Monday, April 15, 2019

From Ian:

JCPA: Has the Body of Israeli Hero Eli Cohen Been Recovered?
The Syrian opposition issued reports that the remains of the Israeli spy Eli Cohen had been delivered to the Russians, and they also gave details about the remains of Israelis buried in Syria, in general.

There has been no clear Israeli denial of these reports. If Cohen’s remains have indeed been transferred, they will have to undergo Israeli identification. Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition also issued new information on how Syrian intelligence has been guarding the remains of Israelis in Syria at President Bashar Assad’s bidding.

Israeli intelligence agent Eli Cohen

The Syrian opposition reported on the remains of Israelis and how the Syrian regime has been tending to them.

The first report was issued on Twitter on April 14, 2019, by someone in the Syrian opposition, and it concerned the remains of the Israeli spy Eli Cohen.

The tweet stated:
There are unverified leaks within Damascus itself about a coffin that was transferred with the Russian delegation that left Syria. The leaks say the coffin may contain the remains of the Israeli spy Eli Cohen. We are awaiting verification.

No other source has verified this tweet, which was first publicized in Israel by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. It, too, however, has not been denied clearly by Israel.

Subsequently, the Syrian-opposition website Orient Net posted a detailed report on the remains of Israelis buried in Syria.
Rumors on Eli Cohen’s remains spread in Arab media
Rumors circulated Sunday night that a Russian team, possibly assisted by Syrian opposition groups, had extricated the remains of venerated Israeli spy Eli Cohen, taking them from Syria in a coffin and preparing to return him to Israel.

The legendary “our man in Damascus,” Cohen spied on the Syrian military establishment for four years after befriending top-level Syrian officials and celebrities under the alias Kamel Amin Thaabet. After being discovered, he was tortured by the Syrians before being executed on May 18, 1965.

In Israel, his name became synonymous with self-sacrifice and heroism, the information he provided having been fundamental to Israel’s decisive victory in the Six Day War.

Israeli officials have kept silent regarding the reports, which came in just two weeks after Sgt. 1st Class Zachary Baumel was buried on Mount Herzl, 37 years after he went missing during a battle of in Operation Peace for the Galilee.

Baumel was also exhumed by Russia and his personal effects were honored in a special ceremony in Moscow attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Since Cohen’s execution, widow Nadia Cohen has been working to bring his remains home but to no avail. In 2008, a former bureau chief of former Syrian leader Hafez Assad said no one knew where Cohen was buried, because the grave had been relocated when officials became concerned that Israel would find it.

Last year, Nadia was presented with her late husband’s wristwatch by the Mossad intelligence agency, an article which had been retrieved in a special operation.
PMW: PA: Zionism = Antisemitism
With victimhood being the most prominent component of Palestinian identity, and with the world increasingly condemning Antisemitism, the Palestinian Authority has decided to embrace Antisemitism as a new category of Palestinian victimhood. The PA Foreign Ministry has announced that since Palestinians are "Semites," any policies that harm Palestinians are expressions of Antisemitism. Since the PA sees Zionism as victimizing Palestinians - "Zionism is hostile to Palestine" - they conclude that Zionism inherently is Antisemitism. Moreover, American policy critical of the Palestinian Authority, is likewise Antisemitism.

This creative new Palestinian victimhood category announced by the PA comes in response to the American position expressed recently by Secretary of State Pompeo: "Let me go on record: Anti-Zionism IS Antisemitism."

According to the PA's new announcement, anti-Zionism cannot be Antisemitism because Zionism itself, by hurting Palestinians, is Antisemitism.

The following is an excerpt from the article in the official PA daily:
"The [PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs... said that... American Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo has voiced a series of false positions... Pompeo has allowed himself to remove the Palestinians and the Arabs from the Semitic race by stating that 'Anti-Zionism or objection to Israel's existence as the homeland of the Jewish people, is a type of Antisemitism that is escalating (see note below -Ed.).'

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that hostility towards the Palestinian people is Antisemitism, and that the ugly, recurring, and deliberate Antisemitism that [US President] Trump's administration is committing against Semitic Palestine is also Antisemitism. In addition, the American administration has no right to ignore the fact that Semitism is not exclusive to the original Jews, but also includes the Arab Palestinians, and therefore any manifestation of hostility towards Palestinians is an explicit manifestation of Antisemitism. Moreover, since Zionism is hostile to Palestine, its people, and the establishment of a national homeland for the Palestinian people on the land of its homeland, this makes Zionism itself antisemitic."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 29, 2019]

'Deal of the Century' will not include Palestinian statehood - report
The Trump administration's peace plan, known as the "deal of the century" will reportedly include "practical proposals" for improving the lives of Palestinians, but it will probably stop short of recommending the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel, The Washington Post reported Monday night.

