Friday, July 20, 2018

From Ian:

Eugene Kontorovich: Stop funding UN agencies that welcome the PLO
Last month, two UN agencies, whose membership is limited to sovereign countries, gave a “member state” seat to the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Under a law passed with overwhelming and bipartisan support in Congress over two decades ago, that means these UN bodies can no longer get taxpayer funding.

Yet US contributions continue — along with money to two other UN organizations the Palestinians joined in recent years.

Continuing to pay a total of $40 million a year for these agencies flouts US law and undermines American credibility. Ambassador Nikki Haley has been commendably pressing for UN reform, but Turtle Bay may sneer at such demands if the US isn’t even following its own legally mandated restrictions. Moreover, it encourages the Palestinian Authority to continue its campaign of “internationalizing” the conflict.

The law bars any congressionally appropriated money from going to UN agencies that accept the PLO as a “member state.” It seeks to deter the PLO from using the UN, where it enjoys an automatic majority of support, to purport to confer upon it the status of a sovereign state that, in turn, would be used by the Palestinians to present Israel with a diplomatic fait accompli, and completely remove any pressure on the Palestinians to make any compromises.

Once the Palestinians join such organizations, they hijack their agendas, and turn these organizations, already heavily biased against Israel, into platforms for nakedly anti-Semitic agendas.

Khaled Abu Toameh: U.S. consulate cancels visit to Nablus following Palestinian protests
Palestinians boasted on Thursday that they had forced the US consulate-general in Jerusalem to cancel a visit by its officials to Nablus and the nearby town of Sebastiya.

The Palestinians said the visit of the US delegation was canceled following protests by various Palestinian factions and figures.

The Palestinian Authority leadership has been boycotting US administration officials since President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.

Nasr Abu Jeish, a senior official with the Palestinian People’s Party, formerly the Palestinian Communist Party, told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that the visit to Nablus was called off after representatives of various Palestinian factions protested outside the Palestine Securities Exchange offices in Nablus.

The US delegation was scheduled to visit the offices of the Palestinian Securities Exchange in the city and tour Sebastiya.

Abu Jeish said the Palestinians were opposed to the visit because of the US administration’s “bias” in favor of Israel and “attempts to impose the ‘deal of the century’” on them, referring to Trump’s yet-to-announced plan for peace in the Middle East.
US indicates readiness to work with Hamas if it ends terror; Hamas says no
The Trump administration indicated it was prepared to work with the Hamas terror group which controls the Gaza Strip if it first recognizes Israel’s right to exist and renounces violence.

US Middle East envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, together with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Post late Thursday that the US and other countries were prepared to offer humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Strip, but were stymied by Hamas’s commitment to fighting Israel.

On Friday Hamas rejected the offer, dismissing the US envoys as “spokesmen of the Israeli occupation.”

“International donors are conflicted: Should they try to help the people directly, at the certain risk of enriching terrorists, or withhold funding to Hamas and watch the people it is supposed to govern suffer?” the Americans wrote.

“There are engaged, interested parties with resources who are ready to get to work. Yet without real change accompanied by reliable security, progress is impossible,” they said in the opinion piece. “If Hamas demonstrates clear, peaceful intentions — not just by word but, more importantly, by deed — then all manner of new opportunities becomes possible.”

Honoring Elie Wiesel’s Legacy, House of Representatives Passes Genocide Prevention Act
The US House of Representatives passed on Tuesday the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018.

The legislation, according to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is meant to honor the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Holocaust survivor’s legacy by “strengthening the US government’s coordination on efforts to prevent, mitigate and respond to genocide and other mass atrocities — thereby furthering US commitments to his call for ‘Never Again.’”

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said:

Over sixty years have passed since free people around the world pledged to never again stand by in silence as an oppressed people are annihilated. Unfortunately, since then, we have witnessed mass atrocities and genocide in places such as Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Burma and in ISIS strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

The United States has often been a leader in responding to these and other humanitarian crises. However, there is more that can be done. US efforts have been largely reactive and disjointed, with little transparency or oversight.

