Tuesday, December 18, 2018

From Ian:

Col Kemp: Submission to the inquiry on Gaza border violence
Submission by Colonel Richard Kemp on behalf of the High Level Military Group to The UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 violence at the Gaza border. December 2018 Full Report PDF

Haley: Arabs must prove Palestinians are a priority, support Trump's plan
The Arab nations must prove that the Palestinians are a priority by supporting Trump’s peace plan when it is unveiled, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the United Nations Security Council on Monday.

She spoke at the UN’s monthly meeting on the Middle East, which often focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Throughout her two years as ambassador, Haley attempted to divert the conversation onto other regional issues such as Syria and Iran.

Tuesday’s monthly meeting was her last, before she leaves office at the end of December. Haley took the opportunity to speak about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Trump Peace plan and the UN’s “biased obsession” with Israel.

Israel has always wanted peace with its neighbors and demonstrated that it wants peace, “but it does not want to make peace at any price and it shouldn’t.”

The Palestinians also do not need to accept a peace deal at any price, she said.

“Both sides would benefit greatly from a peace agreement, but the Palestinians would benefit more and the Israelis would risk more.”

It is with this backdrop in mind, that the Trump Administration has crafted its plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, she said.

Haley explained that she had read the peace plan, which brings new elements to the discussion. It takes advantage of new technology and recognizes that realities on the ground have changed, she said.
Dore Gold: Video: Mahmoud Abbas Contradicts the Palestinian Narrative on Refugees
It has been axiomatic for the Palestinian narrative that as a result of the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, the Palestinian Arab refugees were forcibly expelled by Israeli forces from their towns and villages.

Despite the fact that the 1948 war was caused by the invasion by five Arab armies into the nascent State of Israel, the emerging Palestinian narrative put the blame squarely upon the Israeli side.

That is why the recent words of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, at the PLO Consultative Council on December 9, 2018, are so significant.

Looking back historically, Abbas declared: "Everyone started to speak in our name, in our absence. Therefore we could do nothing. And you recall, if you remember, that in 1948, when the 'Nakba,' or catastrophe, took place, we weren't a party to it. We were taken out, and we were told, 'after a week we will return you.'"

Moreover, in March 1976, Abbas told Falastin El-Thawra, published in Beirut, that the Arab armies forced the Palestinians to emigrate and to leave their homeland.

Of course there were cases in which Palestinians left as a by-product of the war. But as Israel historian Benny Morris argued in Ha'aretz on July 29, 2017, Israel had no "expulsion policy" in 1948.




PMW: UN appeals to the world to fund the PA’s “Pay for Slay” policy
Outrageously, the sum that the UN and the PA are asking the international community to donate - $350 million dollars - is equivalent to the $355 million dollars the PA allocated in its 2018 budget to fund its payments rewarding terror. This includes payments to terrorist prisoners, released terrorist prisoners, and to the families of the so-called "Martyrs" - i.e., terrorists killed while carrying out attacks, including suicide bombers.

Instead of the UN asking donor countries to contribute $350 million to provide for Palestinian humanitarian needs, the UN should be joining the unequivocal call from many governments that the PA immediately stop squandering the $355 million dollars of its own funds on its "Pay for Slay" policy that incentivizes and rewards terrorism, and instead spend that money on needy Palestinians.

Were the UN to adopt this basic and elementary moral requirement, it would strengthen the international forces that are mobilizing against the PA's terror support.

Abolishing the "Pay for Slay" policy would re-open the door for the PA to receive the approximately $215 million dollars of US aid to the PA withheld by the Taylor Force Act. Abolishing the PA's "Pay for Slay" policy would also avert the imminent deduction by Israel of the PA's expenditure on the salary program from the tax revenues Israel collects and transfers to the PA. Moreover, it would ensure that the PA would not lose its Australian funding and part of its funding from The Netherlands.

As more international donors withdraw their funding due to the PA's insistence on paying salaries to terrorists, it is obvious that the so-called Palestinian "humanitarian" crisis is a self-imposed crisis, created by the PA and its leaders.


