Friday, December 20, 2019

From Ian:

The New Rocket Threat to Israel
Over the past five years, the Israelis have been fighting a quiet war nearly every night. During what is now known as the “Campaign Between Wars” or “War Between Wars,” the Israelis have taken out high-value targets—more than 200 of them, according to estimates published last year, and it’s probably closer to 300 now—from Syria and Iraq to Lebanon and beyond. As early as 2013, the Israelis spoke euphemistically about such strikes, noting that they were targeting “game-changing weapons” that Iran was transferring to its proxies amid the chaos of Syria’s civil war.

Recently, the Israelis have become much more specific. Their targets are precision-guided munitions, or PGMs.

Until now, Israel has been blessed with ill-equipped enemies. The efforts of Iranian proxies such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and PIJ have been mitigated by Iron Dome, which has an 86 percent success rate (some Israeli officials say it’s even higher) in neutralizing incoming enemy projectiles. That rate is boosted by the fact that Israel’s foes have been firing unguided, or “dumb,” rockets. Without GPS or target-acquisition capabilities, many of these rockets undershoot or overshoot their intended targets. When Iron Dome assesses a rocket’s errant trajectory, it declines to intercept it and allows it to explode in an uninhabited space.

Iran is now working overtime to establish a program that will allow its proxies to convert their dumb rockets into smart ones. The United States began a process of converting its own unguided rockets into PGMs back in the late 1990s. The Israelis utilized similar technology. The result was the deadly Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). If the Iranian project proves similarly successful, Israel’s enemies will achieve the capability of striking within five to 10 yards of their intended targets.

Converting an unguided rocket (what some Israeli military types call “statistical” rockets) into a precision-guided munition is both simple and complicated. It’s simple because all it takes are tail fins, a circuit board, and the right software. One former Israeli official estimates that an entire PGM-making kit might cost as little as $15,000 per munition. But it’s also complicated because dismantling a rocket to retrofit it with precision-guided technology and then reassembling it requires knowledge and infrastructure that Iran’s low-tech proxies don’t have. They are laboring to acquire them. But with the Israelis patrolling from the skies with remarkably accurate intelligence, the tasks of transporting parts and assembling PGMs have become hazardous. Israel’s estimated 300 strikes in recent years have reduced the PGM talent pool and destroyed a significant amount of hardware.

Iran and Israel have been playing a quiet game of chess across the Middle East—difficult for the casual observer to discern but punctuated by the periodic explosion. The Iranian effort continues despite the occasional setbacks. And so does the Israeli effort, which is thankless and time-intensive. Both sides understand that when enough PGMs reach the hands of Israel’s enemies, the effect will indeed be game-changing.

Col. Kemp: Turkey’s shameful support for Hamas terrorists could provoke a full-scale Middle East war
An investigation by this paper has made clear that Hamas terrorists have been planning attacks against Israel from Turkey. President Erdogan knows this but denies it. He even denies that Hamas is a terrorist organisation despite the group’s categorisation as such by the US and EU.

According to Erdogan, Hamas is ‘a resistance movement trying to protect its country under occupation’. This is a lie. In fact, Erdogan’s support for Hamas is itself an act of aggression against Israel. In 2015 Turkey agreed to prevent Hamas planning attacks from its territory but has never done so. This inaction harms Israel but is even more damaging to the Palestinian people. Rather than developing Gaza, which it has controlled since Israel left in 2005, Hamas has consistently used the Strip as a base to attack the Jewish state.

Millions of dollars of international aid have been diverted to stockpiling missiles and other weaponry, digging attack tunnels and funding strikes against Israel. Much has also been diverted into the personal bank accounts of Hamas leaders who have been branded the wealthiest terrorists in the world. Not only have Gazans been deprived of much-needed economic development, hospitals, schools, utilities and humanitarian supplies, they have also been blockaded by Israel to protect its own citizens from attack. This has in turn intensified the hardship and suffering faced by ordinary Palestinians.

