Wednesday, September 04, 2019

From Ian:

David Singer: Trump Writes off West Bank and Gaza as Separate Country
Kerry frankly admitted that America’s decision to abstain on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 on 23 December 2016:
“was about preserving the two-state solution. That’s what we were standing up for: Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. That’s what we are trying to preserve for our sake and for theirs.

Kerry was consumed by his own ignorance and arrogance when proclaiming:
“Today, there are a number – there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. They have a choice. They can choose to live together in one state, or they can separate into two states. But here is a fundamental reality: if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic – it cannot be both – and it won’t ever really be at peace. Moreover, the Palestinians will never fully realize their vast potential in a homeland of their own with a one-state solution.”

It obviously did not dawn on Kerry that there was another alternative to his “one state or two states” mantra: the division of the West Bank and Gaza between Israel, Jordan and Egypt in direct face to face negotiations to complete the allocation of sovereignty in former Palestine between Arabs and Jews first contemplated by the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the San Remo Conference and the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, and the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

Obama and Kerry’s treacherous act of abstaining on Resolution 2334 was swiftly repudiated by the House passing H -Res 11 by 342 votes to 80 on 5 January 2017.

The PLO has committed political hara-kiri since – refusing to negotiate with Israel on Trump’s yet-to-be-released peace plan – vacating the field to other Arab states including Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to fill the negotiating void.

The State Department’s recently re-designed website sends a clear message to Arab states wanting to end the Jewish-Arab conflict to come to the negotiating table.

PMW: Is the PA trying to ignite a new terror campaign?
Is the PA trying to ignite a new terror campaign? In anticipation of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs today, the PA Ministry of Religious Affairs has threatened "religious war."

The ministry compared Netanyahu's visit to the visit of then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount in 2000, which then PA Chairman Arafat exploited to ignite the PA's 5-year terror campaign - the Intifada. Over a period of 5 years, more than 1,100 Israelis were murdered in terror attacks that included numerous suicide bombings:
"The Ministry of Religious Affairs emphasized in a statement it published yesterday that Netanyahu's visit constitutes a grave escalation and a blow to the Muslims' sensibilities, and that it will drag the region into a religious war whose consequences will be grave. It reminds us of [Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon's visit in Jerusalem (i.e., to the Temple Mount) in 2000, which ignited the Al-Aqsa Intifada."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 4, 2019]

The PA ministry also encouraged violence and confrontations:
"The ministry called on our people to defend the Ibrahim Mosque and prevent all of the plans to take it over and remove the Muslims from it. He called on the international community to help and stop the Israeli actions, out of fear that the entire area will go up in flames."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 4, 2019]
PMW: Terror umbrella group thwarts US organized conferences in Ramallah
While the cancellation of at least two events planned by the US embassy and scheduled to be held in Ramallah is significant, the fact that the organization taking credit for thwarting the events is the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces should possibly raise alarm.

During the September 2000 - 2005 terror war initiated by the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces functioned as the umbrella organization for coordination between many different terrorist groups, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Recently, one of the founders of Hamas, Hassan Yousef, elaborated on how Hamas terror activities during the terror war were coordinated with the PA under and directed by Yasser Arafat, and the active role played by the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces.

Hamas founder Hassan Yousef: “We were in contact with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (Hamas founder and leader), regular daily contact with Sheikh Yassin’s office. And for your information, at the time my office was the [Hamas] Movement’s gateway to the PA. Yasser Arafat was here in Ramallah, and did not leave, to the point that everything that the [Hamas] movement wanted I would convey [to Arafat], and we would sit and reach understandings, and discuss and talk among ourselves. For instance, Yasser Arafat would say to us: ‘At this stage we want to calm things,’ and we would calm them. There was mutual agreement. [Arafat would say]: ‘This time we want to move together and encourage things’ - and there were mutual understandings. The national relations were at the highest level at that time...”
Yasser Arafat coordinated Hamas and PA terror, says Hamas founder Hassan Yousef

Edwin Black: Funding illegal Palestinian settlements: Confronting history
“Area C,” which comprises some 60% of Judea and Samaria, is making news these days. This time, the hot-button issue is illegal Palestinian settlements sprouting across the region, shredding the last vestige of the Oslo Accords, which, for a generation, propelled the two-state solution.

