Monday, August 26, 2019

From Ian:

Even Some of Israel’s Greatest Supporters Don’t Get the Middle East Conflict
In July, Israeli media reported that the Trump plan calls for a land corridor linking the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian Authority. It would be better called a terror corridor. Israel’s internal security services revealed recently that Hamas, more or less confined to the Gaza Strip, is pushing to create terror cells in the West Bank. An unrestricted land corridor, effectively cutting Israel in two, would make the job that much easier.

If Israel is nervous, Jordan is even more so. King Abdullah fears that the peace deal will make changes to Jordan’s status on the Temple Mount. Its control of the Muslim holy sites there is what gives the kingdom its religious legitimacy. Abdullah also fears the deal will propose some sort of confederation between the kingdom and the West Bank, which would undermine Hashemite rule and turn Jordan into a "de facto" Palestinian state.

In fact, when it comes to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the only thing worse than trying for an agreement is succeeding in making one. The Oslo Accords were a catastrophe for Israel. Land was handed over to a terrorist entity that proceeded to kill nearly 2,000 Jews in attacks the likes of which Israel had never seen. The Oslo process eventually led to Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which has exposed the country’s south to incessant rocket attack and the torching of thousands of acres of fields. With one such "peace agreement," can Israel survive two?

Trump could end this madness with a tweet. He isn’t overly invested.

Confronted with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks that a deal may be "unexecutable," Trump responded quite simply that he "may be right." Just last week, on August 18, Trump said, "It is tough to make a deal when there is that much hate."

Such comments could swiftly lead to the exits. "Hey folks, we got it wrong. One side isn’t interested in peace." It would mean an end to the painful tradition of one administration after another jousting at the same peace windmills.

Lies can sow enormous suffering. But they’re also like balloons. Sometimes it just takes a pinprick.
Fabricating Palestinian History
A book titled Palestine: A Four-Thousand-Year History, which seeks to trace modern Palestinian identity back many centuries before the oldest parts of the Hebrew Bible were composed, might be dismissed out of hand as a work of quackery. But the author, Nur Masalha, has a doctorate from a British university and a post at London’s prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies. In a careful review, Alex Stein takes apart the book’s various distortions, half-truths, cherry-picking of evidence, insinuations, and logical leaps, of which a few examples suffice:
On . . . the enduring use of the name Palestine itself, [one of the book’s core arguments], Masalha provides no evidence to back up this claim. Nor does he identify the people or peoples who [supposedly] used the name Palestine so habitually. . . . [O]f the four specific examples produced to link the term Palestine to the Late Bronze Age (3300 to 1200 BCE), three are taken from the 7th century CE onward. Despite its presentation as a 4,000-year history, Palestine has a distinct bias toward the era that followed the Islamic conquest of the Levant in 636 CE.

Even when he is writing about the Bronze Age, Masalha strives to emphasize the Arab connection:

Arabic-language epigraphic evidence from Palestine east of the Jordan River is extensive, with some Arabic inscriptions dating from the Roman era and as early as 150 CE. In fact, Palestine is extremely rich in Arabic inscriptions, most of which date from the early Islamic and Umayyad periods.
A more relevant observation, especially in a chapter dealing with the Late Bronze Age, [which ended by] 500 BCE, would clearly be the numerous Hebrew inscriptions discovered by archaeologists and dating from that period.

Likewise, despite repeatedly insisting that his goal is to “read the history of Palestine through the eyes of the indigenous” in order to create a “pluralist” version of history as opposed to the version shaped by colonialism, Masalha goes to great lengths to minimize Jewish history in the land of Israel. As Stein puts it, “there is no room for Jews in Masalha’s ‘pluralist’ reading of Palestine’s history, other than as passive members of a ‘faith community’ living under Arab Muslim hegemony.” And as a historian explicitly hostile to imperialism and colonialism, Masalha has a notable blind spot, as evidenced by his discussion of “indigenous” vs. “settler-colonist” place names:
President Trump: When you leave the Middle East, do it with a big bang
THE ONLY way to prevent further decline in American capabilities, particularly in the Middle East, is to bolster deterrence. A withdrawal from the Middle East must be accompanied by steps that reduce the general impression of a weak US going home in defeat.

