Monday, January 21, 2019

From Ian:

After rocket fired at Golan, IDF bombs Iran caches, intel sites, bases in Syria
Israeli fighter jets targeted Iranian weapons storehouses, intelligence facilities and a training camp near Damascus during a massive overnight bombardment, the Israel Defense Forces said Monday, accusing Iran of firing a missile at Israel a day earlier.

In addition, the Israeli Air Force bombed a number of Syrian air defense systems that fired on the attacking fighter jets, including a Russian-made Pansir S-1 battery, the military said.

“During the attack, dozens of Syrian surface-to-air missiles were fired, despite the clear warnings expressed [by Israel] to refrain from attacking. As a result, a number of Syrian air defense batteries were also attacked,” the IDF said in a statement acknowledging the attack. The public confirmation was in line with a recent departure from Israel’s previous silence about such strikes.

According to Russia, four Syrian servicemen were killed in the Israeli strikes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said at least seven other pro-regime fighters were killed, likely Iranian or Shiite militia troops.

The Israeli army said its series of airstrikes on Iranian targets was in response to a surface-to-surface missile that was fired by an Iranian militia at the Golan Heights a day earlier and intercepted by an Iron Dome anti-missile battery. According to Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, the missile attack was aimed at the popular Hermon ski resort, which was full of visitors at the time. Military officials, however, were more circumspect about the target of the missile, saying it could have been either a civilian or a military site on the Golan Heights.

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported Monday that the missile carried a nearly half-ton warhead.

The missile attack on the Golan appeared to come in retaliation for an alleged Israeli strike earlier Sunday against targets in the Damascus International Airport and in the town of al-Kiswah, south of the capital.
IDF: Iranian troops fired missile at Israel as a warning against future attacks
The Israel Defense Forces on Monday said the missile that was intercepted over the Hermon ski resort the previous day was launched by Iran in a “premeditated” attack aimed at deterring Israel from conducting airstrikes against the Islamic Republic’s troops and proxies in Syria.

According to the Israeli military, the missile was an Iranian-made medium-range model that was fired from the outskirts of Damascus at approximately three in the afternoon. Conflicting reports emerged about the intended target of the missile, with some politicians claiming it was the Hermon ski resort and the IDF saying it could have been heading to either a civilian or a military area.

The attack came shortly after the IDF allegedly conducted a number of rare daylight airstrikes nearby.

In response to the missile attack from Syria, which was intercepted before it breached Israeli airspace, the Israeli military launched three waves of airstrikes that targeted first Iranian sites in and around Damascus, and then Syrian air defense batteries, which had fired on the Israeli fighter jets that had attacked earlier, the IDF said.

Israeli troops on Monday remained on high alert in the north. The Hermon ski resort was closed to visitors, but no other special safety instructions were given to residents of the area.

Military spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said the three response sorties destroyed a number of Iranian intelligence sites, training bases and weapons caches, including one of the Islamic Republic’s largest depots near the Damascus International Airport, which triggered secondary explosions.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor reported that 11 pro-regime fighters were killed in the Israeli raids. Of those, according to Russia, at least four were Syrian military personnel, apparently killed in the strikes on the country’s air defenses.

On Monday morning, the IDF released video footage of its airstrikes on Syrian air defenses, including on social media.
IDF: Iran fired missile from Syrian area we were promised Iran had left
The missile that was fired into the Israeli Golan Heights on Sunday and in response to, the IDF struck multiple targets throughout Syria, was fired from an area near Damascus which Israel had been assured was empty of Iranian forces.

“The firing of the missile yesterday, a launch that could have killed civilians, was fired by Iranians out of Damascus within an area that we were promised that there would be no Iranians,” IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis told reporters Monday morning.

According to the Israeli military, the missile was an Iranian-made medium-range model that was fired from the outskirts of Damascus. The launch which came at approximately three in the afternoon came about an hour after Israel allegedly struck targets in Syria in a rare daytime attack.

“The bottom line is that such a missile fired by Iranians from an area where there they are not supposed to be is an Iranian attempt to attack Israel, to endanger civilians lives and military targets.”

According to him, the fire was carried out by Iranian command and not by Syrians or local militias.

"This was planned in advance as an attempt to deter us from continuing to act against them in Syria," Manelis said, stressing that the missile launch on Sunday and the Iranian targets struck early on Monday showed just how deep Iran’s entrenchment in the war-torn country is.