By encouraging and facilitating Hamas, Erdogan has helped make this situation worse. But any concern he may have for the Palestinian people is heavily outweighed by his long-standing animosity towards the State of Israel.
Caroline B. Glick: Israel's winner takes all election
Thanks to the Trump administration, today Netanyahu has the diplomatic opportunity to implement his vision in relation to the Palestinians. Netanyahu set out that vision in the lead up to the inconclusive elections in September. It involves moving past the failed and mordant peace process with the PLO, and securing Israel’s national and strategic interests in Judea and Samaria by applying Israel law to the Jordan Valley and the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

But now that the international path is open, a domestic obstacle has risen to stop him. That obstacle is an opposing revolution – the judicial revolution initiated by retired Supreme Court president Aharon Barak some 25 years ago. Just as Netanyahu is on the verge of completing his revolutionary work, so the legal fraternity that embraced Barak’s revolution is poised to complete Barak’s.

All of Netanyahu’s actions have been taken against the wishes of Israel’s entrenched elites, whether in the labor unions or government service or the media. The economic elites that benefited from Israel’s socialist system opposed his free market reforms. The hidebound diplomats who were promoted on the basis of their allegiance to the idea that making peace with the PLO was the key to Israel’s diplomatic standing, opposed his view that international relations are based on common interests not on ideology or appeasement. The military for a generation was trained to believe that there is no military solution to terrorism.

All along, the source of Netanyahu’s power has been the voters. Without their support, he would never have achieved anything.

In stark contrast, Barak’s revolution is a revolution against Israel’s democratic system. Its goal is to transform Israel from a parliamentary democracy into a post-democratic regime controlled by unelected state prosecutors and Supreme Court justices who control all aspects of public life in the name of “substantive democracy,” and the “rule of law.”

For the past 25 years, with the support of the media and the cooperation of radical NGOs, the Supreme Court, the attorney general and the state prosecutors have seized the powers of Israel’s elected leaders by judicial decree and legal opinion. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit’s decision last month to indict Netanyahu for behavior that has never been defined as criminal either in law or court precedent is just the latest bid to empty elections of all meaning and deny elected leaders, and the voters who elect them, the sovereign power to determine the path that Israel will advance along.

For the Anti-Zionist, Jewish Peoplehood Is Itself an Offense
Since biblical times, Jews have conceived of themselves as a people or nation as much as a religion—a fact about Judaism, writes William Kolbrener, that supporters of the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS) stubbornly refuse to accept. He argues that this deliberate misinterpretation of Judaism as a religion only in the Christian sense of the term is inextricably linked to a form of anti-Semitism:

For [these anti-Zionists], religion revolves around faith, as it does for Christians, but not the distinctly Jewish conception of nationhood—so that they see the state of Israel not as a genuine expression of Judaism but as a cynical colonialist grab for power.

The refusal of Jewish exceptionalism has a long history. BDS-supporting progressives, wearing the multicultured garment of intersectionality, are not unlike [many] Christians before the founding of state of Israel: both seek to deny Jewish difference. The idea that “there is neither Jew nor Greek,” asserted by the apostle Paul, informs contemporary progressive versions of community. Such progressives may bristle at hearing [their beliefs] described as akin to Christian universalism, but in their urge to deny Jewish difference they show many affinities to older forms of anti-Semitism. Just as they did in relationship to Christianity, today Jews give the lie to universalist claims. Then, as now, the Jew is made the excluded outsider, the one difference excluded from the universalism of difference.

Today, the most obvious expression of Jewish exceptionalism is the state of Israel, and thus the target of anti–Semitic attack. For those progressives who reject Judaism as defined through peoplehood and practices, mere Judaism as faith does not justify Jewish nationhood; in fact it’s an affront to their sensibility, a betrayal of what real faith should be. But Judaism . . . imagines itself—in its ideal form—as a way of life and aspires to found that encompassing life in relationship to Jewish community in the Land of Israel.
White House Explains to Haaretz How Its Antisemitism Executive Order Will Work in Practice
In addition, the executive order says the Department of Education should consider the 'contemporary examples' of anti-Semitism that are part of the IHRA definition. These are what critics of the executive order are most concerned about.

The list of examples published by the IHRA includes examples that are indisputably anti-Semitic – such as denying the facts of the Holocaust or calling for the killing or harming of Jews. Several examples, however, describe criticism against Israel. One such example is 'applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.' Another example is comparing 'contemporary Israeli policy' to that of Nazi Germany.

Haaretz asked the White House how these 'contemporary examples' would, in practice, impact universities that receive federal grants from the government. Could, for example, a university lose federal grants if a student complained about a professor or guest lecturer saying in the classroom that something Israel did is reminiscent of actions taken by Nazi Germany? And could it lose funding over an event that supports an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories – something a right-wing Jewish organization could describe as 'requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation'?

