Tuesday, April 24, 2018

From Ian:

Israel Survives Because of an Iron Will and an Iron Wall
In the run-up to this week’s 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence, Israeli Defense Forces chief of Staff General Gabi Eisenkot pronounced the country “invincible.”

This was a bold statement. The country faces a growing threat from Iran and its puppets in Lebanon and Gaza, and the possibility of a clash with Russia over Syria. And yet, few Israelis have disagreed with this assessment.

There is mood of confidence here, and its origin lies in a doctrine of strategic defense that has proven itself over nearly a century of intermittent warfare.

That doctrine was first enunciated in an article in 1923 entitled “The Iron Wall.” Its author was Ze’ev Jabotinsky, a visionary Zionist leader and the ideological father of the Likud.

At the time of its publication, the Jews of Palestine were a small, embattled minority. Only three years had passed since the first Arab riots in Jerusalem against them. The Jewish community’s socialist leaders hoped they could appease Arab enmity by offering economic cooperation, progress and prosperity.

Jabotinsky derided this as childish, and insulting to the Arabs, who would not barter away their homeland for more bread or modern railroads. They would, he said, resist while they had a spark of hope of preventing a Jewish state.

“There is only one thing the Zionists want, and that is the one thing the Arabs do not want,” he wrote. Nothing short of abandoning the Zionist project would placate Arab hostility and violence. If the Jews wanted to remain, they would have to come to terms with a harsh reality: This was a zero-sum game. There could be no peace until the Arabs accepted Israel’s right to exist.

Jabotinsky saw that the Arabs (in Palestine and beyond) were far too numerous to be defeated in a single decisive war. The Jews needed to erect an iron wall of self-defense and deterrence -- a metaphorical wall built of Jewish determination, immigration, material progress, strong democratic institutions and a willingness to fight. Gradually, the enemy would be forced to conclude that this wall could not be breached.
PMW: Fatah names camp for kids after arch-terrorist responsible for murder of 125 Israelis
The Palestinian Authority and Abbas' Fatah continue their terror role modeling, presenting terrorist murderers as heroes to Palestinian youth. This month, 600 high school students belonging to Fatah's Shabiba youth movement in Jenin are participating in the "Martyr Abu Jihad Camp." The camp is held at a facility of the PA National Security Forces:

"The Fatah Movement's Jenin branch, in cooperation with [Fatah's] Jenin region leadership, held the third coexistence camp under the title Martyr Abu Jihad Camp, and this was at the [PA] National Security [Forces] camp Horsh Al-Saada. The camp will last for an entire month, three days a week, and 600 students from the [Fatah] High School Shabiba will participate in it." [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 7, 2018]

The PA Ministry of Education emphasized the importance of the terrorist's heritage to students in all PA schools via school radio:

"Director-General of Student Activities and Spokesman of the [PA] Ministry [of Education] Sadeq Al-Khadour said that as part of the activities in the schools, broadcasts of the radio stations in the schools were dedicated to talking about the prisoners in the occupation's prisons and the life of Martyr Khalil Al-Wazir." [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 18, 2018]

Abu Jihad (Khalil Al-Wazir) was a founder of Fatah and deputy to Yasser Arafat. He headed the PLO terror organization's military wing and also planned many deadly Fatah terror attacks in the 1960's - 1980's. These attacks, in which a total of 125 Israelis were murdered, included the most lethal in Israeli history - the hijacking of a bus and murder of 37 civilians, 12 of them children.

On the occasion of the anniversary of Abu Jihad's so-called "Martyrdom," the PA, Fatah, and Fatah's Bethlehem branch in particular made a point of glorifying the arch-terrorist as a great heroic Palestinian leader, vowing to remain "loyal" to his "path."
Im Tirtzu: New Israel Fund: “Subversive Political Organization Operating as Opposition in Israel”
A new campaign launched by the Zionist organization Im Tirtzu is calling on the Israeli government to end all cooperation with the New Israel Fund.

The campaign will see billboards titled “Ridding Israel of the NIF” displayed throughout the country, the first of which, a 100-foot sign, was displayed this morning on Tel-Aviv’s Ayalon Highway.

The billboard depicts NIF President Talia Sasson as harming IDF soldiers, and states that the NIF has transferred over 310 million NIS ($87 million) to “activities against IDF soldiers and the State of Israel.”