The place to make a stand is regarding Iran. Obama cut a deal with Iran that only encouraged its quest for hegemony and drive for nuclear weapons, while buying time in the hope that Iran will not harass the United States. In contrast, Trump understands that the Islamic Republic of Iran is an enemy of the US and that it is determined to acquire a nuclear weapon. But his hopes for forcing Iran to change its policies under diplomatic and economic pressure, while pursuing a policy of US disengagement from the Middle East, are unlikely to be realized.

The only way to leave the Middle East with as little as possible damage to US standing and security is to leave with a big bang. Washington must instill fear in the hearts of its enemies.

Despite the significant reduction in American military capabilities, the US still has enough punch to punish regional opponents and to generate fear. The US still possesses a strong enough air force to conduct a short campaign to destroy the critical Iranian nuclear installations.

Such military action would also delay nuclear proliferation, an important goal for the US, encourage US regional allies and discourage its opponents.

Indeed, action against a nuclear-aspiring Islamist Iran would reverberate beyond the Middle East and send a clear signal to anti-American forces all over the world.

Enhanced deterrence would prevent further Iranian provocations and would buy the US time to put its house in order and get serious about being a superpower.

PA slams U.S. for removing Palestinians from list of countries
Abu Rudaineh said that the Palestinians reject and condemn the US move which, he added, “shows that the US administration is biased in favor of the Israeli occupation.” He further claimed that the move “reflects the content of the so-called American Deal of the Century” – reference to US President Donald Trump’s upcoming Middle East peace plan.

The PA spokesperson added that the US administration’s move “emphasizes its isolation in wake of international recognition of the Palestinian state.” The US administration, he said, “must know that there will be no peace, security and stability in the region without the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the June 4, 1967 borders.”

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat also criticized the US move. “Cancelling Palestine (Palestinian Authority or Palestinian Territories) from the US State Department’s list is not related to American national interests,” he said. “The decision aims to support the schemes of the Israeli Council of Settlements.”

The PA Foreign Ministry in Ramallah accused the US administration of “implementing the Israeli vision of destroying the two-state solution and whitewashing the occupation.” The ministry said that the US move will not change anything, and again demonstrates the US administration’s “total bias in favor of the occupation and how it has lost its credibility.”

The ministry accused the US administration of being hostile toward the Palestinians and their rights and of carrying out a policy aimed at “liquidating the Palestinian cause.”
Will New Zealand suspend funding to UNRWA?
New Zealand has not formally suspended funding to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. The statement contradicted an earlier report by the Israel Institute of New Zealand (IINZ).

Earlier this week, IINZ reported that the country suspended donations to UNRWA following an internal report that found “credible and corroborated” allegations of serious ethical abuses, including “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.”

IINZ reported that over the past decade, New Zealand taxpayers have contributed more than NZ $10 million to UNRWA and that the country recently committed to giving $3 million over the next year in a deal struck between New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the UNRWA staff member at the center of the current allegations, Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl.

An investigation in July found that the commissioner-general of UNRWA was allegedly centralizing management, exploiting its power to promote associates and neglecting his role in favor of extensive travel around the world.

MFAT said the country provides NZ $1 million in core funding to UNRWA each year and periodically makes additional one-off humanitarian contributions to UNRWA’s emergency appeals.

The response said that New Zealand contributed a total of $2.5 million to UNRWA between January and June 2019.

IINZ shared a letter it received from MFAT with the Post that indicated that the ministry would review the findings of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report and, until then, “New Zealand will not make any further payments until we have reviewed the report’s findings and assessed UNRWA’s response to any recommendations.”

Honest Reporting: Five Facts About Hebron You Won’t Learn on a Breaking the Silence Tour
Few places in the world are as intensely-contested as Hebron, an ancient city with significance for Jews, Muslims and Christians. Narratives abound, with Palestinian Arabs, human rights groups, and Israeli anti-occupation organizations portraying the city as suffering under Israeli control, while many Jews and Israelis focus on the right of the local Jewish community to exist, pointing out that no place in the world should be Jew-free, much less here — one of the most sacred sites in Judaism. With the “anti-occupation” narrative so strong, and with groups like Breaking the Silence repeatedly manufacturing headlines and influencing international leaders and cultural figures, some facts about Hebron are routinely downplayed.