Avi Berkowitz, a close adviser to Kushner and heavily involved in working on the executive order, says the answer is no. 'A complaint against a lecture as you describe would not trigger Title VI,' he says. 'In order for Title VI to apply, there has to be actionable conduct. Title VI requires a certain level of conduct, and the executive order does not change that requirement. The lecture remains protected speech.'

In other words, the Department of Education would not respond to a complaint about a statement alone. It would only respond to complaints about 'actionable conduct' – meaning an action that could count as discrimination.

'The executive order is relevant if there is conduct that rises to the level of possible discriminatory action and the university needs to determine motive,' Berkowitz says. 'For example, let's say a Jewish group, like Hillel, wants to reserve rooms for meetings but the administrator repeatedly refuses, so they can't meet and they suspect there is something underhanded about the process. They file a complaint. If during the investigative process it is discovered that the administrator has written emails saying that he/she would never reserve rooms for Jews, and that email includes anti-Semitic reasons, these emails may be relevant to show whether the conduct had a discriminatory motive, which is necessary for Title VI to apply.'..."
Paris appeals court agrees: Killer of Jewish woman 'too high' to be guilty
The Paris Appeals Court on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that a Muslim man who killed his Jewish neighbor will not face trial because he was too high on marijuana to control his actions.

The court relieved Kobili Traore, 29, of criminal responsibility for his slaying of Sarah Halimi, whom Traore pummeled for about an hour while shouting about Allah and calling her a demon before throwing the 60-year-old physician to her death from the window of her third-story apartment. It did say that the killing was partly because of antisemitism.

Traore had a “delusional episode” because of a large amount of marijuana he ingested shortly before he entered Halimi’s apartment, the court said. He is to be hospitalized for treatment of his psychotic lapses or made to attend a drug rehabilitation program, AFP reported.

But Traore, whom Halimi’s daughter said once called her a “dirty Jew” on the building’s staircase, “does appear to have voluntarily ended the life of Sarah Halimi,” the court also said. It retained the aggravated element of a hate crime in the indictment against Traore, but determined it would not go to trial because Traore was not fully aware of his actions on the night of April 3, when he killed Halimi, according to the court.

The appeals court’s decision “marks the advent of a policy that gives impunity to anti-Semitic murder in France, EUJF, the French-Jewish student association, wrote Thursday on Twitter.
The End of a Jewish Presence in Europe?
"Although Jews represent less than one percent of the population, half of the racist acts committed in France are committed against Jews." — French Member of Parliament Meyer Habib.

Anti-Semitism is advancing throughout the continent and often has a Middle Eastern cast. Yet, the authorities also talk only about right-wing anti-Semitism.

Leftist anti-Semitism is present all over Europe. Its followers, as in France, do their best to hide and protect Middle Eastern anti-Semitism.

The demographic transformation taking place in France is also happening throughout Western Europe, and the growing submission to Islam is being silently accepted by the ruling authorities almost everywhere.
ICC announces ‘basis’ for war crimes probe; Israel says it has no jurisdiction
The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said on Friday that there was a “basis” for proceeding with an investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories. The decision came five years after the ICC first opened a preliminary examination at the request of the Palestinians.

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine,” prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said.

She added that “there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed in the context of the 2014 hostilities in Gaza” by the Israel Defense Forces for allegedly launching disproportionate attacks and “wilful killing and
wilfully causing serious injury to body or health… and intentionally directing an attack against objects or persons using the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions.”

She said there was also “reasonable basis to believe that members of Hamas and Palestinian armed groups committed… war crimes” by targeting civilians and torturing individuals.

Bensouda said Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank could also constitute a war crime, as could its response to weekly protests along Gaza’s border with Israel held since March 2018.

She added that before opening the probe she would ask the Hague-based tribunal to rule on the territory over which it has jurisdiction, as Israel is not a member of the court.

Her statement indicates that a full investigation could be launched, which could include charges against Israelis and Palestinians.
House Vote Curbing Hate in Palestinian Education Passes Unanimously
The House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed a “peace and tolerance” resolution on Wednesday that calls for Palestinian school textbooks to stop “encouraging war and violence, anti-Semitism, hate and intolerance.”

House Resolution 2343, called the Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act, was introduced by Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and is co-sponsored by four other congressional representatives from both the Democratic and Republican parties.

