Tuesday, March 26, 2019

From Ian:

Daniel Pipes and the Israel Victory Project
Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based think tank, is considered one of the world’s foremost analysts on the Middle East and Muslim history. Since 1994, the Forum, through its various projects, has promoted American interests in the Middle East and protected Western values from Middle Eastern threats.

The Israel Victory Project, which calls for a Palestinian defeat in the place of what the Forum considers failed diplomacy, is today the Forum’s most high-profile campaign.

Explains Pipes, “The reigning assumption for 30 years has been that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can be resolved through negotiations, diplomacy mediation, compromise and painful concessions. It has not worked.” Rather, Pipes, suggests “a completely different approach, which looks at the historical record and notes that conflicts generally end when one side gives up.” A loss on the battlefield, says Pipes, does not necessarily mean defeat.

“The Six-Day War in 1967 was perhaps the greatest military victory in recorded history, but it did not lead to a sense of defeat. The only way for the conflict to be resolved is for one side to give up.”

Pipes points out that his proposal is not anti-Palestinian.

“If the Palestinians give up, they would gain even more than Israelis because the Israelis live in a functioning advanced, democratic, law-abiding country; Palestinians live in something quite worse. Only when the Palestinians abandon their irredentist claim on Israel can they make progress and build their polity, economy, society and culture.” Any resolution of the conflict, says Pipes – whether Israeli sovereignty on the West Bank, complete withdrawal from it, or something in between – is better achieved once the Palestinians accept Israel as the Jewish state.

Caroline Glick: Why Trump Recognized Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Now
Former Obama administration officials, and the left-leaning Israeli media, interpreted President Donald Trump’s March 21 decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights as a bid to help Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s electoral prospects ahead of Israel’s Knesset elections on April 9.

But while the timing of the announcement — formalized Monday — may help Netanyahu and his Likud Party vis a vis his main opponent, former Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and his “Blue and White” party, in all likelihood the timing of Trump’s statement was a function of recent developments in Syria.

The war in Syria broke out in 2011. It pitted the regime of Bashar Assad and his sponsors – the Iranian regime and Iran’s proxy forces, including Hezbollah and Shiite militias manned by Afghans, Pakistanis and Iraqis — against Sunni opposition forces, largely dominated by jihadist groups.

During the Obama administration, the U.S. shifted from diffident support for the Sunni rebels through CIA programs and support for Turkish operations to train and equip them, to opposition to the Sunnis and support for Iran. The shift in U.S. policy owed to the rise of Islamic State as the dominant Sunni force in Syria in 2014, and to U.S. efforts to appease Teheran in the framework of U.S. nuclear talks with Iran ahead of the 2015 nuclear deal.

From Israel’s perspective, the main threat the war posed was the prospect that through the regime, Iran would take direct control over Syria and use it, along with Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon, to wage a major war against Israel. To thwart that prospect, Israel supported Sunni militia fighting the regime along its border in the Golan Heights, and conducted repeated airstrikes against Iranian targets, particularly weapons shipments in Syria that were destined for Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.

In 2015, the strategic balance of powers in Syria shifted decisively in favor of Iran and Assad with the arrival of Russian forces. Russia’s decision to engage directly in the war on behalf of the Iranian side meant that Assad would survive.
Trump was right to recognize Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights
Amid all of the breathless commentary on a report from special counsel Robert Mueller that has yet to see the light of day, the real news today came at the joint press conference between President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

When the two leaders confirmed reports that the United States will recognize Israel’s right to the Golan Heights, they also struck a blow for real-world facts on the ground being superior to decades of diplomatic fiction.

When Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., early this year urged Trump to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over parts of the Golan Heights, I argued: “Control of the heights is tremendously important for the safety of people living in the northern part of Israel. If hostile powers control the heights, they can use the advantages of the elevation to rain attacks on the Israelis below. That’s exactly what Syrian artillery did to Israeli farmers in the 1950s and 1960s. Israel particularly fears Iranian presence on the heights through its proxy, the terrorist organization Hezbollah.”

Israel has controlled key portions of the Golan Heights since capturing them during the Six-Day War in 1967. That war began after repeated attacks on Israel, including from the Golan Heights, by Palestinian terrorists, followed by Egypt’s blockade of an Israeli port and by a joint mobilization of most of Israel’s Arab or Islamic neighbors. Acting in defense, Israel crushed the joint militaries of those nations and kept captured territories so as to make new aggression against Israel far less likely to meet success.