The deal is expected to be published soon, following more than two years in which it was formulated by a small group of special envoys of US President Donald Trump’s, including special representative Jason Greenblatt and senior advisor Jared Kushner.

According to the Post report, comments from Kushner and other US officials suggest that "the plan does away with statehood as the starting premise of peace efforts" as it has been over the last 20 years or so.

The report goes on to quote several people who have spoken to Kushner's team as saying that "Kushner and other US officials have linked peace and economic development to Arab recognition of Israel and acceptance of a version of the status quo on Palestinian 'autonomy,' as opposed to 'sovereignty.'"

“What we’ve tried to do is figure out what is a realistic and what is a fair solution to the issues here in 2019 that can enable people to live better lives,” Kushner said in a rare interview with Sky News Arabia, as he sought Arab support on a visit to the region in February.

“We believe we have a plan that is fair, realistic and implementable that will enable people to live better lives,” a senior White House official said Friday. “We looked at past efforts and solicited ideas from both sides and partners in the region, with the recognition that what has been tried in the past has not worked. Thus, we have taken an unconventional approach founded on not hiding from reality, but instead speaking truth.”

Although Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said that the US is biased, one of his chief advisers reportedly said they would not reject Trump's plan outright.
Merkel calls Netanyahu, stresses need for 2-state solution
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has congratulated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his re-election and stressed the need to work toward a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Merkel’s office said she insisted, in a phone conversation Monday, on the continued relevance of a two-state solution, saying that should be the goal of international efforts.

Merkel also expressed her willingness to work closely and trustingly with the incoming Israeli government.

During the final stretch of his election campaign, Netanyahu pledged for the first time to annex parts of Judea and Samaria in a bid to rally his right-wing base. Netanyahu has reneged on election eve promises before but should he follow through on this one, it would mark a dramatic development and potentially wipe out the already diminishing hope for Palestinian statehood.
Former European leaders urge EU to reject Trump plan if no Palestinian state
Some three dozen senior former European politicians published a call on Sunday for the European Union to reaffirm its commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians and reject any Trump peace plan that does not address Palestinian demands.

The letter, published in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, comes with the White House expected to soon publish its long-awaited plan and following an election promise made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to effectively annex West Bank settlements.

The letter, signed by several former prime ministers and foreign ministers, said the EU must continue to insist on “a Palestinian state alongside Israel on borders based on the pre-1967 lines with mutually agreed, minimal and equal land swaps; with Jerusalem as the capital for both states; with security arrangements that address legitimate concerns and respect the sovereignty of each side and with an agreed, fair solution to the question of Palestine refugees.”

The officials said that Europe “should reject any plan that does not meet this standard.”

“Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories are sliding into a one-state reality of unequal rights. This cannot continue. For the Israelis, for the Palestinians or for us in Europe,” the letter warned, adding that, “Failing to seize this opportunity, at a point in time when this order is unprecedentedly challenged, would have far-reaching negative consequences.”

Among the 37 ex-officials who signed the letter were former French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, former Italian prime minister Massimo d’Alema, former EU foreign minister Javier Solana and two former British foreign secretaries, Jack Straw and David Miliband.

How Much of a Difference Do Individual Leaders Make in Middle Eastern History?
Eight years after mass demonstrations began in Cairo, some observers wonder whether President Abdel Fattah el-Sis has led his country any differently from how his ousted predecessor Hosni Mubarak would have had done. Taking a different tack, many others have argued that the Middle East would have followed a dramatically different trajectory had Yitzแธฅak Rabin or Anwar Sadat not been assassinated. Martin Kramer, seeking to shed light on these questions, examines a series of transitions of power in the last 100 years of Middle Eastern history. He begins with the case of King Faisal I of Iraq, who died unexpectedly of heart failure in 1933:

Faisal’s aim was to forge Iraq—its Arabs and Kurds, its Sunnis and Shiites—into a nation. By 1932, he still had plenty to do. . . . Did Faisal’s premature demise change the course of history? Some might say not. After all, the Iraqi monarchy survived for another 25 years, until the 1958 revolution. [His son and successor] Ghazi lacked his father’s moderation, but he died in a car crash in 1939. The next in line was a child, so Iraq was then ruled by a regent, in partnership with Faisal’s own faithful lieutenants. . . . But one thing is certain: Faisal departed the scene in the middle of his own arc. He had done much, but more remained to be done, and he was still in a position to do it.

