Monday, July 23, 2018

From Ian:

The hypocrisy in opposing Israel's Nationality Law
Israel has just approved the law on the “state of the Jewish nation”. Critics in global circles and the media have been spouting forth on the “attack on pluralism and democracy”.

After 70 years, Israel lacks a constitution. It is a quite a unique anomaly among Western countries, because constitutions are the cornerstone of democracies, they define their identity and purpose.

Israel has “basic laws” on individual rights (in that sense, Israel is as liberal as New Jersey) and the separation of powers, but not a fundamental law that defines the identity and purpose of the state. The new law is approved in order to fill the void.

Without a Nationality Law, the “law of return” (a tenet of Zionism which guarantees automatic immigration rights to Jews, for example to the French Jews now under Islamist attack) could one day be overthrown as “discriminatory”, as well as the anthem of Israel (which expresses the faithfulness of two millennia of Jews to their land), the flag (another Jewish symbol with the Star of David) could be challenged in court for ignoring the rights of the Arab minority and the Menorah (the Knesset symbol also engraved on the Arch of Titus in Rome) could be considered “racist”. The law protects all these.

Opponents argue that declaring Hebrew to be the official language of Israel, while guaranteeing a “special status” to Arabic, is detrimental and racist toward the Arab minority. But even the Constitution of France states that “the language of the Republic is French” (article 2) while recognizing the “regional languages” as part of the “French heritage” (article 75). Has anyone ever attacked France for this, despite its having a large Arab minority from its former colonies? Every road sign and recorded announcement in israel is in both Hebrew and Arabic (English as well, and sometimes recordings have a Russian option)

The Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights. Not only that, but Israel is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women have always been able to vote. The Arabs hold numerous seats in the Knesset and the only party ever banned by Israel is a Jewish one (Kach). Israeli Arabs have also held various government po‎sitions.

At the time of the foundation of Israel, only one Arab high school was open, today there are hundreds of Arab schools.

Evelyn Gordon: Iran May Be Wearing Out Its Welcome Even in Syria and Iraq
It’s no secret that Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates loathe Iran. What’s far more surprising is that Iran seems to be wearing out its welcome even in the Arab countries with which it is most closely allied. That, at least, is the message of both a recent study of Syrian textbooks and a recent wave of violent protests in Iraq.

In Syria, Shiite Iran has been the mainstay of the Assad regime (which belongs to the Alawite sect of Shiism) ever since civil war erupted in 2011, pitting the regime against Sunni rebels. It has brought more than 80,000 troops to Syria to fight for the regime, mostly either from Shiite militias it already sponsored in Lebanon and Iraq or from new Shiite militias created especially for this purpose out of Afghan and Pakistani refugees in Iran. It has also given the Assad regime astronomical sums of money to keep it afloat.

Scholars estimate its combined military and economic aid to Syria over the course of the war at anywhere from $30 billion to $105 billion. Without this Iranian help, the regime likely wouldn’t have survived until Russia finally intervened in 2015, providing the crucial air power that enabled Assad to regain most of the territory he had lost.

Given all this, one would expect the regime to be grateful to its Iranian benefactors. Instead, as the textbook study shows, Assad is teaching Syrian schoolchildren a healthy dose of suspicion toward Iran.

The study, by researchers from the IMPACT-se research institute, examined official Syrian textbooks for first through twelfth graders used in areas controlled by Assad in 2017-18. Unsurprisingly, these books present Russia as a close ally. Students are even required to study the Russian language.

The portrayal of Iran, in contrast, is “lukewarm at best,” the report said. In part, this is because the “curriculum as a whole revolves around secular pan-Arabism” and Syria’s position as an integral part of the “Arab homeland,” to which non-Arab Iran emphatically doesn’t belong. And in part, it’s because Iran has historically been the Arab world’s rival.

Dancing to terror’s tune
If when you woke on the morning of Sunday 15 July, you made the error of watching the ABC television news bulletin, you would have seen that the lead item began: ‘The Israeli military has launched a wave of airstrikes against dozens of militant targets in the Gaza Strip.’ The bulletin included video clips of bombs exploding buildings, narrated as Israel’s targets in Gaza, and went on to describe ‘the operation is one of Israel’s broadest since the 2014 war.’ Anyone not informed about events in the region could be forgiven for concluding Israel had just initiated a war and had done so with no clear provocation.

