
In actual numbers for 2015, he said, the Civil Administration identified 945 illegal Palestinian structures, of which 335 were destroyed. Last year there were 941 structures, of which 490 were taken down.
A new island in the Mediterranean... just off Gaza
At first glance the video looks like a promotion for a luxury offshore development, a Dubai Palm-style project on the Mediterranean. Then it becomes clear it's about Gaza.
Israel's intelligence and transport minister has long pushed the idea of an artificial island off the coast of the Gaza Strip, with plans for a port, cargo terminal and even an airport to boost the territory's economy and connect it to the world.
But now the minister, Israel Katz, has released a slick, high-production video setting out his proposal in more detail, complete with a dramatic, English-speaking narration, colorful graphics and stirring music.
"The artificial island initiative is aimed at providing an answer to a reality that is bad for the Palestinians and not good for Israel," says the narrator, acknowledging that the aim is in part to change the view that Israel is to blame for the deteriorating circumstances of Gaza's two million people.
The Islamist militant group Hamas has controlled Gaza for the past decade, during which time Israel and neighboring Egypt have maintained a tight blockade, restricting the flow of goods and people in and out, in part to pressure Hamas.
Egyptian Air Force destroys ISIS convoy carrying weapons to Sinai
The Egyptian Armed Forces released a video on Tuesday showing the country's air force destroying an Islamic State convoy of weapons near Egypt's western border with Libya.
The successful operation came as part of continuing Egyptian efforts to destroy the terrorist infrastructure in the Sinai Peninsula, as the convoy was headed toward that area and would have brought weapons and supplies to Islamic State-affiliated terrorist groups there. Some of the weapons would have traveled further and would have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi recently ordered the large-scale mobilization of Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula as part of the emergency steps.
Due to the large number of troops in Sinai and agreements with Bedouin tribes in the peninsula, Egyptian forces have managed to confiscate large quantities of weapons and locate tunnels used to smuggle arms between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza.
Egypt’s Sisi Approves Deal to Hand Over Strategic Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ratified a treaty that hands over two strategic islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia, despite protests about the move in Egypt.
The deal to hand over the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir was reached in 2016 after a visit to Egypt by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. Yet the deal has faced widespread opposition and legal challenges by opponents who accuse Sisi of selling out the country for Saudi money. Nevertheless, the deal was approved by Egypt’s parliament and was signed Saturday by Sisi.
The uninhabited islands that sit on the southern entry to the Gulf of Aqaba were originally given to Egypt in 1950 by Saudi Arabia, in order to protect them from Israel. Later, the islands played an important role in setting off the 1967 Six-Day War when Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships, preventing Israeli access to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
United Nations peacekeepers maintain a presence on Tiran Island as part of the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty. Under the treaty’s terms, Israel gave its approval for the Egyptian-Saudi agreement as long as the Saudis maintained the treaty’s clauses pertaining to Israeli shipping through the Straits of Tiran.
Israel, Jordan and Russia Reportedly Negotiating Safe Zones in Southern Syria
Russia is reportedly in the midst of negotiations with Israel and Jordan to create safe zones in southern Syria that would shield Israel from an Iranian-led “Shiite corridor” developing on the Jewish state’s northern border.
Russian media reports state the negotiations were initiated following four recent US-led coalition airstrikes on Syrian military targets in that area. The talks are focusing on creating zones for the respective militaries to operate on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, adjacent to Israel’s northern border.
Reports of the negotiations follow the firing of mortar shells from Syria into the Israeli Golan Heights last weekend, which prompted the IDF to respond with a retaliatory strike in Syria.
During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his strong opposition to Iranian forces and terror proxies — many equipped with Russian-made heavy artillery — operating in Syria, near northern Israel. Netanyahu has lobbied for a security zone along the Israel-Syria border as part of any future negotiated resolution to end the Syrian Civil War.
Syrian Opposition Leader Says Real Enemy Is Iran, Not Israel
A leading member of Syria’s political opposition said most Syrians view Iran as the real enemy and not Israel, adding that Israel could do more to help the Syrian people.
“We want peace with Israel, and today, among the opposition in Syria, most people understand that the enemy is Iran and not Israel, so there is a good chance that there will be peace in the future,” said Salim Hudaifa, a former Syrian military officer who serves as a political representative of the opposition’s Free Syrian Army, at the Eurasian Media Forum in Kazakhstan.
Hudaifa is a former intelligence officer who abandoned Syria’s military in the 1990s and eventually gained asylum in Denmark. During the Syrian Civil War, Hudaifa was recruited by the US to head a program to train the Free Syrian Army, but the program was eventually abandoned by the US Defense Department.