This is the crucial question that must be posed. If a leader were to disappear, where would he be in the arc of his life, his career, his vocation? If he is a leader, presumably he has a record of achievement. Is he in the middle of his life’s work, still attending to it? Is he bringing it to a conclusion? Or is it behind him? (As we shall see, this doesn’t directly correlate with age. Sometimes leaders launch early; others do so late.)

Let me now give a contrary example, of an unexpected death that came too late to have a huge effect. Gamal Abdul Nasser and his Free Officers overthrew the Egyptian monarchy in 1952. He soon emerged as the first among equals, then as the unquestioned ruler of Egypt. His biography became identical to Egypt’s history: the Soviet alliance, the Suez war, the Nasserist wave of 1958, the makeup and breakup of union with Syria, the stumble of the Yemen war, and the disaster of the 1967 war with Israel. . . . In [a sense], he was finished before he was dead; he was already at the end of his arc. . . .


Netanyahu: ICC Decision Not to Probe U.S. Troops Bodes Well for Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday:

  • "Over the weekend, there was a very important development for the State of Israel and the international community. The court in The Hague rejected the petition by the prosecutor of the international court to investigate U.S. soldiers."
  • "This blocked a move that would have upended the original goal of establishing the international court. It was mainly established after the outrages of the pogroms, genocide and other problems that arose over the years in order to deal with countries and regions that have no true legal system."
  • "They harass the U.S. and Israel, democracies, which by the way are not members of the international court. But, without doubt, we have one of the best legal systems in the world."
  • "To come and put on trial U.S. or Israeli soldiers, or the State of Israel or the U.S., is absurd. It is the opposite of the original goal of the international court."
  • "Therefore, this corrects an injustice and will have far-reaching implications for the functioning of the international system regarding the State of Israel."

David Horovitz: The people have spoken. They want to live in Netanyahu’s Israel
The people have spoken. And a week after the elections, with the president now in the midst of consultations with our newly elected politicians ahead of the formation of our next government, it’s worth taking a closer look at what the people actually said.

They knew that Benjamin Netanyahu was facing criminal charges in three cases, unless he could persuade the attorney general of his innocence. They knew that he had castigated the opposition, the media, the cops and the state prosecutors for purportedly seeking to frame him as part of a political vendetta to oust him. They knew that, if reelected, he might try to use existing or new legislation to avoid being prosecuted, and would likely seek to stay on as prime minister even if he were to be prosecuted. And that, if reelected, he would make the case that the public had given him a mandate to offset the state prosecutors’ recommendations that he be put on trial.

They knew. And 26.45% of the voting Israeli public chose Likud — a vast number, by Israeli standards, 1,139,079 out of the 4,306,520 legitimate ballots cast nationwide.

The people have spoken. Not all the people. But more than enough of them.

They knew that they had a clear alternative to four more years of a Netanyahu-led Israel, embodied in a party led by three former IDF chiefs of staff — an unprecedented assemblage of security expertise, in a country where security concerns always figure at the very top of voting considerations. They saw Netanyahu portray that party, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, as a group of weak leftists. Even though it included Netanyahu’s own former Likud defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, whose public positions are more hawkish than those of Netanyahu, and even though Netanyahu in 2013 extended Gantz’s term as IDF chief by an additional year in the most overt illustration possible of the confidence he then had in Gantz’s security leadership capabilities.
Trouncing at the ballot box leads Labor, Meretz to contemplate merger
Officials in the Labor and Meretz parties are exploring the possibility of a merger of their two parties in the wake of Labor’s worst-ever election showing on April 9.

The storied Labor party, which led Israel at its founding in 1948 and for the next 30 years, and was for decades the mainstay of the Israeli center-left, won 4.45% of the vote, garnering just six seats in last week’s election.

Meretz won 3.63% of the vote — not far above the 3.25% Knesset threshold — gaining four seats and narrowly missing a fifth, according to official figures.

