Monday, October 16, 2017

From Ian:

Alan M. Dershowitz: President Trump Did the Right Thing by Walking Away from UNESCO — for Now
Among the reasons are that by withdrawing from UNESCO – again – President Trump is sending a powerful message to the international community: the United States will no longer tolerate international organizations that serve as forums for Jew-bashing. This important message was encapsulated in a powerful statement made by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley: "The purpose of UNESCO is a good one. Unfortunately, its extreme politicization has become a chronic embarrassment...US taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense."

The political thinker Charles de Montesquieu famously said: "There is no crueller tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice." It is precisely because UNESCO purports to be a cultural and educational body that its false credibility masks its pervasive bigotry.

On Friday afternoon it was announced that former French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay – a Jewish woman – was elected as UNESCO Chief. Azoulay said that "UNESCO is going through a profound crisis" but that she hopes to fix it from within. I hope she succeeds in this mission. I hope she can turn UNESCO from an organization that promotes bigotry in the false name of culture, into one that opposes all forms of bigotry. Given the nature of its voting membership, this will not be easy, but with pressure from the U.S., it may have a chance of succeeding. Perhaps then the U.S. will maintain its membership in and financial support for UNESCO.
CAMERA Op-Ed: The Growing Autocracy of the Palestinian Authority
On Sept. 26, 2017, the Palestinian Authority, the self-governing body that rules the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), hailed a terrorist named Ahmed Al-Jamal, for murdering three Israelis. Twenty-four hours later, the PA was welcomed into INTERPOL, which purports to work to “make the world a safer place.” Both instances are examples of the authority violating the Oslo accords which created it and from which it is still funded.

The PA was established in May 1994 as a result of the Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Declaration of Principles (DOP) during the Oslo peace process. As with the PLO, the Fatah movement has long dominated the PA. All three entities are currently led by Mahmoud Abbas, the 82-year old successor to Yasser Arafat, who is currently in year twelve of a single elected four-year term.

Abbas has been variously described as a “moderate” and a “peace partner” by press and policymakers alike. Much of his record suggests otherwise.

On several occasions, Abbas—like his predecessor—has rejected opportunities for a Palestinian state if it meant living peacefully next to the Jewish nation of Israel. For example, a 2008 offer issued by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert included 93% of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and a Palestinian state with its capital in eastern Jerusalem. Abbas himself has acknowledged that he rejected this plan “out of hand,” and failed to so much as submit a counteroffer.

Instead of accepting statehood and peace with the Jewish state, Abbas has opted for war, by promoting anti-Jewish violence and seeking to delegitimize the Jewish state.
Amb. Alan Baker: Palestinian Unification Must Honor Palestinian Commitments
The Hamas-Fatah unity agreement could, in principle, be seen to be a positive development in the general framework of the Middle East peace process.

However, such a positive development, to be meaningful and to signal genuine momentum, would have to fulfill two very basic tenets laying at the foundation of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The first is that the general aim of the unification must be to enable a responsible and unified Palestinian leadership, speaking with one voice and duly empowered, to further the peace negotiation process. This aim must be publicly declared and acknowledged by all Palestinian factions.

If to the contrary, the aim of the unification is to enhance and consolidate Palestinian opposition to peaceful coexistence with Israel, through enabling Hamas to retain its armed capabilities and to continue its belligerency through terror tunnels, rockets, and acts of terror, then this unification will be flawed, false, and misleading. It will undermine international efforts at reconciliation and negotiation.

The second basic tenet of such unification must be to openly reaffirm the already existing and valid Palestinian commitments vis-a-vis Israel and the international community, signatories as witnesses to the Oslo Accords

What is Really Uniting the Palestinians?
For those who are not familiar with Arab terminology and culture, "resistance" is a euphemism for terrorism. For Hamas, resistance means rockets, missiles, suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism against Israel and Jews.

As such, Hamas is hoping that the "reconciliation" agreement will even further endear Fatah to terrorism as an alternative to peace talks with Israel. Hamas sees Abbas's intention to return to the Gaza Strip as a first step toward abandoning any peace process with Israel in favor of an armed struggle.

