Friday, April 27, 2018

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Three islands of exceptionalism in west's darkest hour
It is those liberal internationalists, after all, who are primarily responsible for the antisemitism and vilification of Israel now coursing through the Western intelligentsia.

And these same British and American liberals are also busily vilifying Britain and America, trying to destroy and transform their culture and emasculate Britain as a self-governing nation, for a similar reason to their hatred of Israel – that these are nations with a strong sense of their own exceptionalism.

That, of course, is why so many millions voted for Brexit and Trump – precisely because, in opposition to these elites, they wanted Britain and America once again to uphold and defend their national and cultural identity.

And that’s why liberals have become hysterical about President Trump’s stated aim of making America great again. It’s why those who want Britain to remain in the EU are hysterical about Brexit. And it’s why British audiences have been weeping and cheering at screenings of Darkest Hour.

It’s because at some level at least they know how the free society in which they so passionately believe has been systematically degraded, undermined and weakened by those who choose to portray Western cultural particularism as a form of bigotry.

As a result, the image of Churchill using the poetry of the English language to breathe into his people the courage and resolve to stand alone and fight to defend their nation’s exceptional values is almost unbearably moving.

Britain, America and Israel form a triple lock as islands of western exceptionalism. And whether or not their people recognize it, it is upon these three nations that the fate of the free world now depends.
Haley: Hamas using ‘children as cannon fodder’ in Gaza
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, lashed out at Hamas Thursday, accusing the Palestinian terror group of “using children as cannon fodder,” following the deaths of dozens of people in clashes with Israeli forces during protests along with border in the Gaza Strip.

“Anyone who truly cares about children in Gaza should insist that Hamas immediately stop using children as cannon fodder in its conflict with Israel,” Haley told a UN Security Council meeting convened to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

Ahead of the meeting, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem urged the Security Council to protect Palestinians taking part in the demonstrations on the border.

In an unusual move, the group’s executive director, Hagai El-Ad, wrote to UN Secretary General António Guterres, saying: “Preventing further loss of life is a responsibility that must be shouldered without delay.”
Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, at a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 5, 2016. (AFP/Jack Guez)

Tens of thousands of Gazans have taken part in Friday protests along the border with Israel, supported by the Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave. Hamas leaders say the ultimate aim of the demonstrations, dubbed “March of Return,” is to see the removal of the border and the liberation of Palestine.

B’Tselem gave a list of names and ages of 35 Palestinians it said were killed by Israel during the demonstrations.

The group described the victims as “unarmed” and said their deaths were “the predictable outcome of the manifestly illegal rules of engagement implemented during the demonstrations, of ordering soldiers to use lethal gunfire against unarmed demonstrators who pose no mortal danger.

Look How Palestinians Treat The Site Of Judaism's Holiest Place
A picture of the inside of the Dome of the Rock, which was built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where the ancient Jewish Temples were built, reveals the respect that the Palestinians have for a place whose ground is the holiest spot on Earth for the Jewish people:

Palestinians have treated the area of the Temple Mount with disdain for decades. Often they have displayed an active desire to destroy any evidence that the site was where the Jewish Temples stood in an effort to discredit the Jewish claim to Jerusalem, which dates back roughly 3,000 years.

In September 2,000, the Muslim Waqf refused permission for any archeological oversight by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Then it removed 13,000 tons of rubble from the Temple Mount and deposited it into the garbage; that rubble included archeological remnants from the First and Second Temple periods. For details see here.

A report in 2012 stated that the Muslim Waqf was continuing to destroy Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount.

As Dr. Gabriel Barkay, professor emeritus from Bar-Ilan University and recipient of the 1996 Jerusalem Prize for Archeological Research, stated last October, “Temple denial started in the 1990s, even though the Islamic Wakf itself in the 1920s and ’30s issued booklets which were given to visitors of the Temple Mount in which they said the existence of the Temples is beyond any doubt. It was accepted and in the Islamic literature through the generations there is a plethora of mentions of Solomon’s Temple and the Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem, so it is very strange that they deny it now.”

In Gaza, Hamas is the oppressor -- not Israel
I’m just back home in the U.S. from a visit to Israel, where for four straight Fridays the Hamas terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip has organized protests at the border with Israel involving thousands of Palestinians. Some of the protesters have attacked Israel’s border security fence “with explosives, firebombs and other means,” The Associated Press reported.