Most observers of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis are accustomed to hearing talk of “illegal Jewish settlements” on slivers of land comprising 1 to 2% of the West Bank, mostly near Israel’s Green Line. But attention now focuses on an explosion of thousands of illegal Palestinian constructions: village clusters, agricultural tracts, water networks, roads and general infrastructure crisscrossing Area C of the West Bank. All of this violates the 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords, which specify full Israeli administrative control in Area C. Under the international agreement, only the Israeli Civil Administration can authorize new construction in the zone – for Israeli and Arab alike. However, continuous waves of recent Palestinian settlements are being established without permits, often without even bothering to apply. One senior official of the Israeli security apparatus called it “the Wild West.”

According to Israeli activist watchdog groups such as Regavim, in the past half-decade, illegal Palestinian settlements and infrastructure have sprawled across more than 9,000 dunams (9 16square kilometers) in more than 250 Area C locations, supported by more than 600 kilometers of illegally constructed access roads and more than 112,000 meters of retaining walls and terracing. This massive works project is being conducted in broad daylight, often heralded by announcement placards and press releases.

When questioned, various Israeli government officials did not dispute the Regavim numbers. In exasperation, one military spokesman close to the Area C files located at Beit El estimated “close to 10,000” illegal construction efforts are now underway, adding that they felt “powerless to stop them.” The rapid buildup is funded by hundreds of millions of euros annually, funneled by the European Union and individual European nations into scores of building and infrastructure projects.

Understanding the tortuous history that created the current sovereignty vacuum in Area C can be daunting and confusing.
Edwin Black: EU Funding of Illegal Palestinian Settlement in Area C
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: “Area C,” which makes up about 60% of the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria (known as the West Bank since their 1950 annexation by Jordan), is making news these days. This time, the hot button issue is the illegal Palestinian settlements that are sprouting up across the region. These settlements shred the last scraps that remain of the Oslo Accords, which propelled the idea of the “two-state solution” for a generation.

The funding for these illegal Palestinian settlements, which amounts to hundreds of millions of euros annually, comes from the EU. According to the Oslo Accords, only Israel can issue construction permits in Area C. In joining forces to promote the rapid expansion of illegal Palestinian settlement in Area C, the EU and the PA have dispensed entirely with any coordination with Israel, in direct contravention of the Accords. View PDF
Netanyahu says Trump peace plan will be released ‘immediately’ after elections
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that US President Donald Trump’s peace plan will be released “immediately” after Israel’s elections later this month.

Netanyahu made the remark at a Likud campaign event in the northern city of Kiryat Ata, while assailing his political rivals for their positions on Iran and an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

“Who do you want to be dealing with talks over the Deal of the Century of President [Donald] Trump, which will be coming in just a bit, immediately after the elections?” he asked supporters.

He did not give a specific date for the release of the long-delayed proposal.

Last Wednesday, US special envoy Jason Greenblatt tweeted that the Trump administration had decided against releasing the plan until after elections, after Trump appeared to toy with the idea of rolling it out before the September 17 vote.
U.S. has agreement with Canada to accept 100,000 Palestinians: Arab report
The Lebanon-based newspaper Al Akhbar reported that an official source in one of the Palestinian factions revealed that there is an understanding between the United States and Canada for Canada to receive 100,000 Palestinians (40,000 from Lebanon and another 60,000 from Syria).

In addition, there is a further understanding with Spain to receive 16,000 Palestinians from Lebanon, alongside similar agreements with Belgium and France. The understandings would lead to the reduction of the cost of migration from $12,000 to $7,000 per person.

The representative of Hamas in Lebanon, Ahmed Abdel-Hadi, told Al Akhbar that part of the Deal of the Century aims to resettle between 75,000 to 100,000 Palestinians in Lebanon and displace the rest to more than one country.

About 40,000 Palestinians have left Lebanon in the last four years through legal immigration. Others have taken illegal routes.

Many Palestinian youth are trying to emigrate from Lebanon at all costs, but many attempts end in tragedy, according to Al Akhbar. Some who try to emigrate die while trying to cross seas or deserts.
Where are the killers of Rina Shnerb?
Two weeks after an improvised explosive device killed a teenage Israeli girl at a spring in the West Bank, the terror cell responsible for the deadly attack are still at large.

Rina Shnerb, 17, of Lod, went with her father, Eitan, and older brother, Dvir, to the Ein Buvin spring near the West Bank settlement of Dolev. As the family was approaching their destination, an improvised explosive device (IED) went off. Rina was critically wounded in the attack and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter by military medics. Her father and brother who were evacuated to hospital in serious condition have both been released.

Israeli police said that the bomb had been planted earlier at the popular spring and was triggered remotely when the family approached it.

While dozens of Palestinians believed to be connected to the terror attack have been arrested, the cell itself is still on the loose.