The resolution demands that the secretary of state review educational material used by the Palestinian Authority or UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees that handles a large percentage of Palestinian education.

The resolution noted that the PA’s modified curricula still “fail[ed] to meet the international standards of peace and tolerance in educational materials established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.”

“Textbooks used by the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA encourage war, and teach children that Palestinian statehood can be achieved through violence,” it went on to say.

“It is the sense of Congress that the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA have not sufficiently worked to eliminate all content and passages encouraging violence or intolerance toward other nations or ethnic groups from the curriculum used in their respective schools,” the bill said.

The bill was based on reports by education monitor IMPACT-se, whose mandate covers the entire region.

“We are delighted that Rep. Brad Sherman and Rep. Lee Zeldin have taken firm leadership roles on the eradication of hate in Palestinian textbooks, and that the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously voted for it to be marked up,” IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said in a statement.

“This bill will effectively determine whether U.S. tax dollars have gone to fund — directly or indirectly — the PA curriculum, and will inform Congress about the state of Palestinian textbooks if the U.S. government plans any future funding of education programs in the Palestinian Authority,” he added.

Zeldin noted that UNRWA school textbooks contained no mention of Israel or Judaism and incited violence.
Sanders and Buttigieg sidestep aid to Israel question in debate
Just weeks after saying they would leverage aid to pressure Israel, Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg sidestepped the question in a nationally televised debate.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden went out of his way to affirm that he would not touch defense assistance to Israel, while saying he disagreed with its current policies.

Yamiche Alcindor, a PBS correspondent, directly asked Sanders, a Vermont senator, and Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana mayor, whether settlement expansion in the West Bank would lead them to reconsider assistance to Israel. Israel currently receives $3.8 billion each year in U.S. defense assistance.

Both candidates had said in October at the annual conference of J Street — a Jewish group that recently decided to back leveraging aid to pressure Israel — that they would consider the gambit.

But in the PBS-Politico debate in Los Angeles on Thursday night, both candidates did not say in their answers whether they would leverage aid.

Sanders said that as someone who lived for a period in Israel in the 1960s and who is “proudly Jewish” he believes Israel has a right to exist in security. He also said that one can be pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian and called for a “level playing field,” noting the dire poverty in the Gaza Strip.
Sanders calls Netanyahu a ‘racist,’ Biden slams PM’s ‘outrageous’ behavior
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic front-runner, said on Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “racist,” and called for a US policy toward Israel that makes space for both Israeli security and a “pro-Palestinian” perspective.

Fellow Democratic hopeful Joe Biden, for his part, castigated Netanyahu for moving to the “extreme right,” and urged constant pressure on Israel for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking during the fifth Democratic debate between candidates hoping to take on US President Donald Trump in November 2020, Sanders said, “Israel has — and I say this as somebody who lived in Israel as a kid, proudly Jewish – Israel has the right to exist, not only to exist but to exist in peace and security. But what US foreign policy must be about is not just being pro-Israel. We must be pro-Palestinian as well.”

“We must understand that right now in Israel we have leadership under Netanyahu, who has recently, as you know, been indicted for bribery, who, in my view, is a racist. What we need is a level playing field in terms of the Middle East, which addresses the terrible crisis in Gaza, where 60 percent or 70% of the young people are unemployed,” he added.

Sanders, who would be the first Jewish president if he wins the Democratic nomination in 2020 and bests Trump, has called a number of times for the United States to consider conditioning aid to Israel as a means to nudge its government away from expanding settlements in the West Bank and other moves that have impeded Israel-Palestinian relations.
Report: J Street sought to undermine US military aid to Israel
The Intercept news site, predicated on investigative reporting and publishing classified documents, has reported that the left-wing Jewish-American lobby J Street intended to undermine US military aid to Israel by promoting a policy to offset it with money Israel invests in settlements.

According to the report, a letter signed by 35 people who served on the J Street U board from 2013 to 2019, proposed “that J Street develop a strategy that moves the organization toward an agenda of selective aid reduction, i.e. every shekel the Israeli government spends on settlements and home demolitions results in a proportional reduction of American military aid.”

When the controversial policy was discussed internally at J Street earlier this year, according to the report, it seemed that J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami and, as a result, the board, was ready to back it. However, sources familiar with the debate told The Intercept that objections from Yael Patir, J Street’s Tel Aviv-based Israel director, torpedoed it. Specifically, Patir warned that J Street would lose any influence it has left in the Knesset or Israeli politics in general if it endorsed conditioning military aid.

