Thursday, March 22, 2018

From Ian:

IDF Blog: The Intel operation behind the attack on the Syrian nuclear facility in 2007
For two years, the Military Intelligence Directorate worked with the Israeli intelligence community to collect information about the growing Syrian nuclear facility. It began with a hunch and a collection of sensitive information, continued with the recognition of suspicious buildings, and ended with the identification and destruction of the nuclear facility. Here’s the intelligence process behind the operation, step-by-step:

The beginning stages of intel-gathering

After major discoveries were made from 2005 until the beginning of 2007, it was determined that Syria was acting secretly within the nuclear field.

The Military Intelligence Directorate began to take-on the challenge: the Research Department of the Directorate established a large-scale team to analyze indications of Syrian nuclear efforts and strategies. Later on, the intelligence collection units outside of the military assisted in gathering information.

During this period of time, the Military Intelligence Directorate collected a number of key details that became the grounds for the attack:

  1. Towards the end of 2004: Military intelligence and the Mossad collected information that foreign specialists were aiding a nuclear project in Syria.
  2. January 2006: This was the first time it was suggested that a nuclear facility was being established in Syria. This was an important turning point in the understanding of it. Following this, the Military Intelligence Directorate collected vital information regarding the beginning process of a nuclear facility.
  3. April 2006: A nuclear facility was identified as a result of research conducted by the Military Intelligence Directorate and intelligence community.
  4. November 2006: Additional activity in the nuclear field was observed. With time, more aspects of Syrian nuclear efforts were revealed, specifically intensive contact with nuclear elements necessary for the operation of a nuclear facility.
Palestinian claim to Dead Sea Scrolls may be next up at UNESCO
The next “prize” the Palestinians will likely claim as their own at UNESCO will probably be the archeological site of Qumran and its Dead Sea Scrolls, Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said on Wednesday.

He spoke at a panel on the denial of Jewish history in international organizations at the Foreign Ministry-sponsored sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem.

Samuels chronicled the Palestinians’ success at having attributed to themselves biblical and cultural sites, including Jewish ones, on the World Heritage List since joining the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a member state in 2011.

The World Heritage Committee ascribed to “Palestine” Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity in 2012; the agricultural terraces of Battir, site of the ancient Jewish fortress at Betar, in 2014; and Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs in 2017.

The Palestinian Authority has a tentative list of 13 additional sites it seeks to register at UNESCO.

Out of that list the Palestinians are next likely to seek cultural ownership of the Qumran Caves and Dead Sea Scrolls, said Samuels, who is the director of international relations for the Wiesenthal Center.

This request may come up at the next meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee this July in Bahrain, he told the conference.

Caroline Glick: A Trump Confidant Turns Against Israel
On Monday, a major American Jewish leader published a call to arms against Israel in the New York Times.

In an op-ed under the headline, “Israel’s self-inflicted wounds,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder warned that Israel is driving itself to the brink of disaster.

The implicit message of Lauder’s article is that President Donald Trump is too good to Israel. He needs to adopt a far cooler policy towards the immoral, undeserving Jewish state.

Lauder is no run-of-the-mill American Jewish leader. He has been in the spotlight for 30 years.

Lauder was an intimate friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for twenty years. The two men had a very public falling out a decade ago after an Israeli television station partially owned by Lauder broadcast a venomously hostile string of stories against Netanyahu.

Today, Lauder has an even more powerful friend: Donald Trump.

As a New York socialite and heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics empire, over the years Lauder developed a close relationship with real estate magnate Trump. That friendship extended into the presidential race. And for the past 14 months, Lauder has had closer ties to the President than any other American Jewish leader.

When a man of Lauder’s stature writes Israel is “endangering the future of the country,” most people take his warning seriously.

So is he right? Is it time to man the barricades?

The good news is: no. Lauder’s warnings are no more than a collection of anti-Israel slanders.
Why Does Ronald Lauder Want Israel to be Only Nine Miles Wide?
After a long career in government and Jewish communal service, Ronald S. Lauder just announced his new cause: creating a Palestinian state in Israel’s backyard. People sometimes take on some pretty strange hobbies in their golden years. Lauder’s is not merely strange, but genuinely dangerous to the safety of Israel.

“We must push for a two-state solution,” Lauder declared on Monday in “Israel’s Self-Inflicted Wounds” on the op-ed page of The New York Times.

