Monday, December 17, 2018

From Ian:

Amb. Alan Baker: The Palestinian Claim to Statehood: An Open Letter to PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat
PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat denounced Australia's recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel's capital, stating that "East Jerusalem, under international law, is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory."

Since we had worked together on the 1995 Oslo Interim Agreement, I responded on Twitter: Saeb - you're not a lawyer. There's no violation of international law in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. You seem to confuse international law with UN resolutions which are not international law.

Permit me to remind you and your colleagues of some basic facts and truths: A Palestinian state does not exist because it cannot fulfill the accepted international law criteria for statehood.

The fact that the PLO is committed by the Oslo Accords to negotiate with Israel on the issue of the permanent status of the territories is indicative of the fact that permanent status has not yet been agreed upon, and thus there can be no Palestinian state.

Basing their claim to statehood on a 2012 non-binding General Assembly resolution is totally flawed, manipulative, and misleading. The General Assembly is not empowered to establish states.

Since the PLO is not a state, it therefore cannot be party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is specifically open only to states. The fact that the Palestinians politically manipulated the UN and ICCÂ into viewing them as a state is legally flawed and has yet to be reviewed juridically.

Rather than going to such great efforts to manipulate and abuse the international community, and trying to bypass the negotiating process, the Palestinians need to restore their credibility as a viable negotiating partner and return to that process immediately.
Palestinians: Shooting a Pregnant Woman and Lying
Consider, for example, what PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat, who describes himself as the "chief Palestinian negotiator," had to say about the Israeli authorities' pursuit of the terrorists. Erekat, in a bizarre statement, claimed that the Israeli "intrusion into Ramallah was carried out with the backing of US President Donald Trump." Erekat, too, called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for its "crimes" and to provide international protection for the Palestinians.

What is strange about Erekat's statement is that he is suggesting that Israel needed permission from Trump to send its troops into Ramallah to catch the terrorists who murdered three people. What is also strange is that Erekat believes that the Israeli attempt to capture terrorists is a "crime" for which Israel should be held accountable in the global arena.

Yet, the bizarre PA statements continue. Take the remark made by Osama Qawassmeh, a senior Fatah official and spokesmen, who claimed that the Israeli military operation in Ramallah was actually aimed against Abbas himself. For Qawassmeh, the Israeli army "stormed" Ramallah because of Abbas's rejection of Trump's yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East. As if that were not enough, the Fatah official went on to argue that the Israeli army's attempt to catch the terrorists was also linked to Abbas's opposition to a recent US resolution at the UN General Assembly that condemns Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets at Israel and inciting violence.

This absurd charge reflects the twisted logic of Abbas and his representatives in Ramallah. For them, the real problem is not the shooting of a pregnant woman or the killing of two soldiers. Instead, the Palestinian leaders, including Abbas, are pointing an accusatory finger at Israel for having the audacity to send its soldiers to capture Palestinian terrorists and prevent additional attacks against Israeli citizens. Needless to say, the Israeli soldiers who entered Ramallah never went close to Abbas's office or home and certainly had no intention of targeting him or any of his officials. In fact, not a single Palestinian Authority or Fatah official was arrested or harmed by the Israeli troops.

Caroline Glick: The U.S. Government Still Thinks Lebanon and Hezbollah Are Different
According to the Israeli media, during his meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels last Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked for the U.S. to impose an economic embargo on Lebanon.

Pompeo reportedly rejected Netanyahu’s request.

The meeting between the two men took place on the eve of Israel’s initiation of Operation Northern Shield last Tuesday. The operation is a military effort geared towards sealing Hezbollah’s offensive subterranean attack tunnels. It follows Israel’s stunning revelation that it had discovered the locations of Hezbollah’s attack tunnels, perhaps Hezbollah’s most secret undertaking.

According to Netanyahu, Hezbollah launched its offensive tunnel project in 2014. The existence of the tunnel program was known to almost no one in the organization.

Hezbollah’s tunnels traverse the border between Lebanon and Israel. Hezbollah reportedly intended to have the tunnels serve as a means to invade Israeli territory rapidly and undetected. It is the declared goal of Hezbollah to conquer northern Israel in its next war against the Jewish state.