"This is the third time that Iran has tried to attack Israel in the past year, he said referring to past events in February and May when rockets were launched by Iranian troops towards Israel, adding, "Iran is exploiting Syria, and Syria is paying a heavy price for facilitating Iranian actions.”

Israel, Iran in war of words following violent flareup on northern border
According to Manelis, the Iranian missile fired at Israel was an Iranian-made surface-to-surface missile whose launch had been prepared months in advance.

“This is not the sort of missile that is fired spontaneously. It takes time, as they required special permits and deployment of weapons,” he said. “They took advantage of the opportunity yesterday to launch it toward the northern Golan Heights where there are both civilian and military targets.”

Manelis stressed that the missile launch on Sunday and the Iranian target struck early on Monday showed just how deep Iran’s entrenchment in Syria is.

“This is the third time Iran has tried to attack Israel in the past year, he said. “Iran is exploiting Syria, and Syria is paying a heavy price for facilitating Iranian actions.”

The military also said the attack “is yet another clear proof of the intention behind the attempts to establish Iran in Syria and the danger they pose to the State of Israel and regional stability.”

Following the attack, the IDF announced that the Mount Hermon skiing site would be closed to visitors on Monday. The resort later announced that it would reopen on Tuesday if the army gives its permission.
Iran fires rockets over Mount Hermon.

Mount Hermon ski resort to reopen despite flareup on northern border
The Hermon ski resort will reopen on Tuesday, after closing to visitors Monday following clashes between Israel and Iranian forces in Syria on Sunday.

The popular tourist site made the announcement on its website, saying the decision was approved by the Israel Defense Forces.

The Israeli army on Monday did not allow visitors onto the ski resort in the northern Golan Heights, amid concerns a cross-border conflagration could intensify.

“Given the situation, it has been decided that the Hermon site will not open to visitors Monday,” the army said in a statement early Monday morning.

The move came after Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepted an Iranian surface-to surface-missile shot at Israel from Syria. According to Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, the missile attack was aimed at the ski resort, which was full of visitors at the time. Military officials, however, were more circumspect about the target of the missile, saying it could have been either a civilian or a military site on the Golan Heights.

JCPA: Iran Is Ready to Take Risks in Its Struggle with Israel
This is not the first time that Iran has reacted to an Israeli aerial attack on Iranian targets in Syria. On May 10, 2018, the Qods Force fired more than 30 Grad and Fajr rockets toward Israel. Most of them fell inside Syrian territory, and some of them were intercepted by Israel without causing any casualties. However, this time, the Qods Force fired a more accurate surface-to-surface missile toward the Hermon region, rather than at the outskirts of the Golan Heights. Moreover, this missile attack occurred during daylight hours. The significance of firing the missile during the day was that it was clear to the Qods Force that there were hundreds of Israeli tourists visiting the area and a ski resort.

This attack indicated Iran’s readiness to ratchet up the level of violence and take greater risks of a strong Israeli reaction, thereby leading to a military deterioration with Israel. If reports that some of the targets attacked by Israel were close to the Qods Force command building in the Damascus region are true, from the viewpoint of Iran, it can no longer tolerate Israeli attacks. This is certainly the case after the end of Israel’s ambiguous policy of claiming the military actions and its readiness to take direct responsibility for attacks on Iranian targets in Syria.

Therefore, it would seem that at this stage, we are facing a new strategic situation with regard to Israel’s dealing with Iran in Syria. At its foundation lies the risk that Iran, through the Qods Force, will intensify its reactions to Israeli attacks on Syria and is even prepared to enter into a limited conflict with Israel.

By no coincidence, the Iranian press released this statement by Iran’s Air Force commander Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh: “The young people in the air force are fully ready and impatient to confront the Zionist regime and eliminate it from the Earth.”1
Firing at Golan, Iran seeks new balance of deterrence with Israel; it may fail
The Israeli assault on Syrian territory early Monday morning was one of the broadest in recent years, and certainly the most substantial since an IDF airstrike last September during which Syrian air defenses shot down a Russian spy plane, killing its 15-member crew.

The tension that incident sparked between Moscow and Jerusalem led to limits on Israeli activities in Syrian territory, and any action in Syrian airspace attributed to Israel in its aftermath drew vigorous condemnations from the Kremlin.