Israel went from control to full annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981, with no effective pushback from Syria since. In effect, therefore, all Trump did on Monday was recognize a territorial reality in effect for nearly 52 years and a political reality in effect for 38. Those are among the reasons why, as Ben Hubbard reported in the New York Times, the official recognition of Israeli sovereignty there “was met across much of the Arab world with a shrug.”

Israeli Senior Political Source: Trump Just Gave Us Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria
Haaretz on Tuesday quoted a senior Israeli political source who suggested that US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights established a principle according to which it is possible to keep territory that was occupied in the course of a defensive war.

According to the source, who was present onboard Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s return flight from the United States to Israel, “Everyone says that it is impossible to keep an occupied territory, and yet here it is, it’s possible if it was taken in that defensive war of ours.”

The source thus created a never-before used (at least not in diplomatic circles) comparison between the Golan Heights and Judea and Samaria, which were also captured in the Six-Day War (which also means that when the Gaza Strip is recaptured some day, the same principle would hold – DI).

It appears that the Israeli right is starting to realize that the American recognition of the Golan annexation could serve as the basis for a future campaign against this White House – calling on it to recognize Israeli sovereignty in Area C on Trump’s own terms.

The Trump proclamation states that the “State of Israel took control of the Golan Heights in 1967 to safeguard its security from external threats. Today, aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, in southern Syria continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel. Any possible future peace agreement in the region must account for Israel’s need to protect itself from Syria and other regional threats. Based on these unique circumstances, it is there to qualify to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

Jews owned more than 200,000 dunams in Golan
President Trump's endorsement of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights has led to much comment assuming the territory has always been Syrian. But Jews did own land prior to 1948 in the Golan, and the JNF still own acres of land in the Houran, south-west Syria today. While ownership is a separate issue from sovereignty, the matter, like much else in the Middle East, is not as clear-cut as some would have us believe.

The Jews had a farming community at Ramtania at the turn of the century. The Beit Yehuda Society on the western slopes of the Golan had 2 ,000 dunams of land (One dunam equals one English acre). Originally called Bir a Shagum, the community was established by Jews from Safed. The original Bir a Shagum community suffered terribly from attacks by Bedouin who used to arrive in the Golan every summer with their livestock. Families left because of the attacks and eventually just one family remained. They held out for a while but eventually left too.
Between 1891-4, 150,000 dunams were owned by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild and 100,000 dunams bought by Agudat Haim Society in Fiq & Daraa. Land was also owned by the Shavei Zion Association. Land in the Horan area of what is today south west Syria technically belongs to the Jewish National Fund like the rest of Rothschild's purchases now.

Here is an extract from Manfred Lehmann's blog about the Baron Rothschild's purchases:
"After making acquisitions in various places west of the Jordan, he turned his attention to buying land east of the Jordan, on the Golan. Toward the end of 1891 a certain Ahmed Pasha made it known that some 120,000 dunam of prime land in the triangle formed by the Yarmuk and the Allane rivers were up for sale at the bargain price of around 1.5 franc per dunam, provided that the sale was made "en bloc," i.e., for the total area.
Protests throughout Syria following Trump's Golan declaration
Thousands of Syrians are protesting throughout Syria on Tuesday against US President Donald Trump's official recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, according to the Syrian state news agency SANA.

Photographs of the protests posted by SANA show protesters carrying banners with various slogans along with Syrian and Palestinian flags.

Protesters in Daraa stated that Trump's declaration is part the conspiracy and hostile war raged against Syria.

In Homs, protesters said that Syria has the right to reclaim the Golan as per international law, and that no country in the world can change the fact that the Golan is Syrian territory. A picture of the protest in Homs shows a protester carrying a banner saying "AlJawlan is Syrian. It is apart [sic] of Syria. And it will remain Syrian."

SANA reported that protesters also gathered in Aleppo and Quneitra.
Saudi Arabia ‘rejects and condemns’ US recognition of Israeli Golan Heights
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday rejected US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, condemning it as a violation of international law.

Trump, a key Saudi ally, broke with decades of US policy on Monday, signing a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the strategic territory it seized from Syria in the Six Day War of 1967.

