Tuesday, February 19, 2019

From Ian:

PA deletes Jewish history from key sites in Judea and Samaria
The Palestinian Authority is violating its agreements with Israel by trying to redefine historic sites and nature reserves in Judea and Samaria, Israel Hayom has learned.

The Oslo II Accord, as well as subsequent agreements, grant the Palestinian Authority limited control over certain landmarks and nature reserves in Judea and Samaria at the discretion of Israeli authorities and only if the PA commits to coordinating the administration of the areas with Israeli forces.

The 1995 agreement, which has been only partially implemented, says that "the two sides shall each take appropriate measures in order to protect Nature Reserves, Protected Natural Assets and species of animals, plants and flowers of special breeds, as well as to implement rules of behavior in Nature Reserves."

But recent steps taken by the Palestinians suggest that PA officials have been flouting those provisions.

As part of this rogue behavior, the PA has recently placed a sign at Arugot Stream, which runs from west to east in Judea, calling it Al-Kanub Reserve. The sign states that the EU and the U.N. help support the administration of the site.

The PA has also set up a new website called Mahmiyat (which means nature reserves in Arabic), which provides tourist information on the various landmarks in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The descriptions obscure the Jewish links to those landmarks dating to biblical times.
PMW: Abbas to inflict humanitarian crisis on Palestinians, after Israel penalizes PA for its support of terrorists
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has officially announced that the PA will refuse to accept all tax money Israel transfers to the PA if Israel deducts the amount the PA uses to reward terrorists. This PA policy will lead to a grave humanitarian crisis for Palestinians.

The Israeli Cabinet announced yesterday that Israel will be deducting 502,697,000 shekels/year - $139,638,000 - from taxes to be transferred to the PA. This is the amount reported exclusively by PMW that the PA paid in 2018 in salaries to imprisoned and released terrorists. This sum does not include the PA's financial rewards to families of dead terrorists, the so-called "Martyrs," or to wounded terrorists. The deduction will be made in 12 monthly portions of approx. $11,636,500 million/month - almost 42 million shekels/month.

Information obtained by PMW from Israel's Ministry of Finance in response to a request based on Israel's Freedom of Information Act, shows that the taxes Israel collected and transferred to the PA in 2018 amounted to $2.2 billion (8 billion shekels) - an average of $186,121,569/month (670,037,651 shekels) - while PA payments to terrorist prisoners, released prisoners, and families of dead terrorists in 2018 averaged at least $204 million/year (732 million shekels/year), or $17 million/month (61 million shekels) according to PMW calculations.

Earlier this month, Abbas declared that if Israel deducts a sum equal to what the PA spends on rewarding terrorists from next month's transfer - approx. $11.6 million according to the sum announced by the Israeli Cabinet - he will refuse to accept the entire remainder - approx. $174.5 million/month - that the Palestinian population needs to keep the economy functioning:
Shamima Begum: Manchester Arena bombing 'justified' because of Syria airstrikes, Isis teenager says
The Manchester Arena attack was “justified” because of airstrikes that have killed civilians in Syria, Shamima Begum has claimed.

The 19-year-old, who is pleading to be repatriated from a detention camp in Syria, told the BBC that it was “wrong that innocent people did get killed” in the 2017 atrocity.

But she compared the Manchester bombing to the "women and children in [Isis territory] being killed right now unjustly with the bombings", adding: "It’s a two-way thing really because women and children are being killed in the Islamic State right now and it’s kind of retaliation. Their justification was that it’s retaliation so I thought ok that is a fair justification.”

Isis claimed responsibility for Salman Abedi’s bombing, which killed 22 victims including young children, with a statement that claimed it was in response to "transgression against the Muslims".

Almost identical wording citing the international coalition has been used for Isis statements claiming numerous terror attacks across Europe since spokesman Abu Muhammed al-Adnani called for global atrocities in 2014.

Muslim woman fights for Israel despite death threats – watch
An Israeli-Arab Muslim woman spoke out about her love for the Jewish people and Israel on Saturday.