“Huge plumes of smoke from burning tires (set afire by demonstrators) engulfed the border area,” the AP reported from the scene. “Some of the activists` threw stones toward the fence or flew kites with flaming rags dangling from their tails.”

In other words, what’s happening on the Gaza-Israel border is not a peaceful protest. While most protesters aren’t joining in the violence, some are violent and dangerous terrorists who want to tear down Israel’s security fence to make it easy to launch deadly attacks on the Jewish state.

Acting to defend their nation, Israeli forces have killed 34 Palestinian attackers along the border since the protests began March 30, despite the best efforts by the Israelis to use the minimal force required.

No nation on Earth would welcome terrorist murderers to cross its borders to take the lives of innocent civilians. And if terrorists assaulted any other border on the planet, the number of attackers killed would undoubtedly be much higher.

The protests are scheduled to end with a massive Palestinian march on the border May 15, the 70th anniversary (on the secular calendar) of Israel gaining independence from Britain.

You might think the United Nations and countries around the world would be condemning the violent protests – but you’d be wrong. Israel’s s actions to defend its border prompted the usual Israel-bashing at the U.N., in the media, and wherever left gathers to condemn the only democracy in the Middle East.
2 Palestinians caught trying to enter Israel with pipe bomb
Security forces arrested two West Bank Palestinians who tried to enter Israel with a pipe bomb Thursday night.

A statement from police said the “suspicious” vehicle carrying the Palestinians was stopped at the Ein Yael checkpoint in southern Jerusalem.

A search of the vehicle yielded the homemade explosive device, a knife, and tens of thousands of shekels in cash and checks, it said.

An army sapper was called to the scene to defuse the pipe bomb.

The suspects were detained for questioning.

Meanwhile, in northern Jerusalem, shots were fired Thursday night at an Israeli military outpost near the West Bank settlement of Beit El. A number of houses were damaged by the gunfire, but there were no reports of injuries.

Both incidents come amid heightened tensions along the Gaza border, where thousands of Palestinians have gathered in recent weeks to attend the weekly Hamas-organized protests against Israel.
One said killed, dozens hurt in latest Gaza border riots
Three people were killed and over 300 hurt Friday, the Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry said, as thousands of Palestinians converged on the border with Israel for a fifth round of weekly protests.

An Israeli army spokesman said that at one point “hundreds of rioters” tried to infiltrate Israel and “burn the security fence” near the Karni Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.

“The rioters approached the security fence and hurled explosive devices, grenades, firebombs and rocks and tried to light the security fence on fire,” the spokesman said. “In response, IDF troops operated in accordance with the rules of engagement and thwarted the attempted infiltration.”

The army said that in other cases protesters hurled rocks, rolled burning tires and flew kites eith flaming objects attached to them over the fence.

Meanwhile a top UN official urged Israel to refrain from using “excessive force” against demonstrators.
U.N. human rights chief decries Israel's use of 'excessive force' in Gaza
Israel must stop the excessive use of force by its security forces along the Gaza border and must hold to account those responsible for the many deaths and injuries sustained by Palestinians in the past month, the UN human rights chief said on Friday.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement that in the past four weeks, 42 Palestinians had been killed and more than 5,500 wounded along the fence in Gaza, with no reports of Israeli casualties.

"The loss of life is deplorable, and the staggering number of injuries caused by live ammunition only confirms the sense that excessive force has been used against demonstrators – not once, not twice, but repeatedly," Zeid said.

Israel's Foreign Ministry said it did had no immediate comment on Zeid's statement. The government has said previously that it is doing what is necessary to stop the border fence being breached.

International law permits the use of lethal force in cases of "extreme necessity" but it was hard to see how stones or Molotov cocktails thrown from a great distance at heavily protected security forces could constitute such a threat, Zeid said.

The death toll includes 35 people killed during demonstrations as part of the "Great March of Return" - evoking a longtime call for refugees to regain ancestral homes in what is now Israel -- and appear to have been unarmed and no imminent threat to Israeli security forces, the statement said.

The deaths could constitute wilful killings in the context of an occupation, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Zeid said.
B'Tselem asks UN to stop Israel from shooting Gaza rioters
The far-left B'Tselem NGO sent a letter to the United Nations asking the international body "to do its utmost to protect the lives of Palestinians and ensure that international norms are maintained" ahead of Thursday's Security Council debate about the violent Gaza riots.