Not only does Hamas want Abbas to abandon any political process, it is now warning him that as its new partner, he has no authority to do so. Hamas's message to Abbas is: As of now, we are partners in "peace" and war. No one is entitled to surprise us by signing a political agreement with Israel that suits the views of one faction over the others. These are the precise words of the Hamas leader, Arouri.

Conclusion: The "reconciliation" deal is not meant to advance any peace process or to persuade Hamas to stop terrorism. Nor is it designed to rally Palestinians behind Abbas and Fatah. This is an agreement that paves the way for Abbas and Hamas to become equal partners. Hamas is right: Why should it allow Abbas to sign a peace agreement with Israel once he has agreed to sit with Hamas when it continues to seek the destruction of Israel? As Hamas's new partner, Abbas should as of now be held responsible for any terror attack that emanates from the Gaza Strip. Partnership entails accepting responsibility for the actions and rhetoric of your partners.

The bluff of Palestinian "reconciliation" is far from being about peace. Instead, it is about pursuing the fight against Israel and the "Zionist enterprise" -- namely, Israel and Jews. In his accord with Hamas, Abbas has signed onto Hamas's version of violent "resistance" against Israel and Jews. This is the real meaning of the Abbas-Hamas deal.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar: Some things cannot be killed
Based on all the signs, the Free Syrian Army forces, mostly made up of Kurdish and Syrian militias, are on the verge of liberating the city of Raqqa, the capital of the "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria." The question that emerges is how the aftermath of ISIS will look.

The answer is threefold and involves the organization, its members and its ideology.

The organization will be routed and eradicated, the large swathe of territory it controlled will be divided between Syria, Iran, Turkey and the Kurds, and its government institutions will become relics of the past. The attempt to re-establish the Islamic caliphate failed because the Muslim world – even before the "infidels" – despised its methods of gruesome, seventh-century style executions.

Most of the organization's members, however, are already elsewhere, carrying a sense of righteousness in their hearts. They feel betrayed and will seek revenge against all those who attacked them, such as the Kurds and coalition countries; Muslims who stood by and did not help them, such as former Soviet bloc countries; or countries that helped and then abandoned them along the way, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

These jihadists dispersed in many countries, establishing proxies in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Libya, Yemen, Nigeria, Mali, the Philippines and more, with every branch adjusting its structure and activities to the environment in which it operates. Variables include the degree to which local governments effectively wield power, the degree to which the local Muslim population is supportive, and the degree to which a terrorist organizational infrastructure already exists and can be utilized.
A New U.S. Strategy to Address Iran's Destructive Actions
President Trump reviewed U.S. strategy toward Iran in an address from the White House on Friday:
  • "The regime remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, and provides assistance to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hizbullah, Hamas, and other terrorist networks. It develops, deploys, and proliferates missiles that threaten American troops and our allies. It harasses American ships and threatens freedom of navigation in the Arabian Gulf and in the Red Sea. It imprisons Americans on false charges. And it launches cyberattacks against our critical infrastructure, financial system, and military."
  • "Given the regime's murderous past and present, we should not take lightly its sinister vision for the future. The regime's two favorite chants are 'Death to America' and 'Death to Israel.'"
  • "In recognition of the increasing menace posed by Iran...I am announcing a new strategy to address the full range of Iran's destructive actions."
  1. "First, we will work with our allies to counter the regime's destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region."
  2. "Second, we will place additional sanctions on the regime to block their financing of terror."
  3. "Third, we will address the regime's proliferation of missiles and weapons that threaten its neighbors, global trade, and freedom of navigation."
  • "And finally, we will deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon."
  • "The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act...requires the certify that the suspension of sanctions under the deal is 'appropriate and proportionate.' Based on the factual record I have put forward, I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification."
Sen. McCain: Iran Has "Literally Been Getting Away with Murder"
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Friday praised President Trump's decision to decertify Iran's compliance with the Obama-era international nuclear accord, saying Tehran has "literally been getting away with murder."

McCain pointed to Iran's support for the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying Tehran "has contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions, destabilizing nations across the Middle East."

"For years, the Iranian regime has literally been getting away with murder," McCain said in a statement. "Meanwhile, the United States has lacked the comprehensive strategy to meet the multifaceted threat Iran poses. The goals President Trump presented in his speech today are a welcomed long overdue change."