"You are one of the bravest Muslim women that I know," Hananya Naftali, a minor Israeli YouTube celebrity, said in an interview with Sara Zoabi. "You are not ashamed of your love towards Israel and the Jewish people."

"I am very proud, first of all, that I'm an Israeli Zionist Arab, and I have tied my destiny with Israel and the Jewish people, a peaceful nation," Zoabi said. "The Jewish nation is an example of peace, an example of love."

When asked why she felt so close to Israelis as opposed to Palestinians, Zoabi answered that she is Israeli.

"I am an Israeli, I was born here, I live here. Period," Zoabi said. "I don't feel any harassment and no discrimination because I am Arab. The opposite is true. As an Arab Muslim, I get all my rights.
The Impossibility of Unilateral Withdrawal from the West Bank
Since throwing his hat into the ring for the Israeli premiership, the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz has been reticent about his policy plans. Nonetheless, he has made clear his openness to unilateral disengagement from the West Bank along the lines of the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, stating the necessity of finding “a way in which we’re not controlling other people.” Gershon Hacohen argues that any such plan would be ill-advised:

The political and strategic precepts underlying the Oslo “peace” process, which Gantz echoes, vanished long ago. The PLO has unequivocally revealed its true colors: its total lack of interest in peace, unyielding rejection of the idea of Jewish statehood, and incessant propensity for violence and terrorism. . . . Tehran is rapidly emerging as regional hegemon, with its tentacles spreading from Yemen and Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea and its dogged quest for nuclear weapons continuing apace under the international radar. Even the terror groups Hizballah and Hamas pose a far greater threat to Israel’s national security than they did a decade ago. Under these circumstances, Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank’s Area C, [the only part still under direct Israeli control], would constitute nothing short of an existential threat.

Nor does Israel need to find a way to stop “controlling other people,” as Gantz put it, for the simple reason that its control of the Palestinians ended some two decades ago. In May 1994 the IDF withdrew from all Palestinian population centers in the Gaza Strip. In January 1996 it vacated the West Bank’s populated areas (the Oslo Accords’ Areas A and B), comprising over 90 percent of the West Bank’s Palestinian residents, and handed control of that population to the Palestinian Authority (PA). . . .
US Congressmen visit, endorse Israeli sovereignty
US Congressman Dr. Andy Harris (R) of Maryland and Congressman Andy Barr (R) of Kentucky yesterday visited Oz VeGaon as part of a tour of Gush Etzion organized by the YesIsrael Project headed by Ruthie Lieberman and Sarah Paley.

The congressmen heard from Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar about the establishment of the reserve as a Zionist response to the murder of the three youths and especially the importance of applying Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.

The two conveyed a clear message that President Trump's Deal of the Century plan should not include Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria which they said would be a disaster not only to Israel but also for the United States. They defined American interest as stability in the region, saying there can only be stability if there is only one sovereign nation between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River – Israel. The two also said:
  • Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would engulf the area in radical Islam just as it did in Gaza. "Palestinian" leadership has extensive ties with the Ayatollahs. If Israel does not control the area, the Ayatollahs can obtain intelligence bases in Judea and Samaria including landing rights and an airport;
  • A Palestinian State would mean a death sentence for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and act to the detriment of Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Peninsula, opening the way for Russian and Chinese influence into the region;
  • The Palestinian leadership's record is known as subversive and terrorist, even for Arabs – such as the intervention with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as well as in Kuwait;
  • It's time to change direction: Instead of a plan in which Israel once again has to give up and withdraw, a method that has failed over the past 100 years because of Arab recalcitrance – a plan that serves the Americans, the Israelis, and local Arab interests (as most of them secretly prefer Israeli sovereignty) – a plan to apply sovereignty; i.e., applying Israeli law over Judea and Samaria, the Land of the Bible, the birthplace of the Jewish People for 4,000 years.
New Poll: 60 Percent of Israelis Oppose Annexation of West Bank
A new poll has revealed that 60 percent of Israelis oppose the annexation of the West Bank, with only 24 percent supporting such a move.

