Tuesday, March 19, 2019

From Ian:

Lawfare Blog: Framing Israel: The UN Commission of Inquiry on the Spring 2018 Gaza Border Confrontations
Unfortunately, loss of life became unavoidable even under these restrictive rules of engagement. However, the assumption that the vast majority of casualties resulted from unjustified and unlawful uses of force should be met with a great deal of skepticism. In this regard, it is certainly relevant that, contrary to COI findings, Israeli estimates indicate that at least 102 of those killed during operations were members of Hamas or other militant groups in Gaza. Indeed, even Hamas and other groups have admitted that at least 50 fatalities were their operatives. Furthermore, the IDF concluded most killings were unintentional, resulting from shots at legs ricocheting off the ground, targets bending over or shots missing their target among massed crowds. While some skepticism as to the accuracy of these accounts may be justified, such skepticism is equally applicable to the COI finding that only “2 to 3” deaths in this dangerous confrontation resulted from justified uses of force by the IDF.

This can only be the case under the report’s assertion that the IDF was obligated to treat all participants as civilians immune from attack under the armed-conflict paradigm, even including belligerent members of Hamas and other organized armed groups assessed as taking direct part in hostilities. There is simply no basis for such an assertion. In the context of an ongoing armed conflict, members of the enemy belligerent forces are subject to lethal attack once identified as such unless they have surrendered or been incapacitated by wounds or sickness. The fact that both the IDF and Hamas have asserted that a substantial number of individuals subjected to lethal force in fact fell within this category requires assessment not of use of force directed at civilians, but whether the enemy belligerent determination was reasonable under the circumstances. That determination then prompts an additional question: whether death or injury to some of the civilians was a legally permissible collateral consequence of an otherwise lawful use of force. This would require consideration of the precautions implemented by IDF forces and their proportionality assessments. Unfortunately, the COI bypassed these complicated questions by simply adopting an arbitrary conclusion that the IDF should have treated even belligerent operatives as civilians.

The COI’s biased and arbitrary framing is especially regrettable because an objective external inquiry into these complex security challenges could yield more effective policies, tactics and training to enhance security and mitigate risks to civilians. Instead of seizing this opportunity, the COI has produced a report that will only affirm ill-founded assumptions about the security operations conducted by the IDF last spring, and possibly spur fresh resort to dangerous confrontations by illicit actors such as Hamas.

Cruz, Military Experts Slam U.N. Report Suggesting Israel Committed War Crimes Responding to Gaza Border Riots
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and experts in military affairs on Monday castigated a new United Nations report that suggests Israel committed war crimes while responding to violent Palestinian demonstrations at the Gaza Strip border last year.

The report, produced by the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, alleges that Israel killed 189 Palestinians during the riots.

"The Israeli security forces committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law," said Commissioner Kaari Betty Murungi of Kenya. "Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, and must be immediately investigated by Israel."

The Israel-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center found that about 80 percent of those killed in the riots were affiliated with Hamas, which controls Gaza, and other terrorist organizations. Israel says that Hamas has used the demonstrations as cover to launch operations to breach Israel's border fence and attack Israelis.

Cruz said in a conference call that the U.N. report is a "dishonest" characterization of a more complicated situation in the Gaza Strip, citing reports that Hamas will often insert its fighters into crowds of protesters to incite violence and escape immediate detection from the Israeli military.

"It is a repeated and deliberate strategy of Hamas to use human shields," said Cruz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "The U.N. report ignores that reality."

A Moment of Truth for Hamas
The trouble for Hamas is there actually is grassroots anger in the Gaza Strip, but it is being directed at Hamas, not Israel.

Since the rockets were fired last Thursday, there have been civilian demonstrations against Hamas—a very rare occurrence—protesting the harsh living conditions which only seem to deteriorate.

One courageous middle-aged woman railed in a video circulating on social media, complaining that Hamas leaders and their children cruise around in luxury vehicles while her four sons are unemployed. “All of Gaza are unemployed because of Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar. These officials care nothing about the poor people’s necessities. We have the right to live.”