McCain also said that Iran "has the blood of hundreds of American soldiers on its hands from its support of anti-American terrorist groups and militias throughout the region."
John Bolton: A Slow Death for the Iran Deal
As Abba Eban observed, "Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources." So it goes with America and the Iran deal. President Trump announced Friday that the U.S. would stay in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), even while he refused to certify under U.S. law that the deal is in the national interest. "Decertification," a bright, shiny object for many, obscures the real issue — whether the agreement should survive. Mr. Trump has "scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it."

While Congress considers how to respond — or, more likely, not respond — we should focus on the grave threats inherent in the deal. Peripheral issues have often dominated the debate; forests have been felled arguing over whether Iran has complied with the deal's terms. Proposed "fixes" now abound, such as a suggestion to eliminate the sunset provisions on the deal's core provisions.

The core provisions are the central danger. There are no real "fixes" to this intrinsically misconceived agreement. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a party, has never included sunset clauses, but the mullahs have been violating it for decades.

If the U.S. left the JCPOA, it would not need to justify the decision by showing that the Iranians have exceeded the deal's limits on uranium enrichment (though they have). Many argued Russia was not violating the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (though it likely was) when President Bush gave notice of withdrawal in 2001, but that was not the point. The issue was whether the ABM Treaty remained strategically wise for America. So too for the Iran deal. It is neither dishonorable nor unusual for countries to withdraw from international agreements that contravene their vital interests. As Charles de Gaulle put it, treaties "are like girls and roses; they last while they last."
Elliott Abrams: Mrs. Clinton and the Trump Nuclear Decision
Clinton, and Obama, simply decided to ignore commitments made, orally and in writing, to another government and then endorsed by both Houses of Congress. Now along comes Clinton to claim that President Trump, by following the INARA legislation, “basically says America's word is not good” and that he "is upending the kind of trust and credibility of the United States' position.”

The double standard here is perhaps not shocking, but nevertheless deserves note. It seems that to Mrs. Clinton, some agreements are sacrosanct while others may be cavalierly ignored and dismissed—and the distinction between the two types is that she likes some and doesn’t like others. It is her standard that will surely “upend the trust and credibility” of the United States ( to use her language).

As to Mr. Trump’s recent decision, how it can be said that he is harming American credibility by following U.S. law, the INARA legislation, escapes me. In fact, there was every expectation that the Obama administration would follow the Bush agreement with Israel, given its almost unanimous support in Congress. By contrast, the JCPOA had zero Republican support in Congress and the 2016 Republican Platform stated that “We consider the Administration’s deal with Iran, to lift international sanctions and make hundreds of billions of dollars available to the Mullahs, a personal agreement between the President and his negotiat­ing partners and non-binding on the next president….A Republican president will not be bound by it.”

No surprises here when that is exactly what happens. Mrs. Clinton's criticism is unfair, especially given her own track record.
Nikki Haley: US to ‘stay’ in Iran nuke deal, aim to ‘make it better’
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said on Sunday that the US would “stay” in the Iranian nuclear agreement, but “aim to make it better.”

Her comments came two days after US President Donald Trump announced that he would not recertify the landmark 2015 agreement to Congress and would roll out a more hawkish approach toward Tehran.

“I think right now you are going to see us stay in the deal,” Haley said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“What we hope is that we can improve the situation,” she added. “And that’s the goal. So I think right now, we’re in the deal to see how we can make it better. And that’s the goal. It’s not that we’re getting out of the deal. We’re just trying to make the situation better so that the American people feel safer,” she said.

“What we’re trying to say is, ‘Look, the agreement was an incentive. The agreement was for you to stop doing certain things,'” Haley said in reference to Iran. “You haven’t stopped doing certain things. So what do we do to make Iran more accountable so that they do?”

Trump, Haley said, will be working “very closely with Congress to try and come up with something that is more proportionate.”
'Tell it to Israel, Chuck!'
US President Donald Trump called out New York Senator Charles Schumer for what he said was his about-face on the Iran deal.

"Dem Senator Schumer hated the Iran deal made by President Obama, but now that I am involved, he is OK with it. Tell that to Israel, Chuck!" tweeted Trump on Monday.