“Saudi Arabia expresses its firm rejection and condemnation of the US administration’s declaration that it recognizes Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights,” said a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

The Golan remains “occupied Syrian Arab land” and its recognition as Israeli is a “violation of the UN Charter and international resolutions,” the statement said. “This will have negative effects on the Middle East peace process and security and stability in the region.”

Bahrain, another Gulf ally of the US, also criticized the Trump administration move on the Golan, saying that it “regrets the announcement by the United States of America.”
Gulf countries issue tepid criticism of U.S. over Golan recognition
Saudi Arabia and several Gulf countries released short statements expressing regret over US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel. He signed a proclamation on Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The tepid response is part of a trend in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries to reduce criticism of Israel and to cultivate close relations with the Trump administration.

In a thirty-three word statement, Bahrain joined Riyadh in issuing a response to the US decision. “Bahrain’s foreign ministry reaffirms its position that the Golan Heights are an Arab and Syrian territories, occupied by Israel since June 1967, as it is confirmed by the resolutions of the UN Security Council.” Riyadh’s statement was slightly stronger, noting that the decision “will have significant negative effects on the peace process in the Middle East and the security and stability of the region,” a statement on Saudi Arabia’s state news agency SPA said. These joined Kuwait and the UAE in similar short responses.

The Golan decision has gone largely unnoticed in the region. While Turkey and Syria have issued robust condemnations, other countries have been relatively silent. Jordan appears more concerned that Romania is moving its embassy to Jerusalem, according to a speech by Romania’s Prime Minister Viorica Dancila at AIPAC. In addition, Iran is dealing with massive floods.

The Arab League, unsurprisingly, condemned the US move, but this appears more a necessary need to say something than real anger. This may be due to the fact that Israel has controlled the Golan for more than fifty years, twice as long as an independent Syrian regime ever controlled the area that Damascus claims as its own.
Rouhani slams Trump’s ‘colonial’ recognition of Israeli Golan Heights
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday criticized the US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights the previous day, saying the move was contrary to international law and reminiscent of the way colonial powers used to divide up countries.

“No one could imagine that a person in America comes and gives land of a nation to another occupying country, against international laws and conventions,” Rouhani said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

US President Donald Trump broke with decades of US policy on Monday by signing a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, a strategic plateau it captured from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War.

“At a time when colonialism dominated, some colonial powers were doing these things and giving part of a country to another, but this is unprecedented in the current century,” Rouhani said during a meeting in Tehran with ministers and other senior officials to discuss flash flooding in some areas of his country that has killed at least 17 people.
Jordan’s king cancels trip to Romania over PM’s embassy move pledge
Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Monday canceled a visit to Romania after its prime minister pledged to move her country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, his office said.

The king “decided to cancel his visit to Romania, which was due to begin on Monday in solidarity with Jerusalem” following the announcement by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, a royal court statement said.

Dancila’s promise, made on Sunday at the annual conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in Washington, broke with the position of both the European Union and her own president.

“I, as prime minister of Romania, and the government that I run, will move our embassy to Jerusalem,” said Dancila, whose country currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Romania’s centrist President Klaus Iohannis, who has opposed the embassy transfer as a breach of international law and has final say on the issue, criticized Dancila.
Israel prepared to do ‘a lot more’ after Gaza bombardment, Netanyahu says
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday threatened to step up Israel’s response to rocket attacks from Gaza as he huddled with security chiefs amid a fragile calm on the restive border.

“I can tell you we are prepared to do a lot more. We will do what is necessary to defend our people and to defend our state,” he told a conference of 18,000 pro-Israel activists at a conference in Washington via satellite.

Netanyahu was originally scheduled to address AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference in person, but on Monday cut short his trip to DC in light of the volatile security situation in Israel.

While in Washington, he authorized the Israeli Air Force to launch a large-scale retaliatory bombing campaign, destroying dozens of targets, including the offices of Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City.

“We responded with great force,” he said, speaking via a shaky satellite connection from the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, where he headed immediately upon landing in Israel. “In the last 24 hours, the IDF destroyed major Hamas terrorist installations on a scale not seen since the end of the military operation in Gaza four years ago.”
Senior official says no ceasefire with Hamas, as troops remain on Gaza border
Israel did not agree to a ceasefire with Hamas, and is ready to continue its airstrikes on targets in the Gaza Strip, a senior official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s entourage to Washington said Tuesday, minutes before the delegation’s plane landed in Tel Aviv.