The Trump administration’s rejection of Israel’s request to impose economic sanctions on Lebanon signals that it supports Israel’s efforts to neutralize the threat that Hezbollah poses, with its powerful army and massive arsenal of short and long range missiles. But — like the Bush and Obama administrations before it — it rejects Israel’s interpretation of the relations between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government and armed forces.

The disparity between the U.S. and Israeli positions on the nature of Hezbollah’s relationship with the Lebanese government and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) emerged during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. At that time, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanded that Israel not attack Lebanese government targets. This despite the government’s open support for Hezbollah and the LAF’s assistance to Hezbollah during the war, particularly through the provision of targeting data for Hezbollah missile crews.

PMW: Following PMW lecture, Dutch parliament passes motion to cut funding to PA
Just three weeks after Palestinian Media Watch Director Itamar Marcus spoke to Dutch MPs in November, the Dutch Parliament voted 94-56 to cut 7% of Dutch funding to the Palestinian Authority. The cut of 7% was chosen because PMW documented that the PA spends 7% of its budget on payments to terrorists in jail and to families of killed terrorists ("Martyrs"). The Dutch motion is binding unless the PA stops these payments.

The need for such steps by foreign donors is as relevant as ever as the PA just added four new families of terrorists to its growing terror rewards payroll. One terrorist shot a pregnant woman, forcing an emergency delivery, but the newborn son died a few days later. Another terrorist murdered two of his Israeli coworkers. The other two terrorists were killed while attempting to kill Israelis. The families of the four terrorists will now receive monthly allowances for life.

In July 2014 following a previous presentation by PMW to Dutch MPs, the parliament voted 148-2 to cut funding to the PA if it continued paying salaries to terrorists. However, the cut never happened because the PA deceived Western donors by closing the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs and claiming the payments were made by the PLO from non-donor money. When PMW exposed the PA fraud, in 2016, the international community was outraged. This and PMW's continued documentation of the PA payments, led to the US Taylor Force Act, in March 2018, which conditions most of US aid to the PA, and to the Australian government's decision, in July 2018, to cut all its direct aid to the PA. This is the first time since PMW exposed the PA's deception in 2016 that a European country has legislated to cut funding because of the PA's payments to terrorists.

During his recent talk to the Dutch MPs, PMW Director Itamar Marcus documented that the PA continues its monthly payments to terrorist prisoners and families of killed terrorists. Kay Wilson, who survived a terror attack, also addressed the MPs.
For Palestinians, Incitement Is a Way of Life
The Palestinian leadership repeatedly embraces these ‎terrorists, offering prisoners and their families ‎generous financial assistance, thus communicating to ‎the Palestinian public that these individuals are ‎heroes when it should be denouncing their actions.‎

This overt support stems from the rivalry between ‎the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The legitimacy ‎of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ ‎rule has been considerably eroded. Given Hamas’ ‎various political achievements, the PA is becoming ‎less and less relevant, while Gaza’s rulers are ‎gaining support across the West Bank, leaving ‎Ramallah’s officials only one course of action to ‎retain whatever relevance they have left: ‎supporting terrorism. ‎

Still, one must admit that beyond cold political ‎considerations, PA officials ‎embrace terrorists because they see ‎attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians as a ‎legitimate instrument in the “war against the ‎occupation.” ‎

In this reality, there is little wonder why ‎terrorism keeps rearing its head. The road to combat ‎this phenomenon runs through Ramallah and must ‎include efforts to curtail Palestinian incitement as ‎the first step to eliminate the support that the ‎Palestinian public and its leaders show for ‎terrorists.
NGO Monitor: Omissions and Oversimplifications: HRW’s Report on PA and Hamas Torture
Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) October 2018 report “Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent: Arbitrary Arrest and Torture Under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas” marks a significant departure from this NGO’s record of criticizing Israel, and treating Palestinians as victims without agency. However, the intense anti-Israel activism of the report’s author, Omar Shakir (HRW’s Israel and Palestine Director), and its editors, Eric Goldstein (deputy director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division) and Balkees Jarrah (senior counsel in HRW’s International Justice Program), suggests that the report is simply a fig leaf designed to create the appearance of balance in the group’s advocacy on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Indeed, in the three months since publication, HRW has not run public campaigns to accompany this report, as it has done with its reports alleging Israeli violations. For example, following the November 2018 publication of “Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land,” an HRW publication on Israel targeting Airbnb, the organization conducted a broad media campaign including radio, print and television interviews, and a social media campaign including hundreds of tweets by HRW and its staff. Although HRW claimed both reports were the result of two-year investigations, the resources devoted to campaigning against Airbnb listings in settlements overwhelm its almost non-existent efforts to condemn Hamas and PA torture.

