Thursday, December 26, 2019

From Ian:

JPost Editorial: European hypocrisy
These are countries that wrongly believe Israel’s presence in the West Bank is illegitimate. But these are also countries whose official policy is Israel and the Palestinians should pursue a negotiated two-state solution. What kind of negotiation can take place with a partner like the Palestinians, who are taking punitive unilateral steps?

Of course, they are not just dissembling when it comes to the ICC. When European countries say they want a two-state solution, the aim is supposed to be peace. Yet European donations to so-called human rights NGOs that have ties to terrorists are commonplace.

Many of the Palestinian groups working to have Israelis prosecuted for war crimes share personnel with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Just last week, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) arrested PFLP members in the West Bank who were part of a 50-person terrorist network. One of them was responsible for murdering 17-year-old Rina Shnerb in August. He and several others work for a number of European-funded NGOs, including in top financial positions, while being leaders of the PFLP.

The PFLP is recognized as a terrorist organization by the EU, and these revelations about their work in NGOs are not new, but these European countries keep funding them.

The hypocrisy is so screamingly obvious that it is practically smacking the staffers at various development agencies run by European governments in the face. It’s hard to understand how they can live with the cognitive dissonance. And yet they’ve been doing this for years, although research institutions and Israeli government officials from the Strategic Affairs and Justice Ministries have brought these issues to their attention.

These countries need to decide: Do they want a negotiated settlement or punitive unilateral Palestinian action? Do they oppose or support terrorists? They say one thing, but their money talks, and it says the opposite.
European Countries Allow Oppressive Regimes to Manipulate the ICC
Most of the regimes that shape international bodies and legal tribunals have no respect for the values of peace, tolerance, and human rights, resulting in the manipulation of the ICC and other bodies.

European countries that join forces with oppressive regimes in these bodies grant them legitimacy. Without this legitimacy, the international bodies would have been dismissed as nothing more than a circus that should be ignored because they are being controlled by outcast regimes. But the Europeans have systematically stood by those who distort the very values they have championed.

The European elites continue to live according to the illusion that the world will embrace Western values and be built under the auspices of international law using global legal and political bodies. If you confront European countries with the reality that there are major cultural gaps between Europe and most of the world, you will be dismissed as racist.

There Are No Judges at the Hague
We know what the ruling will be: The ICC will become the first international tribunal to rule that the “state of Palestine” is sovereign over all disputed areas of Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem.

Just two weeks ago, the media reported that high-ranking legal scholars in Israel’s Attorney General’s Office had warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to take steps to apply Israeli law to the Jordan Valley, out of concern that the ICC would decide to launch an investigation against Israelis for that “crime” too.

It was obvious to anyone who keeps tabs on the ICC that there would be an investigation of Israel, regardless of whether sovereignty was applied to the Jordan Valley or not. The legal advisers’ warning not only demonstrated a total lack of understanding of the ICC, but also gave it more motivation to act against Israel by supplying it with proof that the court is influencing a state’s conduct with threats of legal action.

This was not the first time that legal authorities in Israel, including some at the top ranks of their profession, have operated in a manner that unintentionally spurs on the ICC to proceed with its anti-Israel actions. High-ranking legal authorities have talked about the Israeli legal system as a “defensive shield” against ICC investigations, as if the ICC were acting out of professional legal motivations rather than political and diplomatic ones.

As long as Israel continues to treat the ICC as a legal entity, and as long as it maintains relations with ICC staff under the assumption that their intentions are good, as long as Israel continues to make legal arguments as if anyone at the ICC is listening, it will continue to lose the battle. We must wake up and take more stringent political steps — as the United States already has — before the nightmare of indictments against Israeli soldiers becomes a reality.

Gerald M. Steinberg: Political games at The Hague
In theory, the ICC’s objective is to provide a framework for holding the world's worst tyrants and war criminals to account, particularly in countries where there are no functioning courts or governments to hold them to account. The massive campaign designed to artificially force Israel to the center for the court’s agenda not only erases the history of the conflict, but more importantly, is fundamentally immoral.

