Wednesday, March 21, 2018

From Ian:

IDF Blog: The Secret Operation Revealed a Decade Later
During the night of September 5th and 6th, 2007, the Israeli Air Force destroyed a nuclear facility in its last stages of construction in the Deir ez-Zor region in Syria, 280 miles north-east of Damascus. Four F-16 jets eliminated a nuclear threat not only to Israel, but to the entire region.

Background and Preparations for the Operation
For two years, officials in the Military Intelligence Directorate had been monitoring the Syrian nuclear project. Their intelligence suggested that the facility would become active toward the end of 2007, which prompted the IDF to initiate an attack on the facility.

The Israeli Air Force had very little time to prepare the attack and account for possible contingencies, such as retaliation by the Syrian forces. Once the attack plan was ready, however, it was possible to execute it within 12 hours from the moment the order was to be given.

The Attack
Shortly after midnight, the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief of the General Staff, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Head of the Military Intelligence Directorate and Head of the Operations Directorate assembled in the aerial war room.

From there, they attentively followed all aircraft’s aerial locations and the communication systems. Two fighter jets, F-16I and F-15I left the base at 10:30 pm and flew low to stay undetected. The whole operation took four hours.
Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot speaks on the Syrian nuclear facility attack
The Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot tells us his point of view of the attack on the Syrian nuclear facility in 2007, when he was the GOC of the Northern Command

Inside Israel's Secret Raid on Syria's Nuclear Reactor
Eleven years after Israeli air force jets bombed the clandestine nuclear reactor in next-door Syria being built with the help of North Korea, Israel's military censor is finally lifting the veil of secrecy on the operation. The Sept. 6, 2007, raid was conducted near the remote desert city of Deir ez-Zur. Before today, Israel has never officially acknowledged its existence.

Former Mossad director Tamir Pardo asked in an interview with us: "Where were the Americans? North Korea is a highly important target for them. And it still isn't clear whether Assad was running the nuclear project, or was it the North Koreans?" He added that he has doubts that Syria was going to keep the plutonium, or perhaps it was going to be shipped to North Korea as a supply of which the West would be unaware. Pardo's questions raise another: What else might the CIA be missing in North Korea, in Iran, or almost anywhere on Earth?

The Israeli air force attacked deep in enemy territory, enjoying protection by sophisticated electronic jamming that blinded Syria's air defenses. The Syrian facility was almost identical to the Yongbyon nuclear complex in North Korea that produced plutonium for nuclear bombs, according to Israeli intelligence officials, and it was only weeks away from beginning to produce highly radioactive materials.

Deir ez-Zur was captured in 2014 by ISIS forces and held for more than three years. Just imagine if ISIS had gotten its hands on the plutonium.

After the revelation in 2003 that Gaddafi's Libya was dangerously advanced in its nuclear work, Israel's military intelligence chiefs increased their efforts to look for a nuclear project in Syria. Mossad operatives broke into an apartment maintained in Vienna by Ibrahim Othman, director of Syria's Atomic Energy Commission, and found a digital device, which they copied. Photos were found showing Othman in the company of some North Korean scientists that were shot inside the structure in Deir ez-Zur, and which clearly revealed that it was a nuclear reactor to produce plutonium.

Netanyahu: Israel has consistent policy - prevent enemies from obtaining nuclear weapons
Israel has a consistent policy of preventing its enemies from acquiring nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, 12 hours after the military censor allowed the publication of details of Israel's 2007 attack on a nuclear reactor in northeastern Syria.

“The Israeli government, IDF and Mossad prevented Syria from developing nuclear capabilities,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “For this they are deserving of all praise. Israel's policy has been and remains consistent – to prevent our enemies from arming themselves with nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu was the head of the opposition at the time of the attack, and was interviewed soon after it happened on what was then Channel 1. When interviewer Haim Yavin said to Netanyahu that he had not yet heard him praise then-prime minister Ehud Olmert for the operation, which was at the time shrouded in mystery, Netanyahu replied, “When the prime minister does things that in my eyes are important for Israel's security, I give my backing. Here too, I was involved in this matter from the very beginning and gave my backing, but it is too early to discuss this issue, and there will be plenty of time to give out all the congratulations...”