Breaking the Silence Fails to Show Hebron as a Bustling, Thriving City
Breaking the Silence tour participants leave Hebron under the impression that it is a “ghost town”. This is not by a chance – it’s the precise term featuring prominently on a B’tselem-produced map of Hebron distributed by Breaking the Silence tour guides.

In fact, it’s nothing of the sort.

Believe it or not, but Hebron is a bustling, thriving city. Breaking the Silence tour participants are shown a very restricted fragment of the old town area, walking along one long street, known as King David Street to Israelis and as Shuhada (Martyrs) Street to Palestinians, before turning off at the end up another street and along a dirt track to visit local Palestinian activist group Youth Against Settlements. Tour participants then retrace their steps and head back to the beginning of their linear route to be driven back to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. The few streets in which Palestinian civilians are restricted compromise less than 1% of the entire city. The vast majority of the city does not undergo the restrictions imposed on the roads shown by Breaking the Silence.
Breaking the Silence won’t admit what it was doing in a UK consulate’s car
Two members of the British Consulate reportedly chauffeured a co-founder of the NGO Breaking the Silence (BTS), which is made up of former IDF soldiers who report about negative experiences serving over the Green Line, in an official consulate vehicle, it was revealed on Monday.

The right-wing organization Im Tirtzu said BTS co-founder Yehuda Shaul hosted the two British Consulate members on July 25, but it was the British who did the driving. When The Jerusalem Post asked BTS about the matter, the NGO refused comment.

Since 2005, BTS has been conducting tours to Hebron for members of the Israeli public and foreign visitors, though they were temporarily suspended in 2008 when a group of United Kingdom diplomats were harassed with stones and eggs by Jewish settlers.

But it is less common for the organization to travel in officially marked cars.

Im Tirtzu sent videos to The Jerusalem Post of the two members receiving a private tour of Givon Hahadasha, which is located near the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze’ev, by Shaul, claiming that the British consulate members had picked up Shaul and were driving him around prior to and during the tour.

A security guard, who asked to remain anonymous, witnessed the events and was able to confirm for the Post that the car belonged to the British Consulate and was an official vehicle.
Forest fires across Israel, Firefighting planes deployed
Several firefighting teams across Israel have been working since Monday afternoon to extinguish three forest fires in Beit Shemesh, Mt. Yaaran and Kfar Mash'had.

Houses in Beit Shemesh were been evacuated following a forest fire raging in the city's Geffen Park, which has now been deemed contained. Ten firefighting teams and two firefighting planes were sent to the area. Police have evacuated nearby residents from their homes as a precautionary measure, fearing smoke inhalation, though no property damage is expected. Roads that had been blocked off have been reopened and residents have been told that it is safe to return to their homes.

The wildfire in the Mt. Yaaran hiking path, near Route 375, is not yet under control. Eleven firefighting teams and six firefighting planes have been deployed to help extinguish the flames.

The wildfire in the village of Kfar Mash'had has been contained, and is most likely the result of dry thorns catching fire. Eight firefighting teams and two firefighting planes were sent to the area. No injuries or casualties have been reported. As a precautionary measure, police and firefighters evacuated 15 houses near the wildfire.

The cause for the Beit Shemesh and Mt. Yaaran wildfires is as of yet unknown.
How Israel Stopped Iran from Attacking Its Cities with Drones
Last week, U.S. military officials confirmed that Israel has carried out multiple attacks on munitions storehouses and bases used by Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq. These attacks appear to be an extension of the IDF’s efforts to prevent an Iranian military buildup in Syria. Meanwhile, writes Eyal Zisser, Tehran has been planning its revenge

The Israel Air Force managed to thwart a terrorist attack by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Sunday night. The foiled attack, which was likely to have taken place well within Israeli territory by means of drones, was probably designed to serve as retaliation for . . . Israeli strikes on Iranian assets in Syria and Iraq.

It appears that Israel’s success in denying Iran a permanent military presence in Syria, and its successful efforts to target Iran and its allies across the region, have enraged the Revolutionary Guards, leading them to take the unusual step of launching a (now-foiled) terrorist attack. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Guard’s expeditionary wing, was probably certain that the attack would be successful, to the point that he apparently leaked his plans to the Iranian paper Kayhan, [which] warned last week that Israel would wake up one day and discover that its population centers had been attacked by Iranian drones.