Given this background, and after 21 years, the decision of the prosecutor was largely predictable. Unfortunately, the Israeli government was slow in understanding the threat and the requirements for a successful strategy. The defensive approach, led by lawyers in the IDF and elsewhere, was based on attempts to show the court that the Israeli judicial process made external intervention redundant. But because the ICC is a political body, these efforts were ignored.

In contrast, an aggressive political and diplomatic strategy, based on threatening the ICC's already thin budget and perhaps its survival, can still defeat this effort. The US, which, like Israel, did not sign the Rome Treaty, has already condemned the move, but American pressure alone is probably insufficient to deter the prosecutor.

Washington and Jerusalem need to expand this counterattack to other democracies whose sovereignty is threatened by the ICC. The UK, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is a likely ally – British soldiers sent to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq are also targets of NGO-led campaigns at the ICC. Australia and perhaps Canada are also potentially allies too.

The question is whether Europe, despite its support for the NGOs involved in this travesty, will find the necessary political backbone. If countries like Holland, Norway, and Denmark tell the court that their survival depends on ending this anti-Israel, and, many will argue, anti-Semitic witch hunt, they can undo some of the damage.
Honest Reporting: The International Criminal Court and the Palestinians
Failure on Four Counts

Repeated Palestinian attempts to use the ICC as part of their lawfare against Israel have been documented over the years, but this most recent attempt fails on four basic counts.

1. By its own definition, “the ICC is intended to complement, not to replace, national criminal systems; it prosecutes cases only when States do not are unwilling or unable to do so genuinely.” Israel is a democratic state with judicial oversight with well-developed and competent civilian and military justice systems as in any other modern country. Israel has been and remains both willing and able to investigate and prosecute cases and has done so.

“The ICC’s mandate is not to replace national courts – it only intervenes when national governments and leaders refuse or are unable to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.”
Prof. William Gumede, School of Governance, Univ. of Witwatersrand

2. The courts in Israel have addressed, or are still dealing with, all the legal issues in the Palestinian allegations including the 2014 Gaza war, the weekly Gaza-border riots organized by Hamas and ongoing settlement-related issues. There is a thoroughly documented history of Israel’s justice systems, both civilian and military, investigating and prosecuting the incidents and the ICC is not supposed to duplicate this. Dr. Clare Frances Moran, who is both a university lecturer on law and an assistant council at the ICC, notes the court “was intended to complement, not replace, national criminal systems, prosecuting only when states are unwilling or unable to do so.”

3. In 1993 when they signed the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians agreed that negotiations on legal issues would be conducted directly with Israel and not through third parties. The ICC should be directing the Palestinians to conduct themselves as stated in the signed accords.

4. Numerous expert opinions by legal analysts have concluded that the Palestinians do not meet the criteria for petitioning the ICC, of which Israel (like the United States and Russia) is not a member. There is still no recognized “state of Palestine.” While many sympathetic countries have “recognized” it as such, the Palestinians are only observers at the United Nations and have not fulfilled the international legal requirements to become an independent member of the world body. That the prosecutor at the ICC refers to the “State of Palestine” does not make it such.
Honest Reporting: Is Building Homes a War Crime?
This past week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor announced that she is ready to open an investigation over whether or not Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered war crimes. The ICC is supposed to prosecute countries responsible for serious crimes like genocide or mass deportation. There are 124 territorial disputes around the world and in none of them is building homes considered a war crime.

NGO Monitor Podcast: Season 2, Episode 10: ICC War Crimes Prosecution and PFLP-linked NGOs
What links the murder of Rina Schnerb in a terrorist bombing to the threat of war crimes prosecution against Israeli officials? Which European governments are trying to drag Israel to The Hague? Find out in this week's episode as our host Yona Schiffmiller and Senior Researcher Shaun Sacks connect the dots on these seemingly separate issues.