Monday’s operation, then, wasn’t just another airstrike. Israel was sending a message not only to Damascus but also to Moscow that rocket attacks such as Sunday’s targeting of the Hermon ski resort (which was thwarted by Iron Dome) won’t go unanswered.

The rocket from Syria, which the military attributed to Iran, was fired by one of the pro-Iranian groups operating inside Syria, likely a Shiite militia backed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds Force expeditionary arm, commanded by Qassem Soleimani. The attack was carried out in the wake of an airstrike in the Damascus area on Sunday morning attributed to Israel.

Some Israeli pundits have argued that the Iranian attack was a response to the apparent end of Israel’s longstanding policy of ambiguity, under which Israeli officials refrained from taking explicit responsibility for airstrikes or other military operations in Syria over the years.
The Mirage of Arab Military Might
Why do Arab militaries perform so badly in war? Israel's victory in the Six-Day War, Chad's defeat over Libya in 1987, the Islamic State's humiliation of the Iraqi security forces—why do they lose when, by all objective measures, they should win? And when they win, why are their victories so small?

These questions are not just academic. Indeed, their answers are central to American foreign policy in the Middle East, for today and for the future.

Go back to May 2014, when then-President Barack Obama told a graduating class of West Point cadets that training foreign soldiers was central to his strategy on counterterrorism. "We have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat—one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin or stir up local resentments," Obama said. "We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us." His idea was to deploy small numbers of military trainers and advisers to the Middle East and elsewhere to assist local forces, keeping the American footprint to a minimum.

More than four years later, President Donald Trump has continued this approach, which, along with his decision to withdraw American troops from Syria, indicate that the United States will need to rely on Middle Eastern forces to do their own fighting. Given that the United States will still have vital interests in the Middle East to protect, Washington will need to care even more about the effectiveness of Arab armed forces.

Enter Kenneth Pollack, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Pollack's new book, Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness, seeks to explain the reasons for Arab military weakness since World War II and why the same problems are consistent across the Arab world. Sweeping in its scope yet accessible to the layman, Armies of Sand is a remarkable scholarly achievement that should be required reading for anyone involved in forming American foreign policy in the Middle East.
Chad Restores Diplomatic Relations with Israel during Netanyahu Visit
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chad President Idriss Deby, in Ndjamena, announced the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The announcement was made in the framework of Prime Minister Netanyahu's historic visit to Chad.

Following are Prime Minister Netanyahu's English remarks at the joint statements (previously issued remarks were translated from the Hebrew):

"The first and most important thing is to thank you for your warm welcome to me and my delegation. I’m honored to be the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit your beautiful country.

This is a historic visit that follows another historic visit: your visit two months ago to Israel. Now I’m visiting Chad for the first time. I’m here to formally re-establish our diplomatic relations. Chad is a very important country and a very important country for Israel.

The future of Africa depends on the future of the Sahel. What happens here could affect the entire world. We understand, you understand. We have to make sure that critical allies understand this. And so we have a partnership in trying to forge a prosperous and secure future for our countries and in a larger sense for Africa and beyond.

This is what we discussed today in great detail. There is a lot that we can do together and we discussed how to deepen our cooperation in every field beginning with security, but also agriculture, food, water, energy, health and many more. And I believe that this cooperation will build a better, safer and more prosperous future for both our peoples.
Khartoum lets Netanyahu’s plane fly over South Sudan, in first for Israel
In an unprecedented move, Sudan on Sunday allowed an Israeli plane to cross through the air space it controls.

The flight, carrying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu back to Israel from a lightning visit to Chad, jetted over South Sudan, whose skies are under the control of the civil aviation authorities in Khartoum.

The flight came hours after Netanyahu lauded Israeli “inroads” with the Islamic world as he and Chadian President Idriss Deby resumed ties, and amid a reported diplomatic push to reach an understanding with Khartoum to routinely allow Israeli overflights above Sudan to shave hours off flights to western Africa and Latin America.

Israel has friendly relations with South Sudan, but the country’s airspace is controlled by its northern neighbor, which does not have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Sunday’s flight marked the first time an Israeli aircraft was allowed to fly over South Sudan, officials in the prime minister’s entourage said.
Dore Gold: Why Are Relations with Chad Significant for Israel? (video)
The reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Chad is an important milestone in a developing story about Israel and Africa that began back in 2016 when Prime Minister Netanyahu made a trip to Uganda commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Entebbe raid, and that led to a summit of seven African countries. This was followed by a number of initiatives to reestablish ties with a number of African countries.

