Wednesday, June 27, 2018

From Ian:

The Gaza crisis, Israeli hasbara and the ICC
In one of the most introspective moments, the foreign ministry spokesman admitted that they had contemplated quickly farming out terrorized Israeli residents living on the Gaza border to the global media in multiple languages, but had not followed through.

It is such an obviously powerful idea that it is unclear why this was not the first point on the Israeli hasbara list in the pre-crisis preparations.

But the admission on that point was a good sign, as it showed introspection.

IN CONTRAST, there was another exchange between a journalist and another government spokesman, who nominally indicated a readiness to learn lessons, but in practice seemed relatively closed.

The journalist said that Israel was failing through pictures, videos and its spokespeople to explain Hamas’s danger as a “story” to the world. The spokesman responded that they were in touch with all of the relevant “officials,” to which the journalist retorted that answering questions about telling a story globally with a response about messaging all the right elites showed that the spokesman was missing the point.

There are limits to what public relations can achieve with Israel being the stronger side, usually having fewer casualties and controlling more territory. And, relative to other operations, Israel does not seem to have taken as large a hit globally.

But it was not at all clear from the INSS conference that Israeli spokespeople are always asking the hard questions and it seems like they won’t do an optimal job until they do.

How will all of this impact the ICC prosecution, which saw fit to issue a stark warning to Israel about potential war crimes on April 9 – the first public warning in over three years?

While this was understandably not the main issue at the conference, it was surprising that it was not discussed at all.

It appears that the spokespeople feel confident that it is not a problem because of the lack of continued media interest in the issue – and the lawyers seem less worried following the High Court of Justice approval of Israel’s open fire regulations.

This, too, may be wishful thinking – a wishful thinking which may come back to haunt the state.
Israeli Envoy Hails ‘Unprecedented’ UN Condemnation of Use of Human Shields by Terror Groups
Israel’s UN envoy has hailed the General Assembly’s passage on Tuesday of an update of its Global Counter Terrorism Strategy that features a condemnation of the use of civilians as human shields by terror groups.

In a statement, Ambassador Danny Danon credited the Israeli UN Mission for the inclusion of the “unprecedented” paragraph on human shields.

“Today’s resolution is another important step in our efforts as we change the rules of the game at the UN,” Danon said. “Less than two weeks ago, a plurality of members in the General Assembly voted to denounce Hamas, and now today’s resolution explicitly condemned terrorists for the despicable double war crime of hiding behind women and children while attacking civilians.”

“There is much work to be done,” Danon continued, “but this milestone accomplishment brings us closer to the day when the UN will focus on truly bringing security and stability to the world.”

The Global Counter Terrorism Strategy was first adopted in 2006 and is reviewed every two years.

The update approved on Tuesday decries the use of “schools and hospitals, for military purposes such as launching attacks and storing weapons,” as well as the use of “civilians to shield military objectives from attacks.”

At least 13 rockets launched from Gaza after army strikes Hamas cell’s car
Rocket sirens blared throughout the predawn hours of Wednesday morning in the Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip as Palestinians launched over a dozen rockets at southern Israel after the military struck a Hamas vehicle in the center of the coastal enclave.

The alarms rang out in towns and small communities throughout the Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev, Sdot Negev and Hof Ashkelon regions, several times from approximately 1:45 a.m. to 4 a.m., sending thousands of Israeli running into bomb shelters.

At least three rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. There were no reports of casualties or damage in Israel. In addition, no rocket impacts were reported inside Israeli communities.

In the hours following the flareup, the army and the relevant regional councils held a “situational assessment” meeting and decided to allow schools to open as usual on Wednesday. No special instructions were given to residents of the area, according to local government officials.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, Palestinians launched incendiary balloons into southern Israel, sparking several fires in the area.

In response, shortly after 1 a.m. on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces launched a number of strikes in the Gaza Strip. One targeted a car that the army said belonged to a senior Hamas operative involved in the airborne arson attacks. The army said it also used an additional aircraft and a tank to strike two Hamas outposts in the north of the Strip.
Flaming kites and balloons launched from Gaza spark fires in south
Flaming kites and balloons launched from the Gaza Strip sparked four fires in southern Israel Wednesday.

Though firefighters had the four blazes under control, a number of additional fires broke out near the Kissufim Forest, Channel 10 reported.

The network said firefighters were at the scene combating the blazes. There were no reports of injuries, but the fires have caused extensive damage in recent weeks.