The idea has recently crept on to the national stage, with the New Right party calling for a partial annexation of the West Bank as part of its election campaign.

According to Hebrew news site Mako, the poll — conducted by Commanders for Israel’s Security, which opposes annexation — found that 60 percent of those surveyed were against the concept, while 24 percent supported it and 16 percent were undecided.

Commanders for Israel’s Security commented on the poll, saying, “The data attests to what everybody already knows: the majority of the public resolutely opposes annexation and supports a plan of disengagement from the Palestinians.”

Pro-annexation politicians, it asserted, were “not interested in the public’s stance.”

“They declare from every podium their intentions to annex,” the group — comprised of ex-security officials — said. “We must believe them, that this is what they intended to do, and we must act now in order to stop this madness, which will bring disaster on us.”
How Israel Sees Eastern Europe
Many Europeans wonder how Israel can make common cause with the nationalist leaders of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia - the Visegrad nations. Given Israel's precarious history, it is a highly pragmatic country.

Looking the other way has been the practice of every prime minister. Golda Meir formed a partnership with Richard Nixon, despite his well-known distrust of Jews. Menachem Begin dealt with UN General Secretary Kurt Waldheim, a former Nazi officer, and French President Francois Mitterrand, who had been an official in the Vichy collaborationist government in World War II France.

In recent times, Israel has found itself increasingly challenged by the diplomacy of the EU. The Visegrad nations do not share EU concerns about Israeli policy, however. Netanyahu's embrace of the Visegrad also reflects growing frustration with their Western EU partners. European anti-Semitism is at a level not seen since World War II. Chancellor Merkel's open-door policy was an act of humanitarian charity. But she and her colleagues failed to consider the possible consequences of bringing in a wave of newcomers from societies where anti-Semitism is the norm.

Many Europeans are reluctant to make a causal connection between the rise of anti-Semitism and the mass Muslim immigration. But all 14 hate-crime related murders of Jews in Western Europe since 2012 were carried out by Muslims. It is true that there is still plenty of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe too. But as long as their governments do not countenance pogroms, do not work actively on behalf of Israel's enemies, and support Israeli policy, the leaders of Visegrad will be welcomed in Jerusalem.
Knesset Speaker Edelstein: We Have a Right to Say What Really Happened in Poland
Poland cannot deny that some Poles collaborated with the Nazis, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein told the Jerusalem Post on Monday.

"We don't have to collectively blame all the Poles or forget those who acted differently, but we have the right to remember the facts of history and remind everyone what really happened. I definitely regret" that the Visegrad summit was canceled, Edelstein said, "but having said that, we are not trading in history, definitely not that of the Holocaust."

Edelstein said the latest incident reminded him of his personal experience visiting Poland as Knesset Speaker. He recounted, "I was trying to be very diplomatic and say something in the vein of 'we will never forget courageous Poles saving Jewish lives, and we will never forgive Poles collaborating with the Nazis,' and everyone was taken aback. As far as my hosts were concerned, we only had to talk about Righteous Among the Nations," meaning those who saved Jews. "It doesn't work that way. Reality was harsh," Edelstein added.

Edelstein recalled that in the Knesset's annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, when MKs read names of their relatives who perished in the Holocaust, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir would say at the end of his list, which included his parents, that they were "all murdered by their Polish neighbors."
Polish Jewish leaders say Katz Holocaust comments ‘damage’ their community
The leaders of Poland’s Jewish community on Monday expressed anger and said they were offended by the words of newly appointed acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who quoted the late prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, saying that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk.”

Michael Schudrich, Poland’s chief rabbi, and Monika Krawczyk, chair of the board of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, wrote in a letter that Katz’s words harmed them as Jews who live in Poland.

“It is a fact that some Poles participated either actively or passively in murderous acts by Nazis against the Jews, but we remember also that the Polish government did not collaborate officially with the Third Reich,” Schudrich and Krawczyk wrote.

They also noted that Polish citizens constituted the largest group of Righteous Among the Nations, saving Jews from the Nazis at great risk to themselves.

