Tuesday, February 13, 2018

From Ian:

Col. Kemp: Failure to support Israel against Iran could end in war
This is part of a wider Iranian plan not just to besiege Israel but also to achieve ascendancy over the Sunnis, including de facto control of Lebanon, increased dominance in Iraq, the destabilisation of Yemen, attacks on Saudi Arabia and aggression against international navies in the Gulf. Iran’s project has been largely facilitated by President Obama’s Middle Eastern policies, including his nuclear deal, which emboldened the ayatollahs and released billions of dollars to fund their aggression while paving the way to a nuclear-armed state.

Iran’s latest aggression against Israel could well lead to another conflagration. The IDF is braced for retaliation, mobilising forces and reinforcing air defences along the Syrian and Lebanese borders. Israel is not looking to escalate but Iran could be and a mistake or misreading by either side could trigger open war.

For years Israel has warned of the consequences of Tehran’s aggression, which could result in civilian deaths on a huge scale. Although President Trump is holding Iran to account, Israel’s warnings have been largely ignored by the West and the United Nations. Britain and the European Union could play an effective role in containing Iranian aggression but their answer is appeasement. Instead of sanctioning Iran and supporting Israel they mouth platitudes about restraint by both sides, which further emboldens Tehran. They prioritise saving the flawed nuclear deal that provides cover for their unprincipled trade links with Iran over saving the lives of innocent people.
Palestinian diplomat: We'll continue teaching our kids to throw stones
A Palestinian diplomat speaking to students at the United Nations headquarters in New York told them the Palestinians were proud to be throwing stones at Israeli forces and will continue teaching their children to do so.

In a recording obtained by Ynet, Abdallah Abushawesh, who serves as a senior adviser to the UN's Development Group and as a member of the Palestinian UN mission, is heard saying in broken English, "We are very clever and very expert at throwing the stones. We are very proud to do that. We will not stop to learn our kids (to do that)."

To the sound of sniggering from his listeners, Abushawesh went on to say that every Palestinian caught throwing stones by Israel gets sent to jail. "We are very proud that we are stone throwers. I'm one of them. Now I became a little bit older, but I stay resistant in the name of my kids," he continued.

The Palestinian diplomat later told the students about his own past as a stone-thrower during the first intifada. "I was in high school. I never missed an opportunity to throw stones. This is our life. We develop our resistance every day. We're proud of it," he said.

Abushawesh was speaking to a group of international relations students from McGill University who were at the UN for a tour and a series of meetings as part of their program.

Israel Signaling a Heavy Price for Iranian "Entrenchment" in Syria
By striking Syrian antiaircraft forces and installations where Iranian personnel are located this weekend, Israel seems intent on forcing key players to recognize its deep interest in limiting Tehran's military presence in Syria.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly stated that their main concern is avoiding Iranian military "entrenchment" on their doorstep. Prime Minister Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly last September that Israel will not accept Tehran's development of advanced missile production capabilities in Syria and Lebanon, and that it "will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea, and ground forces."

Israel wants Damascus to realize the price of allowing Iran to house military personnel at Syrian bases. While Assad is deeply indebted to the Iranians for helping to salvage his rule, if Israel continues exacting a serious cost because of Iranian involvement, Assad may feel compelled to request that they dial back their presence.

Senior Israeli military officials have sent messages to Assad via third parties indicating that they do not oppose him extending his sovereignty in Syria, but that they will view the situation very differently if he does so with Iran, Hizbullah, and Shia militias in tow.

For now, Russia's alliance with Tehran still serves its regional interests, and the Kremlin's objectives are far more aligned with Iran's than with Israel's. Moreover, the Islamic Republic has been a significant purchaser of Russian arms.

Israel is determined not to let Iran develop the military capacity to change the equation on its northern borders. Israeli officials will no doubt maintain this posture even if they have to keep acting alone. This means that continued Iranian efforts to establish a military presence in Syria will likely be met with increased Israeli strikes.
Dennis Ross: After the weekend's Iran-Israel attacks, a burden on Trump to confront Russia and engage Europe
As someone who has long watched the Iranians sponsor proxy terror attacks against the Israelis and against American forces in Iraq, the surprise is not that the Iranians would try to hit Israel but that they would do it directly. That helps to explain the Israeli response which was designed to leave no doubt with the Iranians that they are playing with fire.

It should also be a wake-up call for the international community and the U.S. Acquiescing in the continuing expansion of the Iranian military presence and infrastructure in Syria will sooner or later produce a much wider conflict involving the Israelis and Iranians and the Shia militias - several of whose leaders have provocatively visited the Israeli border recently.