“Israel needs to do more and help the rebels. People here are disappointed [with Israel]. There are also quite a few who think that [the Israelis] are helping [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, because they see that the Israeli-Syrian border is quiet,” Hudaifa said during a forum attended by Israeli dignitaries such as Gilead Sher, the Jewish state’s former chief peace negotiator.
“I think [Israel] can be more proactive and help us,” added Hudaifa. “Regarding the treatment of the wounded in your hospitals, it certainly improved Israel’s image in the eyes of Syrians, but only in a limited way. The reason is that the Arab media does not report it.”
Why Israel Destroyed Syrian Tanks Last Weekend
As Syrian government forces, with help from Iran and Russia, mount an offensive to drive rebel groups from their strongholds in the southwestern part of the country, and the rebels counterattack, fighting has intensified in Quneitra just over the border from the Israeli Golan. Last weekend, ten Syrian mortar and tank shells—aimed at rebel troops along the border—landed in Israel, causing the IDF to respond by attacking Syrian positions. Ron Ben-Yishai explains:
[T]he Syrian army tossed aside all of its rules of caution and fired at the rebel forces that attacked it without considering the fact the fire could spill over into Israel. The Syrian army usually avoids firing into Israeli territory, knowing how rapidly and aggressively Israel will respond, as part of its policy not to allow any fire into, or violation of sovereignty on, its territory.
This Israeli policy stems from the understanding that failure to respond aggressively to any spillover into Israeli territory, even an unintentional spillover, will be interpreted as a violation of Israeli sovereignty and could turn from a drizzle into a flood, not to mention wearing out the Israeli deterrence in the Golan Heights. Israel, therefore, has made it a point to respond. . . .
Saturday’s errant fire was unusual in two aspects: first, it included an unusual number of mortar shells and tank projectiles that landed in an open area in Israel, as opposed to the usual spillover of one or two mortar shells. Saturday’s incident also included direct tank fire, and the shooters were perfectly aware of the fact the shells would hit Israeli territory.
Fmr. Deputy IAEA Director: Agency Must Reopen Inquiry Into Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Research
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has sufficient cause to reopen its investigation into the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear research, the agency’s former deputy director told Fox News on Sunday.
Although the IAEA made a “political” decision in December 2015 to end its investigation into the PMD of Iran’s nuclear research, unresolved issues and new revelations—including fresh allegations that Iran is working with North Korea on its ballistic missile program—provide sufficient reasons for the IAEA to reopen the PMD investigation, Olli Heinonen told Fox’s James Rosen.
While Heinonen said that Iran is not necessarily in violation of the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), “the IAEA cannot prove that everything is okay and all nuclear material is under IAEA verification scheme,” he added.
In the memo, Heinonen explained that the PMD investigation ended in 2015 “in order to proceed to the JCPOA’s Implementation Day, which occurred on January 16, 2016.”
“Despite Tehran’s deficient cooperation, the IAEA found some man-made uranium particles at a location in Parchin, where an explosive test chamber associated with PMD studies was believed to have been located and subsequently dismantled,” Heinonen recalled. “The IAEA concluded that Iran’s explanations with regard to the purpose of the chamber did not match its own findings. Such questions would normally trigger follow-up actions such as taking of additional samples, visits to relevant sites, and interviews of relevant persons, according to standard safeguards practices. Subsequent IAEA reports, however, do not indicate that any such steps have been conducted – a situation very likely attributed to the Board’s decision to close the PMD file.”
Global Anti-Financial Crime Agency FATF Keeps Iran on Economic Blacklist
An intergovernmental organization created by G7 nations to combat financial crimes including money-laundering and terrorism financing is to keep Iran on its economic blacklist, in a major blow to the Tehran regime’s hopes of gaining unfettered access to the international financial system following the 2015 nuclear deal with six major world powers.
At its plenary in the Spanish city of Valencia last week, the Financial Action Task Force – made up of 37 member states and two observers, Israel and Saudi Arabia – decided to keep Iran on its “Public Statement” – effectively a blacklist that prevents those countries listed on it from accessing banking and other financial services.
At present, only two countries – Iran and its ally North Korea – are present on the list. In its statement on Iran, the FATF said that while it “welcomed Iran’s high-level political commitment to address” a FATF Action Plan agreed in October last year and confirmed that it would not reimpose punitive “countermeasures” on Tehran, it remained concerned that the regime had not yet fulfilled its obligations under the plan with regard to money laundering and the financing of terror.
“Until Iran implements the measures required to address the deficiencies identified in the Action Plan, the FATF will remain concerned with the terrorist financing risk emanating from Iran and the threat this poses to the international financial system,” the FATF stated.
