Thursday, October 24, 2019

From Ian:

Hillel Neuer: Another UN blow to human rights
In total, as of Jan. 1 more than half of council members will be non-democracies.

Does it matter that the world’s highest human-rights body is being subverted?

It does. The council’s pronouncements and reports are translated into multiple languages and influence the hearts and minds of millions worldwide.

Dictators on the council will continue to ensure that most of the world’s worst abusers enjoy impunity. Violators like China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia have never been the object of a single resolution, urgent session or commission of inquiry.

Instead, Israel is repeatedly singled out for condemnation, the only country targeted under a special agenda item at every meeting. Hamas terrorism is ignored.

Dictators will also make sure to appoint more anti-Western figures like Jean Ziegler, the longest-serving council official, who openly defends the Maduro regime. In 1989, he announced the creation of the Moammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize, which over the years was awarded to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan and, in 2002, to Ziegler himself.

After Moammar Khadafy’s Libya was elected to the council in 2010, Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey defended the choice, saying it was “important to keep a dialogue” in order to “improve the human-rights situation across the world.” Yet after regimes like Russia, China and Cuba served on the council for a decade, their repression only got worse.

Sadly, for the foreseeable future at the United Nations, the inmates will be running the asylum.

UN Palestinian rights official calls for ban on Israeli settlement products
The UN independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories on Wednesday called for an international ban on all products made in Israeli settlements, as a step to potentially end Israel’s 52-year-old “illegal occupation” of the West Bank.

Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on Palestinian territories, told the General Assembly’s human rights committee Wednesday that the international community should also issue “a clarion call to the United Nations” to complete and release a database “on businesses engaged in activities related to the illegal settlements.”

Lynk said the international community has a responsibility and a legal obligation to compel Israel to completely end its occupation and remove barriers to self-determination for the Palestinians.

Israel is deeply opposed to a Palestinian-led international boycott movement, which it views as an attack on its very existence. Supporters of the boycotts say they are a non-violent way of protesting Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

The UN Human Rights Council has repeatedly delayed the release of a controversial report about companies doing business in Israeli settlements, which was originally to be published in 2017.

Where are all the human rights organizations?
Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu, who chairs the Organization of Community Rabbis, came out in defense of D., a Palestinian Authority Arab who was jailed for converting to Judaism.

D. underwent the conversion process with leading haredi halakhic authority Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, who passed away this week, and succeeded in obtaining a certificate that he immersed in the mikva (ritual bath), but did not yet obtain a certificate of conversion.

He was kidnapped by the Palestinian Authority, and has been sitting in a PA jail for the past 15 days, undergoing severe abuse.

"Where are all the human rights organizations? B'tselem, Giyur K'halacha, 'Rabbis' for Human Rights. Where all the voices of the rabbis who published a video in support of the infiltrators? Where on earth is the outcry from the media?" Rabbi Eliyahu asked.

"The State would be up in arms if this man was a Sudanese infiltrator. When a person converts properly he becomes part of us, he becomes one of us. That's why we're so careful about making sure he's serious about the process.

"Every righteous convert should know that is our brother and our flesh, that we love him with a true love and we are not willing for anyone to lay hands on him."

MEMRI: In Government Daily, Jordanian Diplomat Defends Peace Treaty With Israel, Condemns Those Who Attack It
Ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty on October 26, 2019, the Jordanian press published several articles on this topic. All of these articles attacked Israel's policy towards Jordan and the Palestinians since the signing of the treaty, and expressed pessimism regarding its future.[1]

In fact, the discourse on Israel in the Jordanian press has been characterized by hostility throughout the past year, amid concerns in the kingdom about the Trump administration's "Deal of the Century" and its impact on Jordan's stability and interests,[2] and also following declarations by Israeli officials regarding Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, which were likewise perceived as a threat to Jordan's interests. The Jordanian press published numerous articles critical of Israel, which called to cancel the peace treaty and even urged the Palestinians to launch a new intifada, and praised attacks on Israelis and the Palestinians' willingness to die as martyrs. Some of the articles called Israel a "cancer" and an "alien corn" and included antisemitic motifs.[3]

However, alongside these expressions of hostility towards Israel and its policy, there were also occasional articles that defended the peace treaty with it. They argued that the treaty serves Jordan, and that the kingdom must respect an agreement it signed freely.[4] Notable among these articles was an exceptional piece by Jordanian diplomat Ziad Khazer Al-Majali, who served as Jordan's ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, to Russia and to Lebanon. In the article, published March 25, 2019 in the government daily Al-Rai, he defended the peace treaty and complained that it is under constant attack in Jordan, including by former and current MPs and officials. He reminded his readers that King Hussein, who signed the treaty, described it as his "gift" to the Jordanian people, and called on Jordanians to stand firm and not let "the proponents of the culture of aggression and hatred poison the atmosphere of moderation and love of peace that we enjoy."
JPost Editorial: Aid for the right reasons
Regardless of those nuances, the question remains: Is the threat of withholding US aid to get Israel in line with American views the best policy for presidential candidates to be taking?