While Hamas did not officially take responsibility for the attack, Gaza-based terror group released a statement on Wednesday warning that “there is no security” for Jews on “our land.”

“Resistance in the West Bank by our heroic people will not allow the settlers to live safely on our land,” the group said. “The heroic resistance operations witnessed by the West Bank recently assures the enemy leaders and settlers of that.”
Brother of Teen Bombing Victim Rina Shnerb Released From Jerusalem Hospital
Dvir Shnerb, 19, who was seriously wounded in the terrorist bombing two weeks ago in Samaria that killed his sister, Rina, 17, was released from the hospital on Monday.

Dvir and his father, Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, who was also wounded in the attack, were evacuated by helicopter to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

Dvir was admitted in an induced coma and attached to a respirator. Immediately upon arrival, he underwent surgery to repair shrapnel wounds to his stomach.

Rabbi Shnerb was released from the hospital last week.

Dvir expressed his thanks to the Hadassah Ein Kerem medical staff, as well as to the first responders who arrived at the scene of the bombing. He will have to return to the hospital for follow-up visits and further treatment.
Greenblatt urges UN to help return Israelis missing in Gaza
US Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt this week addressed a letter to the United Nations, urging the international body to step up efforts to release the Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza, Israeli TV reported on Monday.

According to the report, Greenblatt wrote the letter on the heels of a meeting with Leah and Simcha Goldin, the parents of IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, whose remains are believed to have been held by Hamas since the Gaza war of 2014 – as are those of Oron Shaul, another IDF soldier killed in the operation.

Additionally, two Israeli civilians are also believed to be in Hamas custody after crossing into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

In July, a Hamas spokesman said that Israel still had the opportunity to recover the captives and the remains of the fallen soldiers.

"There is an opportunity to resolve the issue of prisoners and missing persons if the enemy's leadership is serious," he said.

Worrying days for Israel when Hezbollah is a key source of credible information
What is further emerging is that the initial effort by the Israeli political and military hierarchies — via a mix of statements, leaked footage and unsourced briefings — to depict the incident as not merely a failure by Hezbollah, but one in which the Iranian-proxy terrorist army across the border was outmaneuvered and outsmarted in an episode of psychological warfare, did not accurately represent what had happened.

There was, inevitably, a lot of confusion in those first minutes and even hours after the Hezbollah missile attack. Even now, the full picture is not completely clear; the IDF itself is now investigating exactly what occurred. Some of the reporting inaccuracies and contradictions were doubtless a consequence of misunderstandings amid the initial chaos. But some, too, was a product of disinformation designed to make the IDF look good — and to make Hezbollah look both bad and lacking in credibility — when the full picture was far more complex.

Let’s make this clear: The first obligation of our military and political hierarchies is to protect and safeguard Israel and its citizenry. And this writer does not doubt for a second that this imperative sits front and center for Israel’s army chiefs and government. But a core component of our national resilience is the Israeli people’s confidence that their military and political leaders are, within the limitations of their wider security concerns, telling them the truth.

We have for decades mocked Arab leaders who utterly misled their citizens over the progress of their various wars against Israel, and have rightly regarded the desperate disinformation with which our enemies attempted to cover up their military failures as a sign of weakness. Israel’s readiness through the decades, by contrast, to acknowledge strategic and tactical failure, to face it head-on and thus learn the lessons to avoid it in the future, has been rightly regarded as a key component of our strength.

In that context, it is deeply discomfiting to watch Hezbollah footage of a missile attack on a most emphatically moving, occupied IDF vehicle, a day after Israel’s official hierarchies, through a combination of things said and carefully left unsaid, initially facilitated a narrative designed to suggest a less threatening, less effective attack.

Israelis do not want to get our credible information about what is unfolding near our northern border, or anywhere else for that matter, from Hassan Nasrallah or our other enemies. Again, within the limitations of their wider security concerns, we expect to get it from our leaders.
Any Way You Slice it, Hezbollah Had a Very Bad Month
The limited skirmishes between Israel and Hezbollah this past Sunday might have looked familiar, only they reflected a shift in the conflict. In a similar incident in January 2015 Hezbollah responded to an Israeli strike on its cadres in southern Syria by firing antitank missiles on IDF vehicles from the Israeli-controlled Shebaa Farms area near the Golan Heights. Sunday’s attack was also carried out in retaliation for an Israeli strike on Hezbollah operatives in southern Syria, and followed an alleged Israeli operation in Dahieh, one of the main Hezbollah-controlled neighborhoods in Beirut, and once again utilized antitank missiles fired on an IDF vehicle—but, unlike in 2015, this time the attack was carried out from inside a Lebanese village, underscoring the shift to Lebanon as the front from which the group now retaliates.