Asked if he called Olmert to congratulate him, Netanyahu replied: “yes.”
Israel officially acknowledges striking Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007
The decision to order the strike was 'one of the most important taken here in the last 70 years'

Grainy black and white video footage, filmed from an aircraft, displays a barren hilly landscape. The camera zooms in on a nondescript square building, a crosshair focusing on the structure as the picture rotates counter-clockwise.

Voices, speaking in Hebrew, crackle over the radio: "Cobra is clear, I'm on target", one says. "Alright" another replies. Several dark dots are seen floating towards the building, then – impact. A string of massive explosions is captured on camera.

The footage described here was released Wednesday by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and displays a series of airstrikes on a Syrian nuclear reactor, destroyed more than 10 years ago.

The IDF is now officially admitting, for the first time, that it carried out that strike – codenamed operation "Outside the Box", on the night between September 5th and 6th, 2007. The target was a reactor being built at al-Kibar, in the Deir ez-Zor region of eastern Syria.

"This was actually the most significant Israeli strike in Syrian territory since the Yom Kippur War" says the current Israeli Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who was head of Northern Command at the time.

The Israeli intelligence community had been monitoring the site for two years. Nearly complete at the time of attack, the nuclear reactor was set to become operational just 3 months later.
JCPA: Bashar Assad’s Deafening Silence
Syrian President Bashar Assad has never admitted that he tried to build a nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007. He built it not far from Damascus, in the desert region of Deir ez-Zor. He concealed the whole affair from Syria’s top brass, apart from a few individuals who were in on the secret.

When Israeli air force planes destroyed the nuclear reactor, President Assad confirmed that “an army building under construction” had been destroyed. He never said anything more than that, and he never admitted that he was involved in building a nuclear reactor.

This morning, the Arab world woke up to a barrage of detailed Israeli media reports in Israel, in which Israel confirmed that it had blown up the nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor in 2007.

In the meantime, the Arab media reposted quotes from Israeli reports. The Israeli admission of the attack took the Arab countries by surprise.

Syria is maintaining a resounding silence, and it is doubtful that it will react to any of these reports at all.

Even though the attack has been an open secret for the past ten years, Israel never took responsibility for destroying the nuclear reactor until now.

In 2007, Israel followed a vague policy of not humiliating President Bashar Assad or pushing him toward a military reaction. Assad used this Israeli “vagueness” to “keep his dignity,” and he indeed never responded militarily.
Key U.S. official: Bombing of Syria's reactor was 'A blessing for humanity'
James Jeffrey, a former senior American diplomat and Middle East expert, gave his recollections from the 2007 Israeli bombing of Syrian President Bashar Assad's nuclear reactor in an interview with Army Radio Wednesday morning.

In the interview, Jeffrey commented on the close cooperation between the US and Israel at the time, and on the supportive relationship between former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and former US president George W. Bush.

"The Israeli authorities had been working with the US government for months before the site was struck," he began. "We kept the information absolutely controlled within the US so there would be no leaks to the media."

"Very early it was clear to us that this was a North Korean enabled plutonium enrichment reactor that was clearly designed to advance a nuclear weapons program."

Jeffrey stated that president Bush was "very supportive" of the operation, and that had any threats against Israel arisen as a result of the military operation "We would stand with Israel."
Timing is everything
This week's confirmation by Israel that it indeed carried out the strike on the Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir Ez-Zor on the night of Sept. 6, 2007 raises questions about the intentions behind the disclosure.

Reports over the past decade have all but confirmed that the attack was Israeli, with the only thing missing being official confirmation by the Israeli government.

In a detailed investigative report titled "The Silent Strike" in the Sept. 17, 2012 issue of The New Yorker, Middle East scholar David Makovsky interpreted the reports on the Syria strike as a declaration of intent and a warning by Israel over Iran's nuclear complexes.

It can be assumed that, more than anything else, this is once again what Israel intended this week in its official confirmation that it was responsible for the 2007 strike.

It is interesting to contrast the details released now with those in Makovsky's report. Makovsky revealed that for Israel, the point of no return was in March 2007, when Mossad head Meir Dagan presented Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with a certain "piece of information."

"I knew from that moment, nothing would be the same again," Makovsky quotes Olmert as saying. "The weight of this thing, at the existential level, was of an unprecedented scale."
Between Syria then and Iran now
Israel was tipped off about the nuclear reactor being built in Syria by a foreign source.