Many Israelis agree with Warren that a two-state solution is the only way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and allow the two peoples to live side by side. And many Israelis also agree that expanding settlements – at least those that are not in the consensus of being part of Israel in a two-state solution – is not helpful in achieving that goal.

However, there’s a two-way street at play, with the other driver – the Palestinian Authority – doing nothing to make the conditions more amenable for talks or movement toward the two-state eventuality. The Trump peace plan was supposed to provide some answers, but that ship seems to have sailed.

In addition to expressing her frustration with the impasse in the region by lashing out at Israel, Warren could have also singled out the PA, which continues to pay stipends to families of terrorists and continues to include vehement anti-Israel diatribes in school textbooks.

What Warren’s implied threat fails to consider is that Israel and the US can have differences and still be staunch allies. Aid to Israel is not given because Israel kowtows to every US desire and need. It’s given because we are the only country in the Middle East that shares the values of the US and fights the same fights the US fights.

Israel stands at the forefront of the war on terror, and we are threatened like no other country in the world. The US recognizes that by providing Israel with the aid package required to maintain a qualitative military edge over its enemies. That should remain outside of the political debate.
Wrong, Sen. Warren - creating a PA state is not 'official US policy'
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has raised eyebrows with her not-so-subtle threat to withhold U.S. aid from Israel in order to extract Israeli concessions. But there was another disturbing element to Warren’s statement that is being overlooked.

“It is the official policy of the United States of America to support a two-state solution, and if Israel is moving in the opposite direction, then everything is on the table,” Warren said at an Iowa campaign event this past week, in response to a question about whether she would use aid to pressure Israel.

“Official U.S. policy”? Not even close.

It is not the policy of the Trump administration to support creating a Palestinian Arab state. In fact, administration officials have specifically said that their forthcoming proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement does not include a Palestinian state.

The London Guardian reported on September 5: “Although little is known for certain about the Kushner-Greenblatt plan, Trump officials have made it clear it will not commit to supporting the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel…” Other media outlets have reported likewise.

But it didn’t start with President Trump.
The Palestinian Authority and its money
An Understanding West

Western governments confirm embezzlement of their aid to the PA.

In 2013, the European Union determined that the PA mismanaged 2 billion Euro between 2008 and 2012. The European Court of Auditors found that PA civil servants receive monthly salaries without reporting to work while tens of thousands of others actually working were not even paid. Brussels acknowledges that it does not press the PA to reform the civil service. [19]

The US State Department has done little better, continuing to withhold release of its reports of PA embezzlement.

U.S. Aid has blindly provided the PA with over $5 billion e over the last 25 years. Washington has consistently paid PA debts to private companies, bypassing concern over Abbas’ fiscal responsibility and priorities. [20]

Instead, U.S. taxpayers have ended up paying companies controlled by Abbas’ sons. , Abbas’ Sky Advertising even won a contract from the US to improve the image of the United States in the PA. [21]

From 2005 through 2009, Tareq and Yasser Abbsd received at least more than $2 million in contracts and subcontracts, most of them from U.S. AID. .

US AID will not release contracts to Abbas’ sons and has redacted key pieces of information, including executives and employees involved in the contracts. [22]
Israel and Gulf States Are Going Public with Their Relationship
The Arab states of the Persian Gulf still don’t formally recognize Israel, and most have nominally maintained an economic boycott against it since before it was even a country. Even so, the business ties and warming diplomatic relations between the Jewish state and its neighbors in the Gulf have been an open secret for years.

Those ties will be unveiled with fanfare next October when Israel opens its pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates’ largest city. Participating is like setting up an embassy that will last only six months: Close coordination between Israel and its host will be required on myriad and mundane tasks, including hiring builders and planning ancillary events. It may seem like a substance-free event, but Israel’s presence among the more than 190 other countries is a clear sign of the Middle East’s changing geopolitical picture.