The operation, reportedly involving a drone attack, marked the end of an almost six-year hiatus, during which time the Israelis limited their strikes against Hezbollah and Iranian assets to targets in Syria. Israel’s tacit agreement not to conduct operations inside Lebanon, which was intended to prevent an escalation into full-on war, had jibed well over the past six years with a U.S. policy that prioritized “preserving Lebanon’s stability.” Unable to respond directly to Israel’s ongoing operations in Syria, Iran and Hezbollah launched a project to upgrade the precision of Hezbollah’s stockpile of missiles inside Lebanon.

For the Israelis, this was a red line. About two years ago, Israeli officials began exposing and speaking openly about this emerging threat. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the matter at the U.N. General Assembly last September, displaying a map with the location of missile sites in Beirut. The Israelis also began exposing Iranian commercial flights to Beirut Airport carrying components to turn rockets into precision missiles. The Israelis, communicating through French diplomatic channels, warned: “The Lebanese government must be careful when it comes to Hezbollah’s rocket factories. If the issue isn’t dealt with through diplomatic means by the Lebanese government, Israel will act on its own.” The U.S. has impressed the same point on Lebanon’s government, including most recently during Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri’s visit to Washington last month. Hariri revealed that U.S. officials raised this issue with him again—this after Hariri had accused Israel of fabricating the whole thing. But, Hariri told reporters in D.C., “we are not a policeman for Israel, which continues to violate UNSCR 1701.”

The many warnings went unheeded, and it appears that Israel took action. Reports from late August claimed that the target of what appear to have been drone attacks in Beirut was an industrial planetary mixer, “a vital component in the machinery used to build a precision guided missile, which requires solid fuel. The item is thought to be manufactured in Iran.” Following these reports, the IDF publicized declassified information on the precision missile project in Beirut, and exposed the Iranian figures leading the effort in Beirut.

The reaction of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah to this blow threw his dilemma into sharp relief. It wasn’t just that a number of his promised retaliatory steps were pitiful—namely, vowing to shoot down Israeli drones in Lebanese skies, or demanding that the Lebanese government go and ask the Americans to put pressure on Israel. It’s also that his very threat to retaliate “from Lebanon” itself reflects his and Iran’s failure.
Battle of Narratives as Israel-Hezbollah Tensions Spike
The Lebanese-based terror organization Hezbollah came very close to hitting an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) ambulance which carried five soldiers and drove near the Lebanon border against the army's protocol, reported Hebrew-language Haaretz outlet on Monday night.
According to the report, the IDF vehicle breached the army’s directives and was lucky to come out of the incident unscathed. IDF senior officers were cited by Haaretz as saying they were “very lucky” to end the incident with no casualties -- which otherwise could have meant an entirely different response scenario by Israel's military.
In the Haaretz report, it was stated that the IDF armored vehicle was traveling on a road around 3.4 miles from the border when it was targeted, still within range of the Kornet anti-tank guided missiles, which was used by Hezbollah in the incident.
The army launched a probe into the incident as it is yet unclear why the soldiers took that particular route when the IDF had minimized vehicular movement ahead of the expected attack.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah on Monday released footage of what they said was a successful attack carried out against an IDF vehicle the previous day.

Netanyahu was close to attacking Iran in 2012 despite Obama - NYT
Israel launched drones into Iran from Azerbaijan and the United States held a practice bombing run on a mock nuclear facility in the western US as part of plans both countries had to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability back in 2012.

The revelations came as part of aNew York Times expose on Israeli and American efforts in recent years to stop Iran’s race to a bomb.

In an interview, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel was close to attacking Iran in 2012 but stopped after he did not have enough support in his cabinet. An Israeli strike, he said, “was not a bluff — it was real. And only because it was real were the Americans truly worried about it.”

“If I’d had a majority, I would have done it,” he told the NYT. “Unequivocally.”

According to the report, Ehud Barak, then Israel’s defense minister, was invited to the Pentagon and shown a highly-classified video by Leon Panetta, the secretary of defense, of an American strike – using a massive 30,000 pound bomb – to destroy a replica of Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility. Barak was reportedly impressed by the show.

According to the report, the Obama administration sent a senior official to Israel every few weeks to “Bibisit” and try to stop Israel from attacking.