Overnight, the Israeli military carried out a number of strikes in the Gaza Strip in response to the launching of incendiary balloons from the Palestinian enclave toward Israel on Tuesday, which sparked a number of fires.

One of the strikes targeted a car that the army said belonged to a senior Hamas operative involved in the airborne arson attacks. The army said it also used an additional aircraft and a tank to strike two Hamas outposts in the north of the Strip.
IsraellyCool: UN Secretary-General António Guterres Takes Down ‘Kite’ Tweet
As I posted yesterday

Maybe it is just me, but this tweet from UN Secretary-General António Guterres does not represent his finest moment.

I suggested the kites in the background were not a good look, given the palestinians are sending in to Israel flaming ones, not to mention ones with swastikas drawn on them.
Israel to Establish Special Combat Unit to Fight Terror Tunnel Threat
The IDF is establishing a new specialized combat unit that will train specifically for underground fighting in an effort to counter the threat posed by terror tunnels dug under Israeli territory.

According to the Hebrew news site Walla, the unit is the brainchild of Gaza Division commander Brigadier General Yehuda Fuchs. After examining the tunnel situation, he decided that a dedicated force to fight the tunnels was necessary, one of whose branches will be the underground combat unit.

Last week, the Gaza Division decided to begin recruiting soldiers from other units, including experts on surveillance and tracking, who will serve as the nucleus of the new force. The combat soldiers will receive advanced technology and equipment, and be deployed along the entire border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza and Egypt.

Other aspects of the anti-tunnel program will include collaboration between Defense Ministry officials, geologists, intelligence officers, and experts from both the military and the private sector.
Hamas claims responsibility for overnight rocket barrage
The military wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks on Israel Tuesday night in response to the bombing of a terrorist target in Gaza.

"The resistance is united and ready to react immediately to any aggression or aggression against our people," the terrorist movement wrote on its website.

A series of red alert sirens were activated overnight Tuesday in the regional councils Hof Ashkelon, Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol, as well as in the city of Sderot in southern Israel.

The IDF said 12 rockets were identified as having been launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted at least three of them.

Meanwhile, the IDF said that an IAF aircraft and IDF tank targeted a vehicle belonging to a Hamas operative heavily involved in launching arson and explosive balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

In addition, two observation posts belonging to the Hamas terror organization were targeted in the northern Gaza Strip.

“The Hamas terror organization will bear the consequences for facilitating terror and instability,” said the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
'Israel's aggression will open gates of hell,' terrorists warn
The Israeli military struck Hamas positions in the ‎Gaza Strip in the early hours of Wednesday morning ‎after terrorists fired over 12 projectiles at ‎Israeli communities near Israel's border with ‎the coastal enclave.‎

The Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted ‎three of the projectiles with the rest hitting open ‎areas, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said.‎

The Color Red alert blared cross the frontier's ‎Shaar Hanegev, Hof Ashkelon and Sdot Negev regional ‎‎councils and the nearby city of Sderot between 1:40 ‎a.m. and 4 a.m. ‎

The salvo followed an Israeli strike in northeast ‎Gaza that targeted a Hamas vehicle transporting a ‎cell involved in the arson terrorism campaign that ‎has been wreaking havoc on Israel's Gaza-vicinity ‎communities.‎

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the Israeli ‎strikes "required a quick response from the ‎resistance. ... This morning's [rocket] fire retaliated over Zionist aggression and as part of the equation we set – fire will be met with fire."

The Popular Resistance Committees terrorist group threatened to ‎exacerbate its rocket fire on Israel, saying, "The Zionist enemy has to ‎internalize the new reality on the ground. We will meet any fire with fire, ‎even if it leads to escalation. We are not afraid to pay in blood. The ‎Zionists enemy's aggression will open up the gates of hell." ‎
Trump's New Deal for the Middle East
Jared Kushner told the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds, "Don't allow your grandfather's conflict to determine your children's future."
This assumes that a new generation of Palestinians will put material self-interest before anti-Zionist dogma, and accept a peace with Israel that offers Muslim control of the holy places in Jerusalem, limited communal autonomy in the West Bank, and prosperity through massive public and private-sector investment.

But for young Palestinians it requires a rejection of elders, relatives in the diaspora, and a widely believed national narrative.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States depend on the U.S. for protection against ISIS and Iran. Trump doesn't believe State Department wisdom about the need to court Arab goodwill. As far as he is concerned, it is the Arab allies who need to court him. That means helping him get the deal of the century in the Middle East.