Time to Rethink International Aid to Palestinians
Conclusion

Current efforts to provide international assistance for Palestinians—buttressed by strong international support for a two-state solution and for building strong, effective governance institutions in areas where the Palestinians exercise autonomy—has already been losing its ostensible purpose. Various actors (even some Palestinian leaders themselves) have gradually lost interest in it. Leaders of the Palestinian national movement are shifting priorities away from domestic institution building. Meanwhile, many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza do not see such efforts as leading to any desirable form of statehood. The international actors who continue to talk of a two-state solution often seem to do so less out of hope and more out of fear of the alternatives.

In the current atmosphere, the Trump administration’s moves to curtail assistance to Palestinians spark dismay but little resistance; donors were already quietly asking each other whether their efforts are actually building a more just, peaceful, and stable region. It is difficult to give a positive answer to that question—or even to more specific questions about whether international assistance is bringing the two-state solution (and institutions of a Palestinian state) much closer to fruition. Assistance itself is not a problem; it has a critical role to play. But the political foundation that current efforts assume to exist has decayed.

The appropriate response is not to abandon Palestinians but to pursue a more just, peaceful, and stable region in a more realistic and long-term fashion. Rather than pretend that a two-state solution is just a paper agreement away, and rather than simply ignore U.S. efforts to obtain Palestinian and broader Arab acquiescence in current realities, it makes more sense for other international donors to repurpose existing programs to enhance resilience in Palestinian society and politics. That way, current pernicious trends will not metastasize into a permanent state of instability and conflict, and rising generations of Palestinian leaders will have tools to manage and address the underlying problems that have vexed their predecessors.
Daily Mail: British taxpayers are STILL funding 'lessons in hate' at Palestinian schools where children are made to stage mock executions
British taxpayers are still funding ‘lessons in hate’ at Palestinian schools more than a year after ministers were told they could be inciting violence against Israel.

It emerged last year that the Department for International Development has helped pay the salaries of officials who drew up a new curriculum that teaches children the virtues of becoming a jihadi.

Plays put on at schools and summer camps have even included pupils staging mock executions.

One in Hebron featured a child draped in Palestinian colours ‘shooting’ another dressed as an Israeli soldier.
Staged execution: One in Hebron featured a child draped in Palestinian colours ‘shooting’ another dressed as an Israeli soldier

Textbooks teach five-year-olds the words for ‘martyr’ and ‘attack’, while teenagers are told that those who sacrifice themselves will be rewarded with ‘72 virgin brides in paradise’.

But despite promises earlier this year that the curriculum would be reviewed, the books are still being used by the ministry of education on the West Bank, activists revealed.

Joan Ryan MP, chairman of the Labour Friends of Israel, said aid to the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, should be suspended until the books are removed.

‘It is absolutely appalling that the Palestinian Authority is using British taxpayers’ money to teach these lessons in hate,’ she said.

‘I simply cannot understand why ministers have spent over a year dragging their feet, coming up with excuses for the Palestinian Authority, and allowing this to continue.

‘They need to get a grip and suspend the money we pay to the ministry of education until we have a cast iron guarantee this vile content has been removed once and for all.’

Britain is giving the Palestinian Authority £70million in the current financial year and some of this is being used to help pay the salaries of 33,000 teachers and education officials in the West Bank.
Dutch government passes binding resolution, cutting fiscal assistance to PA
Holland’s parliament passed a binding resolution on Monday to cut 7 percent of assistance to the Palestinian Authority in 2019.

The vote was 94-56.

It occurred shortly after Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus exposed to parliamentarians in the Hague the P.A.’s program to reward terrorists and their families. The cut mirrors the percentage of the P.A.’s budget spent on those payments.

It also comes after the latest wave of attacks in Judea and Samaria.

“The need for such steps by foreign donors is as relevant as ever as the P.A. just added four new terrorists’ families to its growing terror rewards payroll,” said PMW senior analyst Nan Zilberdik. “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 co-workers. The other two terrorists were killed while attempting to kill Israelis. The families of the four terrorists will now receive monthly allowances for life,” continued Zilberdik. “Hopefully, the Dutch decision will serve as a precedent for other European parliaments.”