It is the Russians who have abetted the spread of the Iranian military presence in Syria. The Iranians potentially put Russian forces in danger with their attempted attack against Israel. Now is the time for Putin to say that there will be no more Russian air cover for any Shia militia expansion from existing positions.

The Trump administration has left the Israelis largely on their own. And, on their own, they have little choice but to use force to send blunt messages like they did Saturday.
It’s time for Trump to attack Iran’s Revolutionary Guard
Iran’s leaders tend to avoid direct military confrontation against a superior military power. Saudi officials like to tell the story of the 1984 shoot-down of two Iranian fighters that crossed into Saudi airspace. When the line was next tested in 1988, the Iranians turned back before being intercepted and never tested Saudi Arabia again.

Furthermore, the mullahs know that if they direct more money into extraterritorial operations, their economic and political situation at home will deteriorate. The Iranian people are already chanting, “Let go of Syria, think about us.” Raising the cost for Iran in Syria would exacerbate internal tensions.

Trump will certainly need to prepare for a range of potential responses from Iran, particularly via proxies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. But these proxy threats aren’t new — and the benefits far outweigh potential costs.

First, Tehran’s strategic calculus would start to change, curtailing risk-taking in the region, enhancing security for US allies over the long run and potentially changing regime behavior in other illicit activities.

Second, a US military deterrent would close the so-called “land bridge” that gives Iran an uninterrupted line of influence to the Mediterranean. And that deterrent would undergird Trump’s threats to exit the nuclear deal, which could dramatically increase the likelihood that attempts to fix the deal succeed while significantly reducing the risks of an Iranian escalation should he decide to nix it.

Finally, the United States would reclaim diplomatic leverage over Russia in Syria. If Vladimir Putin wants to maintain a long-term presence and profit off the country’s reconstruction, he’ll have to clear Iranian forces out of Syria or America and its allies will do it for him.

But without that deterrent, America will keep sleepwalking into an era of Iranian hegemony in the Middle East. This weekend’s events should be a final wake-up call.
LIVE from the border where the Iranian drone was shot down

MEMRI: Shifts In Iran's Strategy Against Israel – From Using Proxies To Direct Action: Iran-Operated Iranian Drone Enters Israeli Airspace

On February 10, 2018, Iranian forces in Syria sent an Iranian attack drone across the border into Israeli airspace; the drone was downed by an Israeli army helicopter. Israel then bombed the base and the command and control vehicle that had launched the drone, and an Israeli F-16 jet was shot down by antiaircraft fire by Syrian forces and crashed in northern Israel. In response, Israel then bombed 12 Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria, in an operation that the Israeli Air Force second-in-command called "the biggest and most significant attack the Air Force has conducted against Syrian air defenses" since the 1982 Lebanon War.[1]

Iran Changes Its Strategy Vis-à-vis Israel – And Then Immediately Changes It Back

Recently, Iran has stepped up its preparations for a strike on Israel; in December 2017, it was reported that Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force, had spoken directly with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in this matter. There has also been an increase in visits to the Lebanon-Israel border by senior Iranian officials.[2]

Despite this, prior to February 10, 2018, Tehran had not deviated from the main element of its strategy: action by means of proxies everywhere it is involved in the Middle East. However, its February 10 sending of a drone into Israeli airspace constitutes a distinct shift in Iran's strategy, by opening a direct air front against Israel.

One prominent individual serving the Iranian regime, journalist Hossein Dalirian, heads the military desk of the Iranian news agency Tasnim, which is affiliated with the IRGC. He tweeted a summary of the incident, beginning with the drone's incursion into Israeli airspace, and also tweeted a photo of the fragments of the drone after it was downed next to a photo of an undamaged one of the same make and model[3] (for more tweets by Dalirian stating that the drone was Iranian,
MEMRI: Pro-Hizbullah Lebanese Website: Hizbullah Has 70,000 Iranian Missiles Across Syria Ready To Launch Into Israel; In A Year It Will Have 500,000
A February 9, 2018 article on the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese website Dahiya claims that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad recently rejected an Israeli demand, relayed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to remove some 70,000 Iranian long-range missiles that Hizbullah has deployed throughout Syria and are aimed at Israel. The article claimed further that Syria and Hizbullah will wage a "joint missile campaign" against Israel, and that Iranian experts are ready to launch missiles at Israel from every part of Lebanon and Syria. According to the article, Assad has instructed his army to help Hizbullah construct and camouflage missile silos across the country; moreover, intense activity is underway to bring more Iranian missiles to Syria via Iraq, so that within a year Hizbullah will have 500,000 missiles in Syria, in addition to the ones it has already deployed in Lebanon.