Let’s consider, first of all, the venue Lauder chose for his announcement. He had many choices aside from the Times. For example, he could have quietly advocated his position within the confines of private diplomatic channels. Or he could have made his case to fellow leaders of Jewish organizations. He even could have—I know this seems outlandish—moved to Israel and cast his vote for a political party that advocates Palestinian statehood.

The only conceivable reason for Lauder to broadcast his plea in The New York Times is to put public pressure on Israel to surrender to his demand. Clearly, he does not respect the wishes of the Israeli public. Nor does he have any regard for the right of Israel’s democratically elected leaders to make decisions based on Israel’s best interests, free of foreign pressure.

This is not Lauder’s first foray into the surrender of Israeli-controlled territory. During Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term as Israeli prime minister in the 1990s, Lauder attempted to negotiate the return of the Golan Heights to Syria. Can anyone imagine what the Golan Heights would be like today with Iranian “volunteers” staring down at Israel if that plan had gone ahead?

Now to the substance of his demand: “the two-state solution.”
Move slashing Palestinian funding hitches ride on massive US spending bill
The Taylor Force Act, which would slash funding to the Palestinians until Ramallah stops payments to terrorists or their families, will likely pass this week as part of a massive US government spending bill.

The act was included in the massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that must pass by Friday night. The bill, which congressional leaders agreed to Wednesday night, is laden with unrelated legislative measures, known as riders.

The inclusion of the measure in the omnibus spending bill was first reported on by Jewish Insider earlier Wednesday.

Taylor Force was an American who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv in 2016. The act would cut US funding to the Palestinians by the amount paid out by the Palestine Liberation Organization to Palestinians jailed for terror offenses or their families in the cases of assailants killed during attacks.

Palestinian officials say that only a small portion of the targeted money goes to violent attackers, and that much of the money serves as a welfare program for Palestinians who are imprisoned by Israel, many without charges.
Senate Democrats Prevent Stand-Alone Vote for Taylor Force Act
Senate leaders have added the Taylor Force Act to the omnibus spending bill after two Democratic senators blocked an effort to pass it as a stand-alone bill. The measure would cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority as punishment for its practice of paying salaries and benefits to terrorists and their families, including those who have murdered Americans.

The Taylor Force Act boasts strong bipartisan support, prompting Senate leadership a few weeks ago to hotline the bill, which would set it up to pass by unanimous consent, a parliamentary procedure that expedites passage of noncontroversial legislation. If no senator objects to the move, the measure is passed without the need for a floor vote.

But the Taylor Force Act was blocked after Democratic senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Dianne Feinstein of California rejected the hotline, killing the unanimous consent process and forcing the bill to undergo the Senate's lengthy cloture process, several sources told the Washington Free Beacon. Neither Leahy nor Feinstein have publicly opposed the bill.

A spokesman for Sen. Leahy, David Carle, did not deny that the senator objected to unanimous consent, claiming that Leahy "sought an opportunity to refine the bill … and there was no opportunity to debate or offer amendments." When asked whether Sen. Leahy had sought to refine the bill or offer amendments at any point during the six months from February 2017, when it was introduced, to August 2017, when it was debated and then passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Carle suggested that Sen. Leahy was unable to.

"He's not on SFRC," Carle said in an emailed response. "He sought the opportunity to discuss refinements, which is the regular process in the Senate."
Taylor Force Act a Turning Point in U.S. Stance on PA Terror Payments
The leading private advocate of pending US legislation that sanctions the Palestinian Authority for financially incentivizing terrorism pronounced himself “very satisfied” on Wednesday, as the Senate prepared for an imminent final vote on the provisions of the Taylor Force Act.

“It’s a great relief that Congress has gotten behind the Taylor Force Act in a bipartisan way,” Sander Gerber – a prominent New York-based finance executive who has been praised by several US legislators for his vocal support of the legislation – told The Algemeiner.

Named in memory of the former American army officer stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv in March 2016, the Taylor Force Act passed the House of Representatives by unanimous consent in December 2017. Gerber — who joined forces with the Force family after their son’s murder to counter the PA’s long-established policy of paying salaries and other benefits to convicted terrorists and their families — said he was “very satisfied” with the final version of the act, which will be incorporated into an omnibus appropriations bill currently scheduled for a March 23 vote in the Senate.