Schumer was one of four Democratic Senators that voted against the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, explaining his decision by saying that "Iran will not change, and under this agreement, it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power.”

However, Schumer came out against Trump after he decertified the Iran nuclear deal, telling reporters Sunday that "I voted against it but now we ought to see, give it time to work".

On Friday, Trump said he would not recertify the nuclear deal and warned he would terminate the deal unless Congress introduced tough new sanctions against Iran's missile and nuclear programs.

Trump also said the U.S. would level new sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and vowed to block the Islamic Republic's financing of terrorism around the globe.
Israeli Ambassador Defends Trump’s New Iran Strategy: He ‘Has Stood Up to Iran’
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer on Monday praised President Donald Trump's new strategy toward Iran, debating the panel on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" over how to address the nuclear deal and Tehran's aggression in the Middle East.

Dermer lauded Trump's speech on Friday in which he announced that the U.S. will decertify the Iran nuclear deal and launch a new strategy to counter the Iranian regime's "destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region." Many Democrats and others who supported the 2015 agreement brokered by the Obama administration, along with other countries, derided Trump's remarks, while critics of the deal welcomed the new strategy.

"Iran is the largest source, the biggest problem of so many conflicts in the Middle East, and finally the president of the United States has stood up to Iran," Dermer said. "This was a historic day on Friday, and I hope it leads to a change in policy."

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, challenged Dermer's arguments and Trump's move to decertify the nuclear accord, saying that the U.S. could push back against Iran in the Middle East and negotiate a follow-on nuclear agreement by staying in the current deal.
Bucking Trump, EU ministers to voice ‘full support’ for Iran nuke deal
Europe will give fresh backing to the Iran nuclear deal on Monday after US President Donald Trump threatened to tear it up in a speech that alarmed allies across the Atlantic.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg will add their voices to a chorus of international backing for the 2015 accord that demanded that Tehran freeze its nuclear ambitions in return for the lifting of punishing sanctions.

Trump stopped short of pulling out of the deal in his much anticipated White House speech on Friday, leaving that decision to US lawmakers, but restated his belief the deal was letting Iran off the hook.

A senior EU official said foreign ministers were expected to express their “full support for continued implementation” of the deal negotiated with Iran over 12 years by the US, Britain, France, China, Germany and Russia.

The leaders of France, Britain and Germany delivered a clear rebuke to Trump in a joint statement on Friday which said the deal remained “in our shared national security interest” and urged US lawmakers to think carefully before doing anything to undermine the agreement.
EU’s Mogherini in Washington ‘early November’ to defend Iran deal
The EU’s chief diplomat Federica Mogherini announced Monday she will visit Washington early next month to defend the Iran nuclear deal after US President Donald Trump threatened to tear it up.

Mogherini said she would “be in Washington in early November” to urge US lawmakers not to pull out of the landmark 2015 deal curbing Tehran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of punitive sanctions.

EU foreign ministers on Monday warned that the hardline stance on Tehran that Trump outlined in a belligerent speech on Friday undermined any chance of dialogue with North Korea over its nuclear weapons.

“Clearly the ministers are concerned about the fact that messages on the JCPOA (the Iran deal) might affect negatively the possibility of opening negotiations or opening even the space for negotiations with the DPRK,” Mogherini told reporters after the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers held talks in Luxembourg.
Scandal: Qatar, Congo, Pakistan set to join U.N.’s top rights body; UN Watch urges ‘No’ votes
Despite a recent pledge by a Dutch-led coalition of 47 nations, today’s election for 15 seats on the U.N.’s highest human rights body will install up to 10 more non-democracies in a mostly uncontested race, which may prompt U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley to determine that her June warning before the council—to stop electing “the world’s worst human rights offenders”—has been flouted.

In a detailed study released today by UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental human rights organization, finds that 7 out of 16 candidates have poor records and fail to qualify according to the UN’s own basic membership criteria: Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Qatar. The council already counts Saudi Arabia, Burundi, China, Cuba, Venezuela, and UAE as members.

In addition, the qualifications of candidates Mexico, Nepal, Senegal and Ukraine were deemed “questionable” due to their problematic human rights records or in their UN voting records.