Nor is Trump likely to accept the excuse that they can't help him because of the hatred in the street for Israel. If they can't deliver, what good are they?

This approach is radically different than anything the U.S. has proposed in the past. It is premised on the idea that most Palestinians want a better life more than they want revenge or another generation of dysfunction and conflict. Perhaps Trump is naive to think so. Or maybe he is right. In any case, it is what's coming next.
Trump Admin-Tied Group Presents Plan for Israeli-Palestinian Peace
A think-tank with close ties to the Trump administration is circulating on Capitol Hill and elsewhere a new comprehensive plan on how the White House can foster Israeli-Palestinian peace following President Trump's landmark decision to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel to the country's capital city of Jerusalem, according to a copy of the plan viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

The Security Studies Group, or SSG, a foreign policy organization with close ties to top Trump administration officials, is seeking to garner support for the White House's latest push to foster peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The plan presents a roadmap the administration can follow to achieve a two state solution for the parties.

Officials are focused on pressuring the Palestinian Authority government to rein in its support for terrorism and accept a good faith offer that could alter the regional balance for both the Israeli and Palestinian people, sources said.

Those who have reviewed the plan told the Free Beacon that SSG is laying the groundwork to counter the Obama administration's efforts to pressure Israel into accepting a plan many said would compromise the Jewish state's security. "This is the first comprehensive survey of what the diplomatic terrain looks like now that Trump has reversed many of Obama's anti-Israel moves," said one senior GOP congressional staffer familiar with the paper. "American diplomats have a range of new opportunities but also new challenges, because the Palestinians got used to having America slap around Israel for them, and since we're now back in the business of supporting Israel they've been throwing a global temper tantrum and holding their breath until they turn purple."

"This study lays out a lot of that, including what more can to be done to reverse the anti-Israel UN resolution Obama's diplomats generated," the source said.
Israel boycotting 38th U.N. Human Rights Council session
Israel is boycotting the 38th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which opened in Geneva on June 18 and ends on July 7.

Without any fanfare, it stopped attending the daily council session last week after the United States announced its plan to withdraw from the UNHRC.

The US said it planned to give up its seat as one of 47 UNHRC voting members and it would stop attending council sessions.

US Ambassador to the UN in New York Nikki Haley charged that the UNHRC was morally problematic because it safeguarded abuser regimes and was biased in its treatment of Israel.

Since the UNHRC was created in 2006, it has passed 310 country specific resolutions, a quarter of which - 76 texts - dealt with Israel.

Israel is not a UNHRC member, but has the right to attend its sessions and participate in its debates.
Palestinian Authority rejects Israeli, U.S. ideas to help Gaza
The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday expressed fear that the talk about easing restrictions on the Gaza Strip was part of an Israeli-Palestinian “conspiracy” to transform the Palestinian cause into a “humanitarian issue.”

The PA, which has been imposing its own financial sanctions on the Gaza Strip, also expressed fear that the easing of restrictions would embolden Hamas and tighten its grip over the coastal enclave.

Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah claimed that the US administration and the Israeli government were now talking about improving the living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as a way of “undermining the Palestinian national project, including the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.”

The PA leadership has been facing growing pressure from Palestinians to lift the sanctions that President Mahmoud Abbas imposed on the Gaza Strip about one year ago. The sanctions include, among other things, cutting off salaries to thousands of PA employees, as well as financial assistance to hundreds of families in the Gaza Strip. The PA initially said it would stop paying for the electricity and fuel that Israel supplies to the Gaza Strip, but later partially backtracked.

The PA’s sanctions on the Gaza Strip have triggered an unprecedented wave of protests in some parts of the West Bank, with Palestinian protesters demanding an end to the punitive measures.
Poland Backs Down on Holocaust Law, Moves to End Jail Terms
Polish lawmakers voted on Wednesday to water down a Holocaust law that angered the United States and Israel, and remove parts that imposed jail terms on people who suggest the nation was complicit in Nazi crimes.

The lower house of parliament backed the changes in an emergency session hours after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki asked it to amend the four-month-old law. An upper house vote is expected later on Wednesday.

The unexpected U-turn came as the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) seeks to bolster security ties with Washington and faces heightened scrutiny from the EU.

It also came the morning after Poland‘s state-run company PGNiG said it had signed long-term agreements on liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies from the United States.

The law as it went into effect in March imposed jail sentences of up to three years for anyone who used the phrase “Polish death camps” or suggested “publicly and against the facts” that the Polish nation or state was complicit in Nazi Germany’s crimes.