Normalizing relations with Arab countries has been a priority for Israel since at least 1979, when Egypt and Israel signed a landmark peace treaty following the Camp David Accords. In October 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made international headlines with his visit to Oman, a small country with strong links across the Gulf and past relations with Israel. Participating in the fair “reflects Israel’s growing position not only in the world but also in the region,” said Foreign Minister Israel Katz in a statement.

Israel’s participation in the expo has been made possible in part by shifting regional priorities, namely the emphasis on confronting Iran for countries such as the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia. Those states also want the enhanced international standing that hosting global events brings, as well as access to Israeli technology. Meanwhile, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, long one of the region’s most pressing issues, has fallen from the top of leaders’ agendas. The promised release of the White House’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan could crystallize the changing dynamics.
Saudi Minister Says Maximum Pressure Only Way to Get Iran to Negotiate
A senior Saudi official said on Thursday that a policy of appeasement would not work with Iran and that the only way to get Tehran to the negotiating table was to apply maximum pressure.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir was in Paris for talks with French officials amid efforts to defuse US-Iranian tensions and help Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and southern separatists end a power struggle in the southern port of Aden.

“We think that appeasement doesn’t work. Actions count, not words. Members of the Iranian government talk, but have no power. Those who have, like the Revolutionary Guards, don’t want to negotiate,” Jubeir told the Liberation newspaper in an interview.

He was responding to a question about French attempts to bring the United States and Iran together, including by convincing US President Donald Trump to lift sanctions on Iran.
Turkey’s Pyrrhic victory in Syria
Erdoğan claims the operation has already yielded the desired (military) results. Maybe. But he is wrong if he thinks a cross-border operation will fully solve an ethnic conflict that dates back to the early 19th century. Recent history and demographics tell us why.

- The safe zone intended by Turkey means no more shelling from Kurdish outposts bordering Turkey. Those Kurdish strikes have killed civilians, including children (Kurdish attacks killed dozens during “Operation Peace Spring,” including a nine-month-old baby). But this does not change the fact that Turkey and its military border an overwhelmingly Kurdish zone. The operation seems to have pushed the 120 km (75 miles) border south by 30 km (19 miles), which amounts to little more than a redrawing of the Turkish-Kurdish border.
- Northern Syria is home to millions of Kurds and comprises about a third of the country’s total land. It is out of the question that Turkey will annihilate millions of autonomy- or independence-seeking Kurds, some of whom fight via political activism rather than military arms.
- Turkey’s Kurdish problem is not limited to the political aspirations of the Syrian Kurds alone. The Iraqi Kurds have similar ambitions, as do about half of Turkey’s nearly 20 million Kurds. A pro-autonomy party in Turkey, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, has nationwide voter support of around 10%.
- Most of the fighting since 1984, together with the accompanying casualties, has taken place on Turkish soil, with the PKK militias using Iraqi and Syrian territory for shelter.

Countless cross-border operations have taken place since the start of the fighting, mostly into northern Iraq. “Operation Peace Spring” reminds one of, among many others, a February 2008 offensive targeting PKK fighters in northern Iraq which the Turkish military said it launched to “prevent the region from being a permanent and safe base for the terrorists,” and claimed would “contribute to Iraq’s stability and internal peace.”
Trump Claims Turkey’s Ceasefire in Northern Syria Now Permanent, Lifts Sanctions
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday a ceasefire in northern Syria is now permanent and he lifted sanctions on Turkey as a result, rejecting criticism of his decision to pull out US troops and allow Kurdish allies to come under attack.

Trump‘s move, announced in a White House speech, did not blunt attacks from US lawmakers over his abrupt decision early this month to withdraw US troops out of northeastern Syria to clear the way for a Turkish invasion.

Trump described the truce as a “major breakthrough” negotiated by a team led by Vice President Mike Pence. Trump said he had instructed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to rescind the sanctions imposed on Turkey in response to its moves against the Kurds “unless something happens that we are not happy with.”

“Countless lives are now being saved as a result of our negotiation with Turkey, an outcome reached without spilling one drop of American blood: no injuries, nobody shot, nobody killed,” Trump said.

But questions remained about Trump‘s policy and Congress was still working on a sanctions package of its own intended to punish Turkey for its cross-border offensive.