The Netherlands gives more than $14.8 million annually to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that deals with the Palestinian refugee issue.
MEMRI: Palestinian Authority President 'Abbas Orders Rebuilding Of House Of Latifa Abu Hmeid – Mother Of Six Terrorists Who Were Involved In Shooting And Suicide Attacks – After It Was Demolished By Israel
On December 15, 2018, Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas ordered to rebuild the home of Latifa Abu Hmeid, the mother of six terrorists who were involved in shooting and suicide attacks against Israelis. The house, in the Al-A'mari refugee camp, was demolished by the Israeli army after Latifa's son, Islam Abu Hmeid, killed an Israeli soldier. Senior Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah officials also visited Abu Latifa to express their solidarity, and posts on Fatah's official Facebook page lavished praise on her.

Latifa Abu Hmeid, known as Umm Nasser, is also called "the Khansa' of Palestine," after 7th century Arabic poet Al-Khansa' bint ʿAmr, who was called "The Mother of the Martyrs" because she did not mourn the death of her four sons in the Battle of Qadisiyah, but rather thanked Allah for honoring her with their martyrdom. As stated, six of Abu Hmeid's sons, members of Fatah and Hamas, were involved in the murder of Israelis:

1. 'Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Hmeid was active in the Hamas military wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and was killed by Israel. He assisted in the murder of three Israelis in the West Bank on December 14, 1990 and the murder of another Israeli on February 13, 1994.

2. Nasser Abu Hmeid, one of the founders of Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, was a deputy to Marwan Barghouti, Fatah Secretary-General in the West Bank during the Second Intifada, and took an active part in the lynching of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah on October 12, 2000. He is serving seven consecutive life sentences and an additional 50 years for the murder of seven Israelis and 12 additional attempted murders.

3. Sharif Abu Hmeid was active in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and supplied weapons and assistance for the execution of terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv during February and March 2002. He is serving four consecutive life sentences.

4. Muhammad Abu Hmeid is serving two consecutive life sentences plus 30 years for planning suicide attacks for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

5. Nasr Abu Hmeid was active with Nasser in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and is currently serving five consecutive life sentences for planning suicide attacks.

6. Islam Abu Hmeid killed an Israeli soldier by dropping a slab of marble from the roof of a building in Al-A'mari in May 2018. In 2004-2008 he served a prison sentence for a shooting attack he perpetrated on behalf of Hamas.
PA condemns Israel for 'assault, aggression and terrorism'
The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday stepped up its criticism of Israel and called on the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch a “criminal investigation” into Israeli “crimes and violations” against the Palestinians.

The call, which was made by the PA Cabinet after its weekly meeting in Ramallah, came in response to the recent Israeli security measures in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks near Ofra and Giv’at Asaf.

Palestinian officials in Ramallah maintain that the Israeli security measures undermine the PA and embolden extremist elements, including Hamas.

“The Cabinet calls on the Prosecutor of the ICC to launch a criminal investigation that would serve as deterrence to the occupation’s crimes and a tool for bringing about absent justice,” the statement said. “The Cabinet also renews its call to Arab and Islamic governments and all friendly countries to assume their responsibilities toward the Palestinian cause, which is facing attempts by the Israeli occupation to liquidate it with unprecedented backing from the US administration.”

The PA statement condemned the Israeli security measures as “assaults, aggression and terrorism.” It accused the IDF and “herds of settlers of carrying out incursions into Palestinian cities in violation of international law and in breach of Palestinian sovereignty.”

The statement also accused Israel of carrying out “extrajudicial killings, arrests, and house demolitions, as well as besieging cities and villages and restricting the movement of Palestinians by setting up checkpoints.”

These measures, the PA argued, demonstrate Israel’s “disregard for international laws, while the silence of the international community encourages it to continue with its violations.”
A Pragmatic Paradigm Shift Is Needed to Resolve the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
A dramatic demonstration of this paradigm shift occurred in October when Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu paid a well-publicised visit to Oman, a country with which Israel has no formal diplomatic relations. Netanyahu spent hours in close consultation with Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said on regional issues, including ways to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. Sultan Qaboos had received Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the previous week.