The nationalist, right-wing government said at the time the law was needed to protect Poland‘s reputation. Israel and its ally the United States said it amounted to a historical whitewash.
'It's crazy:' Foreign diplomats in court
The Jerusalem District Court held a hearing on the matter of BDS activist and Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir Tuesday.

The Interior Minister decided last month not to extend Shakir's work visa to Israel in view of his activity against Israel by promoting boycotts and sanctions against Israel around the world.

Shakir was accompanied by foreign diplomats from various countries, including Canada and the Netherlands, as well as diplomats from the United Nations and the European Union.

At the hearing, Adv. Nati Rom, founder of the Lev Haolam organization, who fights against the global boycott and the BDS movement, was present in close contact with citizens in more than 43 countries around the world. When he emerged from the hearing, Dr. Rom sent a message to the supporters of Israel in which he spoke of the discussion and the 'extreme left' organization Human Rights Watch.

"I have just left the court where extreme left-wing organizations, funded by your tax money and people from all over the world, are trying to" cancel the decision of the State of Israel not to renew the visa to an Arab who is boycotting Israel.

"Not only your money, but diplomats from Canada, the European Union, the Netherlands and the UN, came to represent him and make sure he is legally protected and pressured the court and the government.
'EU can't fund illegal building and be upset over demolitions'
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein met Tuesday with European Union Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret Tuesday and addressed EU-funded illegal construction in Judea and Samaria.

"The EU cannot build illegal construction wherever it wants and then be surprised when Israel destroys the buildings. By the way, the demolitions are carried out according to the decision of the Supreme Court," Edelstein said.

"I also told the EU foreign minister, who complained to me about the demolition of buildings in Khan al-Ahmar: You want to invest and build? There is no problem, but it can be doneonly in coordination with Israel," said the Knesset Speaker.

Edelstein also discussed the nuclear agreement with Iran. "It is clear to everyone that Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons. You think that the agreement is good, but you forget that it does not include power over the border with Israel. We have to look at what is happening today and understand the events in the region."
Israel, Indonesia rescind mutual travel bans
A travel ban on Israeli tourists going to Indonesia, and Indonesian tourists coming to Israel has been lifted as a result of discreet contacts between the two countries through various “international channels,” sources in Jerusalem said on Wednesday.

According to the sources, the restrictions on Indonesian tourists that were to go into effect this week were lifted in parallel with the lifting of the restrictions imposed by Indonesia on the entry of Israeli tourists.

Israel and Indonesia do not have diplomatic relations.

In early May, Indonesia reportedly gave the green light to issue tourist visas for Israelis interested in visiting the world's most populous Muslim country.

Two weeks later – following the escalation of violence along the Gaza border and demonstrations in Jakarta outside the US Embassy there to protest the move of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – Indonesia back-peddled and decided to ban the entry of Israelis.

As a result, the Foreign Ministry decided at the end of May to bar Indonesian tourists until further notice.
Raid on home of terrorist who committed 2008 Merkaz Harav attack
Jerusalem District Police, together with Shin Bet agents, on Wednesday morning raided the house of the terrorist who committed the 2008 massacre at Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, after the terrorist’s family received funds, support and funding from Hamas.

Police searched the house and confiscated cash totaling 43,000 shekels ($11,800) in Israeli money and foreign currency.

Police said that "this activity is a direct continuation of the activity carried out on a variety of levels by security forces against the support of terrorist organizations for the families of terrorists, and that last year police confiscated through administrative orders a total of about 300,000 shekels ($82,250), vehicles and jewelry from the homes of more than 7 Families who received support and assistance from terrorist organizations."

"Israel Police will not allow monetary support of a terror organization for the families of terrorists who committed severe and murderous attacks. The involvement of Jerusalem residents in activity funded by Hamas is a serious offense and constitutes an attempt by the terrorist organization to gain a foothold inside Jerusalem," police said.

The victims murdered in the Merkaz Harav attack were: Yohai Lifshitz, 18, of Jerusalem, Neria Cohen, 15, of Jerusalem, Yonatan Yitzhak Eldar, 16, of Shilo, Yonadav Haim Hirschfeld, 19, of Kochav Hashahar.

Roee Roth, 18, of Elkana, Segev Pniel Avihail, 15, of Neve Daniel, Avraham David Mozes, 16, of Efrat, and Doron Meharta, 26, of Ashdod.
Lawmakers reject PM’s demand to soften bill freezing PA funding for terrorists
Lawmakers gave the final go-ahead on Wednesday for a decisive vote on a bill that would slash funds to the Palestinian Authority by the amount Ramallah pays out to convicted terrorists, rejecting a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give the top-level security cabinet the final say on whether to “freeze” the payments.