H.R. 3030, the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocity Prevention Act, would correct these deficiencies. This act would require an annual report of administration actions to prevent and respond to potential genocides and mass atrocities, and would mandate the identification of countries that are at risk of such crimes against humanity.
After troops come under, fire IDF strikes Hamas posts in Gaza, killing 3
Palestinian terrorists opened fire at a group of Israeli soldiers during a riot along the southern Gaza security fence on Friday evening, prompting a widespread Israeli response with IDF tanks and aircraft hitting several Hamas posts across the Strip, killing three people, the army and Palestinian officials said.

“Shots were fired at IDF troops from the Gaza Strip during the violent riots along the security fence. In response, IDF aircraft and tanks targeted military targets throughout the Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement.

During this time, clashes broke out along the fence, with Palestinians launching small mortar shells and throwing explosive devices at Israeli troops, and the IDF responding with further strikes.

There were no immediate reports of Israeli injuries.

Though Israeli troops have engaged in gun battles with Palestinians during border riots before, the shots at the soldiers on Friday appeared to have been fired by a sniper, something that has not happened in previous clashes.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, at least three Palestinians were killed in the exchanges.
Residents in southern Israel warned to stay near shelters
Residents of southern Israel’s Sdot Negev Regional Council have been warned to remain close to protected areas following airstrikes by the Israel Air Force on Friday.

Authorities gave the warning out of concern that mortar shells and rockets would be launched towards communities by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli Air Force struck terror targets across the Hamas-run Gaza Strip following sniper fire directed towards IDF troops during protests along the border fence, the military announced Friday evening.
Two incendiary balloons found in yard of Jerusalem home
Police sappers were called to Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood Friday after two balloons attached to flammable material were found outside a family’s home.

Israel has been facing daily arson attacks using kites, balloons and condoms along its border with Gaza. But with Jerusalem almost 100 kilometers away from Gaza it is unlikely the balloons were launched from the coastal enclave. Police are currently investigating the incident.

Hadashot news reported that matches and flammable material were attached to the helium balloons, which landed in the southeastern neighborhood of the capital.

The balloons were discovered by four of the family’s children, Ynet news reported.

“I view this incident seriously and I have a strong suspicion that if it was a terror kite, our neighbors in the West Bank learned to make use of terror kites,” said Ofer Ayoubi, head of the local community administration. “I call on the prime minister and defense minister to work speedily to locate its source… so that we don’t have burning gardens and homes here in our neighborhood.”

Gilo lies adjacent to Beit Jala and Bethlehem in the Palestinian Authority.
Liberman: Hamas is forcing Israel into a larger Gaza war than 2014
Hamas is pushing Israel into a wide scale Gaza war that will be larger in scope than Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said as he visited the southern city of Sderot on Friday morning.

“Hamas leaders are forcibly leading us into a situation where we will have no choice, a situation in which we will have to embark on a painful, wide-scale military operation,” Liberman said.

“Hamas is responsible for this crisis, but unfortunately it’s the Gaza residents that may have to pay the price,” he noted.

Liberman added that such a military operation “will be larger and more painful than Operation Protective Edge,” in reference to the 2014 summer war with Hamas in Gaza.
Eugene Kontorovich [click via tweet]: Get Over It—Israel Is the Jewish State
Let the hand-wringing and denunciations begin. On Thursday Israel finally expressed in constitutional law the basic achievement of Zionism: Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. In the seven years since the new provision was first proposed, it has attracted a barrage of criticism from the U.S. and Europe. Foreign politicians have demanded Israel not pass the law, and they have not been mollified by the removal of most of its disputed provisions. A Monday headline at Foreign Policy warned that Israel was “debating democracy itself.” Arab Knesset members ripped up copies of the bill after its passage. One called it “the official beginning of fascism and apartheid.”

In reality, Israel’s Basic Law would not be out of place among the liberal democratic constitutions of Europe—which include similar provisions that have not aroused controversy. The law does not infringe on the individual rights of any Israeli citizen, including Arabs; nor does it create individual privileges. The illiberalism here lies with the law’s critics, who would deny the Jewish state the freedom to legislate like a normal country.

The nation-state law declares that Israel is a country established to instantiate the Jewish people’s “right to national self-determination.” It constitutionalizes symbols of that objective—the national anthem, holidays and so forth. There is nothing undemocratic or even unusual about this. Among European states, seven have similar “nationhood” constitutional provisions.