Addressing a regional security conference days later, Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi spoke of the warm and utterly natural reception accorded Netanyahu as both a belated recognition of the reality of Israel’s existence and an endorsement of the potential benefits of Arab openness to the Jewish state, which, he says, “will greatly serve the interests of both the Palestinians and the Israelis and… bring stability to the Middle East.”

That Sultan Qaboos, a champion of moderation and one of the few Arab League rulers not to sever relations with Egypt after President Anwar Sadat’s 1977 peace mission to Jerusalem, took this bold step should come as no surprise.

Similarly gratifying were lower-level but significant signs from other Gulf Arab countries: visits to the United Arab Emirates by two Israeli ministers (one attending an international sporting event, the other addressing an international telecommunications conference); an invitation to an Israeli minister to participate in an international “start-up nations” forum in Bahrain in early 2019.

Worth noting, as well, were Netanyahu’s appeal to the White House not to allow the killing of dissident Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to undermine the “stability” of Saudi Arabia and Israel’s ongoing — if guarded — cooperation with Qatar in humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

Steadily and skilfully, Israel is reaching out to the Gulf and seeking to build on historic kinships and connections in North Africa and elsewhere in the Arab world. The news is that the region, without relinquishing its traditional concerns — in fact, in ways that can address those very concerns — is beginning to reach back.

Large and small, the cracks in the Arab “anti-normalisation” wall are spreading, revealing a promising future — one that offers a counter-narrative to the region’s nihilist fanatics, new tools to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and security and prosperity to all the children of Abraham.
Palestinians are trying to have it both ways
The Palestinian national movement has been a troublemaker everywhere it has operated. The Palestinians fought against Jordan in Black September 1970, slaughtered their Lebanese hosts, betrayed their Kuwaiti employers by supporting Saddam Hussein's invasion, aligned with the rebels against Bashar Assad's regime in Syria and aided the Islamic State group in the Sinai against Egypt.

The Palestinians have always been a tool that was used by others. In this reality, it is hard to fathom why the Joint Arab List and its supporters on the Israeli Left, some funded by anti-Semites in Europe, want to import this model of destruction to Israel.

The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria cannot be described as two peas in a pod. They are a historical fraud. Modern-day Jordan comprises 70% of the territory of the original British Mandate for Palestine. The kingdom, whose population is overwhelmingly Palestinian, was designed to serve as the foundation for a future Palestinian federation.

Had the Palestinians truly lived in a unified entity and been content with Jordan being their homeland, the conflict would have been long resolved.

Israel should strive to realize the vision that would see the Gaza Strip return to Egypt and the Palestinian enclave in Judea and Samaria become part of a Jordanian federation.
JPost Editorial: Half recognition
The situation could change. But no one, not even the soothsaying diplomats in Canberra and Moscow, knows what the future holds or what formula could bring the two sides to an agreement. This isn’t unique to just Russia and Australia; many others have said they will move their embassies to the so-called “west Jerusalem” when there is peace.

That is why the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, without any caveats, makes more sense.

When US President Donald Trump announced on December 6, 2017, that he has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – better 50 years late than never – he also said: “We are not taking a position of any final-status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”

Trump did not say if the city should be divided or not. He did not say there’s a west and an east to the city.

Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and what Jerusalem means is up for negotiation, is what Trump said.

That is the position of a fair broker. The American position on Jerusalem recognizes that Israelis and Palestinians are the ones who actually have to live here, so we are the ones who have to agree to a livable solution.

Imposing foreign ideas on populations that are not only uninterested in them, but actively oppose them, has not only proven to be ineffective, but can be damaging. This is true not only in Israel, but also in Australia – just ask its Aboriginal population – or in any other country that faces territorial conflicts.

Canberra should reconsider its unilateral division of Jerusalem and leave the city’s status open to the people whose voices really need to be heard in this case.
In which BBC Radio 4 re-divides Jerusalem
Listeners to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme on December 15th heard the following (from 05:06 here) in a news bulletin presented by Alan Smith. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Smith: “Australia says it now recognises West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but it won’t be moving its embassy from Tel Aviv at this stage. The prime minister Scott Morrison has also acknowledged the aspirations of Palestinians for a future state with its capital in East Jerusalem. The divided city, where the Israeli parliament is located, is not internationally recognised as the country’s capital. Phil Mercer reports from Sydney.”