International Criminal Court to Prosecute Israel Because Nothing Bad Happening Anywhere Else (satire)
The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor has decided to examine pursuing legal action against Israel for its 2014 war with Gaza and its ongoing presence in Judea and Samaria because “We can’t really think of a place in the world where anything worse is going on”.

The court announced last week that it would pursue a legal action at the request of the Palestinian Authority after a petition from ISIS was denied because “beheading infidels isn’t a human right”. Several states have come out in favor of the potential prosecution, saying that it would be a welcomed distraction from all the real war crimes they were committing. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad said that he was grateful that Israel was going to be held accountable for erecting checkpoints in the West Bank because it meant that he could continue using Sarin gas against civilians for the time being.

The Israeli Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, published a 34-page memo explaining that the ICC had no jurisdiction because Israel had not signed the relevant treaties and that Palestine had the same legal right to sue as Narnia, or Mordor. Some Israelis have expressed concern about arrest warrants for soldiers and officers could be issued in European cities, making it difficult for Jews to walk around freely in Europe with no problems for the first time in history.
Jason D. Greenblatt: What Would America Do If It Was Attacked by Rockets?
Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket on Wednesday at an Israeli city where Prime Minister Netanyahu was appearing at an election campaign event. What would America or any other nation do if a rocket was launched toward a campaign event held by a presidential candidate?

I would think the reaction to such an attack would be quick, decisive and punishing. And indeed, Israel responded forcefully and justifiably to the unprovoked attack.

Israel's stability and security is essential to the security of numerous Arab countries in the region, as well as to the U.S. If not for Israel and the U.S., the fanatical anti-American dictatorship that rules Iran would pose an even greater threat to all its neighbors and to the U.S.

Many Israel-bashers have protested about how Israel is blockading Gaza. But few have discussed the underlying reasons for Israel restricting the entry into Gaza of goods and material that are repurposed by terrorists into weapons of war to murder and maim Israelis.

Anyone interested in bettering Palestinian lives and working toward peace must acknowledge that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are interested in nothing short of the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel and the murder of the Jews living there.

The Palestinians will continue to lag behind, and peace will be unlikely to be achieved, as long as terrorists who hate Israel more than they love their own people remain in power.
NIF-Funded NGO Chomping at the Bit to Support Bensouda’s ‘War Crimes’ Allegations
The anti-Zionist NGO Adalah this week issued a press release titled: “ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda made the right decision, we are prepared to submit our legal materials.”

Adalah (“Justice” in Arabic), an Israeli nonprofit legal center, was founded in November 1996 as a joint project of two leading Arab NGOs – The Galilee Society and the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA). In 2018, according to NGO Monitor, Adalah received over the past seven years roughly $150,000 from the New Israel Fund. The group’s overall annual budget for 2017 was roughly $12 million, with donors also including Switzerland (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs), European Union, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Bread for the World-EED (Germany), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), Christian Aid (UK), UNDP, and Open Society Foundation.

“Adalah believes that, based upon the numerous reports of human rights organizations and United Nations commissions of inquiry over the years, the ICC prosecutor has made the right decision given the facts. No other decision could have been possible. We welcome her position, and we believe that the ICC has full jurisdiction to decide on the concerned criminal cases. Adalah, as an NGO with expertise in Israeli law that has submitted Israeli Supreme Court petitions and complaints relating to most of Israel’s military operations since 2002 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is prepared to submit its legal materials and opinions on these matters.”

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg issued a statement saying, “As if it isn’t enough that the NIF funds tens of millions of dollars to anti-Israel propaganda organizations that slander IDF soldiers and defend convicted terrorists in court, now their money is being funneled towards prosecuting Israel in the ICC.”