According to B'Tselem CEO Hagai El-Ad, Israel was shooting unarmed Gazans during the weekly violent anti-IDF riots on the Israeli-Gaza border. "The United Nations must do all in its power and responsibility to protect the lives of Palestinians and to ensure that international norms are maintained," wrote El-Ad.

Listing the names of the 35 Gazans killed by the IDF, El-Ad wrote that "many of them died immediately or a short time after they were hit. Like many other Palestinians in Gaza, it is very likely that they never got out of the small land department - which is about half the size of New York City - the Gaza Strip."

"They lived their lives without political rights, without hope for another future, and are totally subject to the decisions and policies of the Israeli government."

B'Tselem has raised hackles within Isreal for the support it has given to the rioters on the Gaza border. Earlier this month, B'Tselem launched a campaign calling on IDF soldiers stationed on the Gaza Strip border to refuse orders and not to open fire at Arabs who riot in Gaza and are unarmed.

IsraellyCool: Next Time You Read About a Palestinian Member of “Press” Getting Killed, Remember These Images
Photos from today’s riots:

Context is everything.
Israel at UN: Iran has more than 80,000 fighters in Syria
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday presented an aerial photograph of an alleged Iranian base outside Damascus that he said Tehran was using to bring in and train tens of thousands of fighters for the militias it backs in Syria.

“There are over 80,000 extremists from all over the Middle East who are members of Shia militias in Syria under Iranian control,” Danny Danon told the UN Security Council.

The satellite image showed what appeared to be a military installation in the mountains northwest of Syria’s capital.

The base serves as “Iran’s central induction and recruitment center in Syria,” Danon said. The ambassador did not provide evidence to support the claim.

“It is at this base, just over five miles from Damascus, where these dangerous extremists are trained and then assigned their missions of terror throughout Syria and the region,” he said.

Israel had never before claimed this site was an Iranian base.

Mattis, receiving Liberman, warns of ‘likely’ conflict between Israel and Iran
Direct conflict between Israeli and Iranian forces is increasingly likely in Syria as Tehran pursues a permanent military presence there, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned on Thursday.

Addressing a congressional panel before hosting his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Liberman, at the Pentagon, Mattis said it was “very likely” from his perspective, “because Iran continues to do its proxy work there through Hezbollah.”

Receiving Liberman, Mattis told reporters that he saw no reason for Iran to ship advanced missiles to Hezbollah through Syria except to threaten Israel.

“I can see how it might start, but I am not sure when or where,” the secretary told lawmakers. Mattis then echoed Liberman’s warning from earlier in the day, issued through a Saudi newspaper, in which he said Israeli forces would strike Tehran if Iranian missiles ever hit Tel Aviv.

The two met at the Pentagon after Liberman met with US President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton; his special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt; and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, at the White House.

Iran was the focus of conversation there, as well, according to a statement issued by Israel’s embassy in Washington.
Mattis Says Iran Risks Escalating War With Israel as Trump Mulls Nuclear Deal
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday that Iran's destabilizing actions in Syria risk an escalation with Israel that could spark a larger regional conflict.

Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mattis said Iran has continued to work through its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah, to expand Tehran's influence in the Middle East.

Fears over a new conflict breaking out deepened in February when an Iranian drone launched from Syria crossed into Israeli airspace. The drone was immediately shot down, setting off a day of tense fighting that culminated in the downing of an Israeli jet that had been bombing Iranian positions in Syria.

Sen. Jack Reid (D., R.I.) pressed Mattis on the incident, asking the defense secretary whether he believes there is a "significant risk of escalation at this moment that would not only engulf Syria, but spread throughout the region."

"That's a complex question. I believe the short answer is yes," Mattis replied. "I can see how it might start, I’m not sure when or where, I think that it's very likely in Syria because Iran continues to do its proxy work there through Lebanese Hezbollah there and over into Lebanon, so I could imagine this sparking something larger."

Mattis's comments come as the Trump administration continues to mull whether to withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord when it comes up for recertification in two weeks. Though the agreement deals exclusively with Tehran's nuclear program, U.S. lawmakers have complained Iran's destabilizing actions throughout the Middle East violate the "spirit" of the accord.
State of emergency briefly declared at Israel’s NY consulate; suspect detained
A state of emergency was briefly declared at Israel’s New York Consulate Friday and a suspect was detained after arousing the suspicions of security personnel.

The consulate was closed off for a short time, with no one entering or leaving.