“It’s a fact that Poles are the majority of Righteous Gentiles. Labeling all Poles as anti-Semites defames (them), it harms anybody who considers them to be the true face of the Polish nation and it is a slur that also damages us, Polish Jews, who are a part of Polish society,” they wrote.
LA Times Falsely Reports PM’s Office ‘Modified’ Netanyahu ‘Statement’ on Polish Collaboration
Days after The Jerusalem Post fully and transparently clarified its initial erroneous coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin’s Netanyahu’s remarks about Polish collaboration with Nazis, The Los Angeles Times introduces a new falsehood. The Times falsely reports today (page 3, in print, “Quarrel Over Holocaust history sinks Israeli summit,” and online here) that the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “modified” the prime minister’s Feb. 14 “statement” about Polish collaboration with the Nazis. Special correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky writes that Netanyahu

was quoted telling Israeli reporters covering the Warsaw summit that “the Poles cooperated with the Germans” during the Holocaust.
His office subsequently modified the statement by removing a single world – “the”– to remove the implication that all Poles were complicit.

Contrary to Tarnopolsky’s claim, Netanyahu’s office did not “modify” what she refers to as the prime minister’s “statement.” (In fact, the controversy surrounds remarks in the Feb. 14 press briefing for Israeli journalists.) As was reported by other media outlets, an audio tape played later for the Israeli journalists who had attended the briefing in question confirmed that Netanyahu had in fact said “Poles cooperated with the Germans,” and not “the Poles,” as some media outlets initially reported.
Hungary to establish trade office in Jerusalem
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced on Tuesday that his country will set up a trade delegation with “diplomatic status” in Jerusalem.

The announcement followed an hour-long meeting he had with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who, at a photo opportunity with Orban, referred to the trade office as an “extension” of the Hungarian embassy in Jerusalem.

Slovakian Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, meanwhile, announced that his country will open an information office for culture and technology in the capital.

With this move, Hungary and Slovakia will join Bulgaria and the Czech Republic which have opened some kind of delegation in Jerusalem, though not an embassy. Australia, which recognized west Jerusalem as Israel's capital last month, has also announced intention to open a trade embassy in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu met Tuesday morning in Jerusalem with Orban, as well as with the prime ministers of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, even though Poland cancelled its participation in what was to be a formal summit of the Visegrad Group – Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
UK and Israel Sign Post-Brexit Free Trade Deal
The United Kingdom and Israel finalized a post-Brexit free trade agreement on Monday.

British Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox flew to Israel for the signing of the deal, which was first announced last month.

After the signing, Fox spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone.

Netanyahu “congratulated Secretary Fox on the signing of the trade agreement and said that Israel views it with great importance,” a Prime Minister’s Office statement said. “The prime minister added that Great Britain is an important friend of Israel and noted that the agreement reflects that. He said that it was good for both parties.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized the importance of increasing pressure on Iran and cooperating with the sanctions imposed by the US with the goal of bringing about a change in Iran’s aggression,” the statement added.

UK-Israel trade totaled more than $10 billion in value last year.

The UK is set to withdraw from the EU on March 29. The British political scene is currently in turmoil following Prime Minister Theresa May’s failed effort to get parliamentary approval for a negotiated deal with the EU on the terms of the departure.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's statement to Parliament marking 70 years of Australia-Israel relations.

The absence of Jewish outrage
The shiva is over and the politicians have stopped visiting. Another innocent Jewish soul, this one of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher, has ascended even as her story continues to descend down the online news feeds.

It’s been less than two weeks since another daughter of Israel was defiled and murdered by a Palestinian Arab. Less than two weeks since a teenage Jewish girl was found lying on the ground, her body left naked and punctured with stab wounds.

She was found in a forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the heart of a Jewish state that was established after 2,000 years to end such atrocities once and for all. The Arab who brutalized and murdered Ori had already been detained by Israeli authorities over a year ago.