Apparently BBC Radio 4 – along with the BBC’s correspondent in Sydney – is so used to using the politically partisan term “East Jerusalem’ that it has forgotten that although Jerusalem was indeed divided during the nineteen-year period of the unrecognised Jordanian occupation that began in 1948, it was reunited in June 1967.

Mercer: “Australia says it won’t be moving its embassy to West Jerusalem but could do so in the future if the city’s status is finalised under a peace settlement. In October the prime minister Scott Morrison said he found arguments in favour of relocating Australia’s diplomatic presence from Tel Aviv to be persuasive. He denied his comments were an attempt to influence Jewish voters in a by-election in Sydney. There was support from the Israeli government but Palestinian leaders said Australia risked becoming an international pariah. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been acknowledged internationally. Last December President Trump overturned decades of US neutrality when he recognised the divided city as Israel’s capital, prompting widespread condemnation. The American embassy was moved from Tel Aviv in May.”

In 1990 the US Congress passed a resolution stating that it “acknowledges that Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel”.

Five years later the US Congress passed the ‘Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995’ – a law declaring that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.”
Australian Labor party says it will recognize Palestinian state if in power
In 2017 Australia’s New South Wales Labor Party voted for the recognition of a Palestinian state, following similar resolutions in the states of Western Australia and South Australia, totaling half of the country’s six federated regions. It put pressure on Labor’s federal party leader Bill Shorten to confirm his position on the matter.

Morrison said Saturday the West Jerusalem decision respects both a commitment to a two-state solution and longstanding respect for relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

He also committed to recognizing the aspirations for a future state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital when the city’s status is determined in a peace deal.

Morrison initially said Australia would mull recognizing Jerusalem days ahead of the Wentworth by-election, in what was seen as an unsuccessful bid to court the area’s large Jewish population in favor of Liberal candidate Dave Sharma, a former ambassador to Israel who has reportedly pushed for the move.

However, critics warned that recognition would put key trade relationships with Indonesia and Malaysia at risk.

Wong said the Jerusalem decision was “all risk and no gain,” adding it puts Australia “out of step” with the international community.

Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community. It sees the entire city as its capital.

For decades the international community maintained that the city’s status should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. Critics say declaring Jerusalem the capital of either inflames tensions and prejudges the outcome of final status peace talks. In a controversial break with decades of US policy, the Washington moved its embassy to Jerusalem in May, prompting the Palestinian Authority to boycott ties with the Trump administration.
Australian Zionist Federation slams Labor for Palestinian state decision
The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) slammed Tuesday Australian Labor decision to push for recognition of a Palestinian state should Labor win the upcoming 2019 Australian elections

ZFA President Jeremy Leibler called the decision "a firm rejection of efforts" done by Australia in the past to build bipartisan support for Israel.

He also said that "under Bill Shorten's leadership, the Labor party will remain a friend of Israel and the Jewish community."

The resolution "supports the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist as two states within secure and recognized borders and calls on the next Labor government to recognize Palestine as a state," The Guardian reported.

Australia formally recognized west Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Saturday, reversing decades of Middle East policy.

Opposition Leader of the House Tony Burke said that "today we say the Palestinians also deserve a land of their own," The Guardian reported.
EU’s Second Highest Court Rules that Freeze on Assets of Hamas is Legal
The European Union’s second-highest tribunal on Friday rejected an appeal by the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hamas to stop the EU’s freeze on their assets, The Times of Israel reported.

The General Court of the EU based in Luxembourg threw out a bid by Hamas, which exercises complete political and military control over the Gaza Strip, to end a freeze on their assets that was imposed in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States.

“By its judgment today… the General Court dismisses Hamas’ appeal concerning the acts of the Council adopted between 2010 and 2014 and in 2017,” the court said. It charged that the EU was entitled to continue sanctioning Hamas and maintain its permanent definition as a terrorist organization.

