Wednesday, June 16, 2021

From Ian:

Bret Stephens: The Paradoxes of Benjamin Netanyahu
Netanyahu is hardly Tolstoy. Still, he’s a man of formidable ambition and talent who entered the political fray looking for the harmonious universe in which a Jewish state—recognized, whole, and secure—could take its rightful place among the nations. What he found instead was that there was no straight way to get there, and perhaps no way at all, given the implacability of many of its enemies and the faithlessness of some of its friends. The two great “solutions” are equally false. There is no plausible Palestinian state that can satisfy Israeli security requirements and Palestinian desires. There is also no map of Israel that can simply swallow the Palestinians without risking being swallowed by them in turn.

What there is, then, is a muddled reality that must deeply disappoint idealists of every stripe. But it’s also a reality that beats every conceivable alternative. Netanyahu understands this, even if it’s not something he would say out loud. The criticism that he does nothing but kick cans down the road ignores the fact that, when it comes to Israel’s major strategic challenges, at least for now, that’s the only thing an Israeli prime minister can do. The question is how far the can gets kicked, and how much power and flexibility Israel can gain—militarily, economically, demographically, and so on—before it needs to kick it again. As Michael Oren, the historian and former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., has pointed out to me, Israel’s entire history is one long “war of attrition” or “war between the wars.” Still, it’s a war that Israel can fight for the long term while its people continue to flourish.

The paradox of Benjamin Netanyahu is that a man who rose to power on the strength of a certain vision of Israel held on to power at the expense of that vision. It’s that a man who did much to strengthen Israel’s position in the world through the bullishness of his personality also did much to damage to Israel’s politics through the same bullishness. It’s that a man whose thoughts, ambitions, and actions always seemed to have the broadest sweep could become the agent of his own political undoing thanks to a succession of small grievances and petty power plays.

There’s no reason to search for definitive answers anytime soon. The coalition that succeeds Netanyahu is fractious and thin, held together by little more than its loathing for a singular man. Nobody knows this better than Netanyahu himself, which is why the thought that must surely run through his head, rightly, is, “I’ll be back.”
Danny Danon: Thank You Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Throughout his tenure, Netanyahu’s perceptive policies and informed approach led to a transformation of Israel’s economy. Despite recently experiencing an economic downturn due to COVID, we in Israel have found ourselves better prepared and equipped to deal with the economic situation compared to many other countries. Netanyahu shifted the country’s focus to more liberalized markets, drastically reduced taxes, and increased competition in a market that was largely run by monopolies. The stability and growth we see today have been a direct result of Netanyahu’s approach to economic advancement.

One of the most conspicuous outcomes of his growth plans was the miraculous phenomenon of Israel’s catapult to the position of global high-tech powerhouse. With the largest number of startups per capita in the world, that’s around one startup per 1,400 people, it is hard to imagine how our tiny nation, in constant war since our founding and with limited natural resources, was able to reach such heights. Netanyahu was instrumental in establishing export channels across the world for Israel’s high-tech innovators and encouraging the world’s technology giants to invest billions in Israel’s R&D centers. This created one of the world’s most concentrated high-technology sectors, only second to Silicon Valley. There is a saying in Proverbs 29:18 that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” Netanyahu had vision and this last decade we have seen it becoming a reality.

Despite all of Netanyahu’s striking achievements, it is natural within a strong and vibrant democracy that alongside his ardent fans there will be many adversaries. While there will always be those who criticize his leadership and who are not in agreement with his policies, the majority will agree that he was an exceptional and visionary leader, whose brilliance and strategic vision transformed the landscape and our nation’s path. Today we are stronger militarily, technologically, economically, and diplomatically.

President Teddy Roosevelt once said that “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Netanyahu has accomplished a lifetime of hard work already and I am sure he will confirm that every minute was precious. His impact will be felt for decades to come. We don’t know what the future holds for him but I can say for certain that Israel is eternally grateful for his service as our prime minister.
Ruthie Blum: Comic relief from a serious Israeli drama
Yamina enthusiasts are split. Some feel duped by Bennett for his broken promises. These include a vow not to join forces with Lapid and never to accept backing by Ra'am, let alone sit with it in a government.

Others are consoling themselves that at least their candidate will be prime minister for two years and lead a government that consists of a number of like-minded right-wingers. The people in this category, who wanted Bennett to replace Netanyahu, say that they're willing to give him a chance. What they mean is that they're hoping he won't cave, where it counts, to the leftists and Islamists.

The latter seem to be assuming that he will, or at least are planning to bide their time until Lapid takes over in 2023 to get to work reversing Netanyahu's policies. Despite their carry-on about his criminal charges, which are trumped up at best – and aside from their assertions that "most Israelis" voted against him – his successes are the bane of their existence far more than his failures.