Kurdish allies who helped the United States in its war against Islamic State militants felt abandoned by Trump, whose policy created an opening that Russia is capitalizing on by moving forces into the area. The fate of Islamic State militants in Syrian Kurdish prisons also remained up in the air.
MEMRI: Qatar's Support For Turkey's Military Operation In Northeast Syria Reflects The Two Countries' Close Alliance, Expresses Defiance Of The Arab League
Qatar's support for Turkey's "Fountain of Peace" military operation in northeastern Syria, amid the resounding condemnation of this operation by the Arab countries, is a reflection of the close alliance that has existed between the two countries in the last five years, and which is manifested in political coordination between them and in cooperation at the highest levels in numerous and varied domains. In 2014 the countries signed a military agreement, as part of which Turkish troops are present on Qatari soil. Furthermore, a joint strategic committee, established by the two countries in 2015, meets annually and has signed dozens of understandings and agreements in various domains.

The two countries have also supported each other in various crises over the recent years, as Qatar has now done by supporting the Turkish invasion of Syria, which came immediately following the U.S. declaration that it was withdrawing its forces from the country. Formerly, following the boycott imposed on Qatar in June 2017 by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, Turkey supported Qatar and tightened its relations with it, and supplied it with food and other vital resources during the first days of the siege. Conversely, during Turkey's diplomatic crisis with the U.S. in the summer of 2018, Qatar mobilized to help Turkey, providing it with $18 billion in aid (See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7650, Against The Backdrop Of The U.S.-Turkey Crisis, Qatar Mobilizes To Help Turkey, August 30, 2018). In September 2018, the Qatari Emir gifted Erdogan a luxury Boeing 747, as part of Qatar's aid to Turkey.[1]

Echoing the support of the Qatari leadership, Qatar's media likewise supported the Turkish campaign with positive coverage, presenting Turkey as a country fighting terror and assisting the Syrian people. Articles in the Qatari press described the latest developments, including the October 17, 2019 memorandum of understandings between Turkey and the U.S., as a victory for Turkey and a defeat for its "Arab opponents."[2] Many of the articles, as well as cartoons in the Qatari dailies, justified Qatar's support for the Turkish campaign and harshly criticized the Arab League for opposing it.
Daniel Pipes: Turkey May Go the Way of Venezuela
President Erdogan's invasion of Syria found broad support within Turkey. Yet the invasion damages Turkey internationally: Western and Arab governments have condemned the military operation, as have the Russian, Iranian, Indian and Chinese governments.

Erdogan wrongly assumes that the cunning and aggression that brought him political success internally will also work internationally. This explains his unleashing thugs on the streets of Washington, abducting Turkish citizens accused of coup plotting from multiple countries, attempting to smuggle dual-use materials to Gaza, illegally drilling for natural gas in Cypriot waters, and shooting down a Russian jet fighter, among other bellicose actions.

Europeans seethe when Erdogan threatens to send 3.6 million displaced Syrians their way. Israelis despise him for a vitriolic anti-Zionism that compares them to Nazis. Egypt's president hates Erdogan's backing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Erdogan has consolidated power over Turkey's institutions: the military, the intelligence services, the police, the judiciary, the banks, the media, the election board, the mosques and the educational system. He has supported the private security company Sadat, which some analysts consider a "private" army.

Academics who signed a 2016 petition critical of Erdogan's policies toward the Kurds have lost their jobs, faced criminal charges and even been jailed. The 1,150-room palace he had built symbolizes his grandiosity and ambition.

In short, Erdogan is a dictator with strange ideas, wild ambitions and no restraints.
Clifford May: The Kurds are 'not angels'
Today, the 30 million Kurds in the Middle East comprise the world’s largest nation without a state of its own. I’m convinced that most Kurds have no higher priority than to preserve their unique culture, speak their own language (they actually have more than one) and live free from foreign oppression.

I’m going to leave you with a story that may help convince you, too. A few years ago, while traveling in Iraqi Kurdistan, I was invited to dine with Hero Talabani, matriarch of a distinguished Kurdish family and a renowned Kurdish patriot. At the end of a sumptuous meal, I posed an impertinent question.

I observed that Saladin, the great 12th-century Muslim conqueror, has been memorialized throughout much of the Middle East. But Saladin was not an Arab or Turk. He was a Kurd. So why, I asked, was he not regarded as a great hero here?

Talabani squinted at the floor and took several puffs on a cigarette before responding: “Kleeford, please tell me. Saladin: What did he do for the Kurds?”