Gerber argued that while the legislation will not cut every single cent of US aid to the Palestinians, it carried a political and moral significance far beyond any of its strictly financial measures.

“The biggest impact lies in the requirements on the State Department and the US representative at the UN to make known and report upon the Palestinian ‘pay-for-slay’ infrastructure,” Gerber said.
Slain soldier’s father becomes advocate ‘for right vs. wrong’
Stuart Force never imagined that he would spend his retirement traveling across the United States, knocking on doors on Capital Hill. But that is precisely his life now following the tragic death of his son, Taylor Force, a West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran who was stabbed and killed by a Palestinian terrorist on March 8, 2016, while on a graduate-school trip to Israel with Vanderbilt University. Ten other people were wounded in the attack.

“If you are ideologically different than most Israelis or anyone else, it still doesn’t give you the right to commit murder and crimes. That is the basic decency that bothers us—that you think you have the right to do this,” Force, 67, told JNS.

Force said that his son Taylor, 28, was a “remarkable” man that did not harbor prejudice or malice towards anyone.

“He was a very accepting person. No prejudices, other than he didn’t like real jerks,” quipped Force. “He had good friends who were Jewish; he really enjoyed their company. When the opportunity came up to go to Israel, he leapt at it.”

Force, who has been touring the country to support the legislation named after his son, spoke at Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel in the Boston suburb of Newton on March 12 in a program sponsored by JINSA, a pro-Israel think tank, just a few days after the two-year anniversary of his son’s death.
Palestinian rejection said to delay US peace plan announcement indefinitely
The US administration has reportedly decided to delay indefinitely the announcement of its long-awaited peace proposal after concluding that it cannot impose such a deal on the Palestinians.

The Americans reached the conclusion after realizing as well that no Arab country would be willing to cooperate with the plan as long as the Palestinians were strongly opposed to it, a senior Palestinian official told the London-based Al Hayat newspaper in a report published Thursday.

The official said that the US administration had hoped that some of the Arab countries would replace the Palestinians at the negotiating table with Israel after the Trump plan was announced.

However, the official said, the Americans haven’t been able to find find any Arab party willing to accept the plan as long the Palestinians continued to reject it. “This is why the Americans have decided to shelve the plan,” the official added.

“The US administration is searching for a plan that would be sustainable and acceptable to the parties, and this requires additional waiting and consideration,” Western diplomatic sources told the paper.

“It’s not possible to forcibly impose the plan on the Palestinians,” they were quoted as saying. “The Israelis and Palestinians first need to accept the plan. Afterwards, other Arab parties will be included.”

US officials have indicated that the Trump plan is being finalized and will be presented soon. There was no confirmation from the US of Thursday’s report.
PMW: Abbas: US Ambassador to Israel is "son of a bitch"

'World must acknowledge Israeli sovereignty in Golan Heights'
An Israeli policy paper that calls for international recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was presented at a Tel Aviv conference on Wednesday.

The 88-page document, titled "Observations on the national strategy for the Golan Heights" was written by Zvi Hauser, a former cabinet secretary under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Itzik Tsarfati, a former attorney and chairman of the Coalition for the Israeli Golan, both members of the Kohelet Policy Forum.

The policy paper argues that for the first time in 50 years, "Israel has an opportunity to receive recognition of its sovereignty over the Golan as a consequence of the war in Syria.

"Israel must aspire toward international recognition that the 1967 borders are no longer sacrosanct and of the need to change the border in accordance with the current reality on the ground," the document states.
Most Israelis think moving US embassy will spark violence, but still say do it
A majority of Israelis say moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will spark regional violence, but still support transferring the American diplomatic mission to the capital, according to a poll released Thursday.

The monthly Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University Peace Index survey found that 61 percent of the 600 Arab and Jewish respondents polled said the move was “very likely” to spark violent Palestinian protests.

Nevertheless, 69% Jewish Israelis said the anticipated Palestinian response shouldn’t be an excuse to postpone the opening scheduled for May, while 77% of Arab Israelis said Israel should ask the US to change the move date.

Last month, US President Donald Trump announced the new US embassy in Jerusalem would open on May 14 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. The announcement was met with widespread anger among the Palestinians, prompting calls for enormous protest events, the largest of them planned for the Gaza Strip.