The Israeli attack near Damascus was a great military and intelligence success, and it sends a message to Iran that its plots will be discovered and thwarted by Israel. This is not enough to stop Iran from carrying out hostile acts, but in this protracted match between Israel and Iran, the former has so far scored more points.
Shin Bet denies reports that terrorists who killed teen in bombing arrested
The Shin Bet security agency announced Monday afternoon that reports circulated earlier that the terrorists who planted the bomb that killed Rina Shnerb, 17, near the Dolev settlement in Samaria on Friday had been arrested.

"The reports that the terrorists who perpetrated the attack [near] Dolev were published without the Shin Bet's knowledge or approval. An investigation into the attack is underway, and we must wait until it is complete to issue official announcements," the Shin Bet message stated.

Earlier Monday, former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted that the terrorists responsible for Friday's roadside bomb attack had been arrested. Meanwhile, Palestinian media outlets reported that two Palestinians had been arrested during IDF operations in the village Kobar, north of Ramallah. The Palestinian reports tied the detainees to the Friday attack.
JPost Editorial: Remembering Rina
With Rina’s funeral taking place Friday afternoon as her father and brother were undergoing emergency surgeries at Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, the thoughts of everyone who cares about human decency should have been with the family and their horrible loss.

But even as Rina was being buried and kaddish said over her body at the grave site, her death was being shamelessly exploited by all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The anti-Israel organization IfNotNow, which tried to disguise itself as a pro-peace organization, tweeted condolences to Rina’s friends and family and then squarely blamed her death on Israel because “the rightward drift of Israeli and US govts make the situation on the ground less safe for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Certainly less safe for Israelis, they got that right, but no mention that the violence was perpetrated by Palestinians? And nothing about their “rightward drift.”

Similarly, US Rep. Rashida Tlaib, never one to ignore suffering in her ancestral home for her own political gain, tweeted about supporting “nonviolent approaches to ending the Israeli occupation” and condemning “extremism” in calling the attack “tragic & horrible.” But she failed to acknowledge that it was Palestinian extremism that was causing the current suffering.

As champions of the Palestinians were predictably targeting the extremists on both sides in rationalizing the barbaric attack on the Shnerbs, political opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost little time in blaming the murder on his policies.

“The attack... is a slap in the face of Netanyahu’s ‘surrender government,’ which chooses to abandon the security of Israeli citizens in favor of bribery payments to Hamas and the PA to buy quiet until the election,” said Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.
Rina Shnerb's family: 'We won't be broken'
Tamar and Avichai Lavnoni, sister and brother-in-law of Rina Shnerb, spoke to Arutz Sheva about the family's message to the Jewish people following the terror attack on Friday in the Danny spring in Binyamin, which killed Rina and wounded her father and brother.

"Rabbi Eitan and Shira and the whole family are constantly saying that the message is that we are getting stronger," Avichai said. "We won't lose strength. We are growing from this incident - we grow from every difficulty and we'll even grow from this horrible difficulty. The Jewish people also grows from its difficulties."

Tamar added, "We haven't absorbed anything yet. The entire Jewish people is here, they're with us. We feel all of the Jewish people. On Shabbat, we felt the embrace of the Jewish people. This isn't only our personal mourning, it will never be just our mourning."

Avichai described the reaction of Rina's father, Rabbi Eitan, immediately after the attack in which he himself was injured. "Immediately after the blast, Rabbi Eitan shouted 'Rina, Rina' and when she didn't answer he understood what had happened to his daughter. He sat next to her for about half an hour until the rescue forces arrived. He told Dvir 'she died as a sacrifice to the public.' The mourning is not our private mourning. It's an empty space for the whole nation that we need to complete now. This is not just a task for the Shnerb family, but for all of Israel - how we fulfill the legacy that Rina left us."

"Two nations say they love the land of Israel," Avichai continued. "One throws explosive devices and the other goes for a hike. We won't be broken by this. We'll show them and the Jewish people that when they try to break us, we will only be strengthened."
Netanyahu approves 300 new housing units in Dolev in response to attack
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed the Prime Minister's Office to approve 300 new housing units to be built in Dolev, following a terrorist attack in the area on Friday that killed a 17-year-old girl and wounded her father and brother.