Omitted completely by the ABC was the critical contextual information that in the previous 24 hours Israeli citizens in the south of the country had been targets of over 170 rockets and mortars which in turn followed weeks of fire bombs delivered by kites, balloons and inflated condoms. These attacks were orchestrated against Israel by the proscribed terrorist organisations Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hardly a trivial oversight.

The ABC did mention that three Israelis had been injured by a (singular) rocket in Sderot but failed to mention the sequence or anything of the scale and timeframe of the attacks against Israel. Or even who was to blame for their injuries.

Indeed, the ABC reporting was so biased and one-sided it could have been scripted by Hamas. Imagine, if you will, a meeting in the Hamas command-and-control centre which is actually located in the basement of Al-Shifa hospital – a gross example of terrorists using human shields. In the room made smoky by nagilas are large signs with slogans ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’. The only way to enter the doorway is to walk on flags of the USA and Israel painted on the floor.

The purpose of this fictitious meeting is to draft instructions for the ABC in Australia. The meeting settles on a set of four instructions to guide the ABC for its news bulletins.

Firstly, don’t mention that Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired over 170 rockets and mortars into Israel in the preceding 24 hours during the Jewish Sabbath and don’t mention the hundreds of firebombs sent out of Gaza into Israel in the weeks prior.

Secondly, don’t mention that Hamas rockets deliberately aimed at residential areas hit a home, a children’s playground and a synagogue.

Thirdly, the opening statement of the news bulletin must refer to Israel having launched an attack without any reference to preceding attacks initiated by Hamas.

Fourthly, when video is shown on television for illustration, only show resultant destruction in Gaza and do not show any video evidence of destruction caused in Israel.

Rouhani warns US that war with Iran will be ‘mother of all wars’
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani warned the United States Sunday not to “play with the lion’s tail,” saying that conflict with Iran would be the “mother of all wars.”

“You declare war and then you speak of wanting to support the Iranian people,” Rouhani said in a televised speech at a gathering of Iranian diplomats in Tehran.

Rouhani suggested peace was still possible but said the opposite was also true. “America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

Rouhani also appeared to refer to recent reports that the Trump administration is using speeches and online activities to try to create a swell of internal dissatisfaction with the regime.

“You cannot provoke the Iranian people against their own security and interests,” he said.
Trump to Iran: ‘Never, ever threaten the United States again’
The response came after Rouhani earlier Sunday issued his own warning to the US leader not to “play with the lion’s tail,” saying that conflict with Iran would be the “mother of all wars.”

The high-stakes verbal sparring is reminiscent of the exchanges Trump had last year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, before tensions eased and the two leaders met this year in an historic summit.

Trump has made Iran a favorite target since his unexpected rapprochement with nuclear-armed North Korea.

Earlier Sunday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States is not “afraid to tackle” Iranian officials with sanctions at the “highest level” of its government.

Following the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord that stunned even Washington’s closest European allies, Pompeo on May 21 unveiled a “new strategy” intended to force Iran to yield to a dozen stringent demands.

“We weren’t afraid to tackle the regime at its highest level,” Pompeo said in a speech in California, referring to sanctions leveled in January against Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary.

Netanyahu praises Trump, Pompeo after Iran saber-rattling
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday commended US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for their “strong stance” on Iran, after the American leader fired off an angry tweet threatening the Islamic Republic and his top diplomat compared Tehran’s leadership to a “mafia.”

“I would like to praise the strong stance expressed yesterday by President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo against the Iranian regime’s aggression,” said Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting.

“For years, this regime was pampered by world powers and it’s good to see that the United States is changing this unacceptable equation,” added Netanyahu.
Hailing Trump threat, Israeli UNESCO envoy calls Iranians ‘animals’
A senior Israeli diplomat on Monday called Iranians “animals” while praising US President Donald Trump’s threatening tweet against Tehran.

Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama Hacohen said Trump was “among the only world leaders who knows not only how to deal with human beings but also with animals.”

The Hebrew comment came in response to a tweet by Trump in which he threatened his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani that his country would suffer consequences “the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered,” if it threatened the United States.