Furthermore, the methodology in the report is shoddy (primarily unverifiable claims from interviews), reflecting an absence of serious analysis, and the failure to identify the most severe and unjust cases of Hamas and PA arrests and torture. In addition, the recommendations made by HRW to end the arbitrary arrest and torture of dissidents, are transparently unrealistic.

The settlement enterprise is crucial to Israel's security
"A small Hebrew settlement nestled between large ‎Arab villages, to the east and north and south; its ‎homes in one place and its fields elsewhere, ‎separated by Arab fields, and the ownership of the lands ‎is complicated," that is how First Aliyah-era ‎Zionist leader and author Moshe Smilansky described ‎the early days of Petach Tikva, one of the first ‎Jewish communities to be established in the land of ‎Israel in the days of the Ottoman Empire. ‎

Smilansky may as well had written these words about ‎the Samaria settlements of Ofra, Beit El and Givat ‎Asaf, which share the same complexities in terms of ‎the security challenges and land ownership disputes ‎they face but are still far better off than Petach ‎Tikva‎ was back in 1878.‎

Smilansky and his First Aliyah counterparts did not ‎‎‎ponder the question of whether Petach Tikva‎ ‎‎‎contributed to ‎the security of the budding ‎settlement enterprise. Decades later, Israel's first ‎Prime Minister David Ben Gurion did not ponder that ‎either when he insisted on maintaining remote ‎settlements on the Jerusalem mountains, Negev and ‎Western Galilee.‎

Later still, the existence of Gush Etzion in Judea ‎and Kibbutz Yehiam in northern Israel ‎also defied pure defense logic, yet Zionism fought ‎for their existence, as their value was measured ‎through a broader prism that includes national and ‎Zionist values, the Jewish spirit and the question ‎of borders. ‎

Today, this is known as the "national security ‎doctrine," which is based on more than defense and ‎security considerations, and that is the framework ‎in which the modern settlement enterprise should be ‎debated. ‎
JCPA: No Arab Demographic Time Bomb
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Jewish state is not facing an Arab demographic time bomb. It benefits, however, from a robust Jewish demographic tailwind of births and net immigration.

For example, from 1995 to 2017 the number of Israeli Jewish births surged by 74 percent, from 80,400 to 140,000, while the number of Israeli Arab births grew by 19 percent, from 36,000 to 43,000. Moreover, contrary to conventional wisdom, the trend of Israeli emigration has slowed down. The number of Israelis staying abroad for over a year increased by 6,300 in 2016 (the lowest increase in 10 years – a derivative of the growth of Israel’s economy), compared to 8,200 in 2015 and 14,200 additional emigrants in 1990. At the same time, Israel’s population surged from 4.8 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2018.

Since the end of the 19th century, the Jewish-Arab demographic balance has systematically defied the demographic establishment’s assessments and projections.

For instance, in March 1898 Simon Dubnov, a leading Jewish historian and demographer, projected 500,000 Jews in the Land of Israel by 1998, defining Theodore Herzl’s Zionist vision as “messianic wishful thinking.” However, Herzl was the ultimate realist and Dubnov was off by 5.5 million Jews!

In October 1944 the founder of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) and the luminary of Israel’s demographic and statistical establishments, Prof. Roberto Bachi, projected 2.3 million Jews in Israel in 2001, a 34 percent minority. Bachi’s projection reflected the demographic establishment’s underwhelming assessment of Jewish fertility and immigration (aliyah) and overwhelming assessment of Arab fertility. In 2018 there are seven million Jews in Israel, a 65.5 percent majority in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), enjoying an effective demographic tailwind.
Group of Incoming Members of Congress Spend Five Days Touring In Israel
A bipartisan delegation of incoming members of Congress returned to the United States on Friday following a five-day visit to Israel.

Reps.-elect Denver Riggleman (R-Va.), Elaine Luria (D-Va.), David Trone (D-Md.), Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) and Susie Lee (D-Nev.), participated on a trip organized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s American Israel Education Fund to learn about the US-Israel relationship.