Chad is the fifth biggest country in Africa. It is geographically placed in a very important location. Its northern neighbor is Libya. Its immediate eastern neighbor is Sudan. Chad is a Sunni Muslim country. Yet another Arabic-speaking country - even though it is not a member of the Arab League - represents an important push forward for the State of Israel.

Lake Chad has the main headquarters of several of the African al-Qaeda affiliates. So Chad is fighting jihadism. Because Chad built up a strong army, it has intervened in neighboring conflicts.

For example, in the war in Darfur - which has been characterized by the International Criminal Court as an act of genocide - Chad has deployed its forces there to help limit the scale of violence. To the south of Chad is the Central African Republic where a huge civil war has cost many lives. Chad has sent its army in there as peacekeepers.

The Palestinians will have a leader at some point who will be interested in concluding a peace agreement. But right now, if the Palestinian leadership does not want to conclude a peace agreement, then Israel doesn't have to wait for a slip of paper from Ramallah before it can conclude understandings with other Muslim countries. That was a mistake of the past which we are not repeating any longer.

Al-Qaeda kills Chadian peacekeepers in Mali after Netanyahu visit
An attack in the west African nation of Mali that left 10 Chadian UN peacekeepers dead was in reaction to the visit to Chad by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

An Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group in Mali, called Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, claimed responsibility for the attack on a United Nations camp in northern Mali on Sunday, shortly after Netanyahu and Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, announced that the two countries would reestablish diplomatic ties.

The claim for the attack and the reason for it was relayed by the Mauritanian Al-Akhbar news agency, which receives statements from the group, the French news agency AFP reported.

In addition to the 10 killed peacekeepers, another 25 were injured.

Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the UN envoy for Mali, in a statement called the attack “vile and criminal.” He said the terrorists “arrived on several armed vehicles.”

“It demands a robust, immediate and concerted response from all forces to annihilate the peril of terrorism in the Sahel” region of Africa, the statement said.

The UN Security Council later on Sunday condemned the attack and paid homage to the peacekeepers.
UN Using Israeli Radar to Protect Bases in Mali
The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is using radars made by Israeli company RADA Electronic Industries to provide its bases with early warning of incoming projectiles, according to an industry source.

The source told Jane’s that three systems using RADA’s Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radar (MHR) family were set up at outlying MINUSMA bases in late November and early December 2018. Each system consists of four ieMHR radars mounted on a tripod to provide 360° coverage of the surrounding airspace. The active electronically scanned array (AESA) S-band pulse doppler radars are compact and have no moving parts, making them easy to deploy and “relatively maintenance free”, the source said.
Trump Challenges UN Over Anti-Israel Funding
"We’re not paying until you make a deal.”

That’s how President Trump justified the administration’s controversial decision this summer to cut off all U.S. funding for UNWRA, the UN relief agency for Palestinians. Administration officials and the Israeli government blame UNWRA for perpetuating the never-ending impasse in the West Bank, and insist on breaking the deadlock.

In a January email published by Foreign Policy magazine, special U.S. envoy and senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner explained the administration’s goal “can’t be to keep things stable and as they are.” He added: “Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there.”

Historically, UNWRA’s existence stems from the displacement of Palestinians that accompanied the creation of modern Israel in 1948. The United States has been the organization’s biggest funding source. But under Trump, the State Department described it as an “irredeemably flawed operation.”

Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal J Street organization, warned in a statement issued after Trump’s move that the defunding would “ratchet up the risk of greater destabilization and conflict across the Middle East, undermining the security of Israel and countries throughout the region.”

After all, UNWRA provides education programs, food assistance, health care, and other vital support to some 800,000 Palestinians in the West Bank, as well as 1.3 million in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan are eligible for assistance as well.

So far, the predictions that the funding withdrawal would set the Palestinian tinderbox alight have not been borne out.
Greenblatt Attacks PA, Calls for ‘Credible Leadership’
US Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt slammed the Palestinian leadership on Sunday after a key official criticized the administration of US President Donald Trump and accused it of bias towards Israel.

Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator and a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, had tweeted earlier that the United States has “zero credibility” and thus should not be trusted when it comes to various statements on its anticipated peace plan.