The expected protests will also coincide with Nakba Day, a national day of Palestinian mourning marking the “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding, commemorated every year on May 15.
Germany stalls Iran talks over labeling Hezbollah as terrorists
Germany’s government tossed a wrench into the ongoing Iran nuclear talks with the United States, rejecting a US demand to designate the entire Hezbollah organization as terrorist and blaming the Trump administration for its pro-Israel policies.

Two sources familiar with the US negotiations with Germany, France and the United Kingdom over correcting flaws in the Iran nuclear deal told The Jerusalem Post of Berlin’s position and said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration is the “least cooperative” of the three European powers.

When asked about Germany’s position, a US State Department representative restated President Donald Trump’s demands from January, telling the Post on Monday: “They should designate Hezbollah – in its entirety – as a terrorist organization.”

The representative added that “we are working closely with our European partners to address our shared concerns with the JCPOA [the nuclear deal] and Iran’s malign behavior.”

According to the sources, Germany rejected the demand from the US negotiating team – and President Trump’s position – to outlaw all of Hezbollah, because the Lebanese militia “is linked to Israel-Palestinian peace talks.” The sources also said Germany considers the Trump administration as too pro-Israel.

One source said Britain and France are amenable to sanctioning Hezbollah. There are, however, differences between the French and British positions over what punitive measures to take.
Germany Selling Iran Chemical Weapons Tech, Boosting Anti-Israel Efforts as U.S. Dems Block Trump Ambassador
U.S. officials are increasingly alarmed by a congressional block on President Donald Trump's pick to be the next ambassador to Germany, a holdup that comes as Berlin pursues a host of anti-Israel measures and is growing closer to Iran, according to multiple administration insiders who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

As Democrats in Congress continue to hold the nomination of Richard Grenell, a veteran Republican diplomat who was tapped by Trump to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Germany, the post remains vacant, sparking concerns the United States is ceding leverage amid sensitive discussions regarding the future of the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

The vacancy also has left the United States with little voice to combat a series of anti-Israel efforts being pursued by the German government. Trump administration insiders are becoming increasingly fed-up with the block on Grenell, telling the Free Beacon that U.S. diplomats currently helming the post have been bungling critical national security priorities, including the Iran portfolio and recent efforts by Germany to sell Tehran sensitive equipment used by the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria to produce chemical weapons.

"The current leader of the embassy is not an ambassador," said one senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of the situation, referring to Kent Logsdon, a former Obama administration official who is serving as the chargé d'affaires ad interim in Berlin.

"He is perfectly nice and steeped in the State Department culture, but irrelevant to serious policy makers," the official said. "He oversees a team that promotes a normalized relationship with Iran and has promoted anti-Trump speakers throughout Germany."

Grenell's absence on the international stage has only become more noticeable in recent months, as the Trump administration pursues a last minute diplomatic effort to strengthen the Iran deal or scrap it by May, sources said.
U.S. and Israel Complete Joint Exercise Juniper Cobra 2018
U.S. and Israeli military forces have just completed Exercise Juniper Cobra 2018, a joint ballistic missile exercise.

Approximately 2,500 American personnel and 2,000 Israeli personnel participated in the exercise, according to the Department of Defense.

The commander for Joint Task Force Israel, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, hailed the exercise for deepening ties between the American and Israeli militaries.

"It was an honor to lead this team of true professionals through completion of U.S. European Command’s top priority exercise for 2018," Clark said.

"Juniper Cobra 2018 proved to be an incredibly challenging and realistic scenario, requiring trust, communication and collaboration with our Israeli partners," Clark said. "The relationships built over the last two weeks help bolster our interoperability and pave the path for future engagements and exercises."

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and other leaders from both militaries observed the exercises at times.
Kaspersky’s ‘Slingshot’ report burned ISIS-focused intelligence operation
The U.S. government and Russian cybersecurity giant Kaspersky Lab are currently in the throes of a nasty legal fight that comes on top of a long-running feud over how the company has conducted itself with regard to U.S. intelligence-gathering operations.

A recent Kaspersky discovery may keep the feud alive for years to come.

CyberScoop has learned that Kaspersky research recently exposed an active, U.S.-led counterterrorism cyber-espionage operation. According to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, the operation was used to target ISIS and al-Qaeda members.