The article was published following reports on Israeli airstrikes in Syria on February 7, and just before the incident in which Israel fired on Iranian military facilities in Syria following the penetration of an Iranian drone into Israeli territory.

The following are translated excerpts from the article.
MEMRI: Palestinian Authority, Fatah, Jordanian Press Extol Perpetrators Of Recent Terror Attacks In Israel
Alongside statements by Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas and other Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah officials expressing opposition to terrorism and support for non-violent protests, officials and media outlets of the PA and Fatah continue to praise terrorists and to present their actions – including deadly shootings – as legitimate struggle against Israel. Palestinian figures and media have not only failed to condemn the recent shooting and stabbing attacks (on January 9, February 5 and February 7), in which several Israelis were killed and wounded, but promised to continue the resistance and follow the example of the terrorists.

Addressing incidents in which terrorists were killed in the course of or following the attacks they perpetrated, PA and Fatah officials disregarded the circumstances of their death, and accused Israel of using excessive force in order to deter the Palestinian residents from holding non-violent protests against the occupation. Some also blamed the U.S. for the current tension. Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said that U.S. Ambassador in Israel David Friedman "is the cause of the tension, and provokes these violent [incidents], which we oppose... It is his advice that created the crisis in U.S.-Palestinian relations."[1] Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen held U.S. President Donald Trump responsible for the deterioration of the situation in the region "due to his decisions that contravene U.N. resolutions," and called to "step up the popular resistance."[2]

The PA and PA-affiliated media, as well the official Facebook page of the Fatah movement, praised the terrorists, especially Hamas member Ahmad Nasr Jarrar, the head of a cell that perpetrated a drive-by shooting on January 9. Jarrar was described as a hero and martyr, a symbol of the armed struggle against Israel and a role model for Palestinian youths. Hamza Zama'ra, shot while perpetrating a stabbing attack on February 7, was described as a hero who sacrificed his life for the sake of his homeland.

Praise for Ahmad Nasr Jarrar also appeared in the Jordanian press (many members of the Jarrar tribe, to which he belonged, live in Jordan).

This report reviews PA and Fatah reactions to the recent terror attacks in Israel and the attitude towards their perpetrators, and also presents excerpts from an article on one of the terrorists in a Jordanian government daily.
Syrian media mints ‘historic victory’ over F-16
As the air force Monday pondered possible lessons from Syria’s downing of an F-16 two days earlier, Syrian media depicted the achievement by its air defenses as a historic turning point and regional game changer.

“This is an event that defeated the myth of the superiority of the Israeli air force,” wrote Rifat al-Badawi in al-Watan, a newspaper owned by President Bashar Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf. “It is a strategic, political and military slap heard in Washington, Tel Aviv and Turkey and applauded by Moscow and Iran. It is a historic day and very significant in the history of the open struggle between us and the Israeli enemy.”

“We in the Arab Syrian Republic – army and people – have risen from the rubble and destruction and debris and we have gained back our health,” al-Badawi wrote.

The shooting down of an IAF plane for the first time since 1982 also preoccupied Jordanian and Palestinian commentators. The plane was felled as the IAF responded with air raids to the dispatch of an Iranian drone into Israeli territory. Although the IAF is believed to have caused massive damage with its subsequent strikes to Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria, the image of the remains of the F-16 accorded a morale boost to diverse enemies of Israel.

Hamadi Faraneh, writing in Jordan’s ad-Dustour daily, asserted that “the [Syrian] slap against the enemy is a moral lift to the Palestinians against the enemy who occupies their land, confiscates their rights and violates their dignity.” He termed the setback to Israel “timely, necessary and vital.”
Media grossly misreport Iranian drone incident and crash of Israeli F-16 fighter plane
The Guardian’s new reporter in Jerusalem, Oliver Holmes, who replaced Peter Beaumont, had an article (attributed to the Observer) on the web at 13:45 GMT that is headlined
“Israel launches ‘large-scale’ attack in Syria after fighter jet crashes”.

However, the seventh paragraph actually had the sequence of events correct:
The jet was part of a mission deep into Syrian territory to destroy what Conricus said was an Iranian drone control facility near the desert city of Palmyra. The drone that entered Israeli airspace was shot down and retrieved, he said.