“Sadly, all signs are that the UN will disregard its own rules and principles by electing Afghanistan, Angola, DR Congo, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Qatar, even though the record shows that these governments violate the human rights of their own citizens,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, “and they consistently vote the wrong way on UN initiatives to protect the human rights of others.”
The United Nations and Israel

David Singer: America and Israel Quit UNESCO Over “Palestine” Fiasco
UNESCO appears to have acted outside the terms of its own Constitution in admitting “Palestine” to membership.

That decision was open to possible legal challenge for two reasons:
1. Only states can be admitted to UNESCO under Article II (2) of UNESCO’s Constitution - and “Palestine” was not a state,
2. 129 votes from 193 members were required to admit “Palestine” – not the 107 votes received from those “present and voting”. 14 had voted against, 52 abstained and another 21 were absent from the vote.

UNESCO’s questionable and highly controversial decision should have been referred to the International Court of Justice under Article XIV (2) of UNESCO’s Constitution to determine whether:
1. “Palestine” was a “State” entitled to membership of UNESCO.
2. 129 votes or 107 votes were required for “Palestine’s” admission to UNESCO

UNESCO did not seek this judicial interpretation – which would have cost it US$100000 – even though I presented it with detailed reasons why it should.

Had the International Court ruled “Palestine’s” admission to UNESCO was unlawful – then the American funding tap would have been turned on again five years ago.

Instead UNESCO lobbied the Americans to cough up what amounted to 22 per cent of UNESCO’s annual budget. That lobbying was never going to succeed – since the chances of Congress backing away from America’s domestic law mandating the suspension of funds to any United Nations Agency that accepted the PLO as a full member – outside of negotiations with Israel – was doomed to failure.
UNESCO Responds to US Exit with 77 Anti-Israel Resolutions (satire)
A meeting held by UNESCO’s General Conference to address President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the agency ended with the conference passing nearly 80 resolutions condemning Israel and the Jewish people.

“We really aren’t sure how it happened,” Director-General Irina Bokova admitted. “We opened up the debate to discuss the loss of US support, and the next thing I know we’ve passed 12 resolutions condemning the Jews for the Holocaust.”

While UNESCO’s stated mission is to promote peace and security through educational, scientific and cultural reforms, the agency has repeatedly gotten sidetracked by its obsession with condemnation of the Jewish state. From 2009 to 2014, for example, UNESCO passed 46 anti-Israel resolutions, versus just one condemning the Syrian government.

“Without funding from the US,” Bokova warned, “we may have to print future resolutions denying Jewish connection to the Western Wall on cheap paper.”
Czech President: For Middle East Peace, Secure the Safety of Israel by Disarming Hamas and Hezbollah Terrorists
Czech president Miloš Zeman has spoken out in defence of Israel and outlined a path to peace in the Middle East that begins with the diasarmament of dedicated terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

The 72-year-old veteran of the Prague Spring uprising against the old Communist regime as well as the Velvet Revolution which took it down, laid out his plan in an address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental forum which predates the European Union.

Asked the simple question, “What can you do, and what can we do, to bring peace to the Middle East?” Mr. Zeman took to the podium to deliver his formula. He said:

My response will probably be a deep disappointment to you. I am a friend of Israel – a deep friend of Israel. That is why I think that peace in the Middle East should be based primarily in the safety of Israel. I know the history of all the wars starting from 1948. Israel was victorious in every war, but had it been defeated it would have meant the end of that State – the Jewish State. Unfortunately, in some countries or movements – Hezbollah, Hamas, and others – there survives a tendency to diminish or to destroy Israel. What should we do to have peace in the Middle East? We must disarm the terrorist organisation, and first of all Hamas and Hezbollah.
Israel destroys anti-aircraft battery in Syria after it fires at IDF jets
Israeli Air Force jets attacked an anti-aircraft battery well inside Syria on Monday morning, after the surface-to-air system launched a missile at a different plane over the skies of Lebanon, the army said.

A military spokesperson said that “a number” of Israeli planes were flying over Lebanon as part of a “routine reconnaissance mission” on early Monday morning, when they came under attack by the Syrian anti-aircraft battery.