“It did not escape our understanding that having a visit of a senior American official on the calendar probably bought you a couple of weeks — before the visit and then after the visit,” Dan Shapiro, the former American ambassador to Israel told the Times. “For an Israeli official, it meant you knew you could not strike without feeling that you’ve deceived somebody while they were sitting in your office.”
Netanyahu to NY Times: Attacking Iran was 'no bluff'
The US monitored Israeli activity to make sure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not carry out an uncoordinated strike against Iran’s nuclear program, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, the US believed that Israel was on the verge of attacking the Islamic republic in 2012, and at one point discovered that Israel was allegedly carrying out extensive intelligence operations without its knowledge through Azerbaijan.

The Times said that the information was gathered through “interviews with dozens of current and former American, Israeli and European officials over several months reveal the startling details of how close the Israeli military came to attacking Iran in 2012.”

The interviews also showed “the extent to which the Obama administration felt required to develop its own military contingency plans in the event of such an attack, including destroying a full-size mock-up of an Iranian nuclear facility in the western desert of the United States with a 30,000-pound bomb; how Americans monitored Israel even as Israel monitored Iran, with American satellites capturing images of Israel launching surveillance drones into Iran from a base in Azerbaijan; and previously unknown details about the scope of Netanyahu’s pressure campaign to get Trump to leave the Iran deal.”

Netanyahu is quoted in the report as saying “this [the potential attack] was not a bluff – it was real. And only because it was real were the Americans truly worried about it.”

“If I’d had a majority, I would have done it,” Netanyahu said. “Unequivocally.”
Iran said to be building large military base on Iraq-Syria border
Iran is construction a new military facility in Syria that can house thousands of soldiers, according to a Tuesday Fox News report.

Quoting Western intelligence sources, the US cable network said the base is located near the Syria-Iraq border, and its construction is being overseen by the Quds Force, the overseas branch of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Satellite photos of the base, known as the Imam Ali compound, showed what appeared to be five recently constructed buildings that can store precision-guided missiles, according to ImageSat International.

ImageSat, an Israeli satellite imagery analysis firm, said the photos also show other structures at the facility that could be used for storing missiles.

The images also show what appears to be Iranian construction on a new border crossing that near the existing al-Qaim border crossing with Iraq.
Hezbollah setting up precision missile site in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley
Hezbollah has set up a production and conversion site for precision missiles near the town of Al-Nabi Sheeth in Lebanon’s Bekaa, Israel’s military announced on Tuesday, saying the facility was established in recent years as a site for the production of weapons led by Iran and Hezbollah.

Various activities to facilitate the manufacture and conversion of precision-guided missiles at the facility have lately been identified, including the establishment of a dedicated assembly line for precision weapons, and the transfer of sensitive and dedicated equipment.

“This facility is of superior importance to the Hezbollah precision-missile project, which is why Hezbollah, in fear of strikes, evacuated precious and unique equipment from the compound to civilian locations in Beirut,” the military said.

The facility has a number of machines designed to manufacture the motors and missile warheads for missiles capable of hitting within 10 meters from its target. Iran, the IDF said, is providing special machinery, trains production operators, and regularly provides guidance and support.

The facility is divided into different sections, including for motor production, quality assurance, logistics, and the manufacturing of explosives for warheads.

Last week the IDF announced that Hezbollah – which has been working on the expensive and classified precision-missile project since 2013 – has been attempting to build factories to produce precision missiles in southern Lebanon, Beirut and the Bekaa under the guidance of senior Iranian officers.

Israel was alleged to have struck a base last week belonging to the Palestinian PFLP-GC terrorist group near Qusaya in Lebanon’s Bekaa, close to the border with Syria, causing material damage but no casualties.

Hezbollah has over 130,000 rockets and missiles with varying ranges and payloads, and while the group has been working on this project since 2013, they only have several dozen precision missiles.

UNIFIL: Not Our Mission to Disarm Hezbollah
Israel continues to complain that UNIFIL is not fulfilling its mission to safeguard peace and prevent conflict on the Israel-Lebanon border. Is UNIFIL doing enough to keep the peace? Spokesperson Andrea Tenenti discusses with host Nurit Ben.

UAE, Bahrainis, Saudis Condemn Hezbollah for Attacking Israel
In what seems to be another indication of thawing relations between Israel and Gulf states, several prominent figures have come forward and publicly condemned the Hezbollah terror group for attacking Israel and expressed support for the Jewish state’s right to retaliate.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, who has in the past expressed support for Israel’s right to self defense, slammed the Lebanese government for allowing Sunday’s attack to take place.

“The aggression of one state on another is something prohibited by international law,” he wrote on Twitter.

“A state standing by, watching battles taking place on its borders and putting its people at risk, is a state that greatly neglects its responsibilities,” he added.