The Hamas kleptocracy is in plain view, and the diversion of billions in aid and blood money into the terrorist and military infrastructure in the Strip has not gone unnoticed, it seems, by the oppressed populace.

Throughout the weekend there were ongoing demonstrations in the Gaza Strip, including reports of seven journalists having been arrested and beaten by Hamas as well as videos circulating of brutal beatings of civilians. Early reports regarding the self-immolation of a 28-year-old man may have been misleading, with the video thought to have been several months old.

It is doubtful that these protests will dislodge Hamas from power or change the way in which the theocratic despots rule. Only a serious and sustained financial rebuke from their main benefactors, Qatar and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, would accomplish that.

Each for its own reasons is beholden to the principle of the Palestinian “right of return” to ancestral villages and towns in present-day Israel, a euphemism for the destruction of the Jewish state. Continued conflict and misery is the only certainty.

UN panel lists Israelis suspected of war crimes on Gaza border
The United Nations Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission into last year’s protests at the Gaza border presented its full report on Monday, saying it had compiled a list of Israelis suspected of serious crimes that it will make available to the International Criminal Court and other bodies.

The database, which was not made public, contains information about “military and civilian structures in Israel” that are allegedly responsible for violations of international humanitarian law, as well as the institutions that fail to investigate them, according to the report.

Israel has dismissed the report, rejecting and denouncing it when a summary was first published two weeks ago.

At the beginning of the Human Rights Council’s 40th session on Monday, the so-called Commission of Inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory presented a 250-page report that Israel may have committed “crimes against humanity” by using live ammunition against Palestinians protesters who participated in the so-called Great March of Return.

Intentionally killing civilians who are not “directly participating in hostilities” is a war crime, the report stressed. “The Commission found reasonable grounds to believe that individual members of the Israeli security forces, in the course of their response to the demonstrations, killed and gravely injured civilians who were neither directly participating in hostilities nor posing an imminent threat.”

Israel had at its disposal “less lethal alternatives,” the document went on, positing that the use of the live ammunition against protesters was disproportionate and unlawful.

According to the probe, Israeli security forces shot more than 6,000 Palestinians who participated in protests along the Gaza border between March and December 2018, killing 183 people, including 32 children.
Ted Cruz: 'Useful idiots' at United Nations help Hamas
A group of “useful idiots” at the United Nations accused Israel of committing war crimes rather than hold terrorist groups responsible for using human shields in recent protests, a prominent Republican senator argued Monday.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz delivered that rebuke hours after a commission appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council reported that Israeli forces “killed and gravely injured” dozens of civilians over a nine-month period last year. The clashes arose form protests against the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, as President Trump’s decision inspired a “Great March of Return” by thousands of Palestinians who sought to breach a border fence between Israel and Gaza. The most intense confrontations took place on the day of the Jerusalem embassy opening, which resulted in a U.N. rebuke.

“The Commission found reasonable grounds to believe that during these weekly demonstrations, the Israeli Security Forces (ISF) killed and gravely injured civilians who were neither participating directly in hostilities nor posing an imminent threat to life,” the U.N. investigators said. “[T]he use of lethal force in response was rarely necessary or proportionate.”

The report said 29 of the dead “were members of organized armed groups, with another 18 of undetermined status.” That’s a fraction of the 183 people killed and the 6100 wounded between March 30 and Dec. 31. "Unless undertaken lawfully in self-defense, intentionally killing a civilian not directly participating in hostilities is a war crime. Serious human rights violations were committed which may amount to crimes against humanity," the report said. Hamas, a designated terrorist group, announced about 50 of the individuals killed when the U.S. Embassy opened on May 14 were militants.

“This U.N. report is on its face absurd and dishonest and we know because they have been doing it for a long time,” Cruz said Monday on a call hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. “Hamas and Hezbollah use human shields as a deliberate tactic. They use innocent Palestinian civilians, to put them in harm’s way, because they intend to exploit those human shields for when they are injured or killed when Israel defends itself.”
Experts reveal major fallacies in UN inquiry on Gaza report
In testimony delivered on Monday at the UN, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. Corn (ret.) and British commander Col. Richard Kemp refuted a UN Human Rights Council report that accuses Israeli soldiers of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" on the Gaza border.