“There was no ceasefire,” the senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Netanyahu was in constant contact with the IDF chief of staff and other security officials throughout the 12-hour flight back to Israel, the official added.

Israeli troops and tanks along the Gaza border remained at the ready on Tuesday afternoon, hours after an unofficial ceasefire went into effect following the latest bout of warfare between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas terror group in the coastal enclave.

“We had many targets in Gaza. These were the hardest blows Hamas has suffered since Operation Protective Edge,” the senior official said, referring to the 2014 war with the terrorist group in Gaza.

“We hit office buildings and other infrastructure. We sent a strong message,” the official went on. “The images were reminiscent of the end of Protective Edge.

“And we’re prepared to do even more. We will see what happens,” the official added.

Asked by The Times of Israel if Israel has adopted a “quiet will be met by quiet” formula, the official demurred. “I am not saying anything. We will see what happens.”
Gaza groups said to pledge not to escalate as long as IDF halts raids
Terror groups in the Gaza Strip told Egyptian intelligence officials that they would not escalate tensions with Israel as long as Israeli security forces halt their air raids on the coastal enclave, Qatar-based news outlet Al-Jazeera reported Tuesday morning, citing a Palestinian source.

The report came after residents in southern Israel and Gaza woke to a tense but relatively quiet morning, following a night in which terror groups in the Strip launched approximately 60 rockets at the Jewish state and the IDF struck dozens of Gazan targets.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum announced late Monday night that Egypt had succeeded in brokering a ceasefire between the terror groups and Israel. However, the two sides continued to exchange fire until the early hours of Tuesday.

Tensions between Israel and the terror groups ramped up Monday morning after a rocket fired from Gaza hit Mishmeret, a village in the center of the country, injuring seven including two infants.

Israel blamed the rocket attack on Hamas, which did not issue a statement confirming or denying responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, committees responsible for organizing protests on the border between Israel and Gaza announced on Tuesday that a weekly demonstration in northern Gaza on the beach near border separating the Jewish state and the coastal enclave was canceled “because of the security situation the Strip is going through in the wake of Israel’s ongoing escalation.”

'The undetonated rocket was lying on the floor of my son's bedroom'
A resident of the Israeli border town of Sderot saw his house sustain a direct hit from a Gaza rocket late Monday evening - for the second time in just a few years.

"I was home alone, sitting in my living room when I heard a rocket alert, and immediately ran to the safe room," said Shlomo Moskowitz. “All of a sudden, I heard a loud explosion. I went into the living room and it was filled with smoke. I went into my son’s room and it was ruined. The rocket was lying on the floor and did not explode."

Gaza militants fired at least 100 rockets into southern Israel and Israeli aircraft carried out hundreds of strikes in the Hamas-ruled territory late Monday and early Tuesday, in the latest round of cross-border fighting between the two sides.

Moskowitz said the incident brings back bad memories since his house has been damaged by rockets fired from Gaza in the past. “I went downstairs and called the police … This is an unpleasant feeling. My home was damaged by a rocket a few years ago also … but we’re strong, we have no other country … no one will break us," he said.

Moskowitz's neighbor, Eliav Vanunu, said the explosion was so powerful, they immediately realized the rocket landed in the vicinity of their home. “I have three children aged four, nine and twelve. We still have not recovered from what happened but we hope everything will be alright,” he said.

Israeli UN Envoy: Security Council Must Condemn Hamas for Rocket Attack That Destroyed Home
The Security Council must condemn Hamas for Monday’s rocket attack that destroyed a home north of Tel Aviv, Israel’s UN envoy told The Algemeiner.

“It is unacceptable that Hamas is committing a double war crime, using Gaza’s civilian population as a human shield and targeting our towns,” Ambassador Danny Danon said in an interview on the sidelines on the annual AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, shortly before returning to New York City ahead of a Security Council debate on the Middle East scheduled for Tuesday.

For Danon, Monday’s incident — in which seven people were wounded — was personal, as he has lived in Mishmeret, the moshav where the rocket hit in the early morning hours — for the past decade and a half.