On Sunday, Hezbollah fired several anti-tank guided missiles at an army base and struck a military APC in northern Israel in an apparent reprisal for an Israeli attack in Syria that saw two of the terror group’s operatives killed. No one was harmed in the attack.

Israel retaliated by firing at around a hundred Hezbollah targets inside Lebanon.

In a separate tweet Monday, Khalifa also quoted Lebanese Christian politician Samir Geagea as saying it is “unacceptable” for Hezbollah to jeopardize Lebanon in facing a war not of its own choosing.
IDF pokes fun at 'best friends' Hezbollah, Syria, Iran on Nasrallah b-day
The IDF tweeted a satirical video showing Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Qasem Soleimani texting birthday wishes to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, including promises to deliver gifts of weapons.

The video begins with Nasrallah making a group with the two allies titled, "You forgot my birthday [sad face emoji]."

Soleimani was quick to put the Hezbollah leader at ease, ensuring that they had not forgotten his birthday and were just busy. The IRGC commander also promised that Iran's presents are on their way, prompting Assad to complain that Hezbollah always gets "the better toys."

Israel has warned repeatedly that it would not allow for an Iranian presence in Syria, and has admitted to hundreds of airstrikes to prevent the transfer of weapons such as ammunition and surface-to-air missile kits to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and its forces in the Golan.

The somewhat humorous video includes animated images and not-so-subtle jibes about the three leaders, including a reference to Nasrallah as "bunker boy."

Hizbullah's Demographic Problem Explains Its Restraint
Israel's alleged attack in Dahiye, the Beirut Shi'ite neighborhood where Hizbullah is headquartered, was met with a very limited Hizbullah response, sending a signal, acknowledged by the Israeli side, that Hizbullah wanted to avoid escalation that could lead to all-out war.

There are several reasons why Hizbullah is restrained, but probably the most important has to do with its demographic predicament. Hizbullah's recruitment pool is strictly limited to the Shi'ite community in Lebanon which numbers 1-1.5 million souls.

The community is suffering from a rapidly declining birth rate similar to the declining fertility rate in Iran - less than is needed to maintain the existing population. Moreover, small families are reluctant to sacrifice what is all too often their only son in a society where the two-child family becomes the norm.

Hizbullah has been sacrificing Shi'ite blood for the last 37 years. The ardor to sacrifice is hard to maintain.

It's also a problem Hizbullah hardly can counter. Declining birth rates are the result of urbanization. Most Lebanese Shi'ites live in the
multi-storied apartment buildings of Dahiye as opposed to the small villages and towns in the past.

In the city, children can no longer help on the farm, becoming consumers rather than producers. The parents want them educated, and many want to see them in Canada and Australia rather than fighting Iran's wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

The balance between Sunnis and Shi'ites in Lebanon has grown in favor of the former as hundreds of thousands of Syrian Sunnis found refuge there. Shi'ite Hizbullah, then, faces a more uncertain future in Lebanon itself as a result.
Lebanese Politician: Lebanon Has Been Hijacked by Hizbullah, Suffers from Stockholm Syndrome
Mustapha Allouch, a Lebanese politician who is a member of the March 14 Alliance, said in an interview that was uploaded to the Internet by Orient Net that Hizbullah has hijacked Lebanon and the authority to make decisions regarding war and peace in the region. He said that the Lebanese people suffer from Stockholm syndrome since they are sympathizing with and defending Hizbullah, and he stated that everybody in Lebanon knows that Iran and Hizbullah call the shots rather than the Lebanese government and military.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Out-Of-Shape IDF Recruits Now Eligible To Serve As Mannequins At Lebanese Border (satire)
A new Israeli military tactic in the long-running conflict with the Shiite militia Hezbollah has created combat opportunities for soldiers who otherwise would not meet the physical fitness and ability requirements to serve in such units, an IDF spokesman announced today.

Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, the official IDF spokesperson, convened a press conference on this northern border town today to notify the public of the change in policy, which heretofore had required more stringent levels of fitness for inclusion in units that come into direct contact with the enemy. Now, he stated, the army will expand eligibility for “combat” status, which commands greater prestige and higher pay, among other benefits: soldiers whose physical profile falls short of the profile required for infantry, cavalry, or artillery units of the ground corps may still opt for combat status by serving as decoy troops to fool would-be attackers.