Corn said, "By omitting from the UNHRC inquiry reports of the use of human shields by Hamas, the report incentivizes these terror tactics in the future, and the risk posed to the civilian population of Gaza is exacerbated. If we are really concerned about mitigating harm done to civilians, we should be condemning Hamas' actions and this report."

Kemp said, "The United Nations has played directly into Hamas' hands and the UNHRC is but an instrument of Hamas terrorism. This report, as well as countries that vote for it, encourage Hamas towards further terrorism in the future." He added that his personal testimony to the Commission of Inquiry was completely ignored in the production of the report.

Dr. Einat Wilf, a former member of Israel's Knesset, explained that "Those who come to the border marching in the name of the so-called 'right of return' are not rioting against Israel's blockade, but rather, are coming to destroy Israel. This needs to be understood clearly as a declaration of war and nothing less than that. The Israeli response cannot be understood if this is not understood."
NGO Monitor at the 40th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
NGO Monitor is a project of The Institute for NGO Research, a recognized organization in Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council (since 2013). As such, the Institute for NGO Research is participating in the 40th Session of the UN Human Rights Council by presenting submissions, giving oral statements, and hosting side events. See below for these materials.

Written Statements
Institute for NGO Research Submission – OHCHR’s BDS Blacklist is Discriminatory, Promotes Conflict, and Violates Human Rights
Submission of the Institute for NGO Research – Antisemitism in Sweden
Institute for NGO Research Submission on German Development Cooperation’s Funding Secrecy
Submission of the Institute for NGO Research – Torture and Wrongful Punishment by the Palestinian Authority
Institute for NGO Research Submission – The European Government – Funded PFLP Network
Submission of the Institute for NGO Research – The UN’s Failure to Protect Palestinian Children
Submission of the Institute for NGO Research – The Exploitation of Palestinian Women’s Rights

Col. Richard Kemp on UN Gaza Protests Inquiry

Dr. Einat Wilf on UN Gaza Protests Inquiry

Col. Richard Kemp Speaks at UN Watch Rally Against Anti-Israeli Bias

Dr. Dore Gold Speaks at UN Watch Rally Against Anti-Israeli Bias

Einat Wilf Speaks at UN Watch Rally Against Anti-Israeli Bias

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell Speaks at UN Watch Rally Against Anti-Israeli Bias

PreOccupiedTerritory: OIC Working To Get UN Human Rights Council Agenda Item 7 Into Ten Commandments (satire)
Frenzied diplomatic activity in advance of the Almighty’s revelation to the Israelites in the wilderness has Muslim countries lobbying heavenly forces to include in the anticipated divine pronouncements a permanent requirement to hold public discussion and issue public condemnation of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

The fifty-seven constituent members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation seek to place the Palestinian issue in as central a place as possible in the anticipated Decalogue, representatives explained, both to demonstrate the importance of working for a just resolution for their Palestinian brethren, and to focus as much attention as possible on Israeli actions so as to avoid unwanted focus on their own, far worse, human rights violations. In so doing they aim to mirror the OIC’s success in engineering the inclusion of Agenda Item 7 in the routine sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which mandates specific attention to Israel regardless of the situation there or elsewhere, and has resulted in more condemnations of the Jewish State than of all other nations combined.

“We need the Ten Commandments to reflect our values,” declared OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Outhaimeen of Saudi Arabia. “Such a foundational event and text that will sit at the very center of so much of human civilization and culture must incorporate the most important fundamental guiding principles, most especially justice for Palestine. Any attempt to detract from attention to that issue represents a crime, and every member of this organization has agreed to work to convince the divine powers that be to ensure the inclusion of Agenda Item 7.”
PodCast: A New U.S. Law Can Combat the Use of Human Shields
A key part of the strategy behind Hamas’s weekly border protests—made explicit by its leader Yahya Sinwar—is to mix its fighters among peaceful demonstrators, so that there is a high likelihood of civilian casualties if the IDF returns fire. Similarly, Hizballah has positioned its military installations and supply depots so that nearly one-third of Lebanese Shiites are serving as de-facto human shields. In December, Congress passed a law sanctioning such activities, mentioning both organizations by name. Mark Dubowitz and Orde Kittrie discuss the extent of the problem posed by the use of human shields—which are employed by Islamic State, the Taliban, and other terrorist groups—and how the new law can make a difference. (Interview by Clifford May. Audio, 38 minutes.)