The Washington Post was actually worse, with virtually the same headline:
“Israel carries out ‘large-scale attack’ in Syria after Israeli jet crashes under antiaircraft fire”

This was followed by an unintelligible second paragraph that seemed to claim that the attack inside Syria was in response to downing of the F-16 while at the same time reporting that the Israeli counterattack was a response to the drone infiltration
Syria threatens Israel with ‘more surprises’
A senior Syrian official warned Israel on Tuesday that it would face “surprises” if it launches any attacks on his country, claiming the Jewish state mistakenly thinks Syrian forces are incapable of defending the country.

“God willing they will see more surprises whenever they try to attack Syria,” assistant foreign minister Ayman Sussan said at a press conference in Damascus, according to Reuters.

“Have full confidence the aggressor will be greatly surprised because it thought this war — this war of attrition Syria has been exposed to for years — had made it incapable of confronting attacks,” Sussan warned.

His comments came as tensions between Israel and Syria exploded into a brief air clash over the weekend.

Iraqi militia vows to back Hezbollah in war with Israel
The head of the powerful Iraqi Shiite militia Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba pledged on Tuesday to stand alongside its Lebanese ally Hezbollah if a new war breaks out with Israel.

Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba and Hezbollah have fought side-by-side to bolster Syrian government troops since 2013, most prominently against the Islamic State terror group in eastern Syria.

On Tuesday, the movement’s secretary general Akram al-Kaabi visited the tomb of top Hezbollah terror commander Imad Mughniyeh to commemorate the 10 years since his death.

“We in the Iraqi resistance stand with Hezbollah, and we will stand with Hezbollah in any Israeli attack or action against it,” Kaabi said.

He pledged to fight “with Hezbollah in a single row, on a single front, just as we stood with them on a single front in Iraq or Syria.”

Kaabi spoke in Beirut’s southern suburbs, where Hezbollah has a strong support base.
Congress Laying Groundwork to Boycott U.N. Body After Rash of Anti-Israel Measures
Congress is laying the groundwork to remove America from a United Nations human rights body that lawmakers claim uses American taxpayer funds to unduly target Israel for criticism and promote anti-Semitism, according to officials familiar with the effort.

A new congressional resolution gathering support among lawmakers calls out the U.N. Human Rights Council, or UNHRC, for what many allege is its virulently anti-Israel bias and urges the body to enact massive reforms or face a cut off of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is spearheading the resolution, which puts the UNHRC on notice that its targeting of Israel could lead the United States to remove itself from the body and to consider cutting off some $23 million in funding.

The effort comes amid a push by not just the UNHRC but also a number of other U.N.-affiliated bodies to target Israel for criticism and promote boycotts of the Jewish state, an effort that many describe as anti-Semitic in nature.

The UNHRC was created in 2006, but the United States did not join the organization until 2009, when former President Barack Obama came into office.

The organization has long faced accusations of anti-Israel bias for having what many describe as an obsessive focus on the Jewish state. While the organization is tasked with promoting human rights across the globe, it has issued a record 78 condemnations of Israel in past years, while ignoring abuses by countries such as Iran, China, and Russia.
With annexation gaffe, Netanyahu blunders into first real crisis with Trump
On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — an old fox if Israeli politics ever had one — made a grave beginner’s mistake.

He had sought to put off a bill calling for Israel to annex the West Bank, so as not to antagonize the US administration. But the awkward way in which he tried to sell the move to his right-wing base ended up infuriating the White House, triggering what looked to be the first bona fide crisis between Jerusalem and Washington since Donald Trump became president.

Netanyahu’s surprising blunder is likely the result of two separate problems he faces: mounting political pressure from his pro-settlement constituency, and the sword of Damocles that is the expected police recommendation that he be indicted on two counts of corruption. The more he is pushed into a corner by the corruption probes, the more he may seek to court the pro-settlement crowd to rally around him.

At the weekly meeting of his Likud faction, Netanyahu tried to explain why he is not eager to advance the so-called Sovereignty Bill, proposed by first-time legislators Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home). Such a drastic step, he argued, had to be coordinated with the Trump administration.

“I can tell you that for a while now I’ve been talking about it with the Americans,” Netanyahu told the lawmakers at the Knesset.