Among the many Muslim nations in the world, Americans have had no better friends than the Kurds. Like us, they have an aversion to empire builders, not least those who claim to be waging jihad against disbelievers, heretics, and apostates.

“America first should not mean America alone,” Trump has said. Yet today America is lonelier than it was a few days ago. That’s due to an error the president made, one he should assiduously attempt to mitigate.
Erdogan's Summit with Putin Should Ring Alarm Bells for NATO
These days, the Soviet Union might be no more, but Russia under President Vladimir Putin's autocratic rule is just as determined to undermine the West and its allies, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to judge by his successful summit with the Russian leader this week at the Black Sea city of Sochi, is proving to be Moscow's useful idiot in accomplishing these goals.

Earlier in the summer, Mr Erdogan drew heavy criticism from Washington after he did an arms deal with Moscow that enabled Ankara to purchase Russia's S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, which was specifically designed to shoot down NATO warplanes.

At a time when NATO is reconfiguring its resources to deal with the threat Russia poses to European security, from protecting the Baltic states from Russian aggression to dealing with cyber attacks, the cosy relationship that Mr Erdogan has embarked upon with Moscow can hardly be said to be in NATO's interests.

Consequently, to my mind NATO would be far stronger, and better-equipped, to deal with its adversaries if it did not have to contend with a fifth columnist state like Turkey operating within its ranks.
Kurdish children being treated at Israeli hospital
After being bombed and attacked by both the Turkish Army and its allied Free Syrian Army Forces in Afrin last year, Aram (name changed for security reasons) and her family – Kurds who were native to northern Syria – were forced to flee to Iraqi Kurdistan, much like the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have recently become refugees due to the Turkish military operation.

When Aram arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan, her 3.5-year-old son, Ajwan, required open heart surgery that was unavailable in Kurdistan, but an American doctor working in Kurdistan told her that Ajwan could be treated in Israel.

“I was not afraid to come to Israel, even though I was warned I could lose my Syrian passport,” Aram told The Jerusalem Post.

Within a short time, Ajwan was connected to the Jerusalem-based Christian Zionist NGO Shevet Achim, which arranged visas for Aram and Ajwan and heart surgery for Ajwan at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.

The goal of Shevet Achm is to help non-Israeli children receive life-saving medical care in the Jewish state. Efforts are continuing despite recent escalations, the NGO’s head Jonathan Miles explained to the Post. In the last 10 months, they have arranged treatment at Sheba and visas for 41 Iraqi Kurdish children, as well as three from Syria. Despite recent escalations, efforts are continuing. Two new patients are slated to arrive from the war-torn areas on Sunday, according to Miles, though he could not disclose further details.
Ben-Dror Yemini: Gantz must pick Netanyahu over Odeh
The question of whether Israel should have a coalition based on support from the Joint List, even if it is from outside the government, has been tying the heads of Blue and White party in knots in recent weeks.

But this question has gone from theoretical to practical now Blue and White leader Benny Gantz has officially received the mandate to form a government.

Two surveys conducted this year both show that a clear majority of the Arab public supports some form partnership in an Israeli coalition government.

The problem remains the colossal gap between the will of the Arab public and the will of its leadership. The heads of Blue and White are not the only ones being put to the test - Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh and co. are also in the spotlight, with declarations from over the past decade showing that they are no coalition partners.

When Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid Party won a surprising 19 seats in the 2013 elections, he could have led a bloc of 59 seats – not quite an obstructive bloc, but almost.

But he announced he would not form a bloc with "the Zoabis," referring to former Arab MK Haneen Zoabi of the anti-Zionist Balad Party, who was accused of acting against the State of Israel and supporting terror.

Instead, Lapid preferred a coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party, in which he became finance minister.
Senior Air Force Commander: Israel Mounted "Hundreds of Strikes" Against Terror Targets in "Campaign between the Wars"
"Earlier this year, we thought the IAF will have to reduce its operations across the Middle East but reality dictated differently," a senior Israeli Air Force officer told Israel Hayom recently.

Col. G., commander of the Ramon Airbase southwest of Beersheba, from which a considerable number of the IAF's offensive missions embark, said that operationally-speaking, "This has been one of the most intense years we've had since the onset of the campaign between the wars. We've mounted hundreds of strikes."

The "campaign between the wars" is a strategic concept employed by the IDF that encompasses a host of covert and low-intensity military and intelligence efforts to prevent enemy states and terrorist organizations from becoming stronger. This effort focuses primarily on disrupting the force build-up of the Iranian-Shiite axis throughout the Middle East.