“It shows what Hamas is doing — targeting civilians,” Danon said. “And we are retaliating. The prime minister is consulting with the military and there is an ongoing operation as we speak.”
The World Must Condemn Hamas & Support Israel's Right of Self-Defence

‘I Nearly Lost My Family,’ British Immigrant Says After Seeing Gaza Rocket Destroy His Home in Central Israel
The British immigrant to Israel whose house was decimated by a Gaza rocket on Monday has recounted his experience watching the harrowing attack unfold as he raced to bring his family members to shelter.

In an interview with the UK’s Jewish Chronicle on Monday, Robert Wolf of Mishmeret, an agricultural community located between Netanya and Kfar Saba in central Israel, said warning sirens went off at 5:20 am, telling residents of an incoming rocket attack and that they should head toward bomb shelters.

Wolf was outside at a neighboring housing unit trying to get his sister to a shelter when he saw the rocket striking his home. His wife Susan, a teacher at a school in Ra’anana, was on the way to the shelter from the kitchen when the rocket fell. Their son Daniel was already in the shelter with his wife and two daughters at the time.

“There was a boom, then quiet and dust everywhere, and then screaming. It was terrible,” Daniel explained. “I got my wife and daughters out and then saw my mother lying there and I could see she was bleeding. I picked her up and just talked [to] her until the ambulances arrived and took us all to hospital.”

Susan remains moderately wounded at Beilinson Hospital in Kfar Saba, while Robert, Daniel and Daniel’s two-year-old daughter were released, according to the Jewish Chronicle, which also reported that two other family members and a neighbor are still in hospital with minor injuries.
Israel must end this round with tangible gains
Israel is operating under the assumption that Hamas would like to avoid an all-out war with Israel, but Hamas' senior commanders went into hiding on Monday.

Israel has also taken various steps to prepare for any eventuality. This saw the deployment of Iron Dome batteries and the reinforcement of troops near border communities, in case Hamas would to launch a cross-border attack or kidnap Israelis through its tunnels.

As is the case with every round of hostilities, the first 24 hours are the most critical because this period defines the rules of the game. It is also the period where both sides either demonstrate their determination to go to war or seek a face-saving calm.

Israel will likely try to make sure this latest escalation ends with actual gains. It cannot let Hamas' repeated harassment of border communities with airborne incendiary devices go unpunished.

Israel must also change the rules of the game by creating a secure perimeter near the border fence that would be off-limits to rioters. And above all, Israel must extract a clear cut statement from Hamas in which it would pledge not to engage in rocket fire and prevent others from doing so.

Such a statement would only be issued if Hamas feels it has something to lose. Israel must not yield on this because otherwise, the hostilities will erupt again.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Gazans: Hamas dragging us into war
Several residents of the Gaza Strip on Monday accused Hamas of dragging the Palestinians into another “destructive war” with Israel.

They also said that the current tensions serve the interests of Hamas, especially in wake of the recent protests against economic hardship throughout the Gaza Strip.

In telephone interviews with The Jerusalem Post, residents of the Gaza Strip said that they were extremely worried that another war with Israel would lead to a “major catastrophe.”

They said that many residents believe that Hamas was deliberately provoking so as to divert attention from its problems at home.

Hamas has faced sharp criticism from many Palestinians for its brutal crackdown on Gazans who took to the streets to protest the high cost of living and soaring unemployment in the coastal enclave.

“A war with Israel will help Hamas divert attention from the growing anger towards its repressive measures,” said Ibrahim Abu al-Naja, a social worker from Gaza City. “The Hamas leaders are holding our people hostage. Most people here don’t want another war.”

IDF Takes Down Dozens of Hamas Terrorist Targets in the Gaza Strip

PMW: Hamas fights Fatah by launching missiles at Israelis

This morning Hamas launched a missile into Israel at a town north of Tel Aviv. Seven Israelis were injured, two of them seriously.

What is Hamas hoping to gain by firing into Israel's population centers?

According to Fatah, Hamas has failed in its administration of the Gaza Strip and all of Hamas' violence in recent months against Israel, including the firing of two missiles 10 days ago towards Tel Aviv, has been intended to distract the Palestinian population from Hamas' failure to provide for the Palestinian population. Fatah's spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi explained why Hamas fired missiles towards Tel Aviv as follows:

"Launching missiles in order to put down the uprising of the starving is an unacceptable act, and is overt and obvious to all." [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 16, 2019]

The Palestinian Authority and Fatah have repeatedly condemned Hamas' response to the recent protests in the Gaza Strip by accusing it of human rights abuses against Palestinians including against Palestinian children. Official PA TV and Fatah's Facebook page both presented pictures of injured Palestinian children who they claimed were beaten by Hamas:
Hamas official: Iran ordered rocket attack on central Israel - report
A senior Hamas official, speaking anonymously to Israel Hayom on Tuesday, claimed that the rocket which struck a moshav in central Israel on Monday was ordered by Iran.