Patir said in response: "J Street is proud of being a broad movement encompassing a wide variety of supporters with different views and backgrounds, all of whom are committed to our mission, support for Israel and the diplomatic process. Internal discussions at J Street are conducted in a spirit of openness and attentiveness; with that, ultimately the organization has one official policy that guides us in our work in the United States and Israel."
German lawmaker behind Hezbollah ban says move in ‘our own interest’
Benjamin Strasser, 32, usually focuses on domestic politics. But on Thursday, the freshman lawmaker was instrumental in advancing a process that may pique interest across the borders of his country, as the Bundestag voted in favor of a resolution he authored urging the government in Berlin to outlaw the activities of the Hezbollah terror group.

Driven by a near-religious passion to defend the Jewish state, Strasser negotiated with the two major parties that make up Germany’s ruling coalition until they were willing to support his text.

“I am very proud that we now have a common resolution between the coalition parties and the FDP,” he said, referring to his pro-business Free Democratic Party, which currently holds only 80 of a total of 709 seats in the Bundestag.

“At the core of our effort stands the protection of Israel and of the Jewish community in Germany,” he told The Times of Israel during a recent exclusive interview in his Bundestag office in the German capital.
Top US Jewish Group Praises German Parliament’s Call for Hezbollah Ban
A top US Jewish group welcomed the Bundestag’s approval on Thursday of a motion calling on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to prohibit all Hezbollah activities in Germany.

“We commend the Bundestag for voting overwhelmingly in favor of a measure requesting that the German government institute a ban on the terrorist organization Hezbollah within Germany,” Arthur Stark, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, stated. “We urge the government to act quickly to follow up.”

“An Iranian proxy with the blood of countless innocents on its hands, Hezbollah conducts criminal operations in the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere to finance its terror activities around the world,” they added. “No quarter should be given to these purveyors of murder and Jew-hatred, who are unyielding in their quest to destroy the Jewish state.”

“We look forward to seeing this implemented and encourage other countries to join Germany in banning Hezbollah,” Stark and Hoenlein concluded.
Moscow’s Trouble With Israelis Has a Deeper Meaning
Israel has long had a complicated relationship with Russia. As an ally of some of the Jewish state’s fiercest enemies, such as Iran and Syria, Jerusalem interacts with Moscow carefully and purposefully, walking a fine line to maintain warm ties. However, the recent arrest and imprisonment of Israeli-American Naama Issachar in Russia has brought the complex relationship between the two countries into the public eye.

A Russian court rejected Issachar’s appeal on Thursday to mitigate her sentence of seven-and-a-half years in prison on drug offenses after a small amount of marijuana was found in her luggage at a Moscow airport in April. On the same day, 15 Israelis disembarking their plane in Moscow were taken in for questioning by Russian authorities; a similar incident involved 40 Israelis occurred earlier this week.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to bring Issachar home.

“I am not a magician, but one thing I assure you. I will bring Naama Issachar home,” he said a recent rally in Haifa, whose imprisonment by Moscow has widespread outcry in Israel and remained in the headlines for months.

In what appears to have been meant as a not-so-subtle message to Israel, the Russian embassy in Israel stated in a tweet on Wednesday that many Russian tourists had been refused entry to Israel in 2019, including 569 in November alone. Both issues were being addressed in a Thursday meeting between Russian and Israeli diplomats in Jerusalem.
Ukraine restores diplomat who blamed Jews for WWII, posed with ‘Mein Kampf’ cake
Ukraine’s Jewish community expressed indignation Wednesday after a court decision forced the foreign ministry to reinstate an ex-consul fired last year over anti-Semitic remarks made while serving in his post.

Israel expressed its consternation over the ruling, saying it was “confused.”

Vasyl Marushchynets, then the Ukrainian consul in Hamburg, Germany, was dismissed last year after his social media posts came to light. Writing on Facebook, he blamed Jews for World War II and called for “death to the anti-fascists.” He also posed for photographs with a cake baked in the shape of Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf.”

Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and other senior Ukraine officials had condemned the comments.