A weekend incident in which Hezbollah fired antitank missiles at an Israeli military vehicle they thought contained soldiers – but in fact contained lifelike dummies – followed a period of efforts on the part of the IDF to sow confusion among Hezbollah and permit the organization to “retaliate” for losses over the last several weeks by taking out an IDF target – one that the IDF had tricked them into thinking carried humans. In the wake of the disclosure that the targeted vehicle contained only mannequins, Hezbollah has scrambled to conduct public relations damage control. Experts differ on whether the episode will prove effective in defusing the anticipated escalation that such attacks can spark, or whether Hezbollah will try again to kill real people.
The Palestinian Pro-Israel Man Living in Fear
From Ramallah to Tel Aviv — this Palestinian man, Jamil Mohammed, is afraid to go back to his Palestinian community in the West Bank for expressing pro-Israel attitudes. Our Adi Koplewitz has the story.

Palestinian Authority Must Pay $3.61 Million in Torture Case
Payment has come due in a two-year-old court case, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) now must forfeit 12.7 million shekels ($3.61 million) for arresting and torturing more than 50 Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship, an Israeli court ruled.

The victims were arrested between 1990 and the early 2000s on suspicion of collaborating with Israel. The arrests date back to the days of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.

The people — arrested on charges of communicating with Israel — filed the lawsuit in Jerusalem District Court in April 2017. The court said it accepted the case because the PA had violated the Taba agreement signed between the PLO and Israel in Washington in 1995. The agreement states that Palestinians who have maintained contact with Israeli authorities will not be subjected to acts of harassment, violence, retribution or prosecution.

In July 2017, the court ruled the PA did not have the authority to arrest the individuals, and their detention caused them grave physical and psychological harm because they were tortured in Palestinian prisons.

The PA appealed the ruling, but the Israeli Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and in November 2018 ruled that the PA must pay the funds. The Israeli Ministry of Finance recently transferred the money from Palestinian tax funds to the Offices of Foreclosure of the Israeli Law Enforcement and Collection System Authority, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported Aug. 15.
Islamic State Seizes Gaza-Bound Rocket Shipment
Islamic State gunmen in the Sinai Peninsula intercepted a shipment of rockets being smuggled into the Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources told i24News Arabic on Tuesday.

The shipment, likely bound for Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, contained dozens of missiles with ranges of 37 to 50 miles (60-80 km), capable of reaching central Israel from Gaza, the report said.

Operatives from the Islamic State (IS)’s Sinai Province seized the shipment after raiding a truck and another vehicle belonging to arms smugglers.

The rockets likely came from either Libya or Iran, the report cited sources as saying.

Since Egypt has destroyed most of the subterranean tunnels between Gaza and Sinai, Gaza-based terror groups have struggled to smuggle more weapons into the coastal enclave. Materials for the production of rockets have been smuggled in by sea.

Most of the Grad rockets belonging to Hamas and PIJ have a range of 37 miles.

Although they share a mutual hatred of Israel, there is no love lost between the Islamic State and Hamas — despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2014 proclamation that “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.”

Last week, Hamas blamed the Islamic State for explosions at two Hamas police checkpoints in Gaza City that left three officers dead.
How Arafat smuggled terrorists into Gaza - with his own car
Two months after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, its leader, Yasser Arafat, tried to personally smuggle four arch-terrorists into Israel, revealed former Director of the Shin Bet, MK Avi Dichter (Likud).

During an interview last month in Tel-Aviv at a conference organized by the Zionist organizations Im Tirtzu and Canadians for Israel's Legal Rights, Dichter recalled receiving a troubled call from a Shin Bet officer who noted that Arafat "looked taller" upon his return to Israel from Egypt.

"There was a convoy of Mercedes," recalled Dichter, "and my guy says, 'I have no doubt that Arafat is smuggling someone in his car.'"

Despite not being able to check the cars due to stipulations in the Olso Accords, after "15-20 minutes later and we already had all the intel," said Dichter.

"Four arch-terrorists were smuggled in the convoy of the PA President Arafat. Three terrorists were in the trunks of each Mercedes, and the fourth, Jihad al-Amarin, was lying on the back seat and Arafat was sitting on top of him."

Dichter told how the information was passed on to then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who issued Arafat an ultimatum to send the terrorists back to Egypt or he would freeze all talks.

‘Dutch mole’ planted Stuxnet virus in Iran nuclear site on behalf of CIA, Mossad
An Iranian engineer recruited by the Netherlands planted the Stuxnet virus at an Iranian nuclear research site in 2007, sabotaging uranium enrichment centrifuges in what is widely regarded as the first ever major use of cyber-weapons, Yahoo news reported Tuesday.

At the request of the CIA and Israel’s Mossad spy agency, the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD recruited an Iranian engineer to implant the virus program into Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility, four intelligence sources familiar with the details told the news site.