“I’m guided by two principles in this issue… optimal coordination with the Americans, whose relationship with us is a strategic asset for Israel and the settlement movement; and the fact that it must be a government initiative rather than a private one because it would be a historic move,” he added.
Knesset applies Israeli law to Ariel University in West Bank
The Knesset on Monday placed Ariel University under the auspices of Israel’s Council for Higher Education, even though it is located in Area C of the West Bank and is therefore outside of the country’s sovereign borders.

It’s part of a push by right-wing Israeli lawmakers to extend the Knesset’s purview to include Area C, which is under Israeli military and civilian control.

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin celebrated the Knesset vote on the matter late Wednesday night as a step toward the application of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

After "applying Israeli sovereignty on Ariel University, let begins to apply Israeli sovereignty on Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria,” Elkin tweeted.

He added that the university located in the Ariel settlement was now a regular Israeli institution in every aspect.

The bill is meant to streamline the opening of a medical school in Ariel, but is also part of a coalition push to apply individual laws to the West Bank.

Opponents have called the move “creeping annexation,” while supporters have said it fights discrimination against Israelis based on where they live.
Trump's 2019 budget request includes $200 millon increase to Israel
Israel will receive $3.3 billion in funding from the United States under President Donald Trump's Fiscal Year 2019 budget request for the Department of State, a US official announced at a department briefing on Monday.

Hari Sastry, the Director of the Office of US Foreign Assistance Resources at the State Department, noted that Israel will receive a bump of $200 million in aid under the proposed budget.

The administration wants $39.3 billion for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development, a reduction of about one-third from 2017 spending, but proposed an increase in funding to its Middle East ally.

"[For] Israel, the total is $3.3 billion, which is a $200 million increase from the previous year and reflects the newly signed 10-year MOU [memorandum of understanding]," he said.

In September, the US and Israel signed a 10-year MOU providing $38 billion in defense aid to Israel through 2028.
State Department prioritizes funding for Jerusalem embassy
The U.S. State Department is prioritizing funding for a facility for the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, according to its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget proposal, which was published on Monday.

In addition, the proposal includes a request to continue the military funding for Israel.

Under a clause entitled “Protecting U.S. Overseas Personnel and Facilities”, the proposal says the Trump administration is “prioritizing funding for a U.S. Embassy facility in Jerusalem which will begin once design and construction plans are finalized.”

Another close entitled “Upholding Commitments to Our Allies” reads: “Supporting the recent 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel, this request provides $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Israel.”

Moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was a central campaign promise of President Donald Trump’s. In December, he announced that he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the State Department to begin preparations for the embassy move.

Last month, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told reporters that he expects the U.S. embassy to move to Jerusalem within the coming year.
PA official: Trump interview with Israel Hayom shows his bias
U.S. President Donald Trump's recent interview with Israel Hayom made headlines across the globe but has been mostly ignored by the Palestinian media, presumably because of his harsh criticism of the Palestinian leadership and its recent decision to cut off high-level communication channels with the U.S.

But on Monday, a senior Palestinian official accompanying Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on his visit to Moscow and meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, ended this silence.

"The things Trump told Israel Hayom underscored just how biased he and his people are in favor of Israel," the official said. "Portraying the Palestinians as an obstacle to peace and the extremist Israeli government and its leader as peace-loving is a total misrepresentation and distortion of reality."

The interview with Israel Hayom was conducted by Editor-in-Chief Boaz Bismuth in the Oval Office. During their conversation, Trump criticized the Palestinian leadership for refusing to cooperate with the U.S. in its efforts to jump-start the peace process and its decision to essentially boycott U.S. officials visiting the region. "Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace, they are not looking to make peace," Trump said, while also questioning Israel's readiness for peace talks. "I don't know frankly if we are going to even have talks, we will see what happens, but I think it is very foolish for the Palestinians and I also think it would be very foolish for the Israelis if they don't make a deal. It's our only opportunity and it will never happen after this."
2 soldiers attacked by Palestinians after accidentally entering Jenin
Two soldiers who accidentally entered the West Bank city of Jenin on Monday were attacked by young Palestinians who encircled the military vehicle.

The two soldiers, a man and a woman, were wounded by stones. One of the soldiers' weapon was stolen, the IDF reported.

Palestinian police officers helped rescue them from the mob.

The female soldier sustained light to moderate wounds in her face and legs from the windshield glass. Images released by the Palestinians show her bleeding from her face. She was evacuated to a hospital in Afula.

Documentation released by the Palestinians shows the mob attacking the soldiers with stones and chairs and the female soldier screaming with blood on her face. A Palestinian policeman is seen trying to protect the soldiers and even shooting in the air to drive the mob away.