However, the Kyiv court ruled Tuesday that the termination was illegal and ordered Maruschchynets’ reinstatement. Maruschynets also will receive thousands of dollars in missed wages.
Court Annuls Municipal BDS Campaign in Northern Spain Over ‘Violation of Fundamental Rights’
A Spanish court has found that a decision by the city hall of Camargo in Cantabria, northern Spain, to boycott companies over their ties to Israel was illegal, a Madrid-based pro-Israel group announced on Thursday.

The ruling, handed down by the Contentious Administrative Court number 1 of Santander, called the city hall’s support of the boycott campaign “a clear violation of the fundamental rights to equality” and “to transmit freely ideas and opinions, which are restricted by the threat of a certain damage derived from the hiring or institutional relationship of the city in relation with companies or products of Israeli origin,” said ACOM.

The judgement imposes legal costs, which will be shouldered by taxpayers.

The city hall first adopted the “Space Free of Israeli Apartheid” pledge — a part of the controversial Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign — on April 25, 2016, with support from the United Left communist party and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, and an abstention from the conservative People’s Party, according to ACOM.

The court’s annulment of the campaign reportedly maintained that the boycott violated fundamental right by preventing commercial or institutional relations with Israel, and — as a matter of international relations — fell outside the city hall’s purview.
Number of Israelis Killed in Terror Attacks Declined in 2019, But Terrorists' Motivation Remains Undiminished
Looking back on the past 12 months, defense officials can be satisfied with the fact that in terms of Israel's counterterrorism efforts, 2019 fared better than its predecessor: Five Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks this year, compared to 13 in 2018.

The decrease in the number of casualties does not indicate a diminished motivation among the terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip or Judea and Samaria. If anything, the opposite is true and their motivation to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces is only growing.

The only thing keeping them at bay are the tireless counterterrorism efforts of the Shin Bet security agency and the military.

The two latest successes in this arena, namely the detection and arrest of Hamas and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist cells in Judea and Samaria, have little in common other than being representations of this phenomenon.

But they nevertheless symbolize the two-pronged effort by the Palestinian terrorist groups. On the one hand, Hamas is trying to orchestrate terrorist attacks by having operatives abroad plan them, while on the other hand, the PFLP is trying to execute attacks within Judea and Samaria.

The two groups themselves are also very different: Hamas is a religious organization while the PFLP is a secular organization.

The latest report suggesting that Hamas operatives based in Turkey are planning attacks in Israel is not new in and of itself.
Arbitrary Detention and Torture under the PA
In the middle of the night on November 3, 2018, 40 armed men burst into the home of Suha Jbara, a Palestinian woman with American and Panamanian citizenship, shoving their guns in her face and that of her mother and her three young children. The men were from the Palestinian Authority (PA) and demanded that she accompany them to the PA Intelligence Service headquarters in Al-Bireh. During her ten weeks of detention, Jbara was physically tortured, denied legal advice and the chance to speak to her family. She was also forced to sign a confession.

Jbara's case is just one of many examples of arbitrary detention and torture under the PA. During her detention, she described how she saw other prisoners - including many teenagers - who were blindfolded, handcuffed, and forced to sit in stress positions facing the wall as cold water was poured on their faces.

In October 2018, Human Rights Watch released a report which detailed how the PA crushes dissent, from controlling social media and arbitrarily arresting demonstrators, university students and journalists, to brutal torture and abuse once in custody. The PA has failed to respect the basic rights of its own people and the rule of law for too long. It cannot continue.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad agree to stand together in future fight with Israel
Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas will join forces in the next round of fighting with Israel, PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah said on Thursday.

During the last flare-up between PIJ and Israel, Hamas mostly stayed out of the fighting, a move that drew criticism from several Palestinian factions and some PIJ officials.

The violence erupted after Israel assassinated senior PIJ military commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata on November 12.

Nakhalah, who is based in Lebanon, said his group has reached agreement with Hamas “to jointly respond to any [Israeli] aggression.” He warned any Israeli military strike against the Gaza Strip won’t pass without a response.

Nakhalah repeated PIJ’s commitment to the “path of jihad (holy war) notwithstanding the challenges and sacrifices.”