On March 9, Kaspersky publicly announced a malware campaign dubbed “Slingshot.” According to the company’s researchers, the campaign compromised thousands of devices through breached routers in various African and Middle Eastern countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Turkey and Yemen.

Kaspersky did not attribute Slingshot to any single country or government in its public report, describing it only as an advanced persistent threat (APT). But current and former U.S. intelligence officials tell CyberScoop that Slingshot represents a U.S. military program run out of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a component of Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi to serve 8 months for slapping soldier
The IDF West Bank prosecution and lawyers for Ahed Tamimi reached a plea deal on Wednesday which will see her serve a total of 8 months in prison.

The deal is not final as it has not yet been approved by the IDF West Bank Court, but if it goes through, Tamimi will serve about five more months, since she has already served around three months.

“Ahed will be home in a few months, but Israel is putting this child behind bars for eight months for calling for protests and slapping a soldier, after threatening her with years in jail,” said Human Rights Watch. “Plea bargains are the norm in Israel’s military justice system, which is characterized by prolonged pretrial detention, abuse of kids and sham trials.”

The IDF rejects criticism of plea bargains, arguing that they are the norm in many Western legal systems.

Coming only days after the IDF West Bank Courts refused Tamimi’s request for her trial to be public, the deal appears to indicate a realization that little more public attention would be garnered by holding a trial.

In February, the court said that it was standard procedure for trials for minors like Tamimi to be held out of public view in order to protect their interests as minors, and the court recently confirmed that decision.

Tamimi’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, had criticized the decision saying, “It’s strange that the court decided – after sending Ahed into detention until the end of her trial and after her name has already been publicized – that it is in her interests to conduct the trial far off from public view.”

Ultimately, the IDF prosecution also did not oppose the trial being open to the public.
Zoabi calls for ‘mass struggle’ against Israel after Tamimi verdict
Mass resistance and struggle against Israel are necessary to “liberate Palestine,” Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi said on Thursday.

“Ahed Tamimi is not just one, she is a whole generation... We are not waiting for the criminal [Israel] to understand,” Zoabi said. “We need to force it to leave through a struggle. Only a mass struggle will liberate Ahed and the Palestinian people.”

Zoabi made the comments in response to an announcement on Wednesday that Tamimi, a Palestinian teenager whose assault on IDF soldiers stationed outside her home can be seen in a viral online video, reached a plea deal, by which she will serve a total of eight months in prison.

The video sparked emotions for and against Tamimi. Some Israelis expressed pride that the IDF soldiers stood and took the blows and didn’t respond, while others said it made the army look weak. Meanwhile, Tamimi became a symbol for pro-Palestinian groups around the world, with the hashtag #NoWayToTreatAChild trending on social media after her arrest.

The Joint List MK said it is a success for the “resistance” that “Zionism, the last occupier in the world,” is afraid of a child, meaning Tamimi.

According to Zoabi, Tamimi is “being punished not because she committed a crime or hurt anyone, but because she did the right thing, and said to soldiers who were persecuting children: ‘I am not afraid of you.’ And she is a brave teen, and all of the occupier’s courts’ actions only make her courage greater.”

IDF had no right to be in the Tamimis’ yard, Zoabi added, saying: “We need to chase them out until the final stage, their total withdrawal.”

Last week, the Knesset Ethics Committee suspended Zoabi from the Knesset for a week for calling IDF soldiers “murderers,” which the panel said violates MKs’ vow to try to increase public trust in the Knesset.
Two Jordanians jailed for planning attacks for ISIS
Two Jordanians were sentenced on Wednesday to 10 years in jail with hard labor for planning attacks on the Amman embassies of Russia, Iran and Israel, AFP reported.

Jordan's state security court convicted the two men for having manufactured explosives and plotting attacks on behalf of "a terrorist group".

In the charge sheet seen by AFP, the two were accused of belonging to the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group and of planning to carry out bomb attacks in 2016 on the Russian, Iranian and Israeli embassies in Amman.

They were arrested in March 2016. A suicide bombing in June of that year claimed by ISIS near a border post with Syria killed seven Jordanian soldiers.