The two parties’ fate is widely seen as a sign of voters deepening disaffection over the moribund peace process with the Palestinians, with which the two parties are most closely identified. In 1992, the year of Meretz’s founding, Labor won 44 seats and Meretz 12, forming the foundation of Israel’s 25th government under Yitzhak Rabin, which would launch the Oslo peace process.

Current Meretz chair Tamar Zandberg urged a merger of the two parties before the April 9 race, but was rebuffed by Labor, which feared its hawkish wing would defect to the centrist Blue and White party, whose attraction for center-left voters was seen as a major threat.
Former Peace Now Leader Condemns Israeli Occupation of the Moon
Former Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer, following the heartbreaking crash of the Beresheet spacecraft on the moon’s surface, tweeted on Sunday: “Israel’s obsession with the occupation of territories reaches the moon. There was no scientific contribution to sending the spacecraft to the Moon, just throwing more money to inflate the national ego. It’s not for nothing that most of the world’s countries have given up on this gimmick. We tried, we enjoyed ourselves, now let’s invest in science teachers, in education and in academia.”

Yes, Yariv Oppenheimer had to be the proverbial kid who got beat up after school every day, no doubt about it. Imagine, a nation that followed the exciting attempt of a small team of homegrown scientists to do something only seven countries had attempted and only three have done, then this individual says the one thing Israelis from across the nation have followed breathlessly for months – and some for years – shows what a bunch of power-hungry creatures they are.

Remember, this is the guy who, in his leadership capacity at Peace Now, employed spies to track every change in the Jewish settlements, any porch closure without a license, any development that merited involving the authorities. He turned snitching into a profession, paid for by the haters of Israel in Western Europe and elsewhere. He then collected funds to sue and evict Israeli settlers from their homes, turning them into refugees in their own country.

Top Ten Excuses for Israel’s Moon Crash (Satire)
1. Onboard computer kept muttering “yihiyeh b’seder” & smoking a cigarette while holding the controls with just one hand.
2. Lunar Rover pushed to the front of the capsule before the lander had come to a complete stop.
3. The Fax machine broke.
4. Robot was busy cleaning capsule for Chometz and forgot to deploy rocket thrusters.
5. Difficult to hear commands over all the Pink Floyd music.
6. Maybe the shuttle’s Vaad Bayit could have cleaned the windows once in a while.
7. Diverted at last-minute to avoid landing on top of the Moon’s Chabad House.
8. Opening the bamba in Zero Gravity was a really bad idea.
9. Lunar rover became Baal T’shuva and refused to deploy on Shabbat
10. Naftali Bennett kept pestering us for our ballots.
Hamas inmates in Israeli prisons end hunger strike after demands are met
An agreement has been reached between the Israeli Prison Service and the leadership of Hamas prisoners, which will end the inmates' hunger strike in return for meeting the security prisoners' demands, Palestinian reports said Monday.

The "Palestinian Prisoners' Information Ministry" said that as part of the agreement, prisoners would receive public phones in their cells to circumvent the phone-jamming devices, which prevents them from using private cell phones in their cells.

This will allow security officials to supervise the prisoners' phone calls with the outside world.

The prisoners held in Israeli prisons several times postponed planned hunger strikes over the last week, which they announced in protest to the jamming devices in a number of prisons.
B’tselem: Settlers executed Palestinian who hurled rocks at cars
Two settlers shot dead a Palestinian who had been wounded after hurling rocks at Israeli-plated cars in the northern West Bank earlier this month, the Israeli human rights group B’tselem alleged in a report published Sunday.

Twenty-three-year-old Mohammed Abdel Fattah threw three rocks at Israeli-plated cars on the morning of April 3, 2019, near Hawara, a village in the northern West Bank, B’tselem said.

After one of the rocks hit a settler’s vehicle, shots were “apparently” fired from inside it, the report said. The settler, Yehoshua Sherman, then exited his car, approached Abdel Fattah, who was “crouching” near dumpsters, and opened fire on him, it added.

Another settler then exited his truck and approached Sherman, a right-wing political activist, and together, the two fired several more rounds at Abdel Fattah, who was “lying wounded on the ground,” the report said. Military jeeps subsequently arrived on the scene and used stun grenades to disperse crowds of Palestinians that started to form in the area, it added.

Abdel Fattah was later transferred to the Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, where he was pronounced dead, according to a statement from the hospital.