Hamas and PIJ leaders met in Cairo recently as part of Egypt’s effort to secure a long-term ceasefire between the Gaza-based factions and Israel.
MEMRI: March 2014 Audio Reportedly Features Phone Call Between Turkish Airlines Executive, Erdogan Advisor About Turkish Arms Shipments To Nigeria: 'Are They Going To Kill Muslims Or Are They Going To Kill Christians? We Are In Sin Right Now'
On November 26, 2019, Nigerian news outlets reported that Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesman for Nigeria's Defence Headquarters, had said on November 25 that, following a report on the Egyptian television channel, the Nigerian government was investigating claims that the Turkish government is sending weapons to Nigeria-based terrorist organization Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) in March 2015. Nwachukwu said: "The veracity of the claims in the video cannot be ascertained immediately. However, it is a serious national security issue and I believe it is receiving the required attention at the national strategic level."[1]

"Are They Going To Kill Muslims Or Are They Going To Kill Christians?"

The news reports referred to an audio recording uploaded to YouTube in March 2014, apparently featuring a phone call between Mustafa Varank, who is now Turkey's minister of industry and technology and was at that time advisor to then Prime Minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Mehmet Karakas, who has been revenue and expenditure accounting director at Turkish Airlines since June 2009. Some reports said that the recording was first uploaded by a YouTube user named Basçalan while others said it was uploaded by a user named DLMKHACK Yapilanmasi.[2]

An audio recording uploaded to YouTube in March 2014 reportedly featured a phone conversation between Mustafa Varank, above, and Mehmet Karakas.

In the recording, the voice attributed to Varank referred to a "Mr. Hakan." Hakan Fidan has been the director of Turkey's national intelligence organization, the Milli Istihbarat Teskilat (MIT), since 2010, leaving this position for about four weeks during February-March 2015 before returning to it after. It not clear to whom Varank referred in the recording.[3] The voice attributed to Karakas said: "I am transporting dozens of materials, they are going to Nigeria right now, okay? [I do not know:] Are they going to kill Muslims or are they going to kill Christians? We are in sin right now, so you know."
Israel Alone Is Willing to Use Force to Check Iran
To safeguard its interests, protect its allies, and prevent a resurgence of Islamic State, the United States must contain the Islamic Republic’s expansionism, and to do so, argues Reuel Marc Gerecht, Washington must focus its attention on Syria. In the words of the former commander of Iranian forces in Syria, the country as “the key region” to Iranian strategy, where Tehran’s “interests can most be hurt.” But if the U.S. refuses to take action, it will leave Israel alone to stand up to the ayatollahs:

[T]o ensure that the clerical regime cannot exploit Iraq’s highway system to move soldiers and materiel, including medium-range missiles, easily into the Levant, Syria is the choke point; . . . if Tehran can develop medium-range missile bases and permanently deploy a significant ground force in Syria, all protected by advanced Russian air-defense systems, then it may be able to check Israel’s capacity to play a Middle Eastern cop, which is the role the Obama and Trump administrations have defaulted onto the Jewish state as Washington has thinned its objectives and responsibilities in the region.

With Trump’s decision not to respond militarily to Iranian attacks against shipping in the Persian Gulf and a critical Saudi oil facility, the president has seriously undermined the fear that others have had of American power. If Washington is unwilling to risk war to thwart the clerical regime’s ambitions, then the only real hard-power check on Tehran is Jerusalem.

And surrounded by ever-better missiles in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, Israel naturally would hesitate to strike the Islamic Republic. Even with the Iron Dome anti-missile shield, civilian casualties might be staggering, . . . And the possibility of an Israeli military check against the ongoing Iranian nuclear-weapons quest will diminish appreciably. The Israelis might still make an effort to take out the clerical regime’s primary nuclear facilities, given Jerusalem’s existential fear of an Iranian nuke, but the Islamic Republic would have an increasing advantage: the more ballistic and cruise missiles Tehran can deploy, the more tempting it becomes for any Israeli cabinet to just live with a doctrine of mutually assured destruction.
US to Restrict Visas of Iranian Officials for Crackdown on Protesters
The United States said on Thursday it will restrict visas for Iranian officials for their roles in repressing peaceful protests and imposed sanctions on two Iranian judges as Washington ramped up its pressure on the Islamic Republic.

Protests erupted in Iran on Nov. 15 after the government abruptly raised fuel prices. The demonstrations turned political as young and working-class protesters demanded clerical leaders step down.

At least 304 people have been killed during the anti-government unrest, Amnesty International said earlier this week.

“We’re restricting visas for current or former Iranian officials and individuals responsible for, or complicit in, the abuse, detention or killing of peaceful protesters or for inhibiting their rights to freedom of expression or assembly,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Relations between Washington and Tehran have deteriorated since President Donald Trump’s administration last year pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran, and began reimposing sanctions.