Hamas reportedly gave its blessing for the rocket attack in hopes of disrupting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election campaign.

The rocket attack on Mishmeret, which hit and destroyed a home, left seven family members injured, including two infants, as well as a neighboring child.

He claimed that Iran "went over the heads” of Hamas leadership and ordered an Islamic Jihad cell operating out of the Gaza Strip to carry out the attack.

While senior officials in both Egypt and Gaza confirmed that Iran had ordered the attack, they claimed that the Hamas leadership was aware of the plans to fire a rocket deep into Israeli territory.
Watch: IDF Takes Down Dozens of Hamas Terrorist Targets in the Gaza Strip
Israeli warplanes and helicopters overnight Tuesday attacked 15 terrorist targets in the northern Gaza Strip, including a military compound belonging to Hamas in Beit Hanoun, a military compound of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Beit Lahiya, a number of compounds belonging to Hamas in Shati, Beit Hanoun, Sajaiya and elsewhere in the Gaza Strip, the IDF reported.

Military compounds were attacked, as well as tunnels used to transport weapons, military posts and rocket launching posts.

The terrorist targets included a Hamas headquarters building, the Hamas Internal Security Ministry, the office of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, and additional targets at a military compound belonging to the Hamas terrorist group in Dir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip.

In addition, fighter jets attacked a five-story building located in the Rimal neighborhood of the northern Gaza Strip. The building was used by Hamas’ Ministry of Public Security, a central government asset that serves the military wing of Hamas.
Behind Hamas Rocket Attacks and Israel's Retaliatory Strikes

BBC unquestioningly amplifies unsubstantiated Hamas claims
Interestingly, several previous versions of the report had accurately referred to “the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry” but the obviously relevant fact that the body reporting injuries and casualties is the same body firing the rockets and mortars was curiously erased from the final version of the article set to remain online.

While people who deliberately attack civilian targets are clearly terrorists, the BBC – as usual – could not bring itself to use that term in this report. [emphasis added]

“Militants later launched a barrage of rockets towards southern Israeli towns despite reports of a ceasefire, triggering further Israeli strikes.”

“So far no Palestinian militant group has said it fired the long-range rocket that hit the house in Mishmeret, north of Tel Aviv, on Monday morning.”

“Overnight, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired more than 60 rockets and mortars towards Israel, according to the IDF.”

And so, as ever, we see the BBC using the euphemism ‘militants’ because it considers it more important to avoid making “value judgements” about terrorists who target sleeping Israeli civilians with military grade mortars and rockets than to inform its audiences by means of precise and appropriate language.

Senior Fatah Official Mahmoud Al-Aloul Praises Murderer of Two Israelis: We Are Proud

MEMRI: Palestinian Journalist Nasser Al-Laham Slams Hamas And Fatah Gov'ts: We Are Worse Than The Occupation
Dr. Nasser Al-Laham, editor-in-chief of the Palestinian Authority's Maan News Agency, criticized both Hamas and Fatah in the wake of the Hamas crackdown on protesters in Gaza, saying: "the governments have gone berserk." Al-Laham asked: "What have we adopted from the Arab countries? Prison cells? Torture? Burn marks?" and said: "In some things, we are worse than the occupation." In the TV interview, which was posted on the Maan News YouTube channel on March 16, he asked: "Is this the kind of homeland we want?" and called upon Palestinians to "take [to the streets] and chant: No to the homeland!" Al-Laham, who is Mayadeen TV's reporter in the West Bank, is a critic of the Palestinian Authority.

"Prison Cells? Torture? Burn Marks? What Have We Adopted From The Arab Countries Apart From Their Garbage?"

Nasser Al-Laham: "The attacks on civilians, breaking their arms, and beating them, constitute humiliation, disgrace, and injustice.