“The General Court observes, contrary to Hamas’ submissions, that holding on to power following elections, the political nature of an organization or its participation in a government do not constitute grounds for avoiding the application of the rules,” the court stated.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered in Gaza City on Sunday for a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas’s establishment. Addressing the crowd, the group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh praised a recent series of deadly attacks against Israel in the West Bank, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
JCPA: The Vatican’s Path toward Official Recognition of Israel
Initial Hostility to Zionism

The idea of a Jewish state challenged the Vatican psychologically, theologically and politically. The notion that the Jewish people could have a right to self-determination – and even more so in the Holy Land – was anathema to Vatican understanding of the role of the Jew in history. Arising in the context of emerging nationalisms and in an atmosphere of growing secularism, liberalism, and modernism (all currents that were questioning the established clerical order), Zionism was destined to irritate the Papacy.

Civiltá Cattolica, a newspaper founded with the support of Pope Pius IX, offered one of the first Catholic reactions to Jewish nationalism. A few months before the First Zionist Congress in 1897, the paper invoked the theory of displacement and the preaching of dispersion to support its repudiation of the national aspirations of the Jews. Similarly, as Hebrew University of Jerusalem historian Sergio Minerbi has documented, during the first audience given by a pontiff to a Zionist leader in 1904, Pius X appealed to religious doctrine to deal with the nationalist yearnings of the Jews. The Pope gave a theological answer to a political proposition, thus closing all possibility of a meeting of minds. The Jews had not recognized Jesus Christ, the Pope told Theodor Herzl, ergo the Church could not recognize the Jews.

With the consolidation of Zionism and the Great Powers’ growing international acceptance of it, the Holy See focused its concern on the destiny of the holy places and on the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The Vatican held an unfavorable view of the Balfour Declaration and the creation of the British Mandate in Palestine and instigated diplomatic efforts contrary to the interests of the Zionists. The Papacy viewed the Jewish nationalists as anti-religious Bolsheviks and feared that their way of life would result in the desecration of the Holy Land. There were apprehensions about Zionism’s modernism and liberalism, combined with the possibility that a Hebrew government would be in charge of Christian sacred sites, a position encapsulated in this statement by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Monsignor Luigi Barlassina: “Let Palestine be internationalized rather than some day be the servant of Zionism.”
'Israel must help Palestinians arrested for selling land to Jews'
The chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Jerusalem has made an unusual halachic ruling that Israel has an obligation to do everything possible to help free Palestinians who have been imprisoned for selling land to Israelis.

In a letter to Brig. Gen. (res.) Baruch Yedid, head of the Arab Affairs desk at the Zionist movement Im Tirtzu, Rabbi Aryeh Stern wrote that it was as important to free Palestinians jailed for that reason as it was to free imprisoned Jews.

Palestinian law bars selling land to "a hostile state or any of its citizens," and requires the permission of the Palestinian Authority for all land sales in east Jerusalem.

In early October, east Jerusalem resident Issam Akel, 53, was arrested by the Palestinian General Security Service on suspicion that he had sold land to Israelis. In response to Akel's arrest, Israel arrested the governor of the Jerusalem District of the Palestinian Authority, Adnan Ghaith, and another senior Palestinian security official.

Last week, Palestinian real estate agent Ahmad Salameh, suspected by Palestinian authorities of acting as an intermediary in selling West Bank lands to Israelis, was fatally shot on his own doorstep. He was evacuated to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, where doctors declared him dead.
How did Israel's enemies become experts in tunnel warfare?
Confronting tunnels is a complex task. Militaries and law enforcement agencies which deal with drug trafficking and smuggling both have to monitor tunnels. For instance, in Gaza the tunnels built under the border with Egypt were used to smuggle people, infrastructure and weapons. Militaries can bomb tunnel networks, like the US did in Afghanistan, but only if they aren’t located in civilian areas. ISIS, for instance, festooned civilian areas with tunnels so that its fighters could pass unnoticed under houses and roads. They were able to hold out in Mosul for 9 months using these tunnels, against a 70-nation Coalition and the Iraqi army.

Armies don’t like to send men down into tunnels because naturally the enemy has the advantage in its own tunnel system allowing it to neutralize a modern army’s technological superiority. The New Yorker in 2016 noted that Israel had developed a kind of “underground Iron Dome” to confront tunnels.