Israel, U.S. complete successful David Sling tests
Israel and the United States carried out a series of successful interception tests with an advanced version of the David’s Sling missile interception system, the Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday.

“The Defense Ministry, in cooperation with the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), successfully completed a series of interception tests on David’s Sling weapons system,” the ministry said, adding that “The success of the series constitutes an important milestone in the State of Israel’s ability to defend itself against existing and future threats in the arena.”

The tests were carried out by Rafael in the South and included a number of scenarios, which simulated future threats that the system might face during a war.

“I welcome the successful series of tests of the David’s Sling’s system, which is in addition to the successful experiment we recently completed with the Arrow-3,” said Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Israel continues to be a global pioneer in the development of missile defense systems. I would like to express my special appreciation to our ally and our partner the United States in promoting this important security project.”

The series was attended by representatives of the American MDA and other companies who are involved in the development of the system.
Shin Bet denies Saudi report Iranians hacked phones of Netanyahu family
Israel's Shin Bet, the country's national security agency, denied a report Iranian hackers succesfully breached the private cellphones of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's family, shortly after a Saudi Arabian paper carried the claims on Tuesday.

Independentarabia published a report claiming that Iranian Intelligence has hacked the phones of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son Yair and wife Sara.

According to the report, the breach was done several months ago, and that it is not yet clear what information was leaked through the tapping of their phones.

The report also connected it to the breach of the phone of Blue and White Party leader and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, yet it claimed that the hacking of Gantz's phone was done years ago and only surfaced now to be used for internal Israeli election affairs.

The Prime Minister's office reacted to the report, and claimed that "after an inquiry made with security officials, it never happened."
New Right mocks left-wing worries with faux ‘fascism’ perfume ad
The New Right party released a satirical campaign ad on Monday mocking left-wing fears it seeks to weaken Israel’s judiciary.

The faux perfume ad poses Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a co-chair of New Right, as its sultry model, and an affected, whispering narrator listing Shaked’s goals — all under the pretense that the perfume is called “Fascism, by Ayelet Shaked.”

“A judicial revolution,” the narrator whispers, “scaling back [judicial] activism … judicial appointments … governance … separation of powers … reining in the High Court….”

Then, 30 seconds into the 44-second spot, Shaked picks up the perfume bottle and sprays it in the air. The soft music cuts out and, raising her eyebrows, she quips in her signature blunt tone, “To me, it smells like democracy.”

Against the backdrop of Shaked walking away from the camera, the ad then promises, “The next revolution is coming.” (h/t Gnomercy)

The Perpetrator of Sunday’s Terror Attack Was No Lone Wolf
In the West Bank on Sunday, a Palestinian terrorist murdered a soldier and a civilian, and left another soldier in critical condition. Ron Ben-Yishai finds the reports that the perpetrator was a “lone wolf” less than entirely accurate:

[T]his was no ordinary lone-wolf attack; the perpetrator was unusually cold and calculated and likely had military training. We know this because [he] successfully approached [a group of] soldiers, . . . with his knife hidden on his person, drawing it only at the moment he fell upon his victim and stabbed him. [This careful execution is] presumably the reason the attack was so deadly. He also immediately knew how to make use of the gun he [then] snatched and was quite accurate in his shooting.

The terrorist seemingly planned his escape and seized the opportunity to flee when he saw a car abandoned by its driver. He drove to another location and opened fire there as well, before heading toward the Palestinian town of Burqin and abandoning the vehicle to seek hiding, probably realizing that he was better off on foot.