Security sources say the two soldiers were transferred to the Jalameh crossing by the security apparatuses in coordination with the Civil Administration.
Palestinians lambaste PA for helping IDF soldiers escape Jenin mob
Several Palestinians on Monday strongly denounced the Palestinian Authority for rescuing two IDF soldiers who were attacked by a mob after accidentally entering the West Bank city of Jenin earlier in the day.

The PA’s political opponents seized on the incident to reiterate their opposition to Ramallah’s continued security coordination with Israel.

Other Palestinians praised the “heroic” Palestinians who attacked the soldiers and stole an M-16 rifle from the IDF vehicle they were riding in.

The two soldiers, a man and a woman, drove into the city on Monday afternoon, apparently led by navigation app Waze. Local residents began attacking the car with rocks and chairs, breaking the windows and bloodying the troops.

Videos from the scene showed swarms of people surrounding the vehicle and clawing at the soldiers inside it, including one person who appeared to try grabbing the female soldier by her hair.

Palestinian security forces could be seen in the videos protecting the Israeli soldiers during the riot. They also helped them leave the area.

A PA official in Jenin said that by rescuing the IDF soldiers, the Palestinian policemen avoided providing Israel with an excuse to launch a military operation inside the city.
Palestinians return rifle taken from soldiers during Jenin riot
The Palestinians overnight Monday returned an M16 rifle stolen from IDF soldiers who accidentally entered the West Bank city of Jenin and were attacked and beaten by a mob, the army said.

When the two soldiers, a man and a woman, drove into the city, local residents began attacking the car with rocks and chairs, breaking the windows and bloodying the soldiers.

The stolen weapon was located overnight and handed back to Israel by the Palestinian Authority security forces, who had rescued the two injured soldiers from the rioters as part of the PA’s security coordination with the IDF.

Palestinian political parties and social media users slammed the PA for extricating the soldiers, decrying the ongoing security coordination as “treason” and hailing the rioters as “heroes.”

The IDF is still investigating the incident, which could have ended in the soldiers’ death were it not for the quick intervention by the PA forces.
MK removed from Knesset meeting for calling IDF troops 'murderers'
Arab Israeli MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint Arab List) was removed from a Knesset committee meeting on Monday after calling Israeli soldiers "murderers" for their treatment of Palestinians.

The Education, Culture, and Sports Committee meeting focused on a new bill, submitted by Habayit Hayehudi faction leader Shuli Mualem-Rafaeli, aiming to ban organizations that are critical of the Israel Defense Forces from addressing high schools.

Breaking the Silence, which collects testimonies on Israeli soldiers' alleged mistreatment of Palestinians in the territories, is one such organization. It has been particularly vocal in its criticism of the IDF's conduct and has consistently offered up evidence of purported abuse. This has irked defense officials, who accuse the organization of unjustifiably maligning the military.

Right-wing MKs were outraged by Zoabi's outburst. MK Anat Berko (Likud) called her a "terrorist" in response.

Mualem also attacked Zoabi, saying: "If I were to say that all Arabs are murderers, would that be acceptable? You should be ashamed of yourself!"

Committee Chairman MK Yakov Margi (Shas) ultimately had to ask for Zoabi to be removed from the hall in an effort to restore order.
IDF: Hezbollah members forced mentally ill Lebanese man into entering Israel
The Israeli army arrested a mentally ill Lebanese man on Sunday, after he crossed the security fence, claiming he was pressured to do so by two Hezbollah operatives who had threatened to have him institutionalized.

A Hezbollah-affiliated media outlet identified the Lebanese man as Ali Mari, who crossed into Israel from Lebanon 10 months ago of his own volition.

The Israel Defense Forces said the Lebanese man was under surveillance as he approached the security fence. He was detained shortly after entering Israeli territory and interrogated.

Photographs from the scene, posted by the pro-Hezbollah outlet, show soldiers standing adjacent to the fence, apparently just after they arrested him.

“During the questioning, he stated that he was sent by two Hezbollah operatives, Mahadi and Ali Shahror from the village of Habush. The operatives, who are brothers, threatened him with forced mental hospitalization if he refused to infiltrate into Israeli territory in order to examine possibilities to enter and exit Israel,” the army said.

“Furthermore, he was brought to the point of infiltration by Mahadi Shahror on a motorcycle, and he was told to test if the electric fence is intact,” the IDF said.
4th time in 2 months: Attack thwarted at Samaria military court
A terror attack was thwarted this morning, Tuesday, at the Samaria military court under jurisdiction of the Menashe Regional Brigade.