The information provided by the source was unclear, but it implied that President Bashar Assad was building a reactor. This information was, for me and for the defense establishment alike, a complete and utter surprise. We could not believe this type of information could land on our desks so innocuously, from a foreign source, without us knowing anything beforehand. Israel's penetration into Syria was and is excellent; we know what is happening there, top to bottom, side to side. To discover in such a happenstance manner, due to the kindness of a stranger, that Assad was undertaking a complex project of this sort under our noses and without us receiving any indication was no less than stunning.

No one in Israel knew about this activity in Syria. In retrospect, we understood that the concealment ran very deep, to the point that the entire circle around Assad himself was kept completely in the dark about the project. It was an immense achievement for the Syrian dictator, who managed to create a small alternative system in which only those directly involved were even aware of its existence. Even his closest confidants and relatives did not know about the reactor. Thus, virtually no information could make its way out to us, including about the significant role the North Koreans were playing.

The moment the initial information came in, then-Mossad chief Meir Dagan quickly directed me and others to unequivocally ascertain whether Syria was indeed building a nuclear reactor or whether the intelligence was mistaken. We vigorously threw ourselves into the mission. It was a complex undertaking requiring the preparation of agents and intensive sifting for information. But the situation necessitated a clear-cut answer; anything vague was useless. After a year of work, we finally received the "golden intel" proving the structure in the Syrian desert was in fact a nuclear reactor. Israel was considerably caught off its strategic guard.
Arab leaders mum after Israel claims Syrian reactor strike
Hours after Israel admitted it had destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, officials in Syria and other Arab countries were staying mum Wednesday afternoon.

Arab news outlets sufficed with laconic reports and quoted the statement issued by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

However, Israel's decision to reveal its responsibility for the strike took many senior political pundits in the Arab world by complete surprise, particularly in light of Israel's years-long policy of ambiguity on matters of intelligence and military operations.

"The Arab silence is understandable, because any statement on the matter will harm the interests of the Arab leaders," a senior Egyptian official said.

The official stressed that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who is expected to be elected to another term in office later this month, has no interest in injecting the issue of the Israeli strike in Syria into the media discourse in his country, and has even instructed senior officials in his government to refrain from commenting on the matter altogether.

"Following reports in various news outlets that Israel has attacked Islamic State strongholds in Sinai in recent months with Egyptian approval and even helps the Egyptian army in its campaign to eradicate Islamic terror in Sinai, Sissi is interested in playing down such reports about security cooperation with Israel as much as possible," the Egyptian official said.

"There is no point speaking of the matter of the Israeli strike on the Syrian reactor on the eve of elections in Egypt."
Waltz with Bashar
A Syrian border guard took my (non-Israeli) passport and flipped through its pages several times. "Where's the visa?" he asked. "I don't have a visa," I said. "A friend told me you could get a visa to Syria at the border." This was the truth, but not the entire truth. There was no point in telling this sleepy Syrian policeman that the Syrian Consulate in Istanbul has refused to give me a visa and rejected me again and again. The secretary hinted to me that my Jewish name aroused the consul's suspicions. At the advice of a friend, a Turkish journalist, I decided to try my luck at one of the small border crosses between Turkey and Syria. Perhaps there my name wouldn't raise suspicions. (Published in Yedioth Ahronoth on September 28, 2007, some three weeks after the strike on the reactor)

Two weeks after the nuclear reactor was bombed, I entered Syria through a remote crossing in a place called Kilis, on the border between Turkey and Syria, not far from Aleppo. I was aided by a clothes merchant who hoped to smuggle through me some of his profits when I returned to Turkey. I introduced myself as an innocent South American tourist, and when I was questioned, I explained that I've been teaching geography my entire life, I worked in geography, and now I wanted to see the areas I was specializing in.

It was a late hour of the night and the soldiers at the border crossing called the officer on duty at the Foreign Ministry in Damascus, who authorized my entry. They checked how much money I had, and when they were satisfied I had enough to leave the country, they said "Welcome."

At the time, we knew very little about the military operation. We knew - even though we couldn't report it - that the Air Force bombed a nuclear facility, but we didn't know it was a reactor. As far as I knew, it could've also been an enrichment facility or a facility to reprocess nuclear fuel. However, I knew Deir ez-Zor, where I was going, is an area filled with phosphates that could be used in the production of uranium. Saddam Hussein, for example, produced uranium several dozens of kilometers south of that area for his own nuclear program. I believe the same applied to Assad.
Germany’s shameless power play against Israel
The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:

As a good-faith gesture, the Western European and Others Group promised Israel that it and Belgium would run uncontested for the two open 2019-20 [Security Council] seats. Then, in 2016, Germany announced it would also run—even though it already served as a council member [multiple times, including] as recently as 2011-12. . . . [U]nless Belgium yields, Israel’s hopes for UN respect seem doomed for now—and maybe for the foreseeable future.