According to Im Tirtzu, the campaign’s goal is to expose the NIF as a foreign political organization operating as a political opposition within Israel against the government and IDF, while engaging in anti-Israel lawfare by means of its grantees in the Supreme Court.

At the same time, Im Tirtzu published a new position paper detailing what it dubs the NIF’s M.O. in wiping Israel of the map. The position paper, titled “The Roadmap to Israel’s Destruction,” comes in the form of an Israeli map and accuses the NIF and its grantees of exploiting various issues in the country in order to accuse Israel of perpetrating war crimes, ethnic cleansing, apartheid and other crimes against humanity.

The report also notes how many NIF grantees receive extensive funding from European governments, the European Union and United Nations.

Dennis Ross: How Hamas exploits the people of Gaza: Protests clarify their cynical tactics
Hamas leaders have little interest in breaching the Egyptian border, knowing the casualties would be high and the international response minimal.

The risk now is escalation and another conflict between Hamas and Israel, leaving Gaza even more devastated. With its leaders believing they have little to lose, just one thing could change the Hamas calculus: the prospect of real change on the ground in Gaza.

The Trump administration needs to translate its recent pledging conference for projects in Gaza into a plan of action and a public challenge.

Since it lacks credibility with Palestinians, it would be smart to get Europeans and Arabs to issue a joint public statement declaring that they are ready, immediately, to implement projects on electricity generation, water and sewage treatment and reconstruction, provided there is no risk of escalation with Israel. No one is going to fund infrastructure projects that will be destroyed in another conflict.

It is time to create a stark public choice for Hamas: stop escalating tensions, and important rebuilding work will begin. Hamas leaders may treat the Palestinian public as pawns, but they are not indifferent to public pressure. It is time to create it.
Understanding the Hamas rift
Tensions within Hamas' leadership that caused a rift between the two strongest and influential people in the movement today – Ismail Haniyeh, the political bureau chief, and Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip – have been brewing for a long time now. Disagreements on the organization's policy and conduct regarding the "March of Return" campaign of recent weeks triggered an inevitable explosion between the two leaders who, according to Hamas officials, have not exchanged a word in months. As a result, the Hamas leadership is currently split between two camps.

Sinwar is displeased with the fact that Haniyeh has chosen to remain in Gaza. This decision breaks with years of tradition, as his predecessor, former political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, managed the movement's affairs from Syria before moving operations to Qatar. Sinwar has complained to his associates that Haniyeh was intervening in internal affairs, namely organizational matters concerning the movement's policy and administration in Gaza and in the West Bank, and circumventing Sinwar by going over his head.

Sinwar has also largely stayed away from public events in Gaza in recent months, in protest of Haniyeh's over-involvement in matters that directly fall under Sinwar's authority. His participation in the first border demonstration in late March was his first appearance after weeks of refraining from showing up at public events attended by Haniyeh.
The real story behind Gaza's marches: The Gazans who chose to stay home
In a recorded phone message in Arabic, the IDF warned a representative of a Gaza-based bus company not to drive participants to the protest near the Gaza-Israel border.

One might expect the representative to put up more of a fight. After all, the marches’ organizers portrayed them as a popular Palestinian response to the ongoing Israeli occupation and as an attempt to redraw the attention of the international community to the plight of the Palestinians.

Surprisingly, however, the Gazan went out of his way to convince the Israeli soldier that the bus company had no intention of neither participating nor driving people to the protest. It was Hamas, the representative said, that intimidated, jailed, and replaced the company’s drivers with other drivers who eventually drove the protesters to the march.

Considering that the march was indeed a popular response of Gaza’s population, the representative’s claims seem odd. But in fact, the relatively low number of participants indicates the general mood in the Gaza Strip. The real story behind the weekly marches near the Israel-Gaza border is not the minority of the strip’s residents who have been protesting there. The story is about over a million Gazans who preferred to stay home.

The ordinary Palestinian is not only politically weary, he is also increasingly alienated from his leadership and political institutions as venues to propel a meaningful change in his life. Under such circumstances, responding to Hamas’ calls to protest and risk one’s lives by marching towards the border makes little sense. Palestinians might now search for other ways to change the current situation.
2 armed Gazans cross into Israel, are arrested
IDF soldiers arrested two Palestinian men who crossed into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, armed with a grenade and a knife, on Tuesday morning, the army said.

The military said the suspects were picked up shortly after they entered Israeli territory.

They were handed over to the Shin Bet security service for further questioning, the army said.