The evidence indicates that he was a member of a local terrorist organization drawing inspiration from Hamas. Perhaps he was even acting on behalf of Hamas, which has recently demonstrated an interest in fanning the flames of violence in the West Bank. Perhaps it is connected to events in Gaza where protests against the high cost of living are increasing. The Hamas department that oversees the West Bank was bombed by the IDF Friday, in response to the rockets launched at Tel Aviv Thursday night. They have good reason to show Israel that they are still up and about, and perhaps [this] terrorist was acting on their behalf.
Soldier killed in Ariel attack laid to rest in Beersheba
Hundreds of soldiers and senior officers from the IDF Artillery Corps accompanied Sgt. Gal Kaidan, who was killed in a terrorist stabbing-shooting attack near Ariel on Sunday, on his final journey as he was laid to rest in the military cemetery in Beersheba on Monday.

Eight soldiers from Kaidan's unit served as his pallbearers. After the coffin was lowered in the grave and covered with dirt, a military rabbi read a chapter of Psalms. Kaidan's brother Erez recited the Kaddish mourning prayer, and Kaidan's battalion commander, Lt. Col. Or Levi, eulogized him.

"On Sunday, you set out on your last mission. A week ago, we met and you told me how much you wanted to succeed and have an influence," Levi said.

"You had a strong will to achieve excellence and you did everything to reach that goal. I saw the glint in your eyes and I knew you'd succeed.

"Dear Kaidan family, we have no words of comfort for you. We, the Re'em Battalion, share in your deep grief, and I want us to be a source of comfort for you. Gal – we'll always remember you. Your spirit will be entwined in our lives," Levi said.

The funeral ended with a ceremonial gun salute, after which four of Kaidan's friends gave a musical performance in his memory, playing through their tears.
'He ran into the fire' – yeshiva mourns for its founder
South Tel Aviv is in mourning after learning of the death of Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, who founded the Oz and Emunah Yeshiva in an attempt to bring Jewish life back to a neighborhood that tens of thousands of migrants from Sudan and Eritrea call home, in Sunday's terrorist shooting near Ariel.

"We still refuse to believe it. It was the worst possible news. The rabbi was the engine that drove the yeshiva – its DNA. He was the yeshiva and our father. He took care of us," said Yitzhak Wasserlauf, who was Ettinger's right-hand man in running the yeshiva.

Every morning, Ettinger would call Wasserlauf and remind him to arrange lunch for the students. Sunday was no different.

"He called me 14 minutes before the attack, and I didn't answer because I was studying. After that, I picked up the phone and saw that he'd called," Wasserlauf said.

Shortly thereafter, Wasserlauf received a call from one of the yeshiva graduates who had heard about the shooting and asked if the rumors that Ettinger had been one of the victims were true.

"I didn't know anything about the attack. I saw that the rabbi was late and I didn't understand why, because he always arrived [on time], like a Swiss clock."
Netanyahu to slain rabbi’s family: We’ll seek to enact death penalty for terror
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday paid a condolence call to the family of Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, who was killed in a combined shooting and stabbing terror attack in the northern West Bank on Sunday.

During the visit in the central West Bank settlement of Eli, Netanyahu told the bereaved family he would attempt to legislate the death penalty for terrorists in Israel.

Ettinger, a 47-year-old father of 12, succumbed to his injuries on Monday, a day after the attack that began at Ariel Junction, in which IDF soldier Gal Keidan, 19, was also killed.

According to Israeli authorities, after fatally stabbing Keidan, the suspect, who has been named as Omar Abu Laila, 18, grabbed his gun and opened fire at passing vehicles, hitting Ettinger. He then stole a vehicle and drove to the nearby Gitai junction, where he opened fire again, wounding IDF soldier Alexander Dvorsky. The terrorist remains at large.

Efrat Ettinger, the victim’s daughter, told Netanyahu that terrorists who carry out deadly attacks should not be allowed to live.

“I think that a person who makes a decision to take such action — it must be clear that he will die,” she said. “A monster like this cannot continue to walk among us.”
Soldier wounded in attack improves, as manhunt for terrorist continues
Doctors reported a marked improvement Tuesday morning in the medical condition of an IDF soldier wounded in a West Bank terror attack earlier in the week.

Alexander Dvorsky, who was shot on Sunday, was fully conscious, breathing on his own and able to talk with medical staff at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tkiva, the hospital said.

Meanwhile, Israeli security forces continued their hunt for the suspected terrorist, identified as Omar Abu Laila, 18.