Why? Diplomats have been telling me Israel violates too many Security Council resolutions to be a member—as in the one passed during the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, which marked Jewish holy sites as occupied Palestinian territory. But is building a porch in [the West Bank town of] Ma’ale Adumim really such a huge threat to world peace?

How about, then, a report released last week by UN experts on the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions? It found Germany violated a council ban on sparkling wines, exporting $151,840 worth of bubbly and other luxury goods to Kim Jong Un’s cronies. Or how about, as the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reports, German companies exporting to Iran banned materials that were later used in chemical attacks in Syria?

Never mind. Germany (and Belgium) will surely benefit from the UN’s habit of magnifying Israel’s violations beyond all proportion. Thus, Israel’s petition to join the most prestigious UN club will likely be rejected, thanks to a late entry by a shameless [and] cynical German power play against the Jewish state.
Arab League aims to stop Israel from gaining Security Council seat
Arab League nations will meet in Riyadh on April 15 to work to prevent Israel from gaining a seat on the U.N. Security Council, Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said in a statement on Tuesday.

The summit was originally slated for the end of March, the usual date for the Arab League's annual meeting, but Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Egypt and league delegate Ahmed Qattan said the timing needed to change to accommodate Egypt's March 26-28 presidential elections.

The Security Council is considered the U.N.'s most powerful body, charged with maintaining international peace and security, as well as accepting new members to the United Nations.

The Security Council consists of 15 members, five of whom – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – are permanent members and have veto power over its resolutions. Ten rotating members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms based on regions: five from African and Asian countries; one from Eastern European countries; two from Latin American and Caribbean countries; and two from Western European and other countries – the bloc to which Israel belongs.

The Security Council presidency rotates monthly among its members.
Shaked: Online anti-Israel incitement rose following Trump embassy decision
Incitement against Israel reached new heights immediately after President Donald Trump’s December 6 announcement that he will move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked revealed at the sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism on Tuesday.

Shaked spoke at a conference at the forum on online incitement alongside her counterparts from Italy, Greece and Malta and top Facebook officials.

“I want to thank President Trump for moving the embassy in another month and a half, which will be an honorable 70th birthday gift to Israel,” she said.

“But this decision, which was well covered internationally, led to Palestinian calls for violence and terror against Israelis.”

Shaked revealed the findings of a study indicating that there were 12,351 requests from her ministry’s cybersecurity department to remove online incitement over the past year, a massive increase over the previous year. Most were removed, but she said Twitter was the least compliant in removing hate content and warned that her ministry may have to take legal action.
Report: Israeli Bureaucracy Might Delay US Embassy May 14 Move
The US Embassy’s move to Jerusalem on May 14 is in question due to bureaucratic procedures on the ground, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported Tuesday night. In recent days, a number of State Department officials visited Israel and made it clear to the Israeli officials that urgent security construction work was needed to modify the existing compound in the Jerusalem Arnona neighborhood and turn it from a consulate into an embassy on time.

The Americans demand, among other things, a sealed, 9 foot wall that will surround the entire embassy compound. They also want an escape route to be paved from the southern parking lot of the Diplomat Hotel along the western edge of the Arnona neighborhood. The American have submitted these demands, only to discover that the changes violate the local zoning plan for the building, which was sanctioned as a consulate and not an embassy.

In a letter sent by Foreign Ministry Director-General Yuval Rotem to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Rotem warned that it would not be possible to meet the May 14 deadline unless construction exemptions are granted immediately and the approval process is radically curtailed. Otherwise, the entire embassy move would be in jeopardy.

“The procedure to amend the existing zoning plan is expected to take a long time, which will not allow for the completion of the work on the site in time for the embassy’s opening, that is, May 14, 2018,” Rotem wrote, pointing out that “without these works being completed, the compound will not meet the prerequisite requirements of the State Department for the American Embassy.”
Anne Bayefsky in the Lion's Den, The UN "Human Rights" Council, 3/20/18

Why is India Financing Palestinian Terrorism?
Hundreds attended the funeral of Adiel Coleman, a 32-year-old married father of four children, who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday. He was laid to rest in Kochav Hashachar, north of Jerusalem. The attack came two days after a Palestinian terrorist killed two Israeli soldiers in a car-ramming attack.