It was not immediately clear what the suspects’ intentions were in Israel. There have been multiple cases of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip entering Israel with weapons with the goal of being arrested and sent to prison, seeing incarceration in Israel as preferable to life in the coastal enclave.

The security situation along the Gaza border has been tense over the past month. Thousands of Palestinians have gathered regularly along the border for demonstrations that have included attempts to damage the security fence around the Strip, as well as violent actions against Israel, notably the sending of kites bearing burning containers over the border in order to set fire to farmland.
IsraellyCool: What Was a Deaf & Mute Palestinian Teen Doing at Violent Riots?
Ma’an News reports on the death of palestinian Arab teenager Tahrir Mahmoud Wahba, after wounds he sustained during one of the recent “March of Return” riots.

Yes, he was deaf. Actually, deaf and mute if some other reports are to be believed.

Think about it: how would this teenager hear any warning shots or pleas to move away from the border fence?

It is bad enough that the palestinians encourage their young to be involved in violent riots; it is even worse when that includes those who run an extra risk of getting hurt and killed due to a disability.

Oh, and did I mention he had a specific death wish?

Al Jazeera Host: If Not for Hamas, Palestinians ‘Would Be Slaves’
Al Jazeera host Jamal Rayyan posted comments on YouTube last month in condemnation of Israel and in support of Hamas and jihadism.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a non-profit think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C., found and translated a March 27 YouTube video from Rayyan where he discussed Palestine.

"Why does Palestine have to fight on behalf of the Arabs? Why does it have to guard the Al-Aqsa Mosque on behalf of the Arabs? Why does it have to defend their honor on their behalf?" Rayyan said.

"Why do the Palestinians have to die in order to get their message across? By Allah, if not for the Al-Aqsa Brigades and the PFLP, they would be trampled underfoot. If not for Hamas, they would be slaves. If not for the Islamic Jihad, they would become dust," he said.

Rayyan went on to declare "Palestine will return" and it will "spew out that which is foreign," specifically refering to "the Zionist entity," a pejorative for Israel.
Honest Reporting: Headline Fail: Sanitizing a Hamas Terrorist
The New York Times once wrote that Hamas founder Mahmoud Zahar, a qualified surgeon was asked in an interview his medical specialty:

“Thyroids: I’m very good at cutting throats,” Dr. Zahar said, drawing his forefinger across his neck as a rare smile spread across his face.

Another Hamas founder Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi was a certified physician before meeting his end in an Israeli targeted killing.

Does the fact that these two individuals are and were, respectively, qualified medical professionals, lessen their involvement as head of a vicious terrorist organization?

Of course not.

So why has a Financial Times headline chosen to focus on Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh’s profession in its coverage of his apparent assassination in Malaysia?

In B'Tselem clip, IDF soldiers cheer after shooting protester near Nablus
A two-minute video released by Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem on Tuesday contains footage of three IDF soldiers cheering after one of them shoots a rubber bullet at a Palestinian protester, who is not shown in the clip.

The accompanying B'Tselem report states that at approximately 2:00 in the afternoon on Friday, April 13, clashes erupted outside the Palestinian village of Madama, near Nablus, after residents tried to remove a roadblock placed by the IDF at the eastern entrance to the village.

About a dozen soldiers then arrived on the scene and responded by shooting stun grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets at the residents, who threw stones at them. According to the report, the stone-throwers were some 50-80 meters away from the soldiers.

In the video, one of the soldiers is shown taking aim at a Palestinian, shooting, and then gleefully exclaiming "I hit him! The son of a bitch."

One of his comrades then quiets him down, saying, "Stay professional."
Steven Mnuchin set to lead 250 strong US delegation at Jerusalem embassy opening
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is to lead a delegation of 250 people from the United States, including some 40 politicians, to the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem next month, Channel 10 news reported Sunday.

Mnuchin will be accompanied by US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, as well as 40 senators and representatives, the report said.

The Times of Israel first reported last week that Kushner and Ivanka Trump were likely to attend.

Kushner has been a key architect of the US administration’s efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

The delegation will fly in to attend the official dedication ceremony for the US Embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood on May 14, the TV report said.

Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham are reportedly expected to attend, as is Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt. The group is also expected to include Jewish leaders and heads of pro-Israel Christian organizations.
U.S. Ambassador: Jerusalem under Israeli Rule a "Model for Coexistence"
Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty is a “model for coexistence” among the three major monotheistic religions, the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Monday.