"We will take root and cripple our enemies," Netanyahu said. "We will continue to strengthen and develop the settlement."

The new units will add a neighborhood in Dolev, a West Bank settlement situated 17 miles northwest of Jerusalem.

On Friday, an improvised explosive device (IED) had been detonated at the Ein Buvin spring, the IDF said. The attack killed Rina Shnerb and wounded her father, Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, and brother Dvir.
Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin (Twitter): A Wide Israeli-Iranian Conflict Is Being Waged in the Middle East
A wide, multi-dimensional (geographic, operational, intelligence, and technological) campaign is being waged in the Middle East, far beyond Israel's latest strike in Syria to foil an Iranian drone attack.

This is an Israeli-Iranian conflict in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon (and Yemen and Saudi Arabia?) with both significant Russian and American forces present, and their discontent about the events. So far, all remains under the threshold of war, but a consistent escalation control is vital.

Impressive IDF intelligence and air force capabilities were seen in the Syrian strike. High-quality, real-time intelligence along with a precise surgical operation prevented a significant attack on Israel. I would not want to be in Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani's shoes after yet another operational failure in Syria.

Israel's decision to take responsibility for the attack in Syria signals a warning to the enemy to avoid further escalation and increases readiness of our forces for an Iranian response.

Maybe a more interesting incident took place in Beirut. Were Iranian drones prevented from taking off from the Beirut area?

The strategy of the two sides appears to be "cooling" the situation down to avoid full-scale conflict. But at the end of the day Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah is an Iranian proxy, and it is possible that Soleimani will use him to settle the score.
The power of Israeli intelligence in its recent attack on Iran - analysis
With Monday morning’s jaw-dropping sharing of a wealth of intelligence by the IDF about the Iranian drone crew it struck in Lebanon, the power of Israeli intelligence became ever clearer.

The key to the IDF thwarting the planned attack by Iran on Israel was not merely that it identified the Lebanese operatives working with the Iranians who were en route to carry out their attack, but that it traced the presence of particular operatives involved in using drones on their way to the area before they got there.

Let’s analyze the information put out by the IDF. First, there were three casualties from the strike, two of whom were Hezbollah operatives being trained by Iran’s external intelligence Quds Force: Hassem Yussuf Zabib from Nabatieh in southern Lebanon, born in 1996, and Yasser Ahmed Tzahr from Beleide village, born in 1997.

According to the IDF, the two visited Iran several times this year and went through training targeted at operation of unmanned aerial vehicles and explosive drones at the Quds Force base.

Stunningly, there are pictures of the two onboard a flight and near an airplane to Iran to take part in some of the training sessions.
According to IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, the IDF was ordered specifically to strike Aqraba early Sunday morning after they received intelligence that the attack would happen on Sunday.
Seth J. Frantzman: How Iranian regime media respond to Israeli airstrikes
Iranian media in Farsi responded to the airstrikes in Syria Saturday night initially with silence, and then with an array of analysis and claims. The major outlets in Iran regularly report on tensions with Israel, often repeating what officials say, but also providing some analysis and differences.

Fars News had a long analysis about the “Zionists unprecedented acknowledgment” of the attack. This article said eight explosions were heard near Damascus, and that air defense near Mezzeh military airport engaged the incoming missiles. It claimed that Israel deployed the Iron Dome defense system, and that “Zionist air force squads” were warned to “fear Iran, Syria and Hezbollah response.” It asserted that Israeli fighters were “continuing to fly in Lebanese airspace,” and claimed that Israel’s response was largely propaganda.

Tasnim News had a very short report, quoting Syria’s state SANA media and noting that Syrian air defense had intercepted “targets.” It said there was an explosion in Damascus and claimed the airport was targeted.

“SANA reported that Syrian air defense had shot down all the missiles,” Tasnim said, and then quoted a “spokesman for the Zionist army,” which it noted had acknowledged the attack. It then noted that the attack was aimed at Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force operations, Shi’ite militias and UAVs or drones. It noted this only in relation to claims that Israel asserted these were the targets, without any further elaboration.