The bill, proposed by Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern and Likud MK Avi Dichter, says that welfare payments paid out by the PA to Palestinian prisoners and their relatives must be deducted from tax revenues Israel transfers annually to the administrative body. The money withheld in this way would instead go into a fund designated to help victims of terror attacks.

Two weeks ago, the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee gave its approval for a final plenary vote on the bill, but the government filed an emergency motion to amend the text of the law to include a clause that would have given ministers the ability to effectively opt out of it.

In a clear act of defiance, lawmakers rejected the motion, voting instead to go ahead with a plenary vote on the original version of the law.

Declaring bipartisan support for the tougher version of the bill, lawmakers from both the coalition and opposition railed against the government request for the power to override the measure, saying that including such a clause in the legislation would render it useless.

Syrians fleeing to Israel border as Jordan shuts gates amid Daraa offensive
Civilians in southern Syria have begun to flee to the border with Israel, as government forces on Tuesday pushed deeper into rebel-held territories in Daraa province under the cover of airstrikes and Jordan said it would not accept any more refugees.

The United Nations estimated that up to 50,000 people have been displaced by the week-long offensive.

Jordan said its borders will remain closed for any new refugees, calling on the UN to provide security in southern Syria.

Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said aid officials were “deeply concerned” for those fleeing the fighting and heading toward the sealed border with Jordan.

He called on warring parties to “ensure the protection of these civilians, according to international law.”

Daraa’s residents described living in extreme fear and said many had also headed to the border with Israel, believing it to be safer.
Eli Lake: Erdogan’s Enablers
What's more, Trump's government has repeated the previous administration's early mistakes with Erdogan, treating him like an important ally, despite Erdogan's own recent anti-American outbursts, such as his promise earlier this year to deliver America an "Ottoman slap." The Pentagon is even pushing to sell the F-35 aircraft to Turkey despite mounting opposition in Congress.

Instead of trying to close a sale, the U.S. should start treating Turkey like Pakistan — a frenemy state that has at various times sponsored and combated terrorist groups. Trump suspended some $255 million of military aid to Pakistan earlier this year.

This approach — dubbed "quarantining" by Michael Rubin, a Middle East scholar at the American Enterprise Institute — seeks to identify and address areas where Turkish and U.S. interests are not aligned. Rubin recommends working more closely on security cooperation with Greece, Turkey's longtime adversary, and trying to stop Turkish inroads into the Balkans. He also says the U.S. should consider removing its nuclear weapons from Turkey and study alternatives to Turkey's Incirlik air base, which stages U.S. air missions into Syria against the Islamic State.

Others would not go that far. "I would not use a word like 'quarantine,'" says former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman. Yet Edelman also recognizes the need for a more transactional approach to Erdogan. America needs more tough-minded diplomacy, he says, not less. This means making an issue of Turkey's detention of Americans and other Western citizens. It also means making clear the consequences if Turks attack Kurdish fighters in Syria, and encouraging Erdogan to end the collective punishment against his own Kurdish population, by offering to mediate negotiations.

The first step, though, is simple: Don't pretend that Erdogan is just another elected leader. Maybe Trump won't be able to help himself. He appears to appreciate the very qualities in Erdogan that make people like me cringe. For members of Congress, diplomats and other Western leaders, there is no need to gloss over his many defects.

None of this will persuade Erdogan to reform. But it will send a message of hope to the millions of Turks standing against the man who is doing his best to destroy what's left of their democratic institutions.
JPost Editorial: Iranian protests
According to reports, among the slogans shouted and posters displayed by the protesters on Monday, in shopping malls and outside the parliament building in Tehran, were “Death to Palestine,” “Help us, not Gaza,” and “Leave Syria alone and deal with Iran.”

It may not be a sign that the era of redemption is upon us, but it’s a rare occurrence when such unorthodox and radical sentiments are heard in the Muslim world, indicating that there are Iranians who are fed up with the totalitarian regime in Tehran that is focused on spreading terrorism and chaos wherever it can.