According to G., while the military would like to scale back the scope of its activities, "The rate at which we operate stems from the challenges posed by the other side."

Commenting on both confirmed and alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria, G. noted that "over the past year alone, the number of surface-to-air missiles fired from Syria at Israeli aircraft has exceeded their number in wars. They've fired hundreds of missiles, everything they have."

As for the possibility that the Russian S-300 air defense system, which was delivered to Syria earlier this year, will impede the IAF's operational leeway in the northern sector, G. said he believes that "if necessary, we will know how to deal with it as well. Naturally, we have to make sure it doesn’t violate our operational freedom."
Teen in Duma case convicted of being a member of a terrorist org.
A teenager suspected of carrying out a 2015 terrorist attack in the Palestinian town of Duma was convicted of being a member of a terrorist organization on Thursday.

The teenager had already signed a plea deal, having admitted to multiple charges. The suspect originally refused to plead guilty to membership in the Jewish terrorist group known as Hamered (The Revolt), so that specific charge was placed before a court to make a final decision.

In July 2015, the Palestinian Dawabshe family in Duma, including 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe, was burned to death in a terrorist arson attack that included spray-painted anti-Palestinian messages.

Since he is a minor, the teenager will be sent for a supplementary test review when a court will make a final decision whether or not to convict him for the charges he admitted to.

"The crimes were committed against Arab property that was randomly selected with no personal connection," ruled the judge, adding however that the act itself was planned and not random. "The crimes that the charged [suspect] admitted to had an ideological and racist motive."
After attacks on troops, forces raze structures in illegal outpost near Yitzhar
Dozens of Border Police officers descended on the Yitzhar settlement Thursday morning to facilitate the razing of two structures in a nearby illegal outpost, as tensions remained high in the area following several instances of violence involving local teens.

The wooden buildings were erected last week on a hilltop settlers call Shevah Ha’aretz that is in Area B of the West Bank — beyond the boundaries of Israeli civil control. It is also adjacent to the Kumi Ori outpost, whose largely teenage residents have been involved in a pair of clashes in the past week with IDF troops.

The Yitzhar secretariat blasted the Thursday operation, calling it a “violent move that harms its efforts to restore calm.”

“The community expressed its staunch position against harming soldiers, and precisely because of this, the decision to demolish buildings as an act of punishment is a devastating and unacceptable act. Such a step only stirs tensions, rather than easing them,” the settlement said.

A defense official told the Kan public broadcaster in response that the Yitzhar leadership was “stoking the flames.”
‘Try to kidnap the settler. If you can’t, murder him’: Terrorists recount attack
The suspected killers of an 18-year-old yeshiva student in the West Bank in August told investigators they did so due to “the suffering of the Palestinian people” and “the situation at Al-Aqsa [Mosque],” according to transcripts of their interrogation obtained by the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Cousins Nasir and Qasseem al-Asafra were indicted earlier this month in the August 9 murder of Dvir Sorek near the Gush Etzion Junction. They were arrested in their homes in Beit Kahil, near Hebron, two days after the killing. Qasseem is believed to have driven the vehicle while Nasir stabbed Sorek to death.

“For months I’ve been going to pray at the mosque and hearing of the situation in al-Aqsa, that Muslim Palestinians are barred from entering and settlers are allowed,” Qasseem told investigators. “Also there is the construction in the settlements, and our land being raped by the Israeli occupier. I always wished to die as a martyr.”

The Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is the Holiest site in Judaism and third holiest site in Islam, and the source of constant tensions between Israel and Palestinians. The latter often accuse the Jewish state of attempting a creeping takeover of the holy site, which Israel denies, and clashes frequently erupt at the sensitive compound.

Friday sermons in West Bank mosques are seen by Israel as a steady source of incitement for violence and hatred.
IDF Destroys Terrorist’s Home for the Second Time, After PA Pays to Rebuild It
The IDF demolished the home of Islam Yousef Abu Hamid for the second time on Thursday, after his family rebuilt it following the original demolition in December 2018.

Abu Hamid was sentenced to life imprisonment in July by an Israeli military court for the murder of IDF St.-Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky in Samaria last year.

“Recently, the IDF spotted that rebuilding was taking place at the location,” the army said in a statement, according to a report in the Times of Israel. The funding for the reconstruction of the home was provided by the Palestinian Authority, according to the report, which said on Thursday it would pay to once again rebuild the family home.