Terrorist group Hamas hailed the killing of the father of four, saying it marked 100 days since the U.S. formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Both Hamas and PLO-Fatah have been inciting terror attacks against Jews and Israelis. They not only lure the potential terrorists with promises of rewards in the afterlife, but offer financial incentives to would-be ‘martyrs’ and their families.

According to a report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs last May, between 2013 and 2016, the PLO-led Palestinian Authority (PA) paid $1 billion to terrorists and their families. The otherwise bankrupt PA can afford to run this lavish pay-to-sly scheme thanks to generous international donors.

India, bearing the brunt of Islamist terrorism at home, has been a prominent contributor to the Palestinian Authority’s terrorist welfare scheme.
14 new Israeli orphans in one month
14 Israeli children have become orphans in just one month ....

In just one month in Israel, the same scene took place three times in three different locations: Har Bracha, Havat Gilad and Kochav Hachachar.

Hundreds of people crowded in a cemetery, sometimes an improvised one.
The victims, all young Israelis, civilians, fathers, husbands.
Killed by Palestinian Arab terrorists just because they were Jews.
Families in agony.
Young wives and mothers in mourning, small communities devastated by the violent death shattering the sense of security.
No condemnation by Palestinian “peace partners”.
Faint, inaudible voices from Europe.
Horrendous newspaper titles.

Western ears and eyes are full of images of Palestinian Arab youths, often impostors like Ahed Tamimi, the darling of the “popular Intifada”, but never of these 14 Israeli orphans. Double orphans. Their fathers killed twice. First by the terrorists. Then by Western indifference.

This is Israel: An attack in Jerusalem was taking place while two funeral services were being held for the two soldiers killed in Mevo Dotan, and the IDF was busy demolishing new tunnels in Gaza built by Hamas to strike the Israelis.

From morning to night, the Palestinian Arabs just think about how to kill the Israelis. They see that Europe is silent after the massacres, the media submit to their hallucinatory nightmarish ideas and the UN pays them. In short, it is one of the unique cases in history in which terrorism is a bonanza, especially if you are a terrorist who is lucky enough to survive the attack. Hot meals, cable tv, newspaper articles and 2,500 euros a month dropped by the puppet in Ramallah who lives on international aid.

What a bleak picture.
Terror victim's son to UN: You are complicit in my father's murder
Micah Lakin Avni, whose father was one of three Israelis murdered in a 2015 terrorist attack in Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, accused the United Nations Human Rights Council of funding terrorism in an address to the world body on Tuesday.

Avni's address to the Human Rights Council followed five anti-Israel resolutions that appear in a report by the U.N. aid agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, and Special Rapporteur on Palestinian territories Michael Lynk, which were deliberated by the UNHRC that day.

Avni told the council how his father, Richard Lakin, "was brutally murdered at age 76 by Palestinian terrorists, shot in the head and butchered with a knife after he fell to the ground. President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority rewarded his killers and their families with $3 million. Yes, you heard right, $3 million.

"The Palestinian Authority actually has a pay-to-slay law. Palestinians systematically pay terrorists to kill Jews – more than $300 million a year. That's 10% of the PA's annual budget. The Palestinian Authority received hundreds of millions of dollars a year from the U.N., from the EU and countries like Germany, France, Britain, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, [and] Ireland. They use this money to reward murderers."

Avni said Lynk's report "failed to mention the Palestinians' pay-to-slay law. It ignores Palestinian use of United Nations funds as blood money," he said.
More than 12,000 Jews visit Temple Mount since September
Jewish Temple Mount organizations published new data showing that more than 12,000 people made a pilgrimage to the holy site in the first half of the current Hebrew year—an increase of almost 50 percent compared to the same period last year.

In light of security tensions in Jerusalem and the fear of escalation as Passover, Israel's 70th Independence Day, the move of the American embassy to the capital and the month of Ramadan are all drawing near, the Yeraeh organizing published its half-yearly report on the matter.

The most prominent information gleaned from the report was that from the Hebrew months of Tishrei to Adar—comparable to the Gregorian months of September through March—during which at least 12,135 Jews visited the Temple Mount, compared to 8,229 last year—marking a 47 percent increase.