Jordan has been targeted by several terrorist attacks in recent years, particularly since it became a leading member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

At least one hundred detainees have been sentenced to death in Jordan in recent years, many on charges related to membership in Islamist groups, who could face capital punishment.
JCPA: Mahmoud Abbas May Impose New Sanctions on Gaza
On March 21, 2018, a senior source in the Palestinian Authority informed the Al-Khaleej Online website that the new sanctions would come into force at the beginning of April at the latest, and the situation in Gaza will become even more dangerous.
Abbas’ Draconian Measures

Abbas intends to paralyze daily life and increase the level of poverty in the Gaza Strip. According to this source, the sanctions will include the following measures:

Importation of food and merchandise into Gaza will be prohibited.
Restrictions will be imposed on exports and imports.
High taxes will be imposed on tradesmen to put a stop to their activities.
Government employees will face a further wage decrease. Instead of the current 30 percent, wages will be slashed by 50 percent.
Loans will no longer be given.
Welfare payments to 70,000 families in Gaza will be stopped.
Medical care will be cut.
Power will be reduced, and there will be no more payments to the Israeli Mekorot water company for Gaza’s water supply.
Bank accounts belonging to Palestinian officials, companies, and institutions will be closed.
Hamas official: Main suspect in attack on PA prime minister dies after shootout
Two Hamas police officers were killed Thursday morning in a shootout that also killed the main suspect in the bombing of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s convoy in the Gaza Strip earlier this month, Hamas said.

The Hamas raid on the Al Nusseirat refugee camp in the Strip came hours after the terror group announced that it had identified a man named Anas Abu Khoussa as the main suspect in the bombing of the convoy.

Salah Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official, initially said that Abu Khoussa and two of his aides were taken into custody. The Hamas-run interior ministry later said Abu Khoussa had been killed along with an accomplice, Abd al Hadi al Ashhab.

A third suspect was arrested.

The ministry had offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who provides information that would lead to the capture of Abu Khoussa.

A spokesperson for the ministry said Thursday morning that security forces had surrounded a house in Al Nusseirat, in the central Gaza Strip, where a number of fugitives were believed to be hiding.

An exchange of gunfire erupted between the fugitives and the Hamas security officers, he added, without providing further details.
PA: Hamas claims that it killed convoy bombing suspect are ‘illogical’
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday dismissed Hamas’s claims that it killed the suspect behind the bombing attack against the convoy of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah earlier this month, saying its story was “flimsy.”

The PA accused Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, of “creating flimsy and illogical accounts” about the circumstances surrounding Thursday’s raid on a house in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, where the prime suspect, Anas Abu Khoussa, was hiding.

Hamas said that Abu Khoussa, one of his aides and two Hamas police officers were killed during the raid.

Hamas official Salah Bardaweel initially said that Abu Khoussa had been arrested together with two of his accomplices. Some reports initially said that Abu Khoussa had suffered moderate to serious wounds during the raid.

However, the Hamas-run Ministry of Interior later announced that Abu Khoussa had been killed during an exchange of gunfire with the Hamas police force that surrounded the house he was hiding in.

A man who was with Abu Khoussa, and who was identified as Abd al Hadi al Ashhab, was also killed, the ministry said.
Palestinian protesters burn Abbas effigy in Gaza rally
Dozens of Palestinians, supporters of a group that is close to Hamas, rallied in Gaza City on Wednesday to protest against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who recently gave a speech in which he threatened to impose additional financial sanctions against Gaza's rulers.

Activists of al-Ahrar movement, established after Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, burnt an effigy of the Palestinian leader and held posters reading "Abbas does not represent me."

"Because we think that the latest speech by Mahmoud Abbas has caused big damage, we say that we have to, as Palestinians, look to the phase that will come after Mahmoud Abbas. We believe that Abbas has become the main problem for achieving the national reconciliation and achieving the national unity," said Khaled Abu Helal, secretary general of al-Ahrar movement.

Abbas, speaking at a Palestinian leadership gathering on Monday, blamed Hamas for a bomb attack last week on the convoy of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza, remarks that threatened reconciliation efforts with the Islamist terrorist group.

Abbas said Hamas would have to give up control of the Gaza Strip or risk taking full responsibility for the enclave and its two million residents without any help from his Western-backed Palestinian Authority.
Hamas seeking alliance with Iran, Hezbollah to foil Trump peace plan – report
Hamas has bolstered its relations with Iran and Hezbollah and is consulting with Russia and China as part of an effort to thwart US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East, Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip said Thursday.