The suspect was apparently loitering around the building, and his appearance and strange behavior caused personnel to suspect he could be carrying an explosive belt. He was quickly detained by guards, and that possibility was eliminated.

The man was taken into custody by New York police.
Senator Chris Murphy Stands with Islamists
Senator Chris Murphy (Democrat of Connecticut) attacked the Middle East Forum on the floor of the U.S. Senate this week.

In this video clip, Senator Murphy claims that, “[Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo was deeply intertwined with this network of anti-Muslim organizations… They have fairly innocuous sounding names, like the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, the Middle East Forum, The Investigative Project on Terrorism... Those sound like things that I might be for, but if you really take a look at what they do, they preach intolerance.”

In fact, these American groups promote American values. The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is a prominent Muslim counter-extremism organization, and a leading component in the growing Muslim reformist movement. The Middle East Forum (MEF) has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to moderate Muslim and anti-Islamist causes, working with moderate and reformist Muslim groups and activists all across the country. The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has conducted cutting-edge research on extremism and jihadi violence, which law enforcement has extensively relied on.

Chris Murphy thoughtlessly repeated the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) talking points, after it spent weeks urgently encouraging its supporters to lobby him to oppose Pompeo’s confirmation.

This fits a long-standing pattern of Senator Murphy’s cooperating with CAIR. For example, he spoke at a 2013 banquet.

Murphy’s rant reconfirms the effectiveness of AIFD, IPT, and ourselves.
NBC’s CAIR-Less Coverage
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) portrays itself as a U.S. civil rights organization. However, as numerous terrorist analysts and the U.S. government itself has noted, CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2009 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) retrial—the largest terrorism financing case in the nation’s history. NBC, however, has treated the organization as a credible source on the subject of Islamic extremism.

In an April 23, 2018 article, “John Bolton presided over anti-Muslim think tank,” NBC reporter Heidi Przybla used CAIR to attack Bolton, who is currently the National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump, and Gatestone Institute.

NBC quoted CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, who claimed that Gatestone is “a key part of the whole Islamaphobic cottage industry on the Internet.” Hooper asserted that Bolton’s association with Gatestone was “very disturbing.”

However, NBC failed to inform readers about CAIR’s troubling history. As CAMERA noted in an Aug. 9, 2016 Washington Times Op-Ed, at least five former staff or lay leaders from CAIR have been indicted, arrested or deported on weapons or terrorism-related charges. In an out of court settlement with the website, the council did not contest assertions that it was founded and funded by some members of Hamas—a U.S.-designated terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip and calls for the destruction of Israel.
'EU lets Hezbollah bring rockets to aim at Israel'
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid held a series of meetings with senior members of the German parliament on Thursday aimed at enlisting them for a campaign to completely outlaw the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Europe.

Lapid met with Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Dr. Norbert Lammert and Chairman of the Defense Committee, Wolfgang Hellmich, and presented to dozens of parliamentarians in Germany how Hezbollah uses the legitimacy granted to the organization's political arm in Europe to raise funds, volunteers and to create a route to transfer money to support terrorism.

"I held a series of meetings today with the president of the Bundestag and senior members of parliament in Germany, during which we discussed in-depth discussion on the need to exclude Hezbollah from the European Union," Lapid said. "It has significance not only symbolically but also practically - to stop Hezbollah's cash flow, which later translates itself into missiles and rockets aimed at Israel, at our children."

"They understood. They are true fans of Israel. And from here we started on a path which has been going on for quite a while, the end result of with will be the outlawing of Hezbollah in Europe in its entirety," Lapid added.
Dennis Kucinich cozying up to the butcher of Syria. Again
Local Israel-hater Paul Larudee is in the news again. His non -profit “Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees” is under scrutiny for paying Ohio gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kunich tens of thousands of dollars to speak at a conference hosted by pro-Assad radicals. Kucinich, 71, served in Congress from 1997 to 2013, before his loss to fellow Democrat Marcy Kaptur. Kucinich had initially failed to disclose this payment in state ethics filings.

The non-profit The Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees operates out of Paul Larudee’s home high in the El Cerrito hills and acts as the parent organization for the pro-Assad Syria Solidarity Movement. Co-founder of the group, Kamal Obeid is a conspiracy theorist and a member of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Paul Larudee gained notoriety by his participation in the blockade running Gaza flotillas, and his meeting with Hamas terror group leader Ismail Haniyah.