The incoming congressional members met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Saeb Erekat, the lead negotiator of the Palestinian Authority.

Additionally, the delegation got a helicopter tour of the Gaza Strip, and Judea and Samaria, where they saw terror tunnels dug by Hamas.

Moreover, the group visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum.
Netanyahu to attend Brazilian President inauguration ceremony
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he will visit Brasília to attend the inauguration of newly-elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, set to take place in December 28.

Speaking at a Likud faction meeting on Monday, Netanyahu called Brazil a “superpower,” and said his visit there will “revolutionize” Brazilian relations with Israel.
Netanyahu went on to complain on what he views as biased media coverage of his work on Israeli foreign relations.

Noting Japanese investment in Israel increased 44-fold in recent years, he complained to those present "you only hear about it when a shoe is placed on a table."

Netanyahu congratulated Bolsonaro on his victory in October.

“I told him I’m certain his election will lead to a great friendship between our peoples and a strengthening of Brazil-Israel ties," he said at the time.
Georgia mulls relocating its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
Georgia is contemplating relocating its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

In a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely in the country, Sunday, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili announced she would begin bilateral talks with Israel over the possible transfer of the country's Israel embassy to Jerusalem.

Hotovely, one of the Israeli officials to attend Zurabishvili's swearing-in ceremony as prime minister, noted the "deep and long friendship" between the two countries before saying Jerusalem wanted to see Georgia move its embassy to Israel's capital of Jerusalem.

The two agreed Georgia's new government would begin to discuss the subject when Georgia's prime-minister elect takes office in another six months.

Hotovely also met with Georgia's Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani at the event.

Australia's announcement over the weekend that it was formally recognizing west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but would not be moving its embassy to any part of the city for now came as a disappointment to many Israelis.
IsraellyCool: Australia’s ABC Radio National Invents Israeli Reaction to Australian Recognition of “West Jerusalem”
Enter Australia’s ABC Radio National, which is carrying this headline on the page for its RN Breakfast program:

The headline even contradicts the text below it:
Whilst the country’s foreign ministry officially welcomed the decision, Israel’s Minister for Regional Cooperation, Tzachi Hanegbi says the decision to divide the city of Jerusalem into east and west is a mistake.

Even that is fake news: the foreign ministry did not comment on the recognition itself, but called Canberra’s decision to open a defense and trade office in Jerusalem “a step in the right direction.”

But why report the news when you can just make it up, right?
UN, Palestinians Launch Humanitarian Appeal After Funding Cuts
The United Nations and the Palestinian Authority on Monday appealed for $350 million in humanitarian relief for Palestinians next year, saying that they needed more but had to be realistic in the face of “record-low” funding.

The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan outlined 203 projects to be carried out by 88 different groups, including UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.

The plan prioritized 1.4 million Palestinians most in need of food, healthcare, shelter, water and sanitation, said Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“Humanitarian actors are facing unprecedented challenges, including record-low funding and a rise in attacks to delegitimize humanitarian action,” he said in a joint statement issued on Monday, ahead of the appeal’s launch in Ramallah.

Although “much more assistance is needed,” McGoldrick said, the plan was “reflecting what we can realistically accomplish in this highly constrained context.”

Over the past year, the United States has slashed its funding to the Palestinians, including to the UN agency that provides services to 5 million Palestinian refugees.

Erekat on final meeting with Kushner: He shouted, warned ‘Don’t threaten me’
Top Palestinian Authority official Saeb Erekat has described his combative last meeting with US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, before Washington announced it was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of last year.

On November 30, 2017, less than a week before Trump announced he was recognizing Jerusalem and relocating the US embassy there — a move that led the PA to sever its ties with the administration — Kushner met with Erekat at the White House, Erekat told the Doha Forum on international policy in Qatar on Sunday, in comments provided by Buzzfeed.

Erekat said that during the meeting he reminded Kushner that Trump was due to sign a presidential waiver delaying the move of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which had been decided on by the US Congress in 1995.

Kushner, he said, then told him: “We’re not going to sign.”

“I said, ‘what do you mean we’re not going to sign? The president promised us in the White House that he would not take any step that may preempt or pre-judge Jerusalem, not before negotiations,'” Erekat recalled.
Saeb Erekat speaks to journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on September 1, 2018. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, responded, “It’s our business and we will conduct our policies according to our interests,” Erekat said.