The targeted Israeli reconnaissance aircraft were not hit by the Syrian interceptor missile and returned to base safely, according to IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.

He would not elaborate on the number or type of aircraft, nor on where exactly they were flying over Lebanon, the home country of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group.

A few hours later, the IAF sent out a separate sortie to attack the anti-aircraft battery — an SA-5 model — which was located some 50 kilometers east of Damascus, Conricus said.
After IAF strikes anti-aircraft battery, Syria warns of ‘dangerous consequences’
In a statement published in official state media, the Syrian military warned Israel of “dangerous consequences for its repeated attempts of aggression.”

The Syrian military claimed the IAF aircraft entered its airspace, prompting the anti-aircraft attack. But IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said, both initially and in response to the Syrian assertion, that the reconnaissance planes “were in the skies over Lebanon, and not in Syria.”

According to the Syrians, the planes were flying near the Lebanese city of Baalbek, which is located near the Syrian border, approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Damascus.

The IDF would not confirm where the reconnaissance aircraft were flying when they were targeted.

Conricus said the reconnaissance planes were not struck by the interceptor missile, but the Syrian military claimed one Israeli plane was “directly hit” and “forced to flee.”
Russia's Defense Minister to begin first official visit to Israel
Sergei Shoigu will land in Israel on Monday for meetings with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his first visit to the Jewish state since becoming Russia’s defense minister in 2012.

Just days before Liberman flies to Washington to meet Defense Secretary James Mattis for talks on Iran and other regional issues, the meetings with Shoigu are expected to cover the cooperation between Russia and Israel and continued military coordination over Syria, as well as the Iranian entrenchment in the wartorn country and transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah by Tehran through Damascus.

Moscow intervened in the Syrian conflict in September 2015, and officials from Israel and Russia meet regularly to discuss the deconfliction mechanism implemented over Syria to avoid accidental clashes.

Russia, which views Iran as a key player in resolving the crisis in Syria, has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the role the Islamic Republic plays in the war-torn country.

As the war in Syria seems to be winding down in President Bashar Assad’s favor due to Moscow’s intervention, Israel fears that Iran will help Hezbollah produce accurate precision-guided missiles and help Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias to strengthen their foothold in the Golan Heights.
BBC News ignores missile attack from Sinai for fifth time this year
Late on the evening of October 15th residents of the Eshkol district in southern Israel had to scramble to their air-raid shelters after the alarm signalling incoming missiles was sounded.

“Two rockets were fired at southern Israel from the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday night, likely by an affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group, the army said.

There were no immediate reports of injury or damage.

The two rockets were aimed at the southern Eshkol region, an area that abuts both the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, the army said.

A military spokesperson said one of them had been located in an open field near the communities of Magen and Ein Habasor, but that soldiers and police were still looking for the second.”

The second missile was later found to have landed in the nearby Gaza Strip and the following day the attack was claimed by the ISIS franchise operating in the Sinai Peninsula.

Like all the four previous missile attacks from Sinai this year, this one too was ignored by the BBC.
ISIS Claims Responsibility for Rocket Attack on Israel From Sinai
The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility on Monday for firing two rockets from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula into southern Israel the night before.

“The fighters confronted Israeli jets that flew above the state and targeted the Eshkol compound with two Grad rockets,” the terror group said in a statement, without providing any evidence supporting its claim.

The IDF said no injuries or damage resulted from the rocket fire and that residents in Israel’s Eshkol region, located in the northwestern Negev, had reported hearing explosions earlier last week.

The incident comes as Islamic State is engaged in intense fighting with Egyptian security forces in the Sinai, where hundreds of government troops and policemen have been killed during the past several years.

In 2016 and the beginning of 2017, several rockets were launched at Israel from the Sinai by Salafi jihadists affiliated with Islamic State.
Victims of 2006 Hezbollah rocket attack honored as heroes
Eleven years after losing husbands, sons and brothers when a rocket fired by Hezbollah hit the Haifa train depot where they were working, the families of eight employees of Israel Railways finally received the nation’s appreciation for the heroism of their loved ones.

Scores of people were injured by the direct rocket hit on July 16, 2006, some of them critically.