In English, Shama Hacohen hailed Trump as the “best president ever!”
German intelligence contradicts Merkel on Iran's nuclear drive
A German intelligence report from the city-state of Hamburg said Iran’s regime is continuing to seek weapons of mass destruction, delivering another intelligence agency blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s belief that the 2015 atomic deal with the Islamic Republic curbed Tehran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

The Jerusalem Post reviewed the 211- page document that states “some of the crisis countries... are still making an effort to obtain products for the manufacture of atomic, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction (proliferation) and the corresponding missile carrier technology (rocket technology).”

The Hamburg report on Thursday added that “the current main focus points of countries in the area of relevant proliferation activities are: Iran, Syria, Pakistan and North Korea.”

Hamburg’s intelligence agency conclusions covering Iran’s alleged illicit conduct conform with the intelligence data from 2018 state agency reports in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse.

The domestic intelligence agencies in Germany are the functional equivalent of Israel’s Shin Bet (General Security Service).

The Hamburg intelligence official wrote that “Iran still constitutes, because of its previous nuclear relevant activities, the focus of Germany in the sector of counter-proliferation.”

The report said that “Iran continues to pursue unchanged an ambitious program to modernize its rocket technology with the goal of a continued increase of the reach of the missiles.”

Merkel said on July 9 that “[Germany] remains committed to the nuclear agreement. We think it was well-negotiated.”
IDF strikes Gaza terror cell for second time in 24-hours
The IDF struck a Gaza terror cell Monday afternoon for the second time in 24 hours as Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned Hamas that Israel was not afraid to go to war.

Last night Israel’s air-force also struck a Gaza terror cell which had launched flaming kites and balloons into southern Israel.

On Saturday, as part of an Egypt brokered understanding, Hamas agreed to halt its violent attacks against Israel, which has included rockets, mortars, flaming kites and balloons. There have also been repeated infiltration attempts and violent riots at the Gaza Israel border. On Friday, a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier who was defending the border fence.

There have been no attacks against Israel since Saturday. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has said he will rescind the severe restrictions he has imposed on Gaza’s main commercial crossing by Tuesday as long as Hamas continues to hold its fire.

Liberman met Monday with members of the IDF’s general staff to discuss the border violence.

"Regarding the Gaza Strip, we must ask ourselves four basic questions: Is the State of Israel interested in a war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip? The answer is no. Are we deterred from [engaging in a military] campaign in the Gaza Strip? Here too, the answer is no,” Liberman said.

“Are we prepared to accept a reality in which there is fire, incendiary kites and friction along the fence? The answer is no. Have we done everything we can to prevent a war in Gaza? The answer is yes,” Liberman said.
David’s Sling anti-missile system used for first time, in false alarm on Golan
In its first known operational use, two interceptor missiles of the David’s Sling system were fired at rockets launched from Syria that appeared to be heading toward Israel but ultimately landed inside Syrian territory, the military said.

The Syrian rockets, which were fired as part of internal fighting in the country’s southwest, set off sirens throughout northern Israel on Monday morning, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

“The alarms that were heard in northern Israel were the result of launches that were carried out as part of the internal fighting in Syria,” the army said.

“As a result, two David’s Sling interceptors were fired at the rockets, as there was a fear they could strike Israeli territory. The Syrian rockets… landed inside Syrian territory. No damage was caused, and there were no injuries,” the military said in a statement.

Fighter jets were also scrambled and flown to the north during the event, according to open-source flight tracking information.

A military spokesperson would not confirm that the aircraft had been called up, saying she “couldn’t comment on air force activities.”
Israeli jets said to strike Iranian-run missile production facility in Syria
Israeli jets reportedly carried out a strike Sunday on a missile production facility in northwest Syria that observers say was supervised by Iranians. In the past, the site was allegedly used to produce and store chemical weapons.

“One of our military positions in Masyaf was the target of an Israeli air aggression,” Syria’s official news agency SANA said quoting a military source. Hebrew media quoted Syrian opposition officials as saying that several Hezbollah members were killed, but the reports could not be confirmed. SANA said the strikes cause only “material damage.”

It was the fourth time this month that Syria has accused Israel of bombing a military position in the country.

There was no comment from Israel, but the strike came just hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israel was continuously acting against Iran’s military activities in Syria.

“We will not stop taking action in Syria against Iran’s attempts to establish a military presence there,” he said in a statement from his office.