In 2017 on the Temple Mount he was also carrying a knife and even then openly expressed his wish to become a “martyr” in the cause of Palestine. That is, to become a murderer of Jews. He was somehow released by those authorities and thus allowed to try again. This time he achieved his heinous goal.

What else can one say about this failure but that the Israeli authorities simply didn’t believe him? We Jews seldom believe our enemies when they tell us exactly what they plan to do to us. Worse still, we often don’t believe them when they actually do it.

Palestinians say Israel 'playing with fire' by closing Temple Mount gate
The Palestinian Authority on Monday warned that Israel was “playing with fire” after clashes erupted at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem over the closure of the Golden Gate site – also known as the Gate of Mercy – to Muslim worshipers. The PA also accused Israel of “waging war on Islam” and called on the intervention of the international community.

The Jerusalem Police detained five east Jerusalem Arabs who tried to enter the premises of the Golden Gate, which has been closed by a court order.

Palestinians claim that Israel is planning to turn the area into a prayer site for Jews. The site, which once housed the offices of the Islamic Heritage Committee, was closed by the Jerusalem Police in 2003 after it was revealed that the committee was involved in political activities. In 2017, a court issued an order to keep the site closed until further notice.

Last week, Muslim worshipers entered the premises and prayed there, prompting the police to lock the gate with chains.
Five Palestinians arrested after Temple Mount clash with police
Palestinian worshipers clashed with police officers on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount Monday after they tried to break into a closed area, a police spokesman said.

“In Jerusalem on the Temple Mount, five people were arrested for attempting to enter a closed area based on a court order,” said Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld.

The Palestinians tried to force their way into the compound leading to the Gate of Mercy, or Golden Gate, an area sealed by Israeli authorities to stop illegal excavations, Channel 12 news reported.

The disturbances were subdued and regular visits to the holy site continued as usual, Rosenfeld said.

In a separate incident last Thursday, the Muslim Waqf religious council broke into the are and held prayers there, despite the site being closed by police in light of a court order several years ago.
Soldier injured in Gaza clashes identified as Yoadd Zaguri of Los Angeles
An Israeli soldier injured in clashes along the Gaza border was identified on Monday as Yoadd Zaguri, a lone soldier from Los Angeles.

Zaguri, an infantryman in the army’s Nahal Brigade, was moderately wounded Sunday after an improvised explosive device was thrown at troops during rioting in northern Gaza.

He was hospitalized at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, where he underwent surgery for shrapnel wounds to his neck.

“I heard ‘shrapnel’ and I thought it was just a scratch and I was very optimistic. But then I realized that the injury was to his neck and was more serious,” Ela Avimor, who is Zaguri’s girlfriend and also a lone soldier from Los Angeles, told Channel 12 news from the hospital.

Avimor said Zaguri had fought to enlist despite objections from his parents and the bureaucratic obstacles he faced upon arrival.

“He immigrated to Israel voluntarily,” she said. “At first he had all sorts of problems but he fought in order to enlist.”
Do IDF restrictions on opening fire at the Gaza border endanger soldiers?
IDF commanders of the Gaza Division expressed strong criticism of fire-opening regulations during violent demonstrations by Palestinians on the Gaza border security fence, according to a report on Walla news on Sunday.

"They restrict us from opening fire and they're always changing the rules about it," one Paratroopers Brigade commander told Walla. "When we ask the commanders above us why the rules were changed, we are told that there was a new assessment of the situation, and these are the (new) guidelines."

According to the commander, the instructions for opening fire changes from case to case.

"In some cases, the company commander allows it and in some cases, only the battalion commander and above are allowed to (order) open fire," he said.

Walla reported that there is similar criticism among the Armored Corps.

An Armored Corp commander told Walla that when they were first deployed on the Gaza border, they were told to return fire if IDF soldiers were hit by sniper fire.

However, they were instructed that they must receive approval from commanders before opening fire.
A year into Gaza border protests, conflict seems unavoidable - Analysis
Despite both sides not being interested in another war, a continued deterioration of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure will continue to put pressure on Hamas, which could lead to another violent clash with Israel.