Assad, widely considered by the world to be a war criminal, met with Kucinich during the trip. It wasn't their first time meeting.

Romanian PM: We don't have enough support to move embassy
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday met Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă at his residence in Jerusalem.

Dăncilă, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, is on a two-day trip to Israel. She was joined in visiting Rivlin by the President of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea and Foreign Minister Teodor Meleșcanu.

Rivlin began by thanking Dăncilă, the Romanian Government and Parliament, for their decision to relocate the Romanian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“I would like to welcome the distinguished Prime Minister and the ministers who are with her on this visit, which takes place at a significant time after Romania's decision to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem,” Rivlin said.

Noting the warm ties between the two countries of the years, Rivlin added, “It is wonderful to receive here in our capital, Jerusalem, leaders of a government with is promoting the close cooperation between our countries. This cooperation and partnership is not just between our governments, but between people.”

Rivlin and Dăncilă then discussed a number of key issues, including the Jewish community in Romania, and the work being done in the Romanian Parliament to promote the community’s well-being.
Romanian president wonders what 'secret deals' Dragnea made in Israel
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said he wondered "what secret deals” President of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea was “making with the Jews" during his visit to Israel on Thursday, Romanian media reported.

“The visit that the premier [Viorica Dancila] is paying to Israel, and apparently the Chamber of Deputies speaker as well, is quite strange. They have never come for talks, Mrs. Prime Minister left with no mandate out there, so she has just spoken on behalf and for the Government, not for Romania,” The Romania Journal quoted Iohannis as saying.

Iohannis also voiced concern about the “secrecy” of the visit and said he hoped Dragnea would "have the common sense" to explain the content of his visit to Romanians upon his return.

Dragnea said the comments were offensive and contained "a certain dose of antisemitism."
Map proves not all of disputed border town belongs to Lebanon
A Syrian map recently acquired by the Tel-Hai College in northern Israel reveals that two years before the 1967 Six-Day War, the disputed border village of Ghajar lay entirely within Syrian territory, contradicting a decision by Israel's Diplomatic-Security Cabinet that the northern part of the village belongs to Lebanon.

"This is a map from the Syrian construction authority from 1965 and we don't know that any other such maps exist in Israel," said Shalom Tarmachi, head of the Tel-Hai College map collection.

"I think Syria took control of the village to divert [a water source], which was one of the reasons for the outbreak of the Six-Day War. At the foothills of the village lie the Wazani springs, which are one of the sources of the Jordan River."

Tarmachi said the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, signed when the French Mandate was in place over what is now Lebanon and Syria, assigned Ghajar to Lebanon. The modern nations of Lebanon and Syria were established in 1943 and 1946, respectively. The residents of Ghajar are Alawite Muslims, as is Syrian President Bashar Assad, and at the time were Syrian subjects. A French Mandate map drawn in 1935 corroborates this.

Ghajar was one of three Alawite villages in the environs of the district city of Quneitra, which is in Syria. When Syria and Lebanon were established as separate states, this changed, and Lebanon gained sovereignty over Ghajar.
JPost Editorial: Zoabi’s liberties
Freedom of expression is the most important of all liberties, upon which all other freedoms depend. That’s why it is so troubling when a member of Knesset is punished not for what she has done, but rather for what she has said.

The Knesset Ethics Committee will hold a hearing on anti-Israel statements made by Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi in speeches she gave in Berkeley, California, and in an interview with Sue Fishkoff, editor of J. The Jewish News of Northern California.

The statements Zoabi said to Fishkoff reportedly included a call to “liberate Americans from the Zionist lobby” and the claim that “anyone who is not anti-Zionist... must recognize their complicity in the tragedy of the Palestinians.”

Zoabi also reportedly called to dissolve Israel as a Jewish state and to replace it either with two states – one secular, one Palestinian – or, ideally, one binational secular state with self-determination for both Jews and Palestinians. She said Jews outside Israel had no claim on that land and never did. But Jews inside Israel were a fact on the ground and had rights.

Just last month the Knesset Ethics Committee slapped a one-week ban on Zoabi for calling IDF soldiers murderers.

Zoabi’s comments are undoubtedly painful for many Israelis to hear. But does this justify punishment? Zoabi defended her comments about IDF soldiers being murderers of Palestinians, saying it was part of her right to free speech to say so, and that she would be happy to provide information about “a large number of cases of murder of Palestinians by soldiers.”