Border Police and military police stationed at the entrance to the court this morning arrested a Palestinian Arab hiding a pipe bomb in his clothing.

According to Border Police, the bomb contained shrapnel inserted to maximize the harm caused during detonation.

The entrance to the court was closed and a police sapper dispatched to the scene.

This is the fourth attempted terror attack at the entrance to the court in the past two months.

A similar attack was thwarted at the court last week, while two attacks were thwarted there in December.

Another attack was thwarted at the court in October.
Israel will soon clear 4,000 landmines at Qasr al-Yahud baptism site
An ancient Christian site abandoned due to landmines may be resurrected now that the Defense Ministry has promised funds to an international organization, after years of delays.

Christians believe that Qasr al-Yahud, located about 10 kilometers east of Jericho, is the spot on the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized. But there are an estimated 4,000 landmines in the area, which contains seven churches along with chapels and monasteries, each belonging to a different denomination of Christianity. For decades, these bullet-pocked churches have remained abandoned, as some are booby-trapped.

Qasr al-Yahud was a popular pilgrimage spot until 1968, when Israel blocked access and enfolded it in the closed military zone along the border with Jordan, fearing terrorists could use the churches as staging grounds for attacks on Israeli settlements. The Jordan River is only a few meters wide at that point.

In 2011, COGAT — the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories — and the National Parks Authority opened an access road that leads to the baptismal site on the Jordan River. Tens of thousands of people come each year, especially around the holiday of the Epiphany, celebrated on January 18.
Turkish law lecturer aided Hamas, deported from Israel
A Turkish law lecturer and an Israeli citizen have been arrested in Israel on suspicion of aiding Hamas terrorists in Turkey, it was cleared for publication on Monday.

Cemil Tekeli, a Turkish national, was arrested in early January. Dara'am Jabarin, an Israeli citizen and resident of Umm al-Fahm, was arrested about three weeks later.

The two were recruited in Turkey by senior Hamas terrorist Zaher Jabarin, who was released in the 2011 Shalit deal. Jabarin is responsible for Hamas' budget and promotes ramified terrorist operations in the West Bank on instruction from Saleh al-Arouri, who serves as deputy Hamas leader and head of its operations in the West Bank.

Tekeli's interrogation revealed that Turkey contributes to the military strengthening of Hamas via, inter alia, the SADAT company, which was established at the behest of Adnan Basha, an adviser with close ties to Turkish administration officials.

The company was founded to assist—with funds and weapons—the creation of the 'Palestine Army,' the goal of which is to fight Israel.

One of its employees even helped senior Hamas officials attend a 2015 weapons show in Turkey, during which they expressed interest in UAVs.

During Tekeli's interrogation, it became clear Hamas is in direct contact with Turkish authorities via terrorist Jihad Ya'amur, who was involved in the abduction of IDF soldier Nachson Waxman and was released in the Shalit deal.
Hamas meets with Abbas rivals as detente with Fatah crumbles
A senior Hamas delegation visiting Cairo on Monday met with dissident Fatah leaders affiliated with Mohammed Dahlan, an archrival of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The meeting was the first of its kind since Hamas and Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction signed a reconciliation agreement under the auspices of the Egyptian authorities in November 2017.

The decision of Hamas to meet with Abbas’s rival is the latest signal that the highly touted rapprochement effort may be nearing its end.

Both Fatah and Hamas have held each other responsible for hindering the implementation of the accord.

The Hamas delegation, headed by Ismail Haniyeh, arrived in Cairo last Friday at the invitation of the Egyptian authorities. The delegation comprises top Hamas officials Khalil Al Hayya, Fathi Hammad and Rouhi Mushtahi.

The Fatah dissidents who met with the Hamas officials are Samir Mashharawi, Sufyan Abu Zaida and Osama Al Farra.

JCPA: Hizbullah Commander Imad Mughniyeh: 10 Years since His Assassination
The last years of his life saw a weakening of the sense of caution that had so characterized Imad Mughniyeh and his Iranian patrons. He would go from place to place without bodyguards or any security, without concealing his location from his followers and his associates, particularly when staying in his operational apartment in Damascus. It was near that apartment that he met his death when his car was blown up.

Since that time Hizbullah has not managed to find a replacement who could match Mughniyeh’s stature and abilities. His associate and brother-in-law, Mustafa Badr a-Din, who replaced him, was not really able to fill his large shoes, and was assassinated on the outskirts of Damascus under circumstances that left Iranian fingerprints.