Consider the Slovak Constitution, which opens with the words, “We the Slovak nation,” and lays claim to “the natural right of nations to self-determination.” Some provisions are found in places like the Baltics, which have large, alienated minority populations. The Latvian Constitution opens by invoking the “unwavering will of the Latvian nation to have its own State and its inalienable right of self-determination in order to guarantee the existence and development of the Latvian nation, its language and culture throughout the centuries.” Latvia’s population is about 25% Russian.

Abbas urges world to halt Israel’s new ‘racist’ nation-state law
Palestinian Authority Presient Mahmoud Abbas called on the international community to intervene against Israel over its newly passed Jewish nation-state law, calling the contentious piece of legislation “racist” and bristling at its affirmation of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

The law passed early Thursday enshrines Israel for the first time as “the national home of the Jewish people” in its quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, setting Hebrew as the national language, while affording Arabic a lower “special” status, and supporting Jewish settlement.

Critics in Israel and abroad, including Diaspora Jews, have fiercely derided the legislation as discriminatory and unnecessary.

Responding to the law late Thursday, a statement from Abbas’s office called on “the international community to intervene and undertake its responsibilities in stopping these racist laws by way of pressuring Israel and compelling it to implement resolutions of international legitimacy.”

The law “reveals the racist face of the Israeli occupation,” the statement read.

The PA leader called the law part of a “conspiracy” against the Palestinian cause, alongside the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and so-called efforts to make the city more Jewish.
Jordanian FM: 'Nationality Law' a violation of human rights
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Thursday blasted the Knesset over its approval of the “Nationality Law”, claiming the bill is discriminatory.

“Israeli Knesset adoption of ‘nation state’ bill consolidates discrimination. It is a violation of international law, human rights. It is an act that will further fuel tension. International community must stand against it as yet another measure that threatens security, stability,” Safadi tweeted.

The Nationality Law codifies in the nation’s Basic Laws Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people into Israel’s Basic Laws and establishes Hebrew as its sole official language while giving Arabic special standing.

The Knesset approved the bill in its second and third readings before dawn Thursday morning, by a margin of 62 to 55.

Earlier on Thursday, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted Israel over the passage of the Nationality Law, and said his government expressed its solidarity with the Palestinian Authority.

The spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, claimed the Nationality Law established an “apartheid state” in Israel.
Arab League condemns 'Nationality Law'
The Arab League on Thursday condemned the Knesset after it approved the “Nationality Law” which defines the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The Nationality Law codifies in the nation’s Basic Laws Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people into Israel’s Basic Laws and establishes Hebrew as its sole official language while giving Arabic special standing.

The law declares that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and sets the Hebrew calendar as the official calendar of the state.

The Knesset approved the bill in its second and third readings before dawn Thursday morning, by a margin of 62 to 55.

"All the bills Israel is trying to forcibly enforce are null and will not give any legitimacy to the Israeli occupation," the Arab League said in a statement quoted by the Xinhua news agency.
Turkey accuses Israel of ‘apartheid’ over ‘Jewish nation-state’ law
Turkey on Thursday accused Israel of racism and becoming a state based on apartheid after a new law was adopted by the Israeli parliament defining the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

“We reject the Israeli government’s efforts to establish an apartheid state,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter, referring to the segregation of blacks and whites in white-ruled South Africa.

He condemned the law as a “racist step,” describing it as an effort to “legally erase” the Palestinian people “from their homelands.”

“We call on the international community to respond to this injustice that takes place in front of the eyes of the whole world,” Kalin wrote.
US Jewish groups furious at Jewish Nation-State Law
A group of non-Jewish Israeli diplomats and several US Jewish groups said the bill would make it harder to explain Israel around the world. The non-Jewish diplomats told Channel 1 they felt particularly disenfranchised and disheartened by the law.

The Anti-Defamation League said it had warned Netanyahu that “elements in the bill that could undermine Israel’s cherished democratic character, exacerbate relations between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs as well as those between Israel and Diaspora Jews, and indeed, impair Israel’s international reputation.”

The organization said there were problematic elements in the law that might lead some to question Israel’s commitment to pluralism. It singled out the bill’s clause about Arabic being a special rather than an official language, and its Diaspora clause that says that Israel will act to preserve the bond between the State and the Jewish people abroad but not in Israel.