But Brig. Gen. (res.) Danny Gold, who helped pioneer the above ground Iron Dome, told the New Yorker that “Since the Vietnam War, it [tunnel threats] hasn’t been solved. Between Mexico and the United States, it isn’t solved. Sometimes it’s even harder than finding oil in the ground.” An Israeli system, according to this report, cost hundreds of millions of dollars, some of which was supplied by the US, to “field some 400 different ideas for the detection and destruction of tunnels.”

But for countries fighting tunnels, detection is only one issue. You can listen for the tunnel or postulate on where it might be, but you don’t want any threats coming from it or surprises when trying to unearth it. This may not be such an easy challenge to confront in an environment with containing civilians and homes.

Once detected, the goal would be to stop the tunnel if it is a threat. But a country might want to monitor what the enemy is doing before interdicting the tunnel. Also a means to dig a counter-tunnel has to be developed and used without alerting the adversary that the counter-tunnel is moving toward the original. Different countries have employed different means. Egypt flooded the tunnels along the Gaza border. The most important aspect of confronting tunnels may also be mapping their point of origin to know what threats may be lurking where they begin.

Tunnels in warfare have not only been used to hide men and material, but sometimes to store explosives. Israel, by necessity, has become proficient at confronting tunnels. Hezbollah, like other terror groups and like its allied regimes, has also likely increased its skills. The subterranean war will continue to be a layer of the modern battlefield.










Rights group says IDF ‘non-lethal’ warning missiles killed two Gaza teenagers
Human rights group B’Tselem on Tuesday said it had evidence that two Gaza Strip teenagers were killed in a July strike in the coastal enclave by what were intended to be non-lethal Israeli warning missiles.

The rights group also charged that video footage of the incident later issued by the Israel Defense Forces was edited to exclude the moment when the boys were hit, a claim the military said was “totally baseless and false.”

In a report, B’Tselem said that Amir al-Nimrah and Louay Kahil, both 14, were killed on July 14 as the IDF prepared to bomb the partially constructed al-Katibah building in Gaza City during an escalation of violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

In response to the B’Tselem report, the army said “no persons were identified on the roof of the building at the time of the attack” and said the matter was being investigated.

The army said at the time that the building was “a Hamas terror organization urban warfare training facility.”


Qatar’s Doha Forum gives Iran a platform in post-ISIS Middle East
Qatar’s Doha Forum has been criticized for providing Iran’s regime with a platform to push its agenda, including excoriating US policy. In gathering together Iran and Turkey’s foreign ministers, Qatari leaders, US Congressional Democrats, and a plethora of other voices, the forum provided a place for discussions about the Middle East as the region shifts from the ISIS threat to an US-Iranian confrontation.

With 800 participants from 70 countries and 100 speakers, the Forum was important and it was a symbolic gathering that did not include high level US voices. Iran sought to exploit the Forum. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said sanctions wouldn’t work and intended to portray Iran as a responsible country and victim of US policy. He also boasted about evading sanctions.

Qatar, the host, wanted to use the Forum to challenge the isolation that it has felt during the Gulf crises in which Saudi Arabia and its allies, such as the UAE, had chosen to blockade Qatar. Instead, the event showcased how Qatar is not isolated and how it has grown its alliance with Turkey and also its outreach to Iran. This is a unique alliance that is increasingly a third alliance system in the Middle East, different than the Iran-led grouping of countries that oppose the US, and the pro-US grouping that is led by Saudi Arabia. Qatar and Turkey have their own agenda, it is one that is more closely connected to political Islamic parties, and also one that is more critical of the US role in the region.

However the forum itself portrayed Qatar as a kind of oasis of stability in a region recovering from conflict. The Qatar Development Fund signed an agreement with UNHCR to support the UN with $16 million, a tiny figure, but a token symbolic contribution that shows Qatar wants to portray itself as helping refugees. Qatar also signed a 2 year agreement with UNRWA, showing its commitment to Palestinians. Qatar has transferred $30 million to Gaza in recent months, part of a $90 million pledge. Other UN organizations, including UNDP and UNICEF, came to the event and signed agreements or praised Qatar’s role. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres gave a rousing speech claiming that climate change and migration were major challenges, slamming multilateralism and urging a new hope for the world.



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