Israeli troops blocked the roads leading to the house, located in Ramallah’s al-Am’ari refugee camp, and evacuated the homes and streets in the vicinity prior to beginning the demolition. The Israeli soldiers were met with violent rioting by local residents, who threw firebombs and rocks at them, according to the military. No Israeli casualties were reported.

Several suspected members of the Hamas terrorist group were arrested during the incident, according to the IDF, while Palestinian media sources reported that a few young Palestinians were lightly injured during the riots.
How rebuilding of terrorist's home was discovered
IDF forces this morning demolished the home of terrorist Islam Yusef Abu Hamid, who murdered Duvdevan Sergeant Ronen Lubarsky in May of 2018.

A few weeks ago, the Regavim organization revealed through an investigation of Arab media sources that the Palestinian Authority had provided funds for the rebuilding of the house, which had been demolished following te murder of Lubarsky.

The organization sent crews to document the construction taking place in the crowded Al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah.

Regavim then sent its evidence to the government and the IDF, stating that the reconstruction of the homes of terrorists harms Israeli security and deterrence.

Abbas to Restore (Again) Home of Terrorist Who Dropped Marble Slab on IDF Soldier’s Head
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday ordered the rebuilding with PA funding of the Abu Hmeid family home in the Amari refugee camp in Ramallah. In May, 2018, Islam Abu Hmeid murdered Duvdevan special force warrior Ronen Lubarsky, 20, by dropping a slab of marble on his head from a window.

The house was demolished Thursday morning by the IDF corps of engineers. The Palestinian Authority financed the reconstruction of the house once before.

According to WAFA, clashes erupted between camp youths and the soldiers during the operation. The soldiers fired dozens of teargas canisters and stun grenades at the youths, injuring 11 and detaining a few.

This is the fourth time Israel demolishes the Abu Hmeid residence for the terrorist activities of family members, the first taking place in 1994 and the second in 2004. Four members of this beleaguered family are serving several life terms and a fifth is being held in administrative detention. A sixth member was killed by the Israeli army.

Islam Abu Hmeid is also expected to receive at least one life sentence when his trial concludes.
Egypt's New Commercial Border Crossing with Gaza
In February 2018, Egypt opened a new commercial border crossing with Gaza called Salah al-Din Gate, located 4 km. northwest of Rafah. The crossing is open 10-15 days per month, allowing the entry of nearly 1,000 trucks into Gaza monthly. In the first half of 2019, nearly 6,000 tons of cement per month and 6 million liters of diesel fuel per month were imported into Gaza via Salah al-Din, the Hamas-run Gaza Economy Ministry reported. Israel's Kan television reported that 16 trucks carrying 82,000 cellphones crossed into Gaza, along with 12 trucks carrying 150 tons of ketchup.

Hamas and Egypt both reap substantial revenue by taxing this new trade route. Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi told Al Jazeera that trade between Egypt and Gaza totals $45 million per month, out of which the Egyptian military and intelligence service take $15 million in commissions, and Hamas takes $12 million in taxes.

However, it is unclear if the Egyptian military is providing any real oversight on the type of materials being imported.

Protests in Iraq and Lebanon Expose the Fragility of the Iranian Empire
Last week, mass demonstrations erupted in Lebanon over proposed tax increases and have since then intensified, spreading throughout the major cities despite proposals of reform from the government. Meanwhile, the anti-government protests in Iraq, which began early this month, have subsided somewhat, but not yet abated. Hanin Ghaddar points out that in both cases, demonstrators are reacting to economic hardship and corruption by turning against governments controlled by the Islamic Republic:

Iran created proxies in both [Lebanon and Iraq], gave them power through funding and arms, and helped them infiltrate state institutions. Today, state institutions in both countries have one main job: instead of protecting and serving the people, they have to protect and serve Iranian interests.

Observers have called the current protests in Lebanon “unprecedented” for a number of reasons. For the first time in a long time, Lebanese have realized that the enemy is within—it is their own government and political leaders—not an outside occupier or regional influencer. In addition, political leaders have been unable to control the course of the protests, which are taking place across all sects and across all regions. . . . The scale shows that the protesters are capable of uniting beyond their sectarian and political affiliations. What brought them together is an ongoing economic crisis that has hurt people from all sects and regions.