The eight who died were: Shmuel Ben Shimon, 41, of Yokne’am Illit; Asael Damti, 39, Dennis Lapidos, 24, and David Feldman, 28, of Kiryat Yam; Nissim Elharar, 43, and Reuven Levy, 46, of Kiryat Ata; Rafi Hazan, 30, of Haifa; and Shlomi Mansura, 35, of Nahariya.

The rocket was one of 4,000 fired at Israel during the Second Lebanon War, President Reuven Rivlin told relatives of the victims and many of their colleagues from the Israel Railways at a ceremony at the President’s Residence on Sunday. Relatives of the eight railway employees were given service medals identical to those given to soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces who served in the Second Lebanon War.
Palestinian cousins convicted of murder for deadly 2016 Sarona attack
Three Palestinians were convicted on Monday of murder for a deadly terror attack in Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market in June 2016 in which four people were killed.

Cousins Muhammad and Khalid Muhamra, who carried out shooting attack, were found guilty of four counts of murder and 41 counts of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit a crime by the Tel Aviv District Court. Younis Ayash Musa Zayn, who drove them to a storage unit where they prepared the attack, was convicted of conspiracy.

All three are from the southern West Bank city of Yatta.

Dressed in suits, Muhammad and Khalid Muhamra opened fire after ordering dessert at the upscale shopping area’s Max Brenner restaurant, killing four people — Michael Feige, Ilana Naveh, Ido Ben Ari and Mila Mishayev — and wounding dozens more.

The cousins, who fled, were arrested near the scene; and Zayn, also known as Younis Awad, was picked up a short while later for assisting them.
For first time in 15 years, Israel okays new homes for Hebron settlers
The Jewish settlement in Hebron received building permits for 31 housing units Monday, marking the first time in 15 years that Israeli construction has been approved in the flashpoint West Bank city.

The move was seen as an Israeli response to the recent decision by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to list Hebron’s Old City as an endangered Palestinian world heritage site.

The Civil Administration’s Licensing Subcommittee — a Defense Ministry body responsible for approving construction over the Green Line — granted the building permits under a number of conditions, most notably that the authorization is subject to appeal.

Hebron’s Palestinian municipality is expected to petition against the decision in the coming weeks, claiming that it is the owner of the land in question.
Israeli lotto pulls out of Umm al-Fahm
The national Israeli lottery has decided to temporarily stop all money transfers to the Umm al-Fahm municipality, Shai Glick, the CEO of the "Bzalmo" organization told Ynet Monday.

The decision was made following the use of a community sports hall - funded by the Education Ministry and renovated with funding from the National Lottery - for an event in support of Sheikh Raed Salah, the anti-Israel leader of the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement and a resident of Umm al-Fahm.

A letter sent from the office of the lottery chairman to Glick stated, among other things: "This is a community sports hall which was built in the 1990s by the Education Ministry and transferred to the Umm al-Fahm municipality. A few years ago, the hall was renovated through an allocation of NIS 400,000 from the Israeli lottery association."

"The national lottery had no prior knowledge of this event or its content," the letter continued. "We view the existence of a political event in the lottery building with utmost severity, as it is in clear contradiction to the lottery's agreement with the local authorities."
Proposed deal proves Hamas rule was a disaster for Palestinians
In a brief ceremony held in Cairo last Thursday, Palestinian negotiators signed an agreement meant to bring an end to the bitter feud that has divided Hamas from the main Palestinian leadership. The leaders of Hamas and of the Palestinian Authority hailed the deal as the beginning of a new era, but much remains to be resolved, and the plan could unravel just as similar ones did in the past.

What the agreement makes clear, regardless of whether the reconciliation plan succeeds, is that Hamas has completely failed the test of governing.

For the 1.8 million people of Gaza, the decade under Hamas rule has brought nothing but misery, bloodshed and despair. There are multiple reasons for that, but it is absolutely clear that during its time in control of the narrow strip on the shore of the Mediterranean, Hamas' strategy achieved none of its goals, succeeding only in aggravating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and causing profound damage to the relationship with other Palestinian entities as well as with a number of Arab countries.