The Israel Defense Forces said in an emailed statement that Abdel Fattah “was shot by civilians and neutralized after hurling stones at Israeli cars.” The army added the Abdel Fattah later approached “one of the cars and attempted to carry out a stabbing attack.”

It said the incident was under investigation.

Sherman said in a statement on April 3 that he was driving in his car with daughter when Abdel Fattah “jumped at my car and tried to open the door” and harm him and his daughter. He said Abdel Fattah had a knife in his hand.

B’tselem’s report made no reference to an attempted stabbing. The group’s spokesman Amit Gilutz said that B’tselem had not learned of any stabbing attempt in its investigation of the incident earlier this month.
Police to deploy thousands of officers in Jerusalem for Passover holiday
More than 3,000 police officers will be deployed across the country, with a focus on Jerusalem, in preparation for and during the Passover holiday, which begins Friday at sundown.

Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld, Israel Police foreign press spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post that tens of thousands of people are expect to ascend on Jerusalem for the first day of the holiday, and another more than 100,000 on the second day for the High Priest prayer service, which will be held at the Western Wall.

This mass priestly blessing only takes place twice a year in Israel, once during Sukkot and again on Passover. Attendees receive the historic blessing from hundreds of Jews of priestly lineage as they face the congregation, hands stretched forward, chanting in one voice.

The superintendent said that the increase in security, which includes a mix of Border Police, undercover officers and members of special patrol units, are necessary due to a history of increased security risk during the holiday period.

In 2017, for example, the head of the Shin Bet security service, Nadav Argaman, warned that terror groups may try to carry out attacks during Passover.
SpaceIL chairman and co-founder to light Independence Day torch
SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn and one of the company’s co-founders, Kfir Damari, will light a torch at Israel’s 71st Independence Day ceremony on May 8, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev announced Monday.

“SpaceIL has been working for eight years to promote scientific and technological education in Israel and to encourage Israeli innovation,” the committee responsible for choosing the honorees noted in a statement.

This year’s Independence Day theme is “The Israeli Spirit.”

Following the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet’s failure to land safely on the moon last week, Kahn on Saturday announced he was launching project Beresheet 2, effective immediately, adding: “We started something and we need to finish it. We’ll put our flag on the moon.”

The small spacecraft, the world’s first privately funded moon lander, crashed into the lunar surface Thursday night during an attempted landing, apparently due to a technical glitch that caused its main engine to stop mid-landing.
Mothers of slain kidnapped teens to light torch for Independence Day
The three mothers of the 2014 terrorism victims Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel were invited by Culture Minister Miri Regev on Sunday to light a torch during the Independence Day ceremony on May 8, which will be held under the theme of “The Israeli Spirit.”

While usually an individual is honored, Iris Yifrach, Bat Galim Shear and Raheli Fraenkel were asked to jointly light the torch due to the volunteer work they did together after suffering the death of their sons. Regev said that the mothers are “the heroes of our spirit who chose, facing heart-piercing grief… to open a gate of the love of Israel to honor their loved ones.”

The 2014 kidnapping and murder of the three teenagers led to Israel embarking on Operation Brothers’ Keepers (Tzouk Eitan), culminating in the arrest of 350 Palestinians. The IDF then launched Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

After a massive manhunt, the bodies of the three victims were found near Hebron at the end of June. Hamas was seen as the responsible party, despite official group leaders claiming they were unaware of the kidnapping.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Gaza father: PA sanctions forcing me to sell my home
The Palestinian Authority’s sanctions against the Gaza Strip are beginning to take their toll. The sanctions include, among other things, cutting payments to hundreds of families of Palestinian “martyrs” who were killed by the IDF.

As part of the sanctions, which are seen in the context of the PA’s ongoing dispute with Hamas, payments to thousands of civil servants and needy families have also been halted.

On Sunday, the father of a Palestinian man who was killed by the IDF in 2012 offered his house for sale.

The father, Suheil Ibrahim al-Kafarneh, is from the town of Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip. He published a post on Facebook in which he said: “Because of the cutting of the stipend for my son, martyr Tareq Suheil Ibrahim al-Kafarneh, and due to the accumulation of debts, I announce the sale of my house.”

The son, Tareq, was 22 years old when he was reportedly killed by IDF gunfire near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Two other Palestinians were killed in the incident: Akram Sami al_Za’aneen and Ehab Sami al-Za’aneen.