At a panel discussion in the capital, the envoy also said intelligence cooperation between the two countries has saved American lives. At the same time, he expressed concern over young Americans’ weakening connection to Israel.

“When you think of the conflicts that have raged over centuries, and now you look at Jerusalem under the sovereignty of the Israeli government, how it’s been able to maintain the openness that it’s had — rather than a place of conflict, it’s actually the model for coexistence in the world,” Friedman said at an event to mark Israel’s 70th birthday held at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

His comments came less than a month before the US Embassy will formally relocate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that is welcomed by Israel, opposed by much of the international community, and has particularly enraged large parts of the Muslim world.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in 1967 and subsequently annexed, as the capital of a state they seek to establish.
Dore Gold: Israel Will Safeguard the Holy Sites of All Faiths in Jerusalem

US Embassy opening in Jerusalem to include rare mezuzah ceremony
As part of the May 14 ceremony to mark the official opening of the U.S. Embassy, a mezuzah will be affixed to the embassy building. According to a Channel 20 report, organizers decided on the unusual move of holding a religious ceremony to install the mezuzah as a gesture to Israel and following the recommendation of U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

At a special event to mark the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, Monday, Friedman said he sees Jerusalem as a religious place.

"I hope that young Jews, in particular children, will connect to their Jewish and Israeli roots," he said.

Meanwhile, preparations ahead of the May 14 transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem are continuing apace. Work is being carried out on the site that also holds the consulate building on David Flusser Street in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood. In the initial stage following the transfer, the U.S. Embassy will be situated in what is now the U.S. Consulate building.
Germany says every state can name capital, but not Jerusalem
The German government affirmed last week that every country has the right to name its own capital, but argued that the status of Jerusalem can only be settled through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

“As a matter of principle, every state has the right to determine a city in its territory to be its capital,” Niels Annen, a minister of state in Germany’s Foreign Ministry, stated in response to a query by a lawmaker from the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

Annen cited Israel’s 1980 Basic Law: Jerusalem, which declares that the “complete and united” city is the Jewish state’s capital, and added: “Since the eastern part of Jerusalem that Israel occupied in 1967 contrary to international law is not part of Israel’s sovereign territory, the international community, including Germany, has not recognized this declaration.”

In his written response Friday, Annen cited United Nations Security Council Resolution 478, which in 1980 proclaimed that Israel’s declaration on united Jerusalem being its capital “constitutes a violation of international law.”

Annen, a Social Democrat, also cited Article XVII of the 1995 Oslo Accords, which states that Jerusalem is one of the issues “that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations.” He also referred to a European Council decision from 2014 that said that a way “must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states,” referring to Israel and a future Palestinian state.
Palestinian U.N. aid still $200 million short after Trump cuts
Emergency food aid for around a million Palestinians in Gaza may run out from June if the UN agency for Palestinian refugees cannot raise another $200 million following a cut-off in US funding, the agency said on Tuesday.

Pierre Kraehenbuehl, who heads the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) providing aid for Palestinians across the Middle East, said US President Donald Trump had withheld $305 million in funding, far more than the $65 million reported in January.

"You already have a very, very fragile community [in Gaza]," Kraehenbuehl told Reuters in an interview during an international donor conference in Syria in Brussels.

"So if you suddenly have no certainty about the amount of food aid coming from the UN for a million people ... you can just imagine the kind of effects it could have," he said, although he stressed he was not justifying any link to potential outbreaks of unrest.

Gulf states, Norway and Canada have stepped in with a total of $200 million to help meet a planned $465 million budget for 2018. The United States, long the biggest donor to the agency, is providing just $60 million of a promised $365 million, Kraehenbuehl said.

That leaves a $200 million shortfall to fill for rice, flour, sugar and also to keep funding schools in Gaza and the West Bank.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Poll: Party With Sharansky, Batman, Gandhi, Steve Jobs Could Beat Netanyahu (satire)
Political commentators and operatives buzzed with excitement this week following the publication of a survey that found incumbent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vulnerable to a “dream team” of figures who, if they formed a party in time for the next parliamentary election, would unseat him.

Researchers from the Mina Tzemach institute and Channel Two asked 431 Israelis how they would vote if elections were held now, and found that Likud under Netanyahu would attract enough votes to retain 21 of its current 30 seats, but would only garner the second-highest total if the field were to feature a new party boasting names such as Batman, Gandhi, Steve Jobs, and current Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky. Labor and HaTnua, currently forming the Zionist Union alliance, would all but disappear. The poll had a possible sampling error of plus or minus two percentage points.