“Now that this law has been passed by the Knesset, the State of Israel has an obligation to ensure that, in practice, this Basic Law is not used to discriminate against minorities, particularly its Arab citizens, and that the state maintains its commitment to improve relations between Jews in Israel and those around the world,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and Israel director Carole Nuriel.
EU expresses concern over Israel's new nation-state law
The European Union on Thursday said it was concerned ‎about a new Israeli law which declares that only ‎Jews have the right of national self- determination, ‎and said it would complicate a two-state solution to ‎the Israel-Palestinian conflict.‎

Largely symbolic, the new Basic Law: Israel as the ‎Nation-State of the Jewish People stipulates that ‎‎"Israel is ‎the historic homeland of the Jewish ‎people and they ‎have an exclusive right to national ‎self-‎determination in it."‎

It further cements the status of state symbols and ‎Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the ‎State of ‎Israel, and strips Arabic of its ‎designation as an ‎official language alongside ‎Hebrew, instead awarding ‎it a "special status" that ‎enables its continued use ‎in Israeli institutions.‎

The law also sets "the development of Jewish ‎‎settlements nationwide as a national priority."‎

The law, which passed after months of political ‎argument, was sharply criticized by the country's ‎Arab minority, with Arab lawmakers calling it "racist" and "verging on ‎apartheid."‎

Israel's Arabs number some 1.8 million, about 20%‎ ‎of the population.‎
Danon fires back after PA envoy condemns Israel
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon on Thursday reacted harshly to accusations by the Palestinian Authority (PA) representative to the UN, Riyad Mansour, who claimed that Israel had initiated a “morally depraved response” to the ongoing Hamas attacks from Gaza.

Mansour had also written to the Security Council that Israel’s recent limiting of goods moving through the Kerem Shalom crossing amounted to a “collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population.”

“It is morally reprehensible to make these accusations against Israel while the Hamas terrorists continue their arson attacks on Israel, burning thousands of acres of agricultural fields and wildlife, and threatening the schools and homes of our south,” said Ambassador Danon.

“The residents of Gaza must understand that the responsibility for their plight lies exclusively with those who choose to launch bombs at Israeli kindergartens,” he continued.
Abbas: 'Right of Return' is sacred
Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that Al-Quds (the Arab name of Jerusalem -ed.) is the eternal capital of the “state of Palestine.”

A statement issued on behalf of Abbas said that there would be no peace, security or stability for anyone without Al-Quds and that no one has the authority to give it up.

Abbas also condemned the Nationality Law which was approved by the Knesset on Wednesday night and specifically the reference in the legislation to united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

This law exposed "the racist face of the Israeli occupation and the violations of all international legitimacy decisions by it," he claimed.
Hamas calls Kushner “spokesman for the Israeli Occupation”
Hamas accused Jared Kushner of becoming a “spokesman for the Israeli Occupation” after President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser co-wrote a highly critical op-ed condemning the terror organization for prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Kushner and Greenblatt are adopting the Israeli narrative, and their aggression against Hamas points to the contempt of the American government,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri was quoted as saying by the Israeli daily Haaretz.

In a joint op-ed in The Washington Post, Kushner, White House Middle East adviser Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman described Hamas’ control of the Gaza Strip as a “nightmare” that was “needlessly prolonging the suffering of the Palestinian people.”

“The Palestinians of Gaza are stuck in a vicious cycle where corrupt and hateful leadership has provoked conflicts leading to reduced opportunities and the poverty and hopelessness that follow,” they wrote.
Hungary’s Orban visits Western Wall to wrap up Israel trip
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday ended a brief but controversial trip to Israel with a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Wearing a dark hat in homage to Jewish practice that says men must not go bare-headed, Orban arrived at the Western Wall — the holiest place at which Jews are allowed to pray — accompanied by its rabbi, Shmuel Rabinovitch.

He placed a note in a crack, in keeping with the tradition of slipping written prayers or requests in between the stones, which formed a retaining wall of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in the first century CE.

Orban and his wife, Aniko Levai, also heard a historical account of the adjacent Temple Mount, looking at a model of the site.

While he extolled his country’s burgeoning ties with Israel during his visit, the Hungarian premier, who arrived on Wednesday evening, has been accused of fanning anti-Jewish sentiment back home.

“I can assure the prime minister that Hungary has a policy of zero tolerance toward anti-Semitism,” Orban told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.
Livid protesters block Hungarian PM Orban as he leaves Yad Vashem
Furious demonstrators blocked the motorcade of visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban outside the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial Thursday, protesting his nationalistic policies and apparent embrace of a Holocaust-era Nazi collaborator.