Mehr News reported explosions near the Syrian capital, and also repeated the counterclaims of Syria and Israel. “This is not the first time such an air strike has taken place,” the report said, mentioning an attack in July. “It should be noted that earlier, Zionist regime officials have acknowledged the ‘hundreds’ of air strikes against Syria.” It said the airstrikes were aimed at countering “alleged Iranian presence” and affiliated forces of Iran. Four were killed and others injured. Syria condemned the strikes, said Mehr, which also had an article noting that Iran was prepared to confront possible threats.

Press TV in English reported the attack by repeating Syria’s claims to have downed the missiles. It also quoted IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus: “Israel has launched recurrent attacks on Syria in defiance of international laws.”
Lebanon: Israel struck PFLP-GC base in Bekaa Valley
Israeli drones struck a base belonging to a Palestinian terrorist group in Lebanon’s Bekaa near the border with Syria early Monday, Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said.

"Three hostile strikes" hit Lebanon's eastern mountains near Qusaya after midnight "where the PFLP-GC has military posts,” NNA said, adding that "they responded with a barrage of anti-aircraft fire."

According to the report, the strikes caused material damage and no casualties.

Videos posted on social media showed explosions as well as heavy anti-aircraft fire by militants.

The PFLP-GC split from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in 1968, claiming it wanted to focus more on resistance and less on politics.

Led by Ahmad Jibril, a former captain in the Syrian Army, the PFLP-GC is closely tied to both Syria and Iran. While its political leadership is headquartered in Damascus, it has bases in southern Lebanon, in Palestinian refugee camps and a small presence in the Gaza Strip.
Lebanese president: Israeli drone strikes 'a declaration of war'
Lebanese President Michel Aoun discussed on Monday the "Israeli assault on the southern suburbs of Beirut" with the country's United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Ján Kubiš, Aoun's office said.

Aoun said his country had a right to defend itself after Israeli drone strikes that were like a "declaration of war."

"What happened was similar to a declaration of war which allows us to resort to our right to defending our sovereignty," Aoun's office quoted him as saying on Twitter.

"We are a people seeking peace, not war, and we don't accept anyone threatening us in any war," added Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah.

Lebanese media reported Sunday that two drones, which the Lebanese army and the Iran-backed Hezbollah said were Israeli, crashed into a Hezbollah building in a southern suburb of Beirut, prompting the leader of the Iran-backed movement to warn the Israeli army that his group was preparing an "appropriate response."

On Sunday, Hezbollah said it would retaliate to an overnight "provocation" in Beirut it attributed to Israel, sources close to the Shiite terrorist group told the Lebanese media hours after the incident. The threat was later walked back by Hezbollah.
Iraqi political bloc calls alleged Israeli strikes ‘a declaration of war’
A powerful bloc in Iraq’s parliament called for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq following a series of airstrikes blamed on Israel that targeted Iran-backed Shiite militias in the country.

The Fatah Coalition said on Monday it holds the United States fully responsible for the reported Israeli strikes, “which we consider to be a declaration of war on Iraq and its people.”

The coalition is a parliament bloc representing Iran-backed paramilitary militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.

The coalition’s statement came a day after a drone strike in the western Iraqi town of al-Qaim killed a commander with the forces — the latest in strikes allegedly conducted by Israel against the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.

The statement added that US troops are no longer needed in Iraq.

The field commander killed in the strike was buried Monday morning near Baghdad.

Kazem Mohsen was killed on Sunday “in an Israeli drone strike in Al-Qaim while on duty,” the Popular Mobilization Forces said in a statement, adding that he was a “logistical support chief” for the group’s Brigade 45.

“Hundreds participated… in the funeral procession this morning for Kazem Mohsen,” also known as Abu Ali al-Dabi, it said.
Israel limits fuel shipments to Gaza after rocket fire, curbing power production
Israel announced Monday it has reduced fuel shipments to the Gaza Strip’s power plant in response to recent rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave.

A statement from the Defense Ministry’s liaison to the Palestinians said it would halve the amount of fuel sent through the Kerem Shalom crossing, effective immediately.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, or COGAT, said the downsizing of shipments was ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defense minister.