As the US State Department outlined in its annual “Country Reports on Terrorism” last year, Iran continues to be the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. It said Iran was untethered in its backing of Hezbollah and other anti-Israel groups in Lebanon and Syria, as well as proxies that continue to further destabilize conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

“Iran is the destabilizer,” Seth J. Frantzman wrote in The Jerusalem Post last month. “It supports far-right political parties in Iraq and Lebanon and elsewhere and then pretends that the extremists who respond to them require more Iranian presence to ‘defend stability’... Iran likes to meddle.”

At least some of the Iranian people are fed up with that meddling and, despite harsh censorship and restrictions on their ability to communicate with the outside world and join the online grid, are becoming aware of gross violations their government is responsible for at the expense of its own people.

If Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear agreement achieves nothing else, it has already had a modicum of success in giving support to dissidents in Iranian eyes. Although this week’s protests may meet the same violent ends as last year’s demonstrations, all freedom-loving people should throw their backing and support behind the latest Iranian uprising.
JCPA: Iran’s Regime Faces Widespread Economic and Political Unrest
Since June 24, 2018, protests have been taking place in several main cities in Iran. This time, the protesters were mainly comprised of traders from the Bazaar in Tehran and other commercial locations throughout Iran. The bazzaris initially protested the sharp and fast fall in the value of the Iranian currency, the rial, in dollar terms, the freeze in Iran’s economic activity, and the rising cost of imported goods.

The decline of the Iranian economy gathered speed, and it is expected to suffer even more due to President Trump’s May 8, 2018, announcement that the United States was pulling out of the nuclear deal, the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, and the notice of several large international corporations that they intend to stop doing business with Iran and/or not sign any new contracts.

The main protest centered on the huge Grand Bazaar in Tehran, where the merchants closed their stores and marched toward the Parliament (Majlis) building to protest against the government’s economic policies. The metro station serving the Bazaar was closed because of the protest.2 Closing stores and halting trade happened in several other large cities, including Tabriz, Mashhad, Arak, Kermanshah, and Isfahan. Additionally, in the free trade zone on the island of Gheshm at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, merchants closed their stores and joined the strike.
Top Iranian Official: Israel Part of ‘Satanic Triangle’ Behind Anti-Regime Protests
A top Iranian official has accused Israel of being part of an international conspiracy behind the recent wave of anti-regime protests that rocked Tehran in recent days.

According to Yediot Ahronot, a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, who currently serves as a senior adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claimed that a “satanic triangle” made up of Israel, the US, and Saudi Arabia was seeking to weaken Iran.

Rahim-Safawi added, “We must neutralize the plans of the enemy to carry out economic warfare and psychological actions against us.”

Khamenei also commented on the demonstrations on Wednesday, making a thinly veiled threat to crack down on the protesters.

“The legal system must confront those who undermine economic security,” he said.
US demands world halt Iranian oil imports by November 4
The United States warned Tuesday that countries around the world must stop buying Iranian oil before November 4 or face a renewed round of American economic sanctions.

A senior State Department official warned foreign capitals “we’re not granting waivers” and described tightening the noose on Tehran as “one of our top national security priorities.”

Last month US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, re-imposing US sanctions that had been suspended in return for controls on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Now, Washington is stepping up pressure on other countries to follow suit, including European allies who begged him to stay in the accord and major Iranian customers like India, Japan and China.

European powers in particular have been attempting to negotiate exemptions for their firms, but the official confirmed that Trump intends to stick to his 180-day deadline, expiring November 4.
Netanyahu hails Iranian people’s ‘courage’ in anti-regime protests
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Iranians on Wednesday for showing “courage” in mass protests this week against their government and its economic policies, following the collapse of the country’s currency amid the renewal of US nuclear sanctions.

The protests, which began on Monday in Tehran and around the country — including economically hard-hit cities like Kermanshah in western Iran — featured shouts of “Death to Palestine,” “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon” and “Leave Syria and think of us,” highlighting Iran’s continued support for Palestinian groups and Syrian President Bashar Assad despite the country’s dire economic state. Chants of “We don’t want the ayatollahs” and “Death to the dictator” were also heard at some rallies.

Showcasing his soccer skills in a video posted on social media, Netanyahu drew a parallel between the demonstrations and the Iranian soccer team’s “impossible” feat on Monday, when it scored a 1-1 draw against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in the FIFA World Cup, including blocking a penalty kick by the superstar. He added that he hoped to eventually see Iran play a match against Israel.

Stopping Ronaldo is “almost impossible,” said Netanyahu, “but the Iranian team just did the impossible.”

“To the Iranian people I say: You showed courage on the playing field, and today you showed the same courage in the streets of Iran,” the prime minister said in the video.

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