Holding signs reading “Never again” in Hungarian and Hebrew and shouting, “Shame on you,” several dozen protesters stood around and in front of Orban’s car, keeping it from leaving the memorial grounds for several minutes.

The rare protest at the Jerusalem shrine for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, a forested hilltop memorial and museum normally the site of hushed introspection, highlighted rampant anger at Orban’s policies and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s embrace of him.

Police quickly removed the protesters, some of whom also spoke out against Yad Vashem for hosting the Hungarian premier, who has been hounded by accusations of stifling Hungary’s democracy and stoking anti-Semitism, particularly for his campaign against Jewish philanthropist George Soros and support for rehabilitating the reputation of Miklos Horthy, who deported hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths.
Dore Gold: Will the Trump-Putin Summit Lead to Some Pushback Against Iran in Syria?
Iranian President Rouhani now threatens to close the Strait of Hormuz and endorses Ayatollah Khamenei's call for the elimination of Israel, exposing as a lie the claim that there is a moderate faction in the Iranian regime.

Under Rouhani's presidency, Iran continued its drive for regional hegemony and continued to increase the number of areas under its influence in Africa and South America, while exporting the Islamic Revolution throughout the Middle East.

If Iran was moving in the direction of moderation, as was asserted back in 2015, you would have seen Iran pull back from all its foreign commitments. What we have seen is that Iran has doubled down with its Shiite militias.

Iran is not leaving Syria. Iran is digging in to Syria and expects international support for remaining there, seeking to consolidate what it has won in the Syrian civil war.

The Iranians want to establish a crescent of influence from the Iran-Iraq border across to the Mediterranean Sea, and have a supply line for the massive military operation that it is planning.

Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has laid out a plan to combine the various militias in Syria into a 150,000-man army to achieve Iranian hegemony in the Middle East.

Russia Has No Interest in Curbing Iran in Syria—Despite Putin’s Assurances
In his joint press conference on Monday with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump stated that in their meeting he had brought up U.S. concerns about the Islamic Republic’s malign influence in the Middle East, and that he’d “made clear [to Putin] that the United States will not allow Iran to benefit from [America’s] successful campaign against Islamic State.” It does not appear, however, that any concrete agreements were reached. To Alexandra Gutowski and Caleb Weiss, it’s clear that agreements will do little, since Putin can’t be trusted to keep his word:

In late June, Russia began to unleash hundreds of airstrikes on [the southwestern Syrian province of] Deraa, in flagrant violation of the U.S.-Russian cease-fire agreement that Trump and Putin personally endorsed last November. While Russia struck from the air, forces nominally under the control of Damascus conducted a major ground offensive.

Closer examination shows that the dividing line between Assad’s military and Iranian-aligned forces has become ever blurrier. Before the offensive began, Lebanese Hizballah and other Iranian-backed militias staged apparent withdrawals from the region, only to return after donning [Assad]-regime uniforms and hiding their banners and insignia. Tehran is also directly involved. On July 2, a senior commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) died in Deir al-Adas, a village in northern Deraa province along the strategic M5 highway. Persian sources describe him as the commander for the province. [In fact], forces nominally under the control of Damascus are permeated with troops that are at least as close to Tehran. . . .

It’s also becoming clear that Russian aircraft are supporting the efforts of Iranian-backed units nominally under the control of Damascus. . . . Russia has also now deployed military police to hold terrain captured by Iranian-aligned forces, demonstrating a level of coordination as well as Russia’s unwillingness to use its forces for more dangerous offensive operations. These terrain-holding forces free up Iran-aligned actors to continue undertaking offensives toward the Golan.
MEMRI: Contrary To The Understandings Reached With Russia, Iranian And Iran-Affiliated Forces Are Participating In The Fighting In Southern Syria
Recently, the Syrian army and the forces that back it, with the support of the Russians, managed to take control of a large part of the Dar'a governorate in southern Syria. This occurred following a military campaign against Syrian opposition factions that began on June 19, 2018. The very fact that this offensive took place in that area, as well as the participation of the Russian forces in it, constitute a violation of the de-escalation agreement in southwestern Syria that was signed by Russia, the United States, and Jordan in November 2017.[1]