Analysts and political hopefuls rushed to suggest how such a party might come into being. “There should be enough time to get at least the fundraising infrastructure in place,” gushed Isaac Herzog, current Opposition leader and former Labor Party chief. “I would consider leaving my ancestral home party of Labor under the right circumstances, and teaming up with Batman would lend me the gravitas and masculinity I’m unable to project on my own. I need someone to complement me in that department. Thus my alliance with Tzipi Livni, for example.”
Israeli officer injured by gunfire during demolition of alleged terrorist’s home
A Border Police officer was lightly wounded early Tuesday when Palestinians opened fire on security forces who entered Jenin to demolish the home of an alleged terrorist, the IDF said.

IDF soldiers and Border Police successfully demolished the home of Ahmed Kunba, who has been charged as an accomplice in the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach near the West Bank settlement of Havat Gilad earlier this year

Palestinians also hurled explosive devices and stones at the forces after they entered the northern part of the West Bank city with a bulldozer to carry out the demolition, the military said in a statement.

The wounded female officer was taken to a hospital for treatment, the statement said.

Shevach, a father of six, was murdered by Ahmad Nassar Jarrar on January 9 in a drive-by shooting, as he traveled down the highway outside the Havat Gilad illegal outpost where he lived.

Kunba was charged with attempted murder earlier this month for his alleged role in the attack.

He was also accused of plotting and carrying out several other security offenses along with Jarrar. According to the charge sheet, among several attempted attacks against Israeli civilians or soldiers, the two opened fire on a bus, and unsuccessfully attempted to infiltrate the settlement of Dotan.

Kunba’s lawyer, Fadi Qawasameh, told the court that his client’s testimony was obtained by Israeli authorities under duress, and should be invalidated.

Jarrar escaped after the attack, but was killed in a shootout with IDF troops outside Jenin less than a month later.

According to the Shin Bet, troops from the Israel Defense Forces, Shin Bet and Israel Police’s Special Patrol Unit arrived at the building where Jarrar was hiding in the village of Yamoun, near Jenin, on February 6, following a “determined and complicated intelligence and operational effort.”

When Jarrar, 22, exited the building, he was armed with an M-16 assault rifle and a bag of explosives, prompting the Israeli troops to open fire and kill him, the Shin Bet said.
Israel retaliates after errant mortar shell falls in Golan Heights
The IDF fired on a Syrian-regime position after a mortar shell landed near the security fence on the northern Golan Heights on Monday, the army announced.

The shell, which hit Israeli territory, is believed to be spillover from fighting across the border in Syria.

In response, the IDF fired a precision artillery strike on a Syrian military position in the area from which the mortar was fired.

Against the backdrop of tension between Israel and Syria, the head of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) arrived for the first time in Israel for an official meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and with Israeli National Security Council members as well as senior IDF officials.

According to an IDF statement given to The Jerusalem Post, Gen. Joseph L. Vote is in Israel “in order to strengthen the connection between the armies and discuss security issues in the region.”

“This is the first time that the CENTCOM commander has visited Israel,” the statement added.

“The IDF views the Syrian regime as responsible for everything in its territory and will not tolerate any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its residents.”
Hamas rift prevents potential prisoner swap with Israel
A deep rift has formed within the Hamas leadership surrounding the ongoing, weekly Gaza border protests that have claimed the lives of dozens of demonstrators so far, with more demonstrations planned for the coming weeks.

A quarrel has erupted between the two strongest figures in the group – Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar and Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh, Israel Hayom recently learned from senior Hamas sources.

The rift exacerbated an already strained relationship between the two influential Hamas leaders, which "exploded" after Haniyeh snubbed Egyptian efforts to discuss a possible prisoner swap deal with Israel and an easing of the blockade on Gaza in exchange for a cessation of the border demonstrations. The protests, which began last month, have been fatal, with at least four demonstrators killed last Friday alone.

A delegation of Egyptian intelligence and security officials visiting Gaza submitted a proposal to Haniyeh: In exchange for Hamas halting demonstrations on the border with Israel, Egypt would open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza more frequently and grant additional entry passes, allowing an increased flow of travelers and goods between Gaza and Egypt.
Parents of murdered Palestinian teen seek damages from Jewish killers
The family of a Palestinian teenager who was kidnapped and brutally murdered by three Jewish extremists in 2014 filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday claiming millions of shekels in damages from the culprits.