Overnight, forces combed the suspect’s home village of Zawiya near the West Bank city of Ariel, where the attack took place.

Searches continued in surrounding villages, but efforts were shifting to intelligence gathering, with security forces working on the theory that Abu Laila has reached a secure hideout, Israel Radio reported.
Palestinian terrorist who stabbed Jerusalem guard gets 22 years
A Palestinian terrorist convicted of the attempted murder in December 2017 of a Jerusalem security guard was sentenced Monday to 22 years in prison and ordered to pay NIS 200,000 in compensation to his victim.

In its ruling, the Jerusalem District Court noted that Yasin Abu al-Qar’a’s stabbing of Asher Elmaliach was an act of premeditated terrorism “extreme in its severity.”

On December 6, 2017, Al-Qar’a, 25, from Wadi al-Fara outside Nablus, “decided to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem in protest at the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” the court said.

Graphic video footage from the scene of the attack four days later, on December 10, at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, showed al-Qar’a slowly handing his belongings to security supervisor Elmaliach, 47, who was helping other guards check travelers at the door to the station, before suddenly taking out a knife and plunging it into the guard’s chest.

Al-Qar’a then tried to flee the scene, but a police officer and civilians chased him and tackled him to the ground.
Jordanian Lawmakers Call for Expelling Israeli Ambassador Over Temple Mount Dispute
Jordanian lawmakers are calling for expelling the Israeli ambassador in Amman, Amir Weissbrod, in retaliation for “ongoing Israel aggression” at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including the Temple Mount.

“The parliament recommended the government recall the Jordanian ambassador from Israel and expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman to confront the ongoing Israeli aggression at holy sites in occupied Jerusalem,” reported the official Petra news agency.

Along with Egypt, Jordan is the only Arab nation to have a peace accord with Israel. The Jordanian Wakf has custodianship of the mount complex, which includes the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque. Israeli police maintain security order on the complex.

On Sunday, an Israeli court ordered the tentative closure of a side building on the compound known as the Golden Gate—also referred to as the “Gate of Mercy,” Sha’ar HaRachamim in Hebrew and Bab al-Dhahabi in Arabic. The building in question had been inactive for years and then recently opened by the Wakf despite a Supreme Court ruling banning the opening of the compound.
Jordanian MP salutes Palestinian terrorist for ‘killing the Jews’
A Jordanian lawmaker on Monday praised a Palestinian terrorist who killed two Israelis in a West Bank attack a day earlier, saluting him for “killing the Jews” and going on to call Israel’s ambassador “a descendant of monkeys and pigs,” as the parliament in Amman called to expel the envoy over tensions at the Temple Mount.

“I salute the Palestinian people and the Jerusalemites… in beloved Palestine,” MP Khalil Atiyeh said during a parliament session.

Standing up and performing a military salute gesture, Atiyeh added: “I stand to salute the Palestinian hero Omar Abu Laila, the leader of the Salfit operation who killed the Jews yesterday. O hero, salutations to you. May God bless you.”

Israeli authorities say Abu Laila, 18, stabbed a soldier and managed to gain control of his weapon on Sunday morning, before embarking on a shooting spree. The soldier, 19-year-old Sgt. Gal Keidan, was declared dead at the scene, and Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47, who was hit by a bullet fired by the terrorist as he drove by, died Monday.
Jordanian MP Khalil Attieh Salutes Palestinian Who Murdered Two Israelis: You Are a Hero

A Tale of Two Protests: Hamas Crushes Internal Dissent While Fueling Violent Border Riots
Hamas is ruthlessly trying to crush dissent amid internal protests against the terror group’s rule over Gaza that broke out last Thursday. Hamas officials reportedly are beating protesters with clubs and using other violence — including live fire — to disrupt the protests, along with conducting arbitrary arrests of dissidents, human rights activists, and journalists.

Hamas also continued to detain seven Palestinian journalists for covering the demonstrations, said a source from the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate speaking to The Times of Israel.

The violence by Hamas against Palestinian protesters in Gaza has yet to draw significant international news coverage. And the Committee to Protect Journalists has not issued an alert.