Washington also announced sanctions on Thursday for two Iranian judges it accused of punishing Iranian citizens and dual nationals for exercising their freedoms of speech and assembly.

Pompeo said one of the judges, Abolghassem Salavati, sentenced US citizen Xiyue Wang to 10 years in prison on spying charges. Wang was released earlier this month in a prisoner exchange after being held for three years.

“We’re gladdened we won Xiyue’s release, but he should have never been sentenced or jailed in the first place,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo Vows to Stand Beside Iranian Protesters Seeking to Topple Hardline Regime
In one of the clearest signs to date that the Trump administration is moving toward support for regime change in Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threw the weight of the administration behind a growing protest movement in the Islamic Republic that is now threatening to topple the theocratic ruling regime.

Pompeo said at the State Department on Thursday that the Trump administration stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Iranian demonstrators who have taken to the streets amid a bloody crackdown by the regime that has already killed more than 1,000 people. While officials stopped short of calling for the regime to be deposed, Pompeo's statement indicates the administration stands on the side of pro-democracy voices in Tehran.

"No matter what, I tell the Iranian people what I have said for many months and I will continue to say so long as it is required to be said: America hears you. America supports you. America stands with you. We do so for your sake. For the sake of freedom," Pompeo said, in a statement that was a clear departure from the course taken by the Obama administration, which sat on the sidelines when a similar outbreak of protests occurred in 2009.

David Rutz breaks down the most important news about the enemies of freedom, here and around the world, in this comprehensive morning newsletter.

"The Iranian people have a steadfast friend and they are good people and they have spirit," Pompeo said before a crowd that included Iranian dissidents and those who have suffered abuse at the regime's hands. "The friend is a unique North Star for hope for all those oppressed and their voice, their writings, their faith, and their ideals. The United States will stand and has stood under President Trump with the Iranian people."
Iraqi Researcher Hashem Al-Kindi: U.S. Is Mobilizing Terrorist Cells, Exploiting Protests in Iraq
Iraqi researcher Hashem Al-Kindi said in a December 8, 2019 interview on Dijlah TV (Iraq) that the United States is trying to exploit the protests in Iraq in order to transfer US troops and families of terrorists into Iraq. Claiming that the U.S. is mobilizing ISIS cells throughout Iraq and diverting security forces away from their main mission, he said that the U.S. had similarly exploited protests in western Iraq in 2014 and gave rise to ISIS. Al-Kindi added that the Americans are cooperating with the Baathists, with ISIS, and with the enemies of the Iraqi people.

Former Iraqi MP: Iraqi Shiites No Longer Buy into Notions that Iran Is Holy
Ayad Jamal Al-Din, a Shiite who has previously served as a member of Iraq’s parliament, said in a December 10, 2019 interview on ANB TV (Iraq) that Iran has been brainwashing Shiites with its “industry of holiness” and the notion of its sanctity, but that these notions, which he described as Iran’s most important weapon, have collapsed among Iraqi Shiites for good. He said that this is evidenced by the fact that people in Najaf, Iraq destroyed pictures of Khomeini and burned down the Iranian consulate. He encouraged people to curse Iran and applauded the destruction of the Iranian embassy, saying that its destruction should be celebrated annually the same way Iran celebrates the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. In addition, Al-Din predicted that Iraq’s corrupt government will not fall until the Iranian regime falls. He added that shari’a law governs personal matters and that Iraq should be ruled by man-made laws that respect every religion like legal systems in the West do.

Iran gives FIFA commitment that women will be allowed to spectate.
Iran's Football Federation has given world governing body FIFA a written commitment that women will be allowed to attend matches in the domestic club league, a source with knowledge of the discussions said on Friday.

In October, Iranian women watched the country's national team for the first time in 40 years, when they were given access to a women's section of the stadium for the World Cup qualifier against Cambodia in Tehran.

Women had been banned from watching men’s games in Iran since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution with only a few exceptions made for small groups on rare occasions.

FIFA had sent a delegation to Tehran to ensure that women were allowed to attend the game against Cambodia following the death in September of Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire to protest against her arrest for trying to get into a match.

Dubbed “Blue Girl” online for her favorite team Esteghlal’s colors, Khodayari had feared being jailed for six months by the Islamic Revolutionary Court for trying to enter a stadium dressed as a man.

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