“The time has come for the NIF’s donors who have Israel’s best interests at heart to wake up and realize that their money is being weaponized to attack Israel,” Peleg said.
German Parliament: Its Resolution to Ban Hezbollah is Just a Legal Charade - Part II
Gatestone Institute wholeheartedly supports U.S. President Donald J. Trump's efforts to ban Hezbollah in Europe. The Bundestag resolution, however, calls for an incomplete ban, which appears aimed at providing the German government with political cover that would allow Berlin to claim that it has banned the group even if it has not.

It is utterly implausible that Germany, one of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced countries in Europe, is unable to ascertain the organizational structure of Hezbollah within its own borders.

"Six months ago, the AfD presented a resolution in the Bundestag to ban Hezbollah, a resolution which you vehemently rejected and which since then you have blocked in caucus.... What is needed is the complete ban of Hezbollah. Hezbollah's propaganda and terror financing in Germany must be stopped... This, by the way, is also demanded by the Bundestag's Anti-Semitism Resolution, which expressly calls for the deportation of supporters of anti-Semitism. If this does not apply to supporters of Hezbollah, which wants to send Jews to the gas chambers, and wants to destroy Israel, then to whom could this apply?" — Beatrix von Storch MP, Alternative für Deutschland [AfD] party, to the Bundestag, December 19, 2019.

Von Storch noted that the Bundestag's resolution, if implemented by the German government, would allow Hezbollah's 30-plus German-based mosques and cultural centers — where the group raises funds and spreads anti-Israel propaganda — to continue to operate. Moreover, not one of the 1,050 known Hezbollah operatives now in Germany would be deported.
Having Helped to Cover Up an Anti-Semitic Massacre, Cristina Kirchner Is Now Back in Power
Earlier this month, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who had served as president of Argentina from 2007 to 2015, was sworn in as the country’s vice-president—an office that will likely protect her from prosecution for various charges of corruption. Some of these charges relate to her government’s attempts to help Iran avoid repercussions for its role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in exchange for access to oil and economic support. Mark Dubowitz and Toby Dershowitz write:

On January 18, 2015, the day before the special prosecutor for the AMIA investigation, Alberto Nisman, was due to present his findings of Kirchner’s alleged cover-up to the Argentine congress, he was found brutally murdered in his apartment. . . . The charges against Kirchner for this episode included “treason against the homeland,” punishable by up to 25 years in prison. But there is now serious doubt that the case will go to trial.

When [the former president Mauricio] Macri originally took over from [Kirchner] at the end of 2015, he sought to improve . . . relations with the West by strengthening intelligence ties and voiding the memorandum of understanding [Kirchner had concluded] with Iran. It had called for a joint Iranian-Argentine investigation of the Jewish-center bombing—despite the fact that Nisman had provided evidence that it was Iran’s most senior officials who planned and ordered the attack.

Macri also went a step further by launching a proper investigation into Nisman’s death, one that determined the prosecutor was in fact assassinated for investigating the AMIA bombing (and didn’t commit suicide, as Kirchner’s government was initially quick to claim after his body was discovered). On July 18, 2019, the 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombing, Macri’s government formally declared Hizballah—which had executed the bombing as Iran’s proxy—a terrorist entity.

Despite reports that it was considering reversing this decision, the new government has decided not to. Still, note Dubowitz and Dershowitz, “the message has been sent that Hizballah can likely count on weak, if any, enforcement against its activities in the region.” But there is a sliver of good news: Buenos Aires is eager for American economic support, which gives Washington leverage that can be used to pry it away from Tehran.
IDF chief warns Israelis: The next war will hit our home front extremely hard
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on Wednesday lamented that Israel is alone in the fight against Iran and its proxies in the Middle East, as the Islamic Republic grows increasingly aggressive in the region. “It would be better if we weren’t the only ones responding to them [militarily]”, Kohavi said, in an apparent criticism of the United States and Persian Gulf countries, who also see Iran as a major foe.