According to the Palestinian syndicate, Hamas released 10 of the 17 reporters who have been arrested since the onset of the protests. Four of the released journalists needed medical treatment.

A United Nations official condemned Hamas’ “brutal treatment” of the detainees.

“I strongly condemn the campaign of arrests and violence used by Hamas security forces against protesters, including women and children, in Gaza over the past three days,” Nickolay Mladenov, United Nations envoy to Israel and the Palestinian territories, said in a statement.
UNRWA head urges donors to keep funding at same level as 2018
The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Monday urged donors to be equally generous this year after they filled a $446 million hole in its budget last year when the Trump administration drastically cut the US contribution.

“Last year we had an extraordinary crisis and an out of the ordinary response,” Pierre Krahenbuhl said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Our humble request to all the donors is: Please keep your funding levels at the same level as 2018.”

He said he has been thanking donors for their “exceptional” contributions that enabled the UN Relief and Works Agency to fund its entire 2018 budget of $1.2 billion.

Krahenbuhl said the agency, known as UNRWA, also adopted a $1.2 billion budget for 2019, and this year it is getting nothing from the United States. Last year, the Trump administration gave $60 million, a dramatic reduction from the $360 million it provided in 2017, when the United States was the agency’s largest donor.

US President Donald Trump said in January 2018 that the Palestinians must return to peace talks to receive US aid money — a comment that raised alarm from leaders of 21 international humanitarian groups, who protested that the administration’s link between aid and political objectives was “dangerous.”
IDF to shutter West Bank, Gaza crossings to Palestinians for Purim holiday
The Israel Defense Forces announced Tuesday that it will enforce a total shutdown of all crossing points into Israel from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a security precaution ahead of Purim, as is standard practice during festivals and holidays.

The closure will last from 12 a.m. Wednesday until 12 a.m. Sunday. Exceptions will be made for humanitarian and other outstanding cases, but will require the approval of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Purim starts Wednesday evening in most of the country, and Thursday evening in Jerusalem.

The closure will affect the tens of thousands of Palestinians who legally work in Israel every day, most of them in construction and maintenance.

However, an IDF spokesman said that Palestinians employees at Israeli industrial zones in the West Bank will still be able to travel to work. Those employed inside settlements will require permission from the relevant IDF regional brigade commander.

Israeli citizens will still be permitted to move between the West Bank and Israel.
PMW: Abbas buys the support of Palestinians in Gaza one terrorist at a time
While Palestinian Media Watch has comprehensively documented the Palestinian Authority's practice of paying financial rewards to terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails, released terrorists, and the families of dead terrorists, it is not often that the terrorists themselves state the salaries as the reason why they politically support the PLO and the PA.

A recent article published in the official PA daily did just that. Khader Mahjez, a self-confessed terrorist arrested for being a founding member of Hamas, was quoted saying:
“The PLO did not agree with me about my affiliation with Hamas when I was one of its [Hamas’] founders, but when I was imprisoned on charges [of being affiliated with] Hamas, the PLO paid me compensation and did not ask me about my organizational affiliation.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 25, 2019]

Marwan Abu Shariah, whose terrorist affiliation and actions are unclear, added that regardless of his affiliation, his father received money for him from the PLO when he was imprisoned. Abu Shariah is clearly impressed with the size of the PLO terrorist salaries, which he notes are “sometimes higher than salaries of judges and doctors”:
“I’m in favor of the PLO and concerned about its fate because when I was in prison my father went to a PLO ministry in Amman and received a monthly allowance from them for a married prisoner, without them asking him about my affiliation and my opinion of the PLO...
I’m in favor of the PLO because I discovered that all of the prisoners, and prime among them the prisoners from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, receive their salaries from the PLO, and that sometimes they are higher than salaries of judges and doctors. This is while their factions did not give them and their families even a tenth of what the PLO gave them, despite the difficulties and harassment that the PLO is dealing with on this matter. If not for these salaries, their families would have been abandoned to their fate. The same is true about the Martyrs (Shahids) and the wounded.’”
Activists call for renewing anti-Hamas protests
Palestinian activists said on Tuesday that they will continue to protest against the high cost of living and bad economic situation in the Gaza Strip, despite Hamas’s tough measures against the protesters.