Yeraeh encourages ascent to the Temple Mount with "holiness and purity", and its people only assist Jews seeking to visit the place according to Halacha (Jewish law)—limiting themselves to permitted areas, following a ritual bath and under additional restrictions and conditions.

The organization's report is therefore based on a headcount by its own volunteers and is considered more stringent, as it does not include Jews who have undertaken the pilgrimage independently.
JPost Editorial: Abbas’s end game
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s derogatory statements on Monday against US Ambassador David Friedman received extensive media coverage. It is not every day that the leader of the PA calls a high-ranking American official “a son of a dog.”

But what was noteworthy about Abbas’s speech to a meeting of the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership of the PA was not that he lashed out at the Trump administration. He has done that before. In December, for instance, after President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and threatened to cut off funding to UNRWA and to the PA unless the Palestinian leadership cooperated with US efforts to negotiate a peace deal, Abbas declared, “May your [Trump’s] house be destroyed!” Rather, what was interesting about Abbas’s speech was that no one was spared Abbas’s rancor. Abbas lashed out at everyone – the US, Hamas, even Egypt was criticized.

Abbas blamed Hamas for the roadside bombing that targeted the PA’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and General Intelligence Service head Majid Faraj as they traveled in the northern Gaza Strip last week. He rejected continued cooperation with Hamas and vowed to institute sanctions against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip that would probably include halting PA payments for electricity and water to Gaza and freezing the payment of salaries to hundreds of staffers in the Strip.

Abbas more than hinted that the Egyptians had failed in their mission to end the dispute between the rival Palestinian parties. “We thank Egypt for its effort,” he said.

“But for me, what counts is the outcome. And what is the outcome? Zero.”

The speech was a reflection of Abbas’s near total isolation.
EU: There is no state of Palestine without Gaza
The Palestinian Authority must control the Gaza Strip and the area must be part of a future Palestinian state, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Tuesday.

“We see it very clearly: The West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza belong together. There is no State of Palestine without Gaza, nor with Gaza alone,” Mogherini said in advance of a Brussels meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee that handles donor funds to the Palestinians.

“This is why we expect all Palestinian factions to defy the spoilers and continue on the path of reconciliation, with courage and determination,” Mogherini said.

She noted the particularly tense and fragile state of relations between Fatah and Hamas.

In a televised address from Ramallah on Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas charged that Hamas had attempted to assassinate PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah by blowing up a vehicle in his convoy during a Gaza visit last week.

Abbas in turn has increasingly reduced funding to Gaza, in an attempt to force Hamas to end its decade long control of the Strip.
Palestinian Authority calls on Hamas to hand over Gaza ‘all at once’
The Palestinian Authority government on Tuesday called on Hamas to transfer full control of the Gaza Strip to it “all at once.”

Hamas has controlled Gaza since ousting the PA from the territory in 2007.

“[The government] called on Hamas to hand over the Gaza Strip all at once and affirmed its readiness to take full responsibility [for it],” the official PA news site Wafa reported.

The PA government made the statement a day after PA President Mahmoud Abbas suggested he would cut all budgets allocated to Gaza if the PA does not take full control of the coastal territory.

“If everything is in our hands, we will take full responsibility [for Gaza]. If everything is not in our hands, they will have to take full responsibility for everything [in Gaza],” Abbas said in a 20-minute speech at the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah.

He did not say when Hamas would have to take full responsibility for Gaza if it does not hand over control of the territory to the PA.

However, a senior PLO official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity on Tuesday, said any decision to cut PA budgets to Gaza “will take time to implement.”

The PA spends $100 million in Gaza monthly, according Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
'Peaceful' Palestinian protests
The Palestinians are busy planning mass processions toward Israel ahead of the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem in May, in an attempt to create a "third intifada" that copies the murderous First Intifada of 1987-1991, which they define as a success. The Second Intifada, of course, was defeated by the Israel Defense Forces with our resilient nation's backing.

Most Palestinians understand that these attempts will bring nothing but the loss of life.

This was also true of Sari Nusseibeh's plan. A partner to the 1973 Geneva Conference, he spearheaded the effort to form a human chain of protesters along the length of the 1967 borders. In early 2002, police found a screensaver on a computer belonging to this "man of peace" that showed a Palestinian human chain planned for June that year. It showed figures closing in on Israel from all sides, dividing the country in two, against the background of a bloody clock. Hand grenades were also shown being thrown at the "occupation." In the accompanying caption, Nusseibeh expressed confidence that Europe would support the Palestinian struggle.