The move was condemned by Hamas, which called on international mediators to intervene.

“The decrease contradicts the understandings with Israel. This is collective punishment that violates all international laws,” a spokesman for the terror group was quoted saying by the Kan public broadcaster.
JCPA: Son of Senior Palestinian Official Arrested in Egypt on Terrorism Charges
Ramy Shaath, the 48 years old son of Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator for the Gaza-Jericho agreement following the Oslo accords, was arrested in Egypt on July 5, 2019, accused of “assisting a terrorist group.”1 Ramy’s French wife, Celine Lebrun-Shaath, who had been living in Egypt for the last seven years, was deported, and only immediate family members are allowed to visit him once a week in prison for 20 minutes. Ramy Shaath’s detention has been extended every 15 days; he is being held at the infamous Tora prison.

Nabil Shaath was an advisor to PLO leader Yasser Arafat, formerly responsible for the foreign affairs of the Palestinian Authority, and a member of the executive committee of the PLO.

The reason for the younger Shaath’s arrest by the anti-terrorist brigade in Cairo has not been disclosed, but regime sources suggest on social media he was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to his father and wife, Ramy Shaath was arrested for his activism on behalf of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Egypt, which he founded in 2015, and for publishing and disseminating anti-Egyptian slogans following Egypt’s participation in the Bahrain economic workshop. He opposes Egypt’s continued normalization process with Israel and had been very active in anti-Israeli societies and activities. Shaath has also been a vocal opponent to the American “deal of the century” peace initiative.
Israel warns Gazans: Islamic Jihad trying to ignite another war with Israel
Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians on Monday warned residents of the Gaza Strip that the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group was actively trying to ignite a fresh war in the region.

In an Arabic-language statement, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun — known formally as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories — told Gazans they would bear the brunt of the suffering if another round of fighting broke out.

“Hostile elements near and far, attempting to ignite a war, are dragging you into violence and destroying the stability and security of your home,” Abu Rukun said according to an English translation provided by his office.

“Islamic Jihad, in the service of Iran, is causing destabilization again and again and harming the security of the area,” he said. “You are the ones who will suffer the consequences.”

Since the start of August, an uptick in rocket fire and attempts by Palestinian gunmen to cross from Gaza into Israel have been met with IDF airstrikes on Hamas military targets, threatening a fragile ceasefire between Israel and the ruling terror group.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Safety Precautions Force Nasrallah To Conduct Conjugal Visits Via Skype (satire)
The chief of Iran’s main Shiite proxy militia in Lebanon now engages in intimate relations with his wife through remote electronic means, sources familiar with his routine reported today, given new, tighter security procedures to protect him from Israel.

Hezbollah insiders noted this morning (Monday) that organization leader Hassan Nasrallah rarely emerges from his bunker in the capital city’s Shiite stronghold, and that only a select roster of senior movement figures and liaisons with Tehran may enter his presence. As such, they observed, even Mr. Nasrallah’s wife Fatimah cannot enjoy direct conjugal relations with him, and the couple must instead rely on Skype or other online means by which to couple.

A Hezbollah spokesman disclosed this development as part of an information campaign by the organization to project a more realistic image than before, including footage of facilities destroyed in Israeli strikes. “Our public relations efforts must evolve with the times,” acknowledged the spokesman. “Once upon a time we could boast of thousands of rockets rising to intercept the cowardly Zionist drones, but our audience appears to have outgrown such naked exaggeration. We now have to couch the propaganda in more subtle terms. Thus the admission that Sayyid Nasrallah must modify his conjugal habits, but with the clear message that our noble leader retains his virility even as he approaches sixty years of age.” The honorific “Sayyid” refers to certain descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.
MEMRI: Column In Turkish Pro-Government Daily: NATO Warplanes Were Used To Bomb Turkish Parliament In July 2016 Attempted Coup; Syria's Northern Region Is Not 'North Syria'
In an August 18, 2019 column[1] titled "Turkey's Concerns Increase As U.S. Continues Its Sweet Talk" and published in the English- and Turkish-language editions of Turkey's Yeni Şafak daily, which is a mouthpiece of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, Turkish columnist Hasan Öztürk asked: "If Turkey is a reliable NATO ally of the U.S., then why was the Turkish Parliament bombed on the night of July 15 coup attempt by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), using NATO warplanes?" Öztürk was referring to when, in the early hours of July 16, 2016, during an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government, Turkish pilot Hüseyin Türk reportedly used an F-16 fighter jet to bomb Turkish parliament twice, injuring 32 people.[2] Öztürk refers to this matter alongside diplomatic disputes between the U.S. and Turkey, including those related to the Patriot missile system and the F-35 fighter jet, and in doing so seeks to blame the actions of this one individual on NATO.