But most significantly, the protests are unprecedented since Hizballah also took an unusual stance. Having prided itself for decades on protecting the impoverished and fighting injustice, Hizballah . . . decided to side with the authorities against the people in the streets. . . . Scenes of Shiite protesters joining other Lebanese in the streets terrified the party’s leadership. Lebanon’s Shiites have always been the backbone of Hizballah’s domestic and regional power. . . . But for the first time since Hizballah was formed in the 1908s, Lebanese Shiites are turning against it. In Nabatieh, the group’s heartland in the south of Lebanon, Shiite protesters even burned the offices of Hizballah’s leaders.
Albania thwarts Iranian terror attack against dissidents
Albania stopped an Iranian plot against an opposition group, Albanian police said on Wednesday. It was one of several that were plotted last year. According to General Police Director Ardi Veliu, an “active cell” of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Quds Force had bee tracked in the normally quiet Balkan nation.

Iran has been increasing its activities against dissidents in Europe in recent years. Denmark launched a massive operation in 2018 to stop Iran from killing a dissident. Finn Borch Andersen, head of Denmark’s intelligence service said his agency had stopped an attack targeting three people. Sweden was also involved and the operation to stop the plot caused travel chaos as bridges were closed.

Iran was also involved in another plot in France in October 2018 and an Iranian diplomat based in Austria was detained in Germany. Another alleged plot managed from Tehran included the murder of a man in Amsterdam in 2015. Now Iran has sought to target Albania, using Europe’s soft underbelly to exploit what Tehran may think are more porous borders and less sophisticated intelligence agencies.

But Albania says that it identified three people using informants inside criminal organizations to prevent a March 2018 attack. Iran, oddly, had tried to use organized crime members to carry out its dirty work. It turns out that thousands of members of the People’s Mujahideen Organizations of Iran, also called MEK, have moved to Albania after being forced to flee Iraq. This group is one of the main dissident groups that opposes Iran’s regime. The Iranian suspects are thought to be in Austria and Turkey. Austria is where one of Iran’s detained diplomats was also based and accused in another, related, plot.
UN expert: Iran continues to execute children, has 90 on death row
Iran executed seven child offenders last year and two so far this year even though human rights law prohibits the death penalty for anyone under age 18, a UN independent human rights expert said Wednesday.

Javaid Rehman also told the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee that he has “credible information” there are at least 90 child offenders currently on death row in Iran.

Rehman, the UN special investigator on human rights in Iran, expressed deep concern at the overall use of the death penalty in the Islamic Republic, saying its execution rate “remains one of the highest in the world” even after a drop from 507 in 2017 to 253 in 2018. So far in 2019, he said, “conservative estimates indicate that at least 173 executions have been carried out.”

He welcomed an amendment to an Iranian anti-narcotics law in 2017 that led to the reduction in executions in 2018 but said “there is more work to be done.” He also said he was encouraged by the “enhanced dialogue” between Iranian authorities and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights “on the administration of justice and child offender executions.”

As for the overall human rights situation in Iran over the last year, Rehman cited a number of “distressing factors,” including a declining economic situation that he said was “worsened by the impact of sanctions, with serious consequences for the realization of economic and social rights.”
MEMRI: Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei At IRGC Officer Academy Ceremony: We Will Never Give Up Our Resistance Against America; Soldiers Chant Vows To Destroy Tel Aviv, Haif
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech he delivered at a ceremony at the IRGC's officer training academy that Iran will never give up in its resistance against America, in which he encouraged the youth of Iran to persist. IRGC members, including special forces soldiers belonging to Quds Force, performed rappelling and marching drills for Khamenei. An IRGC soldier shouted: "Tel Aviv will be destroyed... No remnant of the Saud clan will remain... The Kaaba will be liberated... We respond to your call, oh Khamenei!" Marching soldiers sang: "Death to America! We are the conquerors of Jerusalem and the destroyers of Haifa! Death to Israel!" The ceremony aired on Channel 1 TV (Iran) on October 13 and 14.

"If We Give Up, God Will Bring Upon Us The Same Fate And Hell That He Decrees For The Oppressor"

Ali Khamenei: "There are those who say that Imam Hussein acted in order to rise to power. Even believers say this. They are wrong. There are those who say that he acted in order to become a martyr. I say that he acted in order to fulfill his duty. However, while fulfilling one's duty, there is the possibility that one will rise to power, and there is nothing wrong with this. There is also the possibility that one will become a martyr, and there is nothing wrong with this, either. The most important thing is to fulfill our duty. This is what the Islamic Republic is facing. This is the reason that we do not give up in our resistance to 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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