Hamas' inflexible militancy, while perhaps inspirational to some, resulted in three disastrous wars with Israel in less than 10 years. Continued rocket attacks against Israeli populations, diversion of resources toward weaponry instead of civilian uses and confrontational tactics on multiple fronts left Gazan civilians out in the cold.
Pay for Slay: The Palestinian Leadership's Terrorist Policy

Russia's Hand Is Visible Everywhere in the Middle East
The Russian hand is visible everywhere in the Middle East. The Kremlin is no longer interested in spreading a particular ideology, nor does it seek to impose any sort of binary choice on countries in the region to "choose" between Moscow and Washington. Instead, the Kremlin offers itself as a more reliable mediator than Washington and proffers equipment and capabilities that Washington is reluctant to provide.

Russia has been able to reestablish its presence because every country in the region, after two decades of U.S. transformational efforts, is now more interested in stability. It is clear that Washington lacks the ability to follow-through on its grandiose promises, and in particular no U.S. presidential administration is now in a position to commit large amounts of U.S. personnel or resources.

The Russian approach has been to recognize that, at present, long-term solutions are not possible, so Moscow's efforts are instead focused on jury-rigging a series of compromises: the deconfliction zones in Syria; maintaining a balance between Sunni and Shia interests in Syria; guaranteeing Iran's ability to reach its Hizbullah proxies in Lebanon while allowing Israel to enforce its red lines.

Moscow also expects to reap tangible benefits from its policies. Beyond validating Russia as a global power, the Russian calculation is that a return to playing a more active role in Middle Eastern affairs can create demand for Russian goods and services, starting with arms and nuclear power plants.
Iraqi forces launch 'major attack' on Kurds following referendum
The focus of government efforts at “Arabization”, Kirkuk has had a significant Arab majority for at least two decades.

Nevertheless, the Iraqi central government has lost ground in Kirkuk over the past three years, with much of the city and surrounding area coming under de facto Kurdish control.

On Monday, Kurdish forces claimed that federal Iraqi forces had launched a “major, multi-pronged attack” on Kurdish-held portions of Kirkuk, causing “lots of casualties” according to Bahzad Ahmed, a spokesman of the Kurdish forces.

Ahmed said Iraqi forces had “burnt lots of houses and killed many people” south of Kirkuk.

Kurdish leaders say Iraq has used US-built tanks and personnel vehicles in the attack, and that Kurdish peshmerga militias had managed to destroy several Iraqi vehicles during the assault.
MEMRI: Jordanian Columnist: For Their Own Sake, Muslims In West Must Renounce Islamic Terror, Promote Moderate Islam
In his column in the London-Based daily Al-Hayat, Jordanian columnist Moussa Barhouma, the former editor-in-cheif of the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad, denounced the terror attacks perpetrated by in the West by extremist Muslims, which he said reflects ingratitude towards countries that have absorbed Muslim immigrants and granted them freedom of religion. These counries, he added, took in the Muslims out of a naïve belief that all religions advocate charity, love, happiness and life, yet extremist Muslims repay them with deadly attacks in the name of Islam.

He stressed that terror attacks in the West harm not only the image of Islam but also the Muslims living in the West, threatening their future there and even exposing them to the danger of retaliatory attacks. He argued that these Muslims are partly responsible for this situation, because they take a neutral stance on terror attacks, as though these attacks have nothing whatsoever to do with them. He therefore called on them to stop complaining about discrimination and exclusion they suffer in the West, which cannot in any way justifdy the murder of innocent people, and instead promote an interpretation of Islamic texts that suits the tolerant nature of their new environment.

The following are excerpts from his article.
"The future of the Muslims living in the West will no doubt be dark as long as the [terror] attacks that, whether they like it or not, are perpetrated in their name continue to increase. Today [the Muslims in the West] are being blamed [for this terror], and in the future this accusation may be translated into action, given that violence breeds violence, and the reaction will be of the same sort as the action [i.e., will take the form of terrorism against them]. Perhaps the Muslims in the West are held responsible [for this situation]... because they react to [terror] incidents by doing nothing and choosing to take a neutral stance, even though the issue is an existential one for them and threatens their peace and quiet, [for it causes them to be] regarded as inhuman...
Sheikh Khalid Yasin: We Have No Beef with Jews, But Zionists Are Dogs

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