The military chief, in his first major speech, said the IDF was operating throughout the region — openly, covertly and clandestinely — in order to thwart the plans of Iran and its proxies, “even at the risk of war.”

He also issued a bleak warning to Israelis that the next war, when it came, would hit the home front hard. “It must be known and recognized that in the next war — whether in the north or against Hamas — heavy fire will be directed against our home front. I’m looking people in the eye, and saying, there will be heavy fire. We have to recognize this and we have to prepare for this… We have to prepare for this militarily; the civil hierarchies have to prepare for this; and we have to prepare for this mentally.”

The army chief made the comments in a wide-ranging address on Israel’s national security and the state of the Israel Defense Forces at a conference in honor of former IDF chief of staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. It was Kohavi’s first major speech on Israel’s national security since taking his position last January, speaking for a full hour.

“In recent years, Iran has changed its policies and is much more active,” Kohavi said, noting attacks in recent months on petroleum facilities in Gulf states.

“And there’s no response, there’s no retaliation, there are no reprisals,” he said.

Israeli aircraft strike Gaza after rocket attack near Netanyahu event
Israeli military aircraft carried out strikes in Gaza early Thursday, hours after rocket fire toward the southern city of Ashkelon forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt a campaign event and take cover.

The Israeli military said warplanes and helicopter gunships struck several targets belonging to the Hamas terror group, “including the group’s military complexes.” It said the strikes were in response to Wednesday’s rocket fire.

The Hamas-linked Shehab news outlet earlier reported strikes around 1 a.m. near a port west of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

The outlet also reported an attack on a “resistance site” in northern Gaza.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from Gazan authorities as the sites were empty.

On Wednesday night, Palestinian terrorists broke a period of relative calm surrounding Gaza, firing a single rocket toward Ashkelon.

The projectile was shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the IDF said.
Netanyahu again rushed offstage at event as Gaza rocket fired at Ashkelon
Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket toward the southern city of Ashkelon on Wednesday night as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was campaigning for the upcoming Likud leadership primary, prompting the premier to be rushed off stage to take cover for the second time in under four months.

The Israel Defense Forces said soldiers operating the Iron Dome missile defense system shot down the incoming rocket.

No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

Netanyahu was in the middle of a campaign event in Ashkelon at the time and was forced to evacuate to a bomb shelter along with the dozens of supporters in the room.

This was the second time since September that Netanyahu had to be evacuated as a result of rocket fire from Gaza during a campaign event.

The prime minister returned to the stage on Wednesday night after approximately 15 minutes and issued a threat to the terrorists behind the attack.

“The person who fired the rocket last time is no longer with us. The person who did it this time should start packing their things,” he said.
Netanyahu Evacuated From Campaign Event Stage
Thursday's rocket attack saw one projectile launched at southern Israel amid a campaign event by caretaker PM Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the Thursday leadership contest in his Likud party. After being rushed to shelter as red alert sirens wailed, the PM came back to the stage to issue a stern threat to the Hamas leadership, warning them that now was a good time to pack their bags as the last person to launch a rocket at him did not live to tell the tale.

ICC war crimes allegations likely to help Netanyahu at polls – analysis
Top on the list of what not to do as a prime ministerial candidate should be coming under suspicion of war crimes by the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

But for a prime minister fighting for his political life as a right-wing leader in Israel, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s statements regarding the possibility that Israeli leaders are culpable for war crimes over settlement activity is nothing short of a Hanukkah gift.

It’s one Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been exploiting for political capital ever since she issued her statement last Friday afternoon.
The timing, less than a week before Thursday’s leadership primary in which Likud voters have to choose between Netanyahu and Gideon Sa’ar, could not have been more perfect.

For another prime minister, the ICC declaration could have been a kiss of death, but for Netanyahu it may have been a windfall that gave him an opportunity to show his voters that he would not cave to international pressure and fear. His voters are less likely to be swayed by Bensouda’s words and more likely to believe it reflected anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiment.
New laser beam system developed to take down drones, burning balloons
Israeli security forces have unveiled a new laser-beam system designed to take down incendiary aerial devices which have burned countless acres of land over the past two years as well as drones infiltrating into Israeli airspace.