Erekat then declared that if the embassy move went ahead, the US would have “disqualified” itself from any role in the peace process.
Partial demolition of terrorist's home 'a joke,' victims' families say
The Israeli military partially demolished the home of a Palestinian terrorist who killed two Israelis in a terrorist attack in Samaria two months ago.

The house itself, located in the West Bank village of Shawika, north of Tulkarem, was left intact, while a part of its interior was destroyed by bulldozers.

According to Palestinian reports, dozens of rioters arrived at the scene as IDF bulldozers worked on Monday morning. The rioters tried to stop the demolition. A number of Palestinians were injured in the clashes, according to the reports.

The military said it was carrying out "operational activity."

Ashraf Walid Suleiman Naalwa, 23, shot and killed two Israelis and wounded a third at the Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria in October. IDF troops killed Naalwa during an arrest raid last week after a two-month pursuit.
Soldier critically hurt in Thursday shooting still fighting for his life
An IDF soldier critically wounded in a shooting attack in the central West Bank on Thursday remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in southern Jerusalem.

Nathaniel Felber is sedated and attached to a respirator, and his life is still in danger, the hospital said in a statement.

Felber was wounded in the head in a drive-by shooting by a Palestinian terrorist near the Givat Assaf outpost in the West Bank, east of Ramallah. Two Israeli soldiers were killed in the attack. They were identified Thursday evening as Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef, 20, and Sgt. Yosef Cohen, 19.

A civilian woman was also seriously wounded.

Mor Yosef was from the southern city of Ashkelon. Cohen was a resident of Beit Shemesh. Both, along with Felber, were members of the Kfir Brigade’s Netzah Yehuda infantry battalion, a unit for religious soldiers.

The army said Mor Yosef and Cohen were posthumously promoted from the ranks of sergeant and corporal respectively after they were killed.

The Hadassah hospital system in the capital has been treating the wounded in a spate of terror attacks in the West Bank in recent days.

Another soldier, stabbed by a Palestinian man near the Beit El settlement on Friday, was also hospitalized at Hadassah Ein Kerem and is listed in moderate condition.
PA believes Hamas terrorist released in Shalit deal behind West Bank shootings
Sources in the Palestinian Authority told the Ynet news site on Monday that they believe a Gazan Hamas terror leader who previously served time in an Israeli prison was behind a cell thought to be responsible for a recent series of attacks on Israelis in the Ramallah area.

According to the report, Jasser Barghouti, a convicted terrorist released as part of the 2011 swap that freed abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, was directing the so-called “West Bank group” terror cell that Israeli officials suspect is to blame for deadly shooting attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank last week.

Jasser’s nephew Salih Barghouti is thought to have carried out a shooting attack near the settlement of Ofra in which seven Israeli civilians were injured, including a pregnant woman who lost her child. Salih Barghouti was killed during an arrest operation last Wednesday. A day later, two IDF soldiers were killed in a shooting attack at the nearby outpost of Givat Assaf. The gunmen fled the scene, and Israeli forces are still hunting for him.

Israeli military officials have said they believe both attacks were linked and were directed from Gaza.

Jasser Barghouti was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to nine life sentences for his part in terror attacks in which nine Israelis were killed during the Second Intifada.
Israel could face ICC charges if bill expelling terrorist families passes, expert warns
Israel may face criminal charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague if it approves legislation to expel the families of Palestinian terrorists, a top Israeli human rights expert warned on Monday. The bill received preliminary approval in the ministerial committee for legislation on Sunday.

The legislation, which now needs Knesset approval, allows for members of a terrorist’s family to be expelled from their home within seven days of an attack or attempted attack. According to the IDF, they will be forced to relocate to another area of the West Bank.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandeblit has said that the forced relocation of terrorist’s family members is illegal under Israel and international law.

Prof. Yuval Shany, chairman of the UN Human Rights Committee, told Army Radio that the legislation would likely be annulled by the Israeli Supreme Court but could lead to charges being brought against the country at the ICC.

“International law cannot accept in any way the expulsion of families of terrorists, also not to Ramallah or Jenin,” Shany said. “You cannot punish a person for something someone else did. It will not pass the Supreme Court but will reach The Hague.”

On Sunday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett attended a rally organized by the Yesha Council and demanded stiff measures to combat terrorist attacks, including the exile legislation.