Qods Day Commemorations Highlight Tehran's Global Reach
The Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies abroad on Friday commemorated Qods (Jerusalem) Day, an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan and established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to express support for Palestinians and opposition to Israel. The regime has not shied away from reiterating its call for Israel’s destruction during the annual event. While the majority of people inside and outside of Iran (including Sunni Arabs) do not partake, Qods Day events held in several continents highlight the Islamic Republic’s soft-power influence and global reach.

In his Qods Day statements, Lebanese Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah underscored the extension of Iran’s “Axis of Resistance” in the Levant. Nasrallah – who answers directly to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – threatened that a war between Israel and Lebanon or Syria would draw “thousands” of fighters from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
Media outlets affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have thus far omitted Nasrallah’s specific reference to those countries and especially Iran, likely because they seek to downplay to domestic audiences the prospect of a large number of Iranians deploying into yet another war. Iranian military deployment to Syria has proven to be a contentious issue at home.
In word and deed, the Islamic Republic has sought to expand its foothold in the Levant to project power and create strategic depth. It loudly calls for fighting and destroying Israel. For instance, the IRGC-controlled Iraqi Harakat al Nujaba formed its “Golan Liberation Brigade” earlier this year, with the expressed goal of taking the Israeli-held Golan Heights.
Violence against Women: Some Inconvenient Data for the Corrupt UN
A 2016 study by the same ministry revealed that no fewer than 86% of Turkish women have suffered physical or psychological violence at the hands of their partners or family. According to the ministry's findings, physical violence is the most common form of abuse, as 70% of women reported they were physically assaulted.
Violence against women is a cultural practice, and culture here is a blend of derivatives including religion and politics. Frenchmen, for instance, did not develop a habit of beating their wives during the German occupation. Nor did the Cypriot men after Turkey invaded the northern third of their island.
Violence finds particularly fertile ground in societies where the dominant "culture" is derived from Islamist conservatism. At the beginning of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, for instance, a Turkish professor of theology, Cevat Aksit, said during a television show that: "Women who are not fasting due to menstruation and eat on the street during Ramadan can get beaten".
How does Erdogan's government respond to that? Not by law enforcement but by gender-based segregation. Bursa, one of Turkey's biggest cities, recently launched a project to designate separate railway carriages for women on intra-city trains, to make women "comfortable" during their rides.
All that is normal in a country where the most popular political figure, Erdogan, is a man who once said that "women should know their place," and that "gender equality is against human nature", and his deputy prime minister once told women not to laugh in public.
So, tell us, Ms. Simonovic: Do Turkish men beat and sometimes kill their wives because of Israeli occupation? Is there "a clear link" between Turkey's rising numbers indicating violence against women and "Israel's prolonged occupation?"
Erdogan Seizes 50 Syriac Churches and Monasteries, Declares Them Turkish State Property
The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has seized control of at least 50 Syriac churches, monasteries, and cemeteries in Mardin province, report media sources from Turkey:
The Turkish-Armenian daily Agos reports:
After Mardin became a Metropolitan Municipality, its villages were officially turned into neighbourhoods as per the law and attached to the provincial administration. Following the legislative amendment introduced in late 2012, the Governorate of Mardin established a liquidation committee. The Liquidation Committee started to redistribute in the city, the property of institutions whose legal entity had expired. The transfer and liquidation procedures are still ongoing.
In 2016, the Transfer, Liquidation and Redistribution Committee of Mardin Governorate transferred to primarily the Treasury as well as other relevant public institutions numerous churches, monasteries, cemeteries and other assets of the Syriac community in the districts of Mardin.
The Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation appealed to the decision yet the liquidation committee rejected their appeal last May. The churches, monasteries and cemeteries whose ownerships were given to the Treasury were then transferred to the Diyanet.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Man Who Told Wife He Was Going To Be Suicide Bomber Just Hiding Affair (satire)
A Palestinian woman discovered her husband was having an affair when the suicide bombing her told her he was going to commit never happened, local sources have reported.
Neighborhood families in this city of 40,000 buzzed with the story this morning that a Hamas man had told his wife Saturday he was leaving town to become a martyr in a “commando operation” suicide bombing against Israel, but that no such attack took place, and no news reports surfaced of even a foiled attempt. When her call to his mobile phone failed to connect, she tried from a friend’s device, and a woman answered. The wife heard her husband’s voice in the background, giving panicked instructions to his mistress to pretend he was not there, but the wife convinced the woman to come clean. The identity of the couple has not been specified in the reports, but some versions of the story have it as taking place within the Al Qar’an clan of local renown.
“Hamas is not shy about trumpeting when someone conducts a martyrdom operation, even a failed one,” observed Dawood Shreim, a grocer. “So when no announcement of an attack on the Jews came out, and no occupation forces reported arresting anyone in connection with an attempted suicide bombing, well, it’s no surprise the missus got suspicious. A small part of me suspects the story is just a juicy rumor, but the details ring true. It’s just too believable.”

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