In order to improve the humanitarian situation and to bring in international involvement in the Gaza Strip, it is believed that Sinwar might consider having militants attack IDF troops along the border fence by sniper fire, anti-tank missiles, firing rockets at Israeli cities or attacking troops through one of their cross-border attack tunnels.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second largest group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, was also assessed as a factor increasing the risk of an escalation since it is not under the direct control of Hamas and acts independently for its own interests.

In late January, an IDF officer was lightly wounded after a he was struck in his helmet by sniper fire along the Gaza Strip security fence claimed by PIJ.

The officer was struck near Kibbutz Kissufim, the same area where Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi was killed after he was shot in the chest by sniper fire. Levi was the first soldier killed along the Gaza front since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Another soldier was struck by sniper fire in the area less than a week after Levi was killed.

The IDF has warned that both Hamas and PIJ have restored their military capabilities to their pre-2014 strength, and expect that in the next war the southern communities bordering the Strip would be incessantly pounded with rockets and mortar attacks.

Due to that threat, Kochavi has ordered an increase of two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries, which would see Israel have a total of 10 Iron Dome batteries, eight manned by conscript soldiers and two by reservists.

In January former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Gadi Eisenkot stated that the Israeli military thwarted the smuggling of 15,000-20,000 rockets into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, but despite that, 2018 saw the most serious peak of violence between Israel and terror groups in the strip since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, with over 1,000 rockets fired.
Qatar will not finance Gaza's electricity after April - report
Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi said in a closed meeting that Qatar does not intend to continue to fund Gaza's electricity after April, Arutz Sheva reported.

According to Palestinian sources, this decision is due to Qatar's disappointment in the slow progress of infrastructure projects on the ground.

Since October, Qatar has given around $10 million a month to Gaza for fuel to run it's power station, one of three sources of electricity in Gaza. The other two sources are gas lines from Egypt and Israel. Because of damages to the pipelines from Egypt, Gaza has not received electricity through that source since February 2018.

The Qatari funding has enabled Gazans to have up to 12 hours of electricity a day, whereas previously, in late 2018, there would often be as little as four hours of electricity a day.

Qatar has also been transferring $15 million dollars a month since November to pay for salaries for civil servants in Gaza. These payments are set to end in May.
Hebrew University Distances Itself From Lecturer Who Said Palestinian Kids Face ‘Death Machine’ in Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem distanced itself from a professor who claimed that the Israeli military was using Palestinian children to test its weapons — comments that were denounced by one audience member as fallacious and incendiary.

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, a professor of criminology and sociology at the Hebrew University, made the comments during a Tuesday lecture at Columbia University in New York that was organized by the school’s Center for Palestine Studies.

During the talk — titled “Jerusalem’s Children in the ‘Showroom’ of Violent Technologies,” and attended by some 30-40 people — she said that “Palestinian spaces are laboratories for the Israeli security industry, [they] are using them as showcases,” according to a recording obtained by The Algemeiner.

She said her research was based on the testimonies of some 600 local children who she asserted face a “death machine” at Bab al-Amud, the Arabic name for the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, which has been the site of dozens of Palestinian attacks — including deadly stabbings and shootings — in recent years.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Hamas Switches To Peaceful Bombs For Peaceful Killing Of Jews (satire)
Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, February 19 – Border units attacking Israel along the fence at the edge of this coastal territory have begun transitioning to the use of more peaceful deadly violence, activists with the Hamas movement report.

The daily disturbances along the border have long featured incendiary kites, helium balloons with bombs attached, IEDs, and other weapons targeting either Israelis or the fields and forest inside Israel. Beginning late last month, however, Hamas and allied groups managing the peaceful deadly riots introduced even more peaceful tactics to protest Israel’s ongoing efforts to prevent Israelis from falling prey to terrorism.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told reporters that the conflict takes place as much in the public consciousness as it does on the ground. “The moral victories are important,” he stressed. “We must convince the world we occupy the moral high ground, and the violent means we have employed heretofore, while justified, have a deleterious effect on public perception internationally. It’s not easy for the world to see incendiary devices landing in the playgrounds of Israeli kindergartens and imagine those Zionist children are actually monsters who must pay for Palestinian suffering. We understand that may be difficult to accept. So we have to adapt our tactics to include more peaceful methods. Now we launch peaceful bombs and plant peaceful IEDs along IDF patrol routes, so if any of them result in death or disfigurement, that happens peacefully.”