Russia reportedly tells Lebanon to keep border with Israel quiet
Russia has reportedly told Lebanon that it should ensure the border region with Israel abides by a United Nations Security Council resolution for maintaining peace, and that it should remove any attack tunnels dug under the boundary by the Hezbollah terror group.

Moscow sent a message to Beirut that it should not “play around with UN Resolution 1701,” Channel 10 news reported Monday, citing a report from the London-based Arabic daily newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

UN Resolution 1701 ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War and required all armed groups besides the Lebanese military to remain north of the country’s Litani River.

Sources said the Russians told the Lebanese government to resolve the problem even if the tunnels were created at the initiative of the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Above: An alleged Hezbollah member walks through a tunnel dug into Israeli territory from southern Lebanon, December 4, 2018.

The communication to Lebanon came following recent meetings between senior Israel Defense Forces officers and Russian authorities in Moscow. During the talks the IDF delegation reportedly presented details of the Hezbollah tunnels, four of which have been found as part of a military effort to find and destroy passages dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon.

Israel maintains that the tunnels represent a “serious violation of Resolution 1701 and the State of Israel’s sovereignty.”
With guns out, Israeli and Lebanese soldiers squabble at border
Rifles drawn, Israeli and Lebanese troops verbally sparred over Israel’s placement of concertina wire along the border line separating the two countries Monday morning, as part of an ongoing IDF effort to find and destroy cross-border attack tunnels.

United Nations peacekeepers were at the scene, working to prevent conflict between the two sides.

On December 4, the Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Northern Shield, an effort to find attack tunnels dug into Israeli from southern Lebanon by the Hezbollah terror group. So far, the Israeli military has said it’s uncovered four such tunnels but knows of the existence of several more.

The operation has raised prospects of a possible fresh conflict on the volatile border, though Lebanon has downplayed chances of war so long as Israeli troops do not cross the border. UN peacekeepers have also stepped up patrols to ensure the frontier remains calm.

The IDF said Monday it placed rolls of concertina wire on the Israeli side of the Blue Line, the armistice line that acts as a de facto border between the two countries. The army said it had coordinated its activities with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known by its acronym UNIFIL.

The Lebanese military, however, objected to the concertina wire’s placement and approached the area in an apparent effort to remove it.

Video from the scene showed Lebanese soldiers arguing with unarmed UNIFIL officials and Israeli troops about the exact location of the border.
Palestinian who killed Israeli in West Bank supermarket gets 35 years in prison
The Judea Military Court on Sunday sentenced one of two Palestinian terrorists who killed an Israeli man at a West Bank supermarket almost three years ago to 35 years in prison.

The assailant, whose name was not released due to the fact that he was a minor at the time of the attack, was also fined NIS 1.25 million ($330,000) and given a three-year suspended sentence. He was convicted of intentional killing, the military equivalent of murder.

Tuvia Yanai Weissman had been shopping with his family at a supermarket in the Sha’ar Binyamin industrial zone on February 18, 2016, when two Palestinian terrorists began attacking customers. Weissman , a 21-year-old off-duty soldier and another man were seriously wounded in the attack; doctors at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center pronounced Weissman dead a few hours later.

As he was off-duty at the time, the Nahal Brigade soldier was without a service weapon, but nevertheless fought the attackers “barehanded,” the army said in a statement explaining the decision to posthumously award Weissman a medal of bravery.

The victim’s father, Avraham Weissman, said in a statement following Sunday’s ruling that the family was “disappointed” by the decision, saying he deserves “at least a life sentence.”

IsraellyCool: Mocking Hamas’ Soundcloud Music: Part Two
Yesterday I posted about Hamas’ SoundCloud account and my first creation based on one of their beats.