“@DrHananAshrawi: you may dislike our policies & decisions, but to say we have zero credibility is simply not factual. @POTUS has kept his commitments, such as recognizing #Jerusalem as the capital of #Israel & moving our Embassy to #Jerusalem [and] the peace plan it is working on,” tweeted Greenblatt.

“Another commitment @POTUS made was to work to see if we can achieve Israeli/Palestinian peace. We are doing that, but no one—no country, group of countries, or international body—can promise to achieve it. You know that; everyone knows that—even if they won’t say it out loud,” he continued, and warned that the Palestinian Authority’s boycott of the US administration was a “huge disservice” to the Palestinians.

“Peace is worth pursuing & we are committed to trying. You & other leaders can also work hard & see if it can be done. Or you can all continue to prevent the many significant benefits of peace by refusing to engage. The ball is in your court. Time to be credible leaders,” said Greenblatt.
EU calls for new Palestinian elections, expresses 'concern' with lack of democracy
The EU has called on the PA to ensure elections are held, expressing concerns over the absence of any democratically elected bodies in the Palestinian territories, particularly in the West Bank.

The local heads of mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a statement on Monday after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Palestinian Legislative Council at the end of December saying elections would be held within six months.

The move effectively left the Palestinians without any elected governmental body.

“Its dissolution formally brings to an end the mandate of the only elected governing body of the Palestinian Authority, a development the EU missions regard with concern,” the heads of mission stated.

The European Union noted that the PLC, which had comprised members from Fatah and Hamas, had existed in name only. It had not been in session since 2007, when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup, making it impossible to convene the PLC. Still, the EU noted, the PLC mandate played a symbolic role, even though the terms of office of its members had expired in 2010.

Abbas’s four-year-term in office expired in 2009.

In light of the continued power struggle between Fatah and Hamas, the prospect of holding elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is slim to none.

The EU called for Fatah and Hamas to reunite and for the Palestinian government “to work toward genuine and democratic elections for all Palestinians.”
New Norwegian government calls for closer ties with Israel, condemns BDS
Israel’s relations with Norway, which improved significantly in 2013 with the election of a center-right government, are likely to improve even more following a reshuffling on Thursday, said Conrad Myrland, head of a pro-Israel group in the country.

The coalition government of Erna Solberg was expanded on Thursday with the addition of the small Christian-Democratic Party. Solberg was quoted as calling the formation of the government a “historic day,” since it marks the first time since 1985 that Norway would be ruled by a non-socialist majority government.

Reelected in 2017, Solberg has governed with minority governments since 2013, meaning she has needed the opposition parties to pass legislation. This will no longer be the case.

Though foreign policy was not the reason for bringing in the new party, Myrland – whose organization With Israel for Peace (Med Israel for Fred), the largest non-religious, pro-Israel organization in Norway – said the Christian Democrats now headed by a pro-Israel leader named Kjell Ingolf Ropstad have inserted some pro-Israel paragraphs in the new government guidelines.

The government guidelines call for Norway to have “a balanced attitude to the Middle East-conflict, actively support the goal of Israel and Palestine as two states within secure and international recognized borders, and support democratic development in the Middle East.”
Israeli’s Murder Misappropriated for Political Ends
The appalling rape and murder of Israeli Arab student Aiia Maasarwe in Melbourne last week has made news in both Australian and Israeli media.

Maasarwe was an Israeli citizen, lived in the town of Baqa al-Gharbiya in northern Israel and was in Australia on an Israeli passport.

It’s no secret that Israel’s Arab citizens self-identify in different ways. Some have no problem with their Israeli identities. Others see themselves as Palestinian above all else despite their citizenship. That’s their prerogative and, irrespective of how they relate to the Israeli state, Israel will still treat them as citizens deserving of the same legal rights afforded to all Israelis.

But this is anathema to Israel haters whose narrative falsely portrays Israel as an apartheid state. Just imagine if Israel had washed its hands of any responsibility for this poor young woman simply because she was an Arab. The world would, quite rightly, be hauling Israel over the coals for an act of blatant discrimination. But Israel’s embassy in Australia has taken responsibility for repatriating Maasarwe’s body and the embassy’s spokesperson, herself a member of Israel’s Druze minority, issued this press release:

Israeli Ambassador Defends Israel's Actions at Gaza Border
Israeli ambassador Mark Regev has defended Israel's actions at its border with Gaza after nine months of protests and violence, asking: "If we can't defend that border, what border would you have us defend?"