Barhoum conceded the difficulty of gauging the success of the switch. “The world’s attention hasn’t been focused on these protests for months already,” he admitted. “We commanded that attention for a while during last spring and summer, but that waned. And we have nothing to show for it all, despite hundreds of Palestinian deaths. Our movement’s leadership conferred with the other factions in Gaza and decided to implement this switch, so that the lopsided nature of the conflict becomes even more apparent, and the world demands Israeli cease its aggression against our innocent people who are trying to kill them. Of course it would violate our tenets to abandon violence, so as a compromise all the factions agreed to reclassify their weapons and activities as peaceful or nonviolent, and the compliant Western media goes along with it.”
U.S. Concerned Over Hezbollah’s Growing Role in Lebanon
Hezbollah's growing role in the Lebanese government worries the United States, the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon said during a meeting with Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Tuesday, according to the U.S. embassy.

The armed Shi'ite group, which is backed by Iran and listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, controls three of the 30 ministries in Hariri's new cabinet, the largest number it has ever held. They include the Health Ministry, which has the fourth-largest budget in the state.

U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard, speaking after the meeting, said she had been "very frank … about U.S. concern over the growing role in the cabinet of an organization that continues to maintain a militia that is not under the control of the government", according to an embassy statement.

Richard, who did not name Hezbollah, said the group "continues to make its own national security decisions – decisions that endanger the rest of the country".

It also "continues to violate the government’s disassociation policy by participating in armed conflict in at least three other countries", she said. Lebanon's official policy of disassociation is intended to keep it out of the region's conflicts.
America’s Middle East Allies Should Not Be Paying for Syria’s Reconstruction
Shortly after Washington announced the withdrawal of troops from Syria, both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain—two reliable supports of American efforts to contain Iran—reopened their embassies in Damascus, effectively announcing their recognition that Bashar al-Assad is the victor in the civil war and thus has regained legitimacy. Worse, the UAE has repeatedly shown interest in investing in Syria. David Adesnik argues that the U.S. must tighten sanctions on Assad and make clear to its allies that they should follow suit:

Well before the White House announced that U.S. troops were coming home, there were signs that the UAE was pursuing reconciliation with Assad. Last August, a leading Emirati investor reportedly met with Syrian regime officials to discuss investment in the Marota City project, the centerpiece of the regime’s reconstruction plans. While reconstruction may sound like a humanitarian endeavor, it is a means for Assad to enrich his accomplices at the expense of impoverished Syrians. To acquire land for Marota City, the regime evicted thousands of residents and razed numerous properties in the neighborhood of Basateen al-Razi, a hub of protests in the early days of the uprising against Assad. . . .

Last November, a senior Emirati trade official announced that his country was complying with all U.S. sanctions on Iran, which the White House had recently re-imposed. The UAE fears Iran—with good cause—and relies on its partnership with the U.S. for security. The White House should make clear that this is a two-way street.
Dutch company fined for exporting turbine parts to Iran
A Dutch court on Monday fined a company and sentenced three men to community service for illegally exporting to Iran gas turbine parts that could be used in the manufacture of weapons.

The court in the southern province of Limburg, convicted Euroturbine BV of setting up shell construction companies aimed at circumventing Dutch export license requirements that were tightened in 2009. The Dutch company was fined 500,000 euros ($565,383) and a Bahrain-based subsidiary 350,000 euros ($395,800).

The court said the shell companies were set up “so that gas turbine parts could still be sold to clients in Iran.” It did not publicly identify the clients.

For their roles in the export scam, the company’s director, an indirect shareholder, and an employee, none of whom was named. were sentenced to perform unpaid community service.

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