The activists declared a general strike in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Thursday and called for civil disobedience against Hamas. They urged Palestinians to gather at public squares throughout the Strip to continue the protest, which is being held under the banner “We Want to Live!”

The activists called on protesters to bang on pots during the afternoon demonstrations and to whistle from their homes in the evening until their demands are fulfilled.

The protests, which began last Thursday, appeared to have subsided in the past two days.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said Hamas’s tough measures, including the arrest of hundreds of activists, were the main reason why the protests had died down.

Hamas has accused its rivals in Fatah of trying to hijack the protests so as to turn them into a coup against the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. The group has arrested dozens of Fatah officials and activists on suspicion of involvement in the protests.

On Monday, Fatah accused Hamas gunmen of kidnapping and badly beating Atef Abu Seif, a senior Fatah official in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has denied responsibility, saying its security forces have launched an investigation into the incident.

Far-Right European Party Members Meet Hizbullah Official, Express Support for Fight against Israel

Panel at Australian Mosque following NZ Massacre: We Should Be Jealous of the Victims

Iraq-Syria-Iran hold 'tripartite' meeting against U.S. in Syria
Iranian Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Baqeri met with his Iraqi counterpart and Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayyoub to discuss opposition to the US role in Syria on Monday. In what Iranian media called a “tripartite” meeting, the three held a joint press conference in Damascus. It is the latest visible sign of an Iran-Iraq-Syria entente that will aid Iran’s ambitions in the region and comes on the heels of a historic visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Iraq.

Syrian President Bashar Assad hosted the Iranians and Iraqis in Damascus to show off not only Syria’s return to the region as a stable country after eight years of civil war, but also to stress that Iraq and Iran were now stronger allies of Syria than in the past. “We have shown our unity in this war and fighting together against enemies,” Assad said, according to Iran’s Tasnim news.

In addition, the Iranians stressed that they want to pressure the US to leave Syria. Baqeri – acting as if he was in charge of Syria – stressed that uninvited “foreign forces” must leave the country. This is a reference to the US role in eastern Syria. He said that as long as the Syrian government asks Iran to continue to help it fight, the Iranians will stay. The goal is to “preserve national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria,” and the three countries will continue to work to “defeat terrorists.” This shows that now Iraq and Syria intend to work more closely along the border as well as in other areas.

Threats are also aimed at the Syrian Democratic Forces, the main US partner in fighting ISIS. Ayyoub says Iran will return to eastern Syria either through military force or reconciliation agreements. This comes as the US indicates it may not withdraw from Syria and may maintain residual troop levels. The goal of Iran now will be to try to find a way to spread instability in eastern Syria, hoping to convince the US to leave. It also wants to pressure Iraq to call for US troops to leave Iraq.
US Says Iran Missile Program Destabilizing Middle East
A senior US arms control official said on Tuesday that Iran‘s missile program is destabilizing the Middle East and increasing the risk of a “regional arms race.”

Yleem Poblete, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, told the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament that Washington would aggressively counter Tehran’s “regional proliferation of ballistic missiles and its unlawful arms transfers.”

She urged “all responsible countries” to enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions restricting the transfer of missile-related technologies to Iran.
Iran Building Two New Nuclear Plants
Iranian leaders announced on Monday the construction of two new nuclear plants, and it remains unclear if the Trump administration views this as crossing a red line since its abandonment of the landmark nuclear deal, which included provisions permitting Iran to work on heavy water nuclear reactors that could provide a plutonium-based pathway to a bomb.

On the same day it announced these new nuclear reactors, which are being built in conjunction with Russia, Iran announced it would be filing papers accusing the United States of "crimes against humanity."

The new nuclear moves are rattling congressional Iran hawks, who have been critical of a series of waivers issued by the Trump administration permitting Iran to continue engaging in nuclear research, including at an underground site that once housed the regime's nuclear weapons program.

It remains unclear if the Trump administration will move to block this activity and sanction any international company that aids Iran in the construction of the new nuclear reactors.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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