The system, dubbed Light Blade, was developed by engineers in the private sector along with researchers from Ben Gurion University and technological departments belonging to the Israel Police and IDF.

According to a report on Channel 12, Light Blade has been designed to deal with threats as far away as two kilometers, both along the northern borders as well as the Gaza Strip. The portable system which can be installed on a moving vehicle can be operated both during the day and at night.

The system “provides a near conclusive response to everything relating to balloons and kites, and delivers a safe and effective solution to the drone threat,” Border Police chief Kobi Shabtai told Channel 12.

Only one functioning system has been built and according to the report, costs around a million dollars.

Gaza groups say border protests to stop until March, resume infrequently in 2020
The committee responsible for organizing weekly protests in the border region between Israel and the Gaza Strip announced on Thursday that demonstrations would take place less frequently in 2020.

The High Commission for the March of Return and Breaking the Siege, which includes representatives of Gaza-based terror groups and political factions, said in a statement that protests would occur on “a monthly basis as well as whenever we need masses to gather and during prominent national occasions,” starting on March 30, 2020.

Protests slated to take place this Friday will be the last until March 30, 2020, Talal Abu Zarifa, a member of the body, told AFP.

“We, in the High Commission for the March of Return and Breaking the Siege, are making this decision and embodying national responsibility,” the Commission’s statement said. “Through this [decision], we are affirming the Commission’s bold and responsible leadership role.”

Yusri Darwish, a member of the High Commission, read the statement to reporters in Gaza City.

Palestinians in Gaza have participated in the protests along the frontier on most Fridays since March 30, 2018, demanding Israel lift its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave and calling for the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to lands that are now a part of the Jewish state.

The protests have frequently included violence, including the hurling of explosives, rocks and firebombs at IDF soldiers, as well as attempts to storm and sabotage the border fence. Israeli troops have often responded with live fire, rubber-coated bullets and tear gas. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed at the demonstrations and thousands have been injured.
Report: Five Killed in Second Strike This Week on Iran-Backed Militias in Syria
Syrian media on Wednesday reported a large explosion at the headquarters of a pro-Iranian Shi’ite militia in the city of Al-Bukamal near the Iraqi border.

The UK-based civilian watchdog group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that several facilities used by the pro-Iranian militias in the area had been attacked by drones. Five militiamen were killed in the attack, according to SOHR.

According to the report, eyewitnesses told SOHR the drones had struck a facility belonging to Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

This was not the first time that Iranian targets have been targeted in the Al-Bukamal area, where Iran is building its sprawling Imam Ali base—the flagship project of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Middle East.

Located between Al-Bukamal and the Iraqi border down Al-Qa’im, the Imam Ali base is part of a larger IRGC project known as the “green belt,” the purpose of which is to facilitate the transfer of fighters and weapons from Iran to southern Syria and Lebanon via Iraq and Syria.

Iranian minister insists protesters shot in head and legs, not 'just' head
In response to questions about why so many peaceful protesters were shot in the head and upper body during nationwide protests in November, the Iranian interior minister told officials in a closed door meeting, "We shot them in both the head and the legs, not just the head. We also hit the legs!"

Mahmoud Sadeghi, a reformist member of the Iranian parliament, told the website Emtedad that Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli made the remark nonchalantly. According to Sadeghi, the officials who were present at the meeting were shocked by the interior minister's indifference and coldness when he made the remarks.

Rahmani-Fazli told the officials at the meeting that the government decided to work to end the protests in any means possible in 48 hours, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on Nov. 15.

"Lawmakers were astonished by the minister's response," said Sadeghi, according to Radio Farda. "My question is whether managing the situation by using firearms to this extent and leaving so many dead is anything to brag about."

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