Öztürk also referred in his column to the recent U.S.-Turkey talks about forming a security zone in northeast Syria, saying: "The day we start calling the north of Syria 'North Syria' is the day the U.S. will have reached another of its goals." The Turkish government has been announcing that it would invade northeast Syria since as early as October 2018, when Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that the area east of the Euphrates River in Syria would be "our working point, our working area after Manbij."[3] On July 26, 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: "No matter how the talks with America end, we are determined to smash to pieces the terror corridor east of the Euphrates [River]. We will do whatever we have to. We do not need to get permission."[4] On July 29, Akar said, following a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper: "It was expressed that if we do not reach a common point with the U.S., we will be forced to form the Security Zone by ourselves."[5] On August 4, it was reported that President Erdoğan said in a speech: "We entered Afrin, we entered Jarablus, we entered Al-Bab, and now we will enter the [area] east of the Euphrates."[6] On August 12, he said: "We expressed that we will begin our operation to save the [area] east of the Euphrates from the divisive terror organization within a few days."[7]
Astonishing rise of Iran’s heroic Christians
If you were asked which was the most unlikely nation to be experiencing Christian conversions on a large scale, the chances are that the 40-year-old Islamic Republic of Iran would be near the top of the list.

The country is ruled by a hardline theocratic regime where conversion from Islam and sharing the Christian faith are both illegal, and persecution of Christians is intensifying. Yet not only is the church remaining steadfast in the face of persecution, it is growing so rapidly that Iran’s government leaders are openly acknowledging its staggering expansion.

In 1979, when the hardline Islamic regime was established, there were approximately 500 known Christians in Iran. The subsequent two decades ushered in a wave of persecution that continues today. All missionaries were expelled, evangelism was declared illegal, Bibles in the Persian or Farsi language were banned, and pastors were killed. There were genuine fears that the small Iranian church would be crushed.

Instead it has multiplied in an extraordinary fashion. Today there are approximately 500,000 Christians and some sources put the number higher. More Iranians have become Christians in the last 20 years than throughout the previous 13 centuries since Islam subjugated Iran. Multiple reports indicate that even children of political and spiritual leaders are leaving Islam for Christianity.

Contrary to expectations, Iranians have become the Muslim people most open to the gospel in the Middle East. In 2016, Operation World named Iran as having the fastest-growing evangelical church in the world.

The harsh rule of the ayatollahs and the violence perpetrated by Islam throughout the world has given rise to widespread disillusionment amongst the young with both the regime and the Islamic faith underpinning it. It is this, coupled with the faithfulness of Christian believers who, in the face of persecution, risk everything in order to share the gospel, that has given birth to the remarkable growth of Christianity.

Iran Claims It Needs Nuclear Weapons to Fight Hurricanes (satire)
Following news that President Donald Trump had suggested using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the US, the Iranian regime is now insisting that its nuclear weapons program is in fact aimed at protecting the country from severe weather events.

“We said all along that our nuclear program was peaceful,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told The Mideast Beast. “Sure, we were planning on building a nuclear bomb all along, but not to nuke the US or Israel. We just want to make sure we can nuke the hurricanes before they strike.”

Rouhani went on to claim that any international action aimed at stopping Iran from building a weapon would leave it vulnerable not just to hurricanes but to earthquakes, tornados, and drought, all of which could be defeated by a volley of tactical nukes. Trump was initially dismissive of the Iranian claims but began to come around after Rouhani said in a tweet that Trump was a “brilliant genius with a very big brain” for pointing out the connection between nuclear weapons and strong winds. Trump ultimately said he’d lift all restrictions against Iran’s nuclear program after the Iranian agreed to recognize him as an honorary Ayatollah and Supreme Leader of America.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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