In contrast, MKs justified banning Zoabi for her comments about IDF soldiers by claiming that use of the word “murderers” for soldiers acting in the name of the state could not be defended within the framework of freedom of political expression for Knesset members, and that it therefore contravened the legislature’s ethics rules.
Hamas buries rocket and drone expert slain in Malaysia
Thousands of Palestinians joined a mass funeral on Thursday for a Hamas rocket and drone expert who was gunned down in Malaysia last week.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh led the funeral prayers at a mosque in Jabaliya, the town in northern Gaza where Batsh grew up.

“The hand that assassinated the scientist will be severed,” he said, and the crowd responded with chants of “God is great.”

Batsh’s body was brought to Gaza after crossing the Egyptian border earlier on Thursday, after Malaysia and Egypt arranged the return.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman had urged Egypt to reject the request to help repatriate the body and put pressure on Hamas to return two captive Israeli civilians and the remains of two Israeli soldiers the terror group is believed to be holding.

Haniyeh thanked Malaysia and Egypt for allowing Batsh’s repatriation “against the will of” Liberman.

Batsh, an electrical engineering lecturer in Malaysia, was killed Saturday by two assailants on a motorcycle as he was walking to a mosque in Kuala Lumpur.
Hamas vows to 'sever hand' of Israel for drone scientist's death
Thousands of Palestinians attended a mass funeral on Thursday for a Hamas scientist who was gunned down in Malaysia last week, as a Hamas leader accused Israel of killing him and vowed revenge.

Fadi al-Batsh was laid to rest shortly after his body was returned to Gaza through the Egyptian border.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh led the funeral prayers at a mosque in Jabaliya, the town in northern Gaza where al-Batsh grew up.

"The hand that assassinated the scientist will be severed," he said, as the crowd responded with chants of "God is great."

Al-Batsh's body was brought to Gaza after crossing the Egyptian border via Saudi Arabia earlier on Thursday, after Malaysia and Egypt arranged the return.
'Adversaries' jamming Air Force gunships in Syria, Special Ops general says
The head of the U.S. military's Special Operations Command said Wednesday that Air Force gunships, needed to provide close air support for American commandos and U.S.-backed rebel fighters in Syria, were being "jammed" by "adversaries."

Calling the electronic warfare environment in Syria "the most aggressive" on earth, Army Gen. Tony Thomas told an intelligence conference in Tampa that adversaries "are testing us every day, knocking our communications down, disabling our AC-130s, etc."

Thomas' remarks, which were first reported by the website The Drive, come on the heels of reports that Russian forces are jamming U.S. surveillance drones flying over the war-torn nation.

An Air Force AC-130 gunship was among the U.S. military aircraft used to kill dozens of Russian mercenaries in Syria in early February. The Pentagon said the mercenaries attacked an outpost manned by American commandos and U.S.-backed fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprising Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters.

Wednesday was not the first time General Thomas has been so forthcoming about Syria in a public setting. Last summer, speaking on a panel at the Aspen Security Forum hosted by Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Thomas said he had told Kurdish-led fighters battling the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria that they needed to change their "brand" from YPG -- a group Turkey considers a terrorist organization -- to something else.
Seeking $9b. for Syria, U.N.-EU confab on Syria is ‘disappointing failure’
Seven years after the Syrian civil war broke out, representatives from 57 countries gathered in Brussels for a two-day conference this week on “supporting the future of Syria and the region.”

EU High Representative Federica Mogherini urged a political process for peace in Syria while admitting that “the times are not encouraging” and that what was happening was “almost a disaster.”

Fatigue has set in after so many years of war and the inability of the UN-backed international peace process in Geneva to achieve results. Instead, Russia, Turkey, Iran and the US have carved out spheres of influence in Syria and largely run their own processes on the ground.

Dubbed “Brussels II,” the UN said at the conference that ended Wednesday that it was looking for more than $9 billion in aid for Syria, including some $4b. to be spent within Syria and $5b. for Syrian refugees.

There are millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. In Lebanon and Jordan, the large numbers of refugees are a major concern for the host countries as they now represent a significant minority of the population.

But donors are reticent. According to The Guardian, Germany, the EU and UK have been the main backers of the new funding drive, but the UK was disappointed that the Gulf countries did not pledge more. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag said the EU’s unwillingness to share the refugee burden was a “disappointing failure.”

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