You didn’t think I would stop there, did you?
NY Cleric Ibn Muneer: Islam without Jihad Is Like Honey without the Sweetness
During a December 5, 2018 class that was streamed live on the Hadith Disciple YouTube channel, New York cleric "Mufti" Muhammad Ibn Muneer said that while there are different types of martyrs in Islam, one should not confuse any of them with the martyr who was killed in battle, who holds the highest status of martyrdom. He warned the audience not to treat lesser forms of Jihad, such as seeking knowledge and giving da'wa, as if they are equal to fighting for the sake of Allah. Ibn Muneer said that when a Muslim makes a comment about Christians or Jews, such as saying that the Jews have earned Allah's wrath, he may face repercussions such as being called an extremist or terrorist. He also said that trying to remove Jihad from the Quran and the Sunnah is like "removing sweetness from honey." He added: "Your feelings have no value [or] worth in light of the Quran and Sunnah. If you don't believe and understand that, then maybe Islam is not the religion for you." The class was held at Masjid Ahlis-Sunnah Wal-Jama'ah in Queens, New York. Ibn Munner, who was born in Philadelphia and whose Hadith Disciple YouTube channel has over 10,000 subscribers, recently went on a speaking tour at several mosques in the United Kingdom. During the tour he appeared on the "Freshly Grounded" podcast, which also has over 10,000 YouTube subscribers.

Report: Iranian general kills himself in gun cleaning accident
An Iranian Revolutionary Guard general who fought in Syria and Iraq has accidentally killed himself while cleaning a gun.

A Sunday report on the IRGC's website said Gen. Ghodratollah Mansouri accidentally shot himself in the head while cleaning his pistol.

The report said Mansouri was a veteran of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war and a "defender of the shrine," a reference to Iranians who fight the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Since 2014, Mansouri was a regional commander of the Guard's ground forces in the northeastern city of Mashhad, some 900 kilometers (600 miles) east of the capital, Tehran. The unit he was commanding is based in the Khorasan-Razavi Province, bordering Afghanistan.

Iranian media was rife Sunday with conflicting reports regarding the cause of Mansouri's death, with some saying he died "after a long illness.
Egyptian TV Debate about Wife Beating: It Is the Husband's "Quranic Right" to Beat His Wife
During a TV debate on wife beating, Egyptian TV host Said Hassassin quoted a statistic that said that Egypt is number one worldwide in wives beating their husbands. Egyptian researcher Huwayda Abdul Khaleq said that according to shari'a law, a man may beat his wife after he has admonished her verbally and left the conjugal bed. She also said that the purpose of the beating is to humiliate the wife. Egyptian lawyer Ayman Mahfouz claimed that it is his Quranic right to beat his wife, and that it is the woman's job to defuse her husband's anger. He said that the woman is partly responsible because her actions lead to the beatings. The debate aired on Al-Rafideen + TV (Egypt) on October 29, 2018.

Sisi Restores Jewish Heritage in Egypt
Three motivations best explain the government’s positive discourse toward Jews since Sisi came to power in 2013:

1. Improving Cairo’s standing in Washington. The government sees American Jewish citizens and organizations as a gateway to U.S. policymakers, whom they perceive as overtly sympathetic to Jewish causes.

2. Boosting tourism. Since the 2013 coup, the government has been actively trying to bring lost tourism revenue back to the country. Officials seem to believe that investing more money in restoring Jewish heritage will help market the country as a destination for global Jewish tourism.

3. Putting on a moderate face. According to Egyptian media rumors, the government plans to amend the constitution very soon in a manner that allows Sisi to stay in power past the normal limits. To ease the outcry likely to erupt from this and other upcoming decisions, the president’s advisors may be trying to burnish his image as a tolerant leader beforehand. In addition to enhancing relations with American Jewish organizations, this approach could also win him favor with the evangelical Christian community and its associated political organs.

Yet taking a friendly approach toward Jews and Israel also raises several challenges for Sisi. Historically, Islam has regarded Jews as a protected and tolerated religious minority with some civil and religious rights, but without political status. Hence, most traditional Muslims in Egypt have trouble comprehending or accepting the idea of a Jewish state, Jewish army, or Jewish political community. Moreover, a central tenet of the fundamentalist Islam practiced widely across Egypt is that Israel and the wider West are huge threats to Islamic territory and culture—a view that is periodically reinforced via negative images of Jews in certain Islamic traditions.

Even those Egyptians who agree with Sisi’s attitude toward Jews would still have trouble accepting the idea of a neighboring Zionist state. The concept of Zionism has been vehemently rejected in national discourse for decades, to the point that the very word is almost impossible to mention in public due to its negative emotional connotations. Thus, while some Egyptians may be able to digest the idea of Israel as a territorial state with a government, ambassadors, and army, accepting Israel’s ideological foundations as a Jewish state is beyond everything they have been brought up to believe.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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