Before the operation was launched, calls were increasing for the withdrawal from southern Syria of Iranian forces, Hizbullah, and the other Shi'ite militias subordinate to Iran. Israel and Jordan were the main voices warning against the Iranian presence there, due to concern about its proximity to their borders, and the U.S. cautioned against it as well. Intensive consultations took place among the U.S., Russia, Jordan and Israel, and according to reports, the parties arrived at agreements about the withdrawal of the Iranian and Shi'ite forces from southern Syria. At one point, senior Russian officials, headed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, spoke about an imminent withdrawal of the non-Syrian armed forces from the southern border.[2]

However, it appears that once again Russia violated understandings that had been reached. From many reports published in the Syrian media, especially on Syrian opposition websites and on social networks, it emerges that the pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias have not only remained in southern Syria, but have even strengthened their presence there – and that Russia is aware of this. Several of the Shi'ite militias even announced their presence themselves on social media, posting photographs of their operatives in the region. One of the photographs showed the commander of a Shi'ite militia in southern Syria standing beside a Russian officer.

In addition, numerous reports indicate that the Iranian forces, Hizbullah, and the Shi'ite militias participated in the fighting in southern Syria dressed in Syrian army uniforms so as to disguise their presence there. This casts doubt on all future understandings that may be achieved between the international and regional players with respect to the presence of Iranian forces and their supporters on the borders with Israel and Jordan.
Buses begin ferrying Syrian rebels from border area with Israel
Syrian state media on Friday said rebels in the country’s southwest Quneitra province began leaving on buses to northwest Syria, after giving up their fight against government forces along the frontier with Israel.

The evacuation, once completed, will put the Syrian government face-to-face with Israel along most of its frontier for the first time since 2011, when an uprising against President Bashar Assad’s rule swept through the country.

The transfers come under a deal agreed this week between Russia and Syrian rebels in Quneitra province that will restore state control over the sensitive zone.

Rebels will hand over territory they control in Quneitra and the neighboring buffer zone with the Golan Heights.

The deal also provides for the evacuation to northern Syria of any rebels and jihadist fighters who refuse to live under government control.
Iranian man wounds several people in stabbing spree on bus in Germany
Several people were injured in an assault by a man wielding a knife on a bus in northern Germany, police and witnesses said Friday.

The packed bus was heading in the direction of Travemuende, a popular beach close to the city of Luebeck, when a man pulled a weapon on passengers, local media Luebecker Nachrichten reported, quoting an unnamed witness.

Police quoted by national news agency DPA said there were no fatalities, and did not give a motive for the assault.

According to Luebecker Nachrichten, the attacker was an Iranian man in his mid-30s.

While neither the motive nor full identity of the perpetrator have been established, Germany has been on high alert after several deadly Islamist extremist attacks.

The bus driver immediately stopped the vehicle, allowing passengers to escape, the daily said on its website.

“The passengers jumped out of the bus and were screaming. It was terrible. Then the injured were brought out. The perpetrator had a kitchen knife,” a witness who lives close to the scene, Lothar H., told the daily.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Judean Intelligence Absconds With Cartloads Of Parthian Archery Program Cuneiform Tablets (satire)
The administration of Queen Salome scored an intelligence and public relations coup this week with the announcement that agents of her kingdom had obtained and spirited out of enemy territory clay and stone tablets into which were etched details of the enemy’s controversial pursuit of advanced weaponry.

The Jewish regent’s spokesman convened a media conference to display and discuss the acquisition and what the palace contends is incriminating evidence that the Parthian regime continues to pursue bows and arrows capable of reaching distances others cannot, despite signed commitments by its government not to engage in such an endeavor.

Hyrcanus, the representative, spoke in front of tables containing dozens of cuneiform tablets and a number of papyrus scrolls that purport to detail the Parthian pursuit of the controversial technology, which the emerging Mesopotamian power might deploy against its rivals in the region.

“Our agents conducted a daring raid deep inside Parthian territory to obtain these documents,” stated Hyrcanus, gesturing toward the tablets and scrolls. “This evidence convincingly shows that the Parthian regime is deceiving the world with its agreement not to pursue advanced weaponry that threatens stability in the region and beyond. We call upon others in the international community to admit the deal they signed will not prevent Parthia from obtaining the dangerous technology, as those nations claimed it would when promoting the agreement.”

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