After he was wounded, al-Kafarneh managed to phone a local hospital to ask for help. He died before medics arrived at the scene, Palestinian sources said.

The father told the Palestinian news agency Safa that he was no longer able to pay the bank the monthly installment of $340 for the loan he took to purchase the house. He said the monthly stipend he once receive from the PA was suspended three months ago.
Al-Aqsa Mosque Address: Job of Muslims Is to Bring "Hateful Infidels" to Islam through Jihad
Palestinian political researcher Sheikh Ahmad Al-Khatwani said in an address he delivered at the Al Aqsa Mosque that Istanbul had been conquered just like the Prophet Muhammad had predicted, and that Rome will also be conquered according to Muhammad's predictions. Al-Khatwani said that Muslims do not hate non-Muslims; rather, he said that all Muslims do "break down the physical obstacles" that prevent the "hateful infidels" from being brought into the light of Islam. He said that Islam is a religion for all of mankind and that the "physical obstacles" will be broken down by "a huge Muslim army that will wage Jihad for the sake of Allah." The video of the address was uploaded to the Internet on March 31, 2019.

PreOccupiedTerritory: NGO To Shield Rockets That Entered Israeli Airspace Illegally From Gaza (satire)
A group of activists aims to assist Palestinian missiles and other projectiles that have escaped the Gaza Strip by traveling in a ballistic arc into the Jewish State, and that face hostility, misunderstanding, and numerous violent efforts to destroy them.

New organization Students United In Compassion for Illegal Destitute Explosives (SUICIDE), based at Tel Aviv University, launched a program this week to identify, locate, contact, and protect the rockets and other explosive projectiles that Hamas and allied terrorist groups fire into Israel. The group urges Israelis to contact them instead of the police or IDF upon discovering such projectiles, or parts of them, via its SUICIDE Hotline. A representative of the organization told journalists that these refugees from miserable Gaza deserve a welcome embrace, not further violence at the hands of sappers.

“We want these poor rockets and artillery shells, but more importantly, Israelis, to know SUICIDE is an option,” insisted Vic Timblamer, a Gender Studies major at TAU. “Shooting at these refugees from Gaza, which is what they are, with Iron Dome or whatever, is just wrong. We are working to get Tel Aviv, and I guess other places in the country, maybe some communities down south, to declare themselves sanctuary cities for rockets from Gaza, where enforcement or military authorities can’t touch them.”
Red Cross Seeks News on Fate of Three Staff Missing in Syria Since 2013
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has appealed for information on the fate of three employees abducted in Syria more than five years ago and last known to have been held by Islamic State.

Breaking its silence on the case on Sunday, the independent aid agency identified the three as Louisa Akavi, a nurse from New Zealand, and Syrian drivers Alaa Rajab and Nabil Bakdounes.

“Our latest credible information indicates that Louisa was alive in late 2018,” it said.

US-backed forces proclaimed the capture of Islamic State’s last territory in Syria last month, eliminating its rule over a caliphate it had proclaimed in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

ICRC officials said Akavi might have been swept up among some 70,000 women and children who fled to al-Hol camp after the fall of Islamic State, many of them jihadist sympathizers.

ICRC President Peter Maurer raised her case during a visit to the camp, run by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in March, they added.
Iraq Unearths Mass Grave of Kurds Killed by Saddam
Iraq must never forget Saddam Hussein’s crimes or allow his party to return, President Barham Salih said on Sunday after attending the unearthing of a mass grave of Kurds killed by the former leader’s forces three decades ago.

The grave, found in the desert about 170 km (106 miles) west of the city of Samawa, contained the remains of dozens of Kurds made to “disappear” by Saddam’s forces, Salih’s office said.

They were among up to 180,000 people who may have been killed during Saddam’s “Anfal” campaign that targeted Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s when chemical gas was used, villages were razed, and thousands of Kurds were forced into camps.

“He killed them because they did not accept the continuation of this regime, because they wanted to live a free and dignified life,” Salih, a Kurd, told a news conference at the grave site.
The EU Still Appeasing the Mullahs
Despite Iran's destructive behavior, such as support for terror and militia groups across the region, the European Union has chosen to help the ruling mullahs of Iran, ostensibly to maintain the flimsy, illegal, never-signed, unratified "nuclear deal" -- but possibly even more as an embarrassingly transparent attempt, if the EU could be embarrassed, to navigate around US economic and political pressure and continue doing business with the regime.