“Hamas is working to forge a Palestinian-Arab-Islamic alliance that would be able to confront Trump’s plan,” a source said.

“Discussions with Iran and Hezbollah on this matter have gone a long way.”

The sources in the Gaza Strip told the London-based Al Hayat newspaper that the discussions between the three parties — Hamas, Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah — were based on the belief that Trump’s plan, which he has described as the “deal of the century,” was the “most dangerous” in the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

“Regional changes have put Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian cause in front of big dangers,” a source told the newspaper’s correspondent in the Gaza Strip. “This requires unifying all efforts to confront and thwart [Trump’s plan] and safeguard the Palestinian cause.”

It was not immediately clear what type of pushback effort the three would mount in opposition to the US proposal, which reports have indicated is nearly finished.

Hamas is also conducting consultations with Arab, Islamic and foreign parties, including Russia and China, to discuss ways of confronting Trump’s peace plan, the sources said.
Get Hamas Off Twitter
Hamas regularly attacks and incites violence against Israelis.

The result? Hamas openly and proudly claims responsibility for the murder of more than 1,300 Israeli victims.

Disturbingly, Hamas has been allowed to use Twitter to advance its violent and hateful agenda.

This is wrong. Countless democracies, including Canada, the United States, and the European Union have rightly designated Hamas as a terrorist group. This means it is a crime for citizens to be a member or provide material support to this violent organization.

If Hamas can’t open a bank account in Canada, why should it be allowed to have a Twitter account?

Help us cut off Hamas’ link to nearly half-a-million online followers. Join us in calling on Twitter to shut down Hamas’ accounts.

Report: Syria may be building an underground nuclear facility
A Washington-based think tank said Wednesday that Syria may be building a new, underground nuclear facility, but stressed that as satellite images of the activity in the site's suspected area are inconclusive, the purpose of the site remains unknown.

The Institute for Science and International Security issued its review just hours after Israel officially claimed the 2007 bombing of a suspected nuclear reactor in Al-Kubar, in the Deir ez-Zor region in eastern Syria.

In a statement on its website, the Institute for Science and International Security said that the Qusayr site in western Syria "warrants inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, even though accomplishing such inspections may have to wait until the Syrian conflict ends," and warned that "any nuclear-related facility in Syria could involve considerable assistance from North Korea, given that Pyongyang provided extensive assistance in the construction of the Al-Kubar reactor."

The review of the issue, penned by former IAEA official David Albright together with Sarah Burkhard, Allison Lach and Frank Pabian, said that the institute decided to "revisit a series of claims made in a 2015 Der Spiegel report regarding the Qusayr site in Syria," and noted that Israel's action in 2007 "serves to highlight once again the lack of accounting for Syria's past nuclear weapons program and the location of any assets remaining from that program.

"This includes possibly tens of metric tons of uranium fuel and other equipment or materials associated with nuclear fuel fabrication and plutonium separation, that likely existed as key elements of the Al-Kubar reactor project."
Khamenei: US created Islamic State to distract region from ‘Zionist regime’
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran has neutralized US plans in the Middle East, in a speech Wednesday marking the Persian New Year.

“Those who interfere in all the affairs of the world protest and ask: ‘Why does Iran intervene in the affairs of Iraq and Syria?’ What is it to you? The Islamic Republic of Iran has succeeded in neutralizing US plans in the region,” he said.

Khamenei accused the United States of planning to “create oppressive and rebel groups like Daesh [the Islamic State group] to distract people in the region from the Zionist regime [Israel] and keep them occupied with internal conflicts.”

The Iranian leader’s speech was delivered in the holy city of Masshad and broadcast on state television.

Iran has supported the governments of Syria and Iraq by sending “military advisers” and its own “volunteers” along with Afghans and Pakistanis to fight jihadists and rebels.

Its presence in the region has been denounced by the United States as well as France, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Saudi Arabia: What About the Hate-Filled Textbooks and Sermons?
Recent analyses by experts on religious freedom cite the continued prejudicial declarations against Christians, Jews and Western civilization in Saudi educational textbooks as evidence that Saudi Arabia still bears ill will against the "infidel" West.

Saudi Arabia has failed to meet agreed-upon deadlines to remove objectionable language from educational texts.

The current Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir, seemed falsely to imply that hateful language appears only in past, discontinued textbooks and that current textbooks are being purged of any offensive language.

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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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