It is a disgrace for the [Fatah and Hamas] governments. The governments have gone berserk. The factions have gone berserk.
"How mentally insane have we become? Is this Palestine? Is this the same Palestine for which tens of thousands from all the factions that have been martyred? Is this the same Palestine for which young men, aged 14, 15, and 16, have died? They came from Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and the Sinai in order to liberate Palestine. Are we liberating Palestine merely in order to create a new generation of masters and slaves? To hell with us! To hell with our slogans!

Qatari School Books: What is Being Taught
Qatari Islamic education [is] perhaps even more radical than the most concerned Western critics were assuming. — Based on the "Review Of Qatari Islamic Education School Textbooks For The First Half Of The 2018-2019 School Year," by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

"The textbooks for grades 6, 8, 9 and 12 glorify jihad and self-sacrifice for the sake of Islam, presenting them as virtues and as divine commandments that earn Allah's favor and rewards, chief among them admittance into the highest level of Paradise". — MEMRI.

The students learn that Muslims who, despite the prohibition, befriend non-Muslims must be punished. The textbook emphasizes, "Allah prohibits alliances of any kind with unbelievers, and the Islamic nation must disavow unbelievers and their families..."

Students are taught at length about the superiority of Islam over other religions, especially over Judaism and Christianity. Judaism and Jews, as stressed in the grade 7 textbook, are portrayed as follows: "Treachery and perfidy are among the traits of the Jews throughout history"... [and] that Judaism is a distorted religion, that the Jews have an 'evil nature' and that they "want to take over the world".
Facebook smashes Iranian manipulation campaign targeting Israel, others
Iran has been bombarding Israel and other countries with fake content online, Facebook revealed Wednesday, in an announcement saying that it has taken down 513 pages, groups and accounts traced back to the Islamic Republic.

This content was among 2,632 illegitimate pages, groups and accounts removed by the social network that were linked to Tehran as well as to Russia, Macedonia and Kosovo.

No links were found between these sets of country-related networks.

The announcement followed a similar one from the company at the end of January that it had removed 783 pages, groups and accounts “for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior tied to Iran” that had been operating in more than 20 countries, including Israel.

“We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people,” Facebook said in an online statement.

“We’re taking down these pages and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted. In each case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.”
Nikki Haley tells Trump to toughen Iran sanctions
Nikki Haley said President Trump needs to toughen enforcement of the Iran sanctions renewed by his withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.

"I think we need to stop with the waivers,” Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations under Trump in 2017 and 2018, said Monday at annual policy conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Haley’s comment brought her back into an internal debate over how much pressure to apply on Iran's pariah regime. Trump’s national security team maintains that the United States intends to stop Iran from exporting any oil, but various members of the administration have sent mixed messages about whether they are willing to use sanctions to press Iran’s business partners to end the deals. Haley, and other Iran hawks such as Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, used the AIPAC conference to make a high-profile call for more intense economic pressure.

“There are folks within some of the agencies that are resisting where the president and the administration want to go,” Cruz said in a Monday afternoon echo of Haley’s comments. “One of the things I think we need to do is end the oil waivers. End them now. No more oil waivers.”

Haley and Cruz delivered their rebukes amid media rumblings faulting Trump’s team for allowing eight countries to continue purchasing oil under waivers granted in November, when U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry came back into force. Those waivers expire in May, at which point Trump will face a decision to renew the waivers or cancel them.
Admin. Official: Archive-Based Nuclear Sanctions Will Make Iranian Scientists “Radioactive”
Sanctions imposed by the United States Treasury Department on Iran will make those associated with its illicit nuclear program “radioactive,” according to a senior administration official at a State Department briefing, NBC News reported Friday. An administration official quoted in the briefing acknowledged that the information used in imposing the sanctions was derived from the nuclear archive Israel recovered last year from Iran.

The Iranians designated by Treasury are all affiliated with Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, also known by the acronym, SPND. The organization was founded by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

According to the State Department, the scientists affiliated with SPND were previously employed by Iran’s AMAD program, whose goal was to create a nuclear weapon.

A second State Department official said that Iran retained the scientists, who are experts in the technologies needed to create a nuclear weapon, “to keep their skills sharp” until the time that Iran would choose to revive its overt pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“Punishing those who have supported Iran’s past illicit nuclear drive is another way for the administration to offset Iranian hedging efforts should the regime return to a full-court press for the bomb,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explained.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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