A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also reported the air strike and said it targeted a “workshop supervised by Iranians where surface-to-surface missiles are made.”
Russian foreign minister makes surprise Israel visit for talks on Syria
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian military chief Valery Gerasimov made a surprise visit to Israel on Monday for talks on Iranian military entrenchment in Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who announced the meeting at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting, said he would meet later Monday with the high-level delegation from Moscow, which was dispatched to the Jewish state at the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The delegation is arriving at the request of President Putin, [made] in a conversation we had days ago,” said the prime minister at the cabinet meeting. “I will present the Russian delegation with the same stance I presented President Putin with during my last visit to Moscow: Israel insists the [1974] disengagement agreement with Syria be honored, as it was honored for decades before the Syrian civil war, and Israel will continue to act against any attempt by Iran or its proxies to establish military bases in Syria.”

The visit had not been announced ahead of time by Moscow or Jerusalem.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that Lavrov would be departing Moscow on “urgent political-diplomatic business,” without elaborating on the destination, according to local state-run media.
As Syria troops near border, PM tells Putin he won’t tolerate Iranian presence
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin as Israel continues to press its demands that there be no Iranian military presence in Syria.

The call came Friday with an evacuation effort underway to transfer rebel fighters and civilians from a southwestern sliver of Syria near the Golan Heights to opposition territory further north.

The transfers come under a surrender deal agreed this week between Russia and Syrian rebels in Quneitra province that will see the sensitive zone on the Israeli border fall back under regime control.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu noted that Israel would continue to act against the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria,” his office said in a statement on the call.

The Kremlin said Putin and Netanyahu discussed regional developments “with an emphasis on the Syrian settlement process.”

These are Israel's core values
The media reports and eventual confirmation from the IDF about its operation to evacuate 800 Syrian White Helmet volunteers to Jordan is interesting and important. On Saturday evening, while many Israelis in synagogues across the country were reading the Book of Lamentations and mourning the destruction of the Temple and desertion of Jerusalem by God, the IDF was performing an extraordinary humanitarian gesture for a group of people ensnared in the Syrian quagmire.

The civil aid organization has worked hard for years to pull survivors from the rubble of Bashar Assad's onslaughts. While people in Israel and across the globe argue over the IDF's ethics, it was proven yet again that Israeli soldiers are standing tall in defense of our country and never abandon the values we have carried as a nation for thousands of years.

The rescue operation was carried out in conjunction with the United States, Russia and Jordan. The customary rules of the game in the Middle East are quickly changing. Presidents Trump and Putin, beyond their personal regard for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are well aware that Israel is the only power in the region, an enlightened democracy, which can be trusted to provide any type of stability in a part of the world so rife with hate, terror and lack of minimal respect for human life. Arab countries near and far have also realized by now that cooperation with Israel will help prevent hostile takeovers of their lands. We shouldn’t be surprised if this secret alliance comes to light one day soon.

IDF Saves Syrian White Helmets

Syria slams ‘criminal’ evacuation of White Helmet rescuers by Israel
The foreign ministry in Damascus condemned on Monday the evacuation of hundreds of trapped White Helmets rescue workers and their relatives from Syria’s south through its foe and neighbor, Israel.

More than 400 rescue workers and family members from Syria’s southern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra were ferried into Israel on Sunday, then taken into Jordan for resettlement in Western countries.

“The criminal operation that Israel and its tools conducted in the area reveals the true nature of the so-called White Helmets,” said a source at the foreign ministry, cited by state news agency SANA.

The source repeated the Syrian government’s accusation that the rescue force is a front group for “terrorists” and said Damascus had warned the world of its “dangers.”

“Words of condemnation are not enough to express the indignation that every Syrian feels towards these despicable conspiracies and the limitless aid from Western countries, Israel and Jordan to the White Helmets,” the source said.
Cracks emerge in Palestinian Authority's boycott of U.S. peace plan
Leading Palestinian politicians have voiced concerns in recent days over the prospect of the United States being excluded from acting as mediator in peace talks with Israel. They do not believe that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' boycott on American officials— imposed in the wake of Washington's recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel's capital—is proving beneficial to the Palestinian cause.