In the decade that has passed, Imad Mughniyeh has turned into a myth of heroism and sacrifice. His two brothers, Jihad and Fuad, and his son, Jihad, were killed while serving in Hizbullah. Imad Mughniyeh’s grave has become a pilgrimage site for senior Iranian officials and others, who come to express support for the armed struggle against Israel.

As time goes by, Imad Mughniyeh appears to be gaining greater esteem in Tehran than in Lebanon. He has entered the pantheon of the Revolutionary Guards. The commander of the Quds Force adopted his son, Jihad, as his own son, until the young Mughniyeh was killed on the Golan Heights in 2015. Qassem Soleimani frequently visits the Mughniyeh family, particularly his mother, since his father’s recent death. In Iran, Mughniyeh is commemorated as the favorite of the Imam and as a hero of the Islamic Revolution.
Iran Unveils New Homemade Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles Amid Massive War Celebrations
Iran unveiled a series of new homemade nuclear-capable ballistic missiles during military parades held over the weekend, a move that experts view as a bid to bolster the hardline ruling regime as dissidents continue efforts to stir protest.

On the heels of an encounter between an Iranian drone and Israeli forces, Iranian leaders showcased their ballistic missile capabilities, which includes a nuclear-capable medium-range missile that appears to share similarities with North Korean technology, according to experts.

The nuclear-capable missile can strike Israel even when fired from Iranian territory, raising concerns about an impending conflict between Tehran and the Jewish state that could further inflame the region.

Iranian military leaders bragged the ballistic missile "can be launched from mobile platforms or silos in different positions and can escape missile defense shields due to their radar-evading capability," according to reports in Iran's state-controlled media.

The latest technology could further inflame tensions between Israel and Iran, which funds and controls terror organizations operating along Israel's border. Concerns that this nuclear-capable technology could be shared by Iran with its terrorist proxies are fueling longstanding concerns among the Israelis that an attack is imminent.
MEPs FURIOUS as EU give millions of UK aid money to Iran while Briton remains imprisoned
Brussels bureaucrats announced last week their intention to give a total of €37.5 million (£33million) in humanitarian aid to Iran as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The massive sum of money, which the UK is forced to contribute to while still in the EU, will be given to the three states despite an ongoing diplomatic row between Britain and Hassan Rouhani’s Iranian regime.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted by an Iranian court of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment.

She has always denied the charges and attempts by the British Government to secure her release have caused tensions between the two countries in recent months.

Giving British money to Iran in the middle of the ongoing crisis has caused anger and frustration among a number of Ukip MEPs.

Speaking to Express.co.uk Margot Parker, Ukip spokeswoman for international aid, said: “I do have a problem with Iran receiving money because I have been supporting Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s fight for freedom since she’s been imprisoned.

“I not happy with aid being sent there.

“It’s completely wrong.”

She added: “It’s worrying a mother and child have been separated for no good reason.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was on holiday with her daughter visiting family when she was arrested in 2016 and has not seen her daughter since.

Ukip MEP for the West Midlands, Bill Etheridge, also highlighted his concerns at the money being sent to Iran and also criticised the elitist trade bloc for agreeing to send UK money to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In a blistering attack he told Express.co.uk: “This is another example of the EU’s overwhelming desire to be the world’s ‘nanny’ despite the concerns about the behaviour of these countries including one holding a British citizen prisoner.
IsraellyCool: Iran Discovers Our Zionist Death Lizardsᵀᴹ
Damn! The Iranians are on to us.

The former chief-of-staff of Iran’s armed forces said Tuesday that Western spies had used lizards which could “attract atomic waves” to spy on the country’s nuclear programme.

Hassan Firuzabadi, senior military advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was responding to questions from local media on the recent arrest of environmentalists.

He said he did not know the details of the cases, but that the West had often used tourists, scientists and environmentalists to spy on Iran.

“Several years ago, some individuals came to Iran to collect aid for Palestine… We were suspicious of the route they chose,” he told the reformist ILNA news agency.

“In their possessions were a variety of reptile desert species like lizards, chameleons… We found out that their skin attracts atomic waves and that they were nuclear spies who wanted to find out where inside the Islamic republic of Iran we have uranium mines and where we are engaged in atomic activities,” he said.

Of course, what they have not quite worked out yet is that our Zionist Death LizardsTM are basically just regular agents who did not use their cloaking devices.

Alternatively, the only creatures involved in this story are bats – as in batshit crazy.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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