The report apparently provided the answer to one of the mysteries about the Stuxnet virus story — how the malicious program was introduced into Iranian control systems at Natanz, which was quarantined from the internet.

“The Dutch mole was the most important way of getting the virus into Natanz,” a source told Yahoo.

The Stuxnet virus was uncovered in 2010 and was widely reported to have been developed together by US and Israeli intelligence. It penetrated Iran’s rogue nuclear program, taking control and sabotaging parts of its enrichment processes by speeding up its centrifuges.

Up to 1,000 centrifuges out of 5,000 were eventually damaged by the virus, according to reports, setting back the nuclear program.
Trump Admin Sanctions Iranian Space Program for Covering Nuclear Weapons Work
The Trump administration, in a global first, issued sanctions on Iran's space program, which has long operated as a front for Tehran's advanced work on nuclear capable ballistic missile technology.

The latest sanctions come as Tehran's economy teeters on the brink in the face of the Trump administration's tough economic penalties. The new sanctions are significant as the first time an American administration has targeted Iran's space program and acknowledged it is all part of Iran's nuclear weapons industry.

Iran last week took renewed steps to launch rockets and satellites as part of its space program. The latest launch is believed to have ended in catastrophe, according to satellite photos and a subsequent image of the destruction disseminated on Twitter by President Donald Trump.

The technology and know-how needed to conduct these strikes is similar to that used to fire intercontinental ballistic missiles, which could carry a nuclear payload, the Trump administration said.

"Space launch vehicle (SLV) technologies, such as those developed by Iran's space program, are virtually identical and interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles," the State Department said in information provided to reporters on the new sanctions. "Iran's civilian space launch vehicle program allows it to gain experience with various technologies necessary for development of an ICBM—including staging, ignition of upper-stage engines, and control of a multiple-stage missile throughout flight."

The new sanctions target Iran's Space Agency and two of its affiliated research institutes "for engaging in proliferation-sensitive activities."
Iran Gives Europe Two More Months to Save Nuclear Deal
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave European powers another two months to save a 2015 nuclear deal on Wednesday, but warned that Tehran was still preparing for further significant breaches of the agreement if diplomatic efforts failed.

His statement came as Iranian officials appeared to give a guarded welcome to a French proposal to save the atomic pact by offering Iran about $15 billion in credit lines until the end of the year if Tehran comes fully back into compliance.

Rouhani said talks with European powers were moving forward, raising hopes of at least a pause in a diplomatic confrontation between Iran and the West that has stoked already heightened tensions across the region.

Iran emerged from years of economic isolation after agreeing a deal with world powers in 2015 to curb its nuclear development program in exchange for sanctions relief. However, US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal last year, arguing it did not go far enough, and reimposed sanctions.

Tehran responded with two separate moves that breached some of the terms of the deal, although it says it still aims to save the pact.

Rouhani had threatened to take further measures by Sept. 5 unless France and the other European signatories of the pact did more to protect Iran from the impact of the US penalties.
Iranian Deputy FM Abbas Araghchi: We Will Only Implement JCPOA in Full If Oil Sanctions Are Lifted
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said in an August 28, 2019 interview on Channel 1 TV (Iran) that Iran will only implement the JCPOA in full if the oil sanctions are lifted and if it gets access to revenues from its oil sales. He also said that Iran will not meet or negotiate with the United States unless it changes its policy of applying economic pressure to Iran, and he said that Iran has gone to great lengths to avoid meeting with American officials. He gave the example that Iran only agreed to meet with France and other G-7 members on the condition that the Iranian delegation would not even accidentally meet with the American delegation.

Iraqi Shiite Militia Leader Qais Khazali: The Jews Are the Enemies of Mankind
Qais Khazali, the leader of the Iraqi Shiite militia Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq, said in a September 1, 2019 speech that aired on Al-Ahd TV (Iraq) that the Jews, who he described as the enemies of mankind, attempted to assassinate Imam Hussein and that they are today trying to locate and kill Imam Al-Mahdi. He claimed that there has always been a Jewish-Zionist lobby that has been the main enemy of the Iraqi people, that there has always been a superpower, such as the United States, used by the Jewish-Zionist lobby to execute its plans, and that there have always been "hypocrite Bedouins," like Saudi Arabia, that have been used by the superpower to achieve its goals. In addition, Khazali said that the Iraqi PMU and its storehouses are being targeted because the enemies know that their "evil plans" cannot succeed if the PMU and Iran are strong. He threatened that Israel's attacks on Iraq will not go unanswered and that they constituted a "sentence of extinction" for the "plundering entity."

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