In the current diplomatic climate, officials warned, Europe cannot replace the US as an intermediary because many European capitals are reluctant to assume America’s traditional role as primary peace broker between the two sides. European leaders are also wary of ignoring the Trump administration’s demand to not abide by the PA’s push to form a new, multilateral mechanism for negotiations.

Nabeel Amro, a former Palestinian Minister of Information, explained to The Media Line that “the Palestinians want Europeans to be more involved, but we can’t force them." While he believes that "it is right to reject the [prospective] American [peace] plan as it violates Palestinian rights, a boycott on the entire US administration is not helpful. Our relationship with the US should be about dialogue, not boycotts."

Whereas, Amro supports the PA's rejection of the White House's decision to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem, he stressed that “there is no need to boycott the whole country. Diplomacy requires activity and movement at all levels. The US is still supporting the PA in matters of security. Why do we accept security cooperation, but not the political collaboration?"
Ahead of Religious Freedom Summit, Secretary of State Pompeo Cautions Against Legislative Efforts to Curtail Circumcision, Ritual Slaughter
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned on Thursday against efforts in various European countries to curtail religious practices sacred to Jewish and Muslim communities, including male circumcision and ritual slaughter of animals for consumption.

Asked about recent legislative efforts to curb these traditions in Iceland, Belgium and Austria, Pompeo said regarding those and other similar initiatives around the world, “We believe that religious intolerance is unacceptable, and frankly we’ll be making the case that religious freedom benefits nations.”

His remarks were made to a small group of journalists ahead of the State Department’s summit next week on religious freedom. The event — the first of its kind — will see more than 80 delegations participating, over half at the foreign minister level, Pompeo said.

The purpose of the event, he added, was to show the world that “America highly values religious freedom and that we are going to seek from every nation, every single nation, to improve religious freedom inside their own country.” The issue of religious freedom, he said, has now been raised to a “real priority” for the United States.

Among those in attendance will be representatives from the Middle East, Pompeo said, a region rife with religious persecution. It was unclear which countries in the region would be joining and a full list of participants will only be released at the conclusion of the summit.
To Combat the Muslim Brotherhood, the U.S. Should Focus on Qatar and Turkey
Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood sought to create an Islamic state in that country, combat Western influence, and oppose secular democracy as well as secular authoritarianism. It was also, and still is, viciously anti-Semitic. Since then the Brotherhood has spread throughout the Muslim world, with branches—of which Hamas is one—from Morocco to Indonesia. Jonathan Schanzer, testifying before Congress, describes the nature of the organization and the threats it poses, and outlines how the U.S. could work against it.

President Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, in 2011 . . . declared that “the term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ . . . is an umbrella term for a variety of movements—in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.” Clapper eventually retreated on this point, and for good reason. The Brotherhood is not a patchwork of disparate groups, nor is it secular. It is not exactly heterogeneous, either. Many Muslim Brotherhood branches subject their members to rigid indoctrination processes and vet their members for their commitment to the organization’s ultimate goal, which is to empower the Brotherhood’s politicized and deeply intolerant interpretation of Islam.

Still, the Brotherhood’s various branches differ in terms of the tactics that they use to spread and empower the organization’s totalitarian ideology. In places like Tunisia and Morocco, the group has become an accepted element of the ruling elite. In places like Jordan, it has an uneasy modus vivendi with the government, fulfilling the role of the loyal opposition. In Egypt, the Brotherhood won elections following a dramatic popular revolution but was soon the target of a second mass uprising and a subsequent military coup. In the Gulf monarchies, the Brotherhood is viewed as an existential threat to the ruling regimes. . . .

Sanctioning the entire Muslim Brotherhood—as some have called for—would be difficult, if not impossible. . . . [T]he Brotherhood appears homogeneous in its adherence to a hateful, bigoted, and radical ideology, but it remains heterogeneous when it comes to violence. The right move is for the U.S. Treasury to take the lead in targeting overtly violent factions and those that finance terrorism. . . .