After a report on the crisis of medical care in the strip on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday, Mr Regev was interviewed and blamed Hamas for the death toll, saying the terror group was organising protests at what he called "a war zone".

Presenter Mishal Husain asked if he had any "qualms about the policies Israel is pursuing" at the border with the strip, where on one day in May last year 62 people died in clashes with the IDF.

Mr Regev said: "Everyone who knows anything knows it is a war zone. So why are you bussing women and children into a combat zone?"

"I'd ask you the following question: In Gaza we pulled out, we redeployed behind the 1967 line, which is, from the international community's point, the recognised border.

"If we can't defend that border, what border would you have us defend?"

Earlier in the interview, he said: "I don't want to see any innocent person caught up in the crossfire between us and Hamas."
Israeli Prime Minister Hints Observers’ Mandate in Hebron Will Not Be Extended
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted to reporters on Monday that he would not be renewing the mandate for the ‎international observer mission in Hebron, which in recent months has come under fire due to allegations that its members systematically and violently target the Jewish ‎community in the city. ‎

The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) is a civilian observer mission formed ‎in the wake of the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs ‎massacre, in which Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein ‎killed 29 Muslim worshippers and wounded 125 others ‎as they gathered for prayers in the ‎holy site. ‎

The TIPH mission, which comprises personnel from ‎Italy, Norway, ‎Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey, was ‎originally formed under a joint invitation from the Israeli ‎government and the Palestinian Authority, with the aim ‎of monitoring and recording any violations of ‎international humanitarian law in the city.

The organization received its current mandate as part of a 1997 agreement stipulating that its mandate must be renewed every three months—hence its “temporary” status. For 20 years, Israel has regularly renewed the organization’s mandate to operate in Hebron.

“I have to be proactive in order to renew the mandate,” the prime minister said upon returning to Israel from a historic trip to Chad. “I’m usually a proactive person, but I can’t promise to be proactive on this issue.”

In December, Israeli officials said that TIPH has been overstepping its mandate by providing tours for foreign diplomats in the city. The tours, they say, present visitors with a narrative biased against Israel.
Israel puts kibosh on PA event at East Jerusalem hospital
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdanbanned an event scheduled for Monday at an East Jerusalem hospital because it was organized under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and would include symbols of Palestinian sovereignty in Israel’s capital.

The event was to mark the 50th anniversary since the founding of the Makassed Hospital and to celebrate the opening of new departments at the medical center, the Palestine News Network reported.

“The Palestinian Authority continues to try to undermine Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem and weaken it by replacing it with institutions that operate under Palestinian sponsorship and funding,” Erdan said in a statement from his ministry. “I will not allow this and will continue to act vigorously to prevent any violation of Israeli sovereignty in all parts of our capital Jerusalem.”

The event was to have included “symbols of Palestinian sovereignty such as the playing of the Palestinian Authority national anthem, political speeches in the name of the Palestinian Authority and participation of senior Palestinians,” the statement said.

Among those scheduled to attend were PA Health Minister Jawad Awwad and the PA minister in charge of Jerusalem affairs, Adnan Husseini.
Germany bans Iranian airline that US says delivers arms and terrorists to Syria
Germany has banned Iranian airline Mahan Air from its airports, in an escalation of sanctions adopted by the European Union against Iran over attacks on opponents in the bloc. The US has accused Mahan of flying arms and terrorists to Syria.

Reuters on Monday quoted a German foreign ministry spokesman saying the ban on the airline takes immediate effect.

Mahan, Iran’s second-largest carrier after Iran Air, operates four flights a week between Tehran and the German cities Duesseldorf and Munich. It has been identified by Israeli defense officials as one of the cargo carriers suspected of ferrying war materiel from Iran to its proxy militias in Syria. As a result, it is subject to sanctions by the US Treasury Department.

A Mahan Air flight was en route to Syria on Sunday afternoon but turned back following reported Israeli strikes in and around the Syrian capital Damascus, according to flight data. The airline makes almost daily flights between Iran and Syria.

The EU earlier this month targeted sanctions at Iran’s security services and two of their leaders, accused of involvement in a series of murders and planned attacks against Tehran critics in the Netherlands, Denmark and France.

Brussels’ measures included freezing funds and financial assets belonging to Iran’s intelligence ministry and individual officials, but did not target any companies.

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