If the EU does not change its position and continues its support of Iranian leaders and the nuclear deal, Tehran's aggressive policies in the Middle East will persist, and Tehran will keep on pursuing its subversive agenda of attacking Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States via Yemen, Israel through Syria and Lebanon, and the US via Venezuela.

While President Donald Trump may have his critics, his hard-line sanctions are the only kind of political message the Iranian leaders can understand.
Satellite images show possible Iranian missile factory in Syria destroyed
Satellite images released by the Israeli intelligence firm ImageSat International (ISI) on Sunday showed the complete destruction of a possible Iranian surface-to-surface missile factory in Syria’s Masyaf District, allegedly struck by Israel on Saturday.

“The main industrial structures were completely destroyed, including the main hangar and the adjacent three production hangers and buildings. The rest of the structures were affected and damaged by the blast,” ISI said, adding that they “assess that all the elements and/or equip-ment which were inside are completely destroyed as well.”

According to ISI, “if the bombed site was indeed a missile factory, it could allow for the produc-tion and assembly of different SSM [surface-to-surface missile] elements or for improving the accuracy of missiles.”

The factory, ISI said, is located in the vicinity of other facilities likely linked to Iran’s SSM project in Syria, which have previously been struck in alleged Israeli strikes carried out over the past two years.

The factory was built in the western compound of the base between 2014 and 2016, and was surrounded by a wall to separate it from the rest of the military base. The entrance to the fac-tory passes through the base.

Zarif ‘reminds’ European powers Iran can enrich uranium
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued a “reminder” Monday to European powers that Tehran is allowed to enrich uranium under its nuclear deal, after a senior French diplomat claimed otherwise.

“There is no prohibition on the enrichment of uranium by Iran,” Zarif tweeted.

His comments were addressed to France, Germany and Britain, signatories to the landmark 2015 accord with Tehran under which uranium enrichment is curtailed but not banned.

Zarif’s remark follows France’s ambassador to Washington declaring: “It’s false to say that at the expiration of the JCPOA (nuclear deal), Iran will be allowed to enriching uranium.”

The claim on Saturday by Gerard Araud has since been deleted from his Twitter account.

Under the 2015 agreement, Iran can only enrich uranium to 3.67 percent — far below the roughly 90-percent level needed for nuclear weapons.

“Might be useful for European partners to actually read the document they signed on to, and pledged to defend,” Zarif added Monday.

Iraqi TV Report: Jews behind Iraqi NGOs; They Promote Homosexuality
On March 29, 2019, Al-Nujaba TV (Iraq) aired a report about foreign support for NGOs operating in Iraq. Hamid Al-Husseini, the Secretary-General of the Union of Iraqi Radio and TV Networks, said that the roughly 3,000 "dubious" NGOs operating in Baghdad were established by the U.S. occupation and target Iraqi youth. He said that most of these NGOs are run by larger organizations that were founded by Jews. Iraqi political analyst Mahmoud Al-Hashemi said that the NGOs are part of a "soft war" being waged by the U.S. and Israel to fragment Iraqi society and plant Western values in it. Hashem Al-Kindi of the Al-Hadaf Research Center said that some of the NGOs organize festivals in Iraq. He gave the example of a kite festival organized to show support for the Iraqi security forces and he claimed that its main purpose was actually to have dancing, singing, and free mixing of the sexes. He said that the kites that were flown were in the colors of the LGBT flag. Al-Kindi also said that the NGOs encourage women to dress in ways that contradict shari'a law and influence men to style their beards to look like Theodor Hertzl.

BBC report: Afghan Jew's writings torn up
Afghanistan's last Jew, Zevulun Simantov, has long been a curiosity for the western media.

The BBC has just visited him again and has filed this video report.

In previous reports, Simantov has almost laughed off the Taliban's efforts to convert him. But this time, things seem to be getting serious. Someone has pulled Jewish 'placecards' off the walls and torn them up. Afghans are still trying to convert Simantov to Islam. But he won't do it, even if they paid him.

The report gives the impression that the 5,000-member community left as a consequence of the creation of Israel in 1948. In fact their situation had deteriorated beforehand. Jews are also said to have left after the 1979 Soviet invasion but there could have been no more than a handful still in the country at that time.

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