The parents of victim Muhammad Abu Khdeir demanded NIS 5.5 million ($1.54 million) from the three assailants — ringleader Yosef Haim Ben-David and his two nephews, who have not been named because they were minors at the time of the killing.

Abu Khdeir, 16, was abducted and killed in East Jerusalem on July 1, 2014. An autopsy found that he had had been beaten and then burned alive in a forest in Jerusalem.

“There is no doubt that there is no fair compensation for the simply outrageous loss of a young man’s life,” read the civil lawsuit, which was filed at the Jerusalem District Court. “And all this, while the defendants intended to deliberately harm the deceased and behaved with indifference and cynicism to the most terrible outcome — the deceased’s death under terrible suffering, and have no pity for the parents of the deceased who remained destitute after the death of their son.”
Killing of engineer a possible blow to Malaysian terror hotbed
While Turkey has in recent years become the seat of Hamas' central headquarters, Malaysia has for years served as the training center for operatives of the military wing of the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip.

Should Saturday's killing of Palestinian engineer and member of Hamas Fadi Albatsh be revealed as a plan orchestrated and executed by the Mossad, as Hamas claims, it could very well be an attempt to strike at the safe haven enjoyed by Hamas operatives in the Asian country, or to hinder their initial training stage.

In recent years, the Shin Bet has uncovered a large number of cases in which Hamas terrorists have been trained in Malaysia and received regular military training with the tacit agreement between Hamas and the Muslim state.

In January 2013, a few months after Operation Pillar of Defense, Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia visited the Gaza Strip. He expressed regret over the assassination of Hamas chief of staff Ahmed Jabari at the beginning of the operation and laid a cornerstone for the rebuilding of a Hamas government building that was destroyed in an Israeli attack.

A year later, the Shin Bet arrested Wassim Kawasma, who was recruited with several other Palestinians during their academic studies in Malaysia. The IDF arrested another member of the Hamas military wing in Khan Yunis, who admitted that he had been sent by Hamas to Malaysia along with ten other militants to train in paragliding for an attack in Israel.

The training in Malaysia was conducted under strict secrecy and was revealed by Israel only after the arrest of one of the militants who took part in it and was captured during Operation Protective Edge.
Egypt says it will allow Hamas rocket expert’s body into Gaza — report
Egypt reportedly informed Israel on Tuesday it will allow the passage of the body of a Hamas rocket and drone expert, assassinated in Malaysia over the weekend, into the coastal enclave for burial.

According to Hadashot news, officials in Egypt spoke to their Israeli counterparts and confirmed that the remains of Palestinian rocket engineer Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, gunned down in Malaysia on Saturday, will be transported to the Gaza Strip through Egypt, despite requests from Jerusalem not to comply with the request.

The Egyptian officials also stressed that they remain committed to the return of the Israelis held by the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza, the TV report said.

Batsh’s family said the body would be flown to Egypt and enter the Palestinian enclave Wednesday at 2 p.m. through the Rafah crossing. Batsh’s wife and three children would also be granted access, according to the claim.
Qatari Ambassador Plays Semantics with Definition of Terrorism
Hamas is not a terrorist organization and his country has nothing to do with terrorism, Qatari counterterrorism envoy Ambassador Mutlaq Al-Qahtani told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). But that all depends on your definition of terrorism.

Al-Qahtani spoke on April 9 at the National Press Club at an event sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE), a group that works to undermine the appeal of ISIS using counter-messaging videos.

“Qatar has not, does not, and will never support terrorism in any form,” Al-Qahtani said.

Terrorism is a subjective term, he said, and there is no globally-accepted definition. Qatar views Hamas as a “legitimate political force and governing party,” ICSVE founder Anne Speckhard wrote on her group’s website in January. Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in 2014 that Hamas is not a terrorist group because it is “a very important component of the Palestinian people.”
Senior Hezbollah member killed in home explosion
A senior member of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror organization was killed Tuesday following an explosion at his home in Sidon, Lebanese media reported.

Hezbollah sources told the LBCI news outlet that Bilal Hassan Abdo died in the hospital of injuries he sustained when a gas balloon exploded in his home.

Other media reports suggested the explosion may have been caused by munitions Abdo had in the building. Security forces cordoned off the area as explosive experts prepared to investigate the cause of the blast, Lebanon24 reported.
Report: Israel asks Russia not to deliver S-300 systems to Syria
Israel has asked Moscow not to deliver advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, a Russian diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said Monday.