In extremely rare incident, stone dislodges from Western Wall
In an extremely rare incident, a stone dislodged ‎from the Western Wall on Monday morning and crashed to ‎the ground. ‎

The incident took place near the edge of the Ezrat ‎Yisrael prayer plaza, adjacent to Robinson's Arch, ‎an area at the south end of the wall where women are ‎permitted to use the Torah scroll.‎

Fortunately, the area was empty at the time of the ‎incident and no one was harmed.‎

Israel Antiquities Authority officials arrived at ‎the wall to inspect the damage. The area was ‎cordoned off until further notice, for safety ‎reasons. ‎

‎"This is a difficult morning. We clearly narrowly ‎escaped tragedy. One could only imagine what could ‎have been had this happened last night, when the ‎place was packed with worshippers," CEO of the ‎Masorti Movement Yizhar Hess said.
Ex-IDF soldier from California sneaked into Syria to fight Islamic State
An American Jew who served in the Israel Defense Forces described fighting in Syria against the Islamic State group as “the craziest time of my life” in an interview aired Saturday on Israeli television.

Jonathan Leibovits, who was born in Israel but grew up in Los Angeles, said he decided to volunteer to fight against the jihadist group following the the 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino that left 14 dead.

“There was an attack in San Bernadino, which is only about half an hour away from where my family lives,” Leibovits told Channel 10 news. “So it is kind of on a personal level me, you know, they’re coming to my home.

“I am very capable. I know what I’m doing, so I’m going to their home,” he added.

In 2016, Leibovitz traveled to Iraq, where he hid for several days in a safe house before being smuggled across the border into Syria.

During the six months he fought alongside the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), Leibovits said he did not attempt to hide his American or Jewish identity.
PA embassy denies Gaza scientists were eliminated
The Palestinian Authority (PA) embassy in Algeria denied on Sunday night reports that two Palestinian Arab scientists from Gaza had been eliminated in the country.

A statement from the embassy quoted by Kan News claimed that the bodies of the two, a doctor and a student, were discovered in their apartment and that an initial examination found that they suffocated as a result of a gas leak.

Earlier reports in Arab media asserted that the two scientists, identified as Suleiman Muhammad al-Farra and Muhammad Muhammad Hamid al-Banna, were eliminated.

In April, Fadi al-Batsh, a Hamas scientist who was said to be a rocket-making expert, was shot dead in a hail of bullets by motorbike-riding attackers as he walked to a mosque in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

Hamas has accused Israel of being behind Batsh’s death.
Gaza Freedom Flotilla leaves from Palermo, aiming for Gaza
The mayor of the southern Italian town of Palermo renamed a section of the port in honor of the late archterrorist Yasser Arafat.

Mayor Leoluca Orlando made the announcement last week after the arrival of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla at the port, from where it will leave in an attempt to reach Gaza, the New Matilda reported. New Matilda editor Chris Graham is on one of the flotilla boats.

Prior to its last stop in Palermo, the flotilla visited 15 European ports over two months to garner support.

From 2008 through 2016, international activists have sailed 31 boats to challenge Israel's control over the waters near its coast.

In May, Israel’s Navy stopped a boat carrying 17 Gazans who attempted to violate Israel's maritime borders.
Islamic State affiliate leader said killed in Egypt’s Sinai
The Islamic State group says one of the leaders of its affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has been killed.

The jihadist group’s Aamaq news agency issued an announcement late on Sunday about the death of Abu Jaafar al-Maqdesi, calling him a martyr.

A photo of a young bearded man accompanied the report. IS says he was killed earlier this month, but did not disclose where or under what circumstances.

Egypt has been battling jihadists for years but the Sinai-based insurgency gained strength after the 2013 overthrow of the country’s elected but divisive Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.
ISIS Leader Fired After Decade-Old Reasonable Tweets Resurface (satire)
The Islamic State’s board of directors has fired Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after past tweets surfaced in which the cleric used reasonable language to make sensible proposals.

“Good move by @alQaeda attacking Jews&Westerners first and leaving Shiites 4 later,” one 2009 Tweet read. “2 declare Caliphate and try to kill every1 immediately=very stupid.”

Another offensive tweet, this one from 2008, read, “Killing infidels is enough – no need for brutal torture!” The most repugnant, however, appeared to condemn pedophilia, saying that “only adult women should be kept as sex slaves.”

ISIS wasted no time in severing ties with the Iraqi native.

“The sane attitudes and statements discovered on Abu Bakr’s Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our terror group’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said in a statement.

But some ISIS supporters insisted al-Baghdadi should be forgiven since the tweets were issued roughly a decade ago.

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