This presentation is a reflection of the hateful mindset of the Palestinians.
PA may consider declaring Gaza ‘rebel district,’ cutting enclave off
The Palestinian Authority may study the possibility of declaring the Gaza Strip a rogue area, solidifying the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

A senior Fatah official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday that he could not rule out the possibility of declaring the Gaza Strip as a “rebel district” if the crisis between Hamas and Fatah is not resolved in the near future.

In a speech before Palestinian leaders on Monday evening, Abbas threatened to take “national, legal, and financial measures” against Hamas. However, Abbas did not provide further details about his planned sanctions.

The Fatah official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said during an interview in his office in Ramallah that declaring the Gaza Strip a “rebel district” would exempt the PA government from all its responsibilities toward the coastal enclave.

“Declaring Gaza as a rebel district would mean that the Palestinian Authority will no longer be responsible for anything there,” the official said.
Donors raise $560 million for Gaza water treatment plant
The European Union said Tuesday that international donors have raised 456 million euros ($560 million) to build a desalination plant in the Gaza Strip, to provide around 2 million people with safe drinking water.

At a pledging conference in Brussels on Tuesday, the EU offered more than 77 million euros, which combined with other donations will meet around 80 percent of the plant’s costs.

People in the impoverished coastal strip rely on an underground aquifer for their water. But quality is poor and Gazans are drawing off around four times what the aquifer can sustain each year.

The Palestinians say water shortages are creating health problems and exacerbating political tensions.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said providing for the people of Gaza was a priority.

“As regards to the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, this is and will remain a priority for the European Union. We have provided substantial help in the past and we continue to do so.”
“Israel murdered Arafat with poison in 2004” – PA TV narrator repeats libel
Official PA TV narrator: "A series of operations (i.e., terror attacks) were carried out, and Israel dealt with them through intensive pursuit and nearly caught Yasser Arafat in Nablus. When they entered the room where he was, the bed was still warm and the tea kettle boiling. Israel continued to pursue him until it murdered him with poison in 2004 in his headquarters in Ramallah." [Official PA TV, The Philosophy of Patience, March 2, 2018]

Iran wants to form another Hezbollah in Yemen, says Saudi ambassador to US
Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the US, said on Monday that Iran wants to form another Hezbollah in Yemen through its support of Houthi militia.

He told CNN that Iran wants to destabilize Saudi Arabia, and that it poses a threat to the entire region and international security.
“Here’s what happening in Yemen: (Iran is trying to create) another Hezbollah in Yemen, which will not just threaten our security and Yemeni security, but also regional security.”

“We’ve been focusing on the weapon of mass destruction, the WMD. What we should really be focusing on is the MD, the mass destruction that Iran is committing in the region.”

He stressed to CNN that Tehran was stirring unrest, and said the so-called “nuclear deal” between Iran and Western powers needs “to be fixed.”

What the Saudi Prince's Visit Really Means
Perhaps the most dramatic Saudi reform is the one that has received virtually no attention in America. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has led an effort to sweep out the Muslim Brotherhood from teaching and leadership positions in elementary, middle and high schools as well as colleges and universities.

MBS is kicking a dragon and he knows it.

The stakes of his fight with the Brotherhood could not be higher. If MBS succeeds, Saudi Arabia returns to pre-1979 roots, with movie theaters, women in the workplace, and features of a modern developing country. If MBS fails, he will be killed by the Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia will become more repressive than ever.

The global stakes of MBS's internal fight with the Brotherhood are large, too. If the crown price wins, nearly all Saudi funding for violent Islamic radicals ends — and if he dies, it grows to new heights.

His "Vision 2030" is the biggest planned change in any country since Turkey's Ataturk or Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew. With America's encouragement, Saudi Arabia could lead a regional transformation that would be truly historic.
Don't tell a Muslim They Have Nasty Despicable Traits of the Jews...Even If It's True
Saudi cleric Abd Al-Aziz Fawzan Al-Fawzan said that even though a Muslim might possess "some of the despicable and nasty traits of the Jews," one must not taunt or curse them for this. Describing these traits, Al-Fawzan said that the Jews are "the most envious of people and the most likely to use sorcery" and are known "for arrogance and for sowing corruption upon the land." His statements aired on the Kuwaiti Al-Resala TV channel on February 23.

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