An Israeli government spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that Russia had not yet decided whether it would deliver the missile systems to Syria, but would not make it a secret if the matter is decided, the TASS news agency reported.

Earlier Monday, citing unnamed military sources, Russia's daily Kommersant newspaper reported that Russia might start supplying the anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria in the near future.

Lavrov said Friday that Western military strikes on Syria earlier this month, launched in response to alleged poison gas attacks on a rebel-held town near Damascus, had removed any moral obligations the Russians may have had to refrain from supplying the Syrian regime, Russia's ally, with the missile systems.

"We'll have to wait to see what specific decisions the Russian leadership and representatives of Syria will take," TASS cited Lavrov as saying Monday during a visit to Beijing.

"There is probably no secret about this and it can all be announced," Lavrov added.
Liberman: Israel would destroy Syrian S-300 if it attacked our jets
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday downplayed Israeli concerns over Russia’s purported plans to outfit the Syrian military with its powerful S-300 air defense system, but stressed that Israel would retaliate if such a battery were used against its aircraft.

“What’s important is that defense systems being supplied by Russia to Syria aren’t used against us,” Liberman said during a live interview with the Ynet news site.

“One thing needs to be clear: If someone shoots at our planes, we will destroy them. It doesn’t matter if it’s an S-300 or an S-700,” he said.

On Monday, the Russian daily Kommersant reported that Moscow was getting closer to delivering the S-300 missile defense system to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, despite Israel’s efforts to prevent it.

The Russian Foreign Ministry later denied parts of the article, saying that a decision about the transfer of the S-300 had yet to be made.

Trump warns Iran against restarting nuclear program, calls deal ‘insane’
US President Donald Trump warned Iran on Tuesday against reviving its nuclear program if the United States walks away from the 2015 nuclear deal next month.

“If they restart their nuclear program, they will have bigger problems than they ever had before,” Trump said Tuesday morning, sitting alongside French President Emmanuel Macron in the Oval Office.

Before the two leaders were set to have a bilateral meeting, Trump called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally known, a “terrible deal” that was “insane” and “ridiculous.”

The US president criticized the accord for failing to address Iran’s ballistic missile testing or regional activities in Syria or Yemen.

As a P5+1 member and signatory of the international agreement, France has urged Trump not to leave the deal. Two days ago, Macron said he had “no plan B” if the United States exits the pact and throws its sustainability into doubt.

The American president said the two leaders would discuss the Iran deal in their private meeting.

“We made this terrible deal but we’re going to discuss it,” he said.

Macron, for his part, said the deal must be considered in its regional context and broader ramifications for the Middle East.
Report: Israel presses Italy to stop blocking sanctions against Iran
Israel has been pressing Italy in recent weeks to stop blocking new EU sanctions against Iran, Channel 10 reported on Tuesday. Senior officials told the Israeli broadcaster that earlier in April, Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem invited Italian Ambassador to Israel Gianluigi Benedetti for a meeting in Tel Aviv to express his dissatisfaction with the Italian position which prevents the implementation of further sanctions on the Iranian regime.

According to the report, the consent of all 28 member states of the European Union is necessary in order to approve the new sanctions against the Islamic republic and Italy is the only country opposing the program.

This new package of sanctions was introduced by Britain, France and Germany, aiming to stifle the Iranian missile program as well Iranian activities in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. The program was intended to show the Trump government that the EU is serious in its activity against Iran and thus persuade the American president not to withdraw from the nuclear agreement.

The Italian ambassador, in the meeting with the Foreign Ministry Director General, clarified that his country was blocking sanctions against Iran because they believed the timing was not suitable.
Iran Warns Trump It Might Withdraw From Non-Proliferation Treaty
A senior Iranian official said on Tuesday that Tehran might quit a treaty designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons if US President Donald Trump scraps the nuclear accord Iran signed with world powers in 2015.

Trump has said that unless European allies fix what he has called “terrible flaws” in the accord by May 12, he will restore U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, which would be a severe blow to the pact.

The other powers that signed it — Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France — have all said they want to preserve the agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of most international sanctions.

In a news conference broadcast on state television, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, said the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran was ready for some “surprising actions” if the nuclear deal was scrapped.

Answering a question about the possibility of Tehran withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Shamkhani said: “This is one of three options that we are considering.”

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