The opposite is true of Bennett, who has been contending that he could do a better job than Netanyahu at implementing the ideas that they share. In other words, the difference between the two "anybody but Bibi" groups now occupying the same rows of Knesset benches is stark.

No wonder the public harbors little faith in the longevity of the so-called "pro-change coalition." But the Left, whose La La Land ideas about Palestinian victimhood at the hands of Israeli "occupiers" have become so unpopular, appears to believe that the absence of Netanyahu and an administration in Washington anxious to return to the Iran deal are its ticket to resuscitation.

Boy, is it ever in for a surprise.

The irony lies in the thrill its members are exhibiting at having the likes of Bennett serve as their savior. Bets are on about how soon their literal and figurative parties will be over.

The Israeli electorate may have been slightly divided for the past two-and-a-half years over Netanyahu's continued rule after well more than a decade. But it's been crystal-clear about where it stands on Iran, Hamas, the boycott divestment and sanctions movement and the International Criminal Court, to name but a few issues liable to put a damper on the kumbaya coalition.

I, for one, pray that Bennett remembers and acts on this. If he does, a whole different crowd will be descending on Rabin Square and elsewhere to applaud. In the event that he doesn't, the next election might just see Netanyahu return from opposition exile.


The battle to erode Israel's sovereignty is being waged in Gaza and Ankara
Prime Minister Bennett passed the first test of his job on Tuesday, but he'll certainly be hearing from security official with whom he'll be speaking that Hamas' presence in Jerusalem is destabilizing, and that the story isn't over yet. This presence wears the ideological hat of the Muslim Brotherhood and, practically speaking, enjoys support from both branches of the Islamic Movement in Israel – the Northern and Southern. All of this under the auspices of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who sees himself as a patron of the Muslim Brotherhood in the world in general and in Israel in particular.

This informal coalition was made clear a few weeks ago when heads of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement, including MK Mansour Abbas, visited a protest tent set up in Kafr Kana after Sheikh Kamal Khatib, deputy head of the Northern Branch, was arrested. A Turkish flag was on display in the tent. Khatib is accused of encouraging terrorism and violence in the form of recent unrest in Jaffa, Lod, and the Temple Mount, and by his alleged praise for the rioting that murdered Jews.

The Hamas-Muslim Brotherhood coalition in Jerusalem could also be seen when the leadership of the Ra'am party and the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement visited Sheikh Ikrama Sabri at the beginning of last year. The visit took place after Sabri, the former mufti of Jerusalem and Erdogan's man on the Temple Mount – was questioned by police. Sabri, who has a record of tacit support for suicide bombings, was ordered to keep away from the Temple Mount numerous times due to his incitement and radical statements. The visit by Ra'am and Southern Branch officials was defined as one of "identification."

If Israel wants to take Hamas out of the Temple Mount game, it needs to focus on legal, police, and administrative action against the Hamas coalition in Jerusalem, the Galilee, the "triangle" region of northern Israel, and the Negev. But now, it's much more complicated because the Ra'am MKs, even though they are part of the coalition, have a place at the cabinet table and thereby partly whitewash the activity of Hamas supporters in Jerusalem at Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount

Another course of action Israel must insist upon is ensuring free movement for Jews on HaGay Street on their way to the Western Wall, as well as along the path that runs parallel to the wall for it 488 meters (1,601 feet), even the part of that distance that has been swallowed up by homes in the Muslim quarter over the years.

Given the circumstances, the concession on Tuesday not to hold the flag march on HaGay St. was understandable, but it must not become a habit. There are Jewish homes, as well as schools, yeshivas, and other Torah and charity institutions on HaGay St. Tourists and Jewish visitor flock there, and it is also the site of the "Little Wall." All that must be developed, even after Tuesday's temporary retreat.
Gaza, Lebanon, and Iran are testing Israel's new government
As for Israel's captive fallen soldiers and live civilians, the latest Gaza operation has created a window of opportunity to bring them home. It is a question of how much Israel is willing to pay to see that happen – any truce would entail concessions that will cause a political storm and test the government's unity and leadership.

In addition, Israel needs a complete plan for the rehabilitation of Gaza that includes not only rebuilding homes and institutions destroyed in the fighting, but also a policy about the future of Gaza – diplomatic, social, and economic. The military aspect of the policy must include a clear military response to any Hamas provocation. Meanwhile, the strategic Palestinian issue remains with us constantly, and at this stage we must not delude ourselves that the new government will provide any tactical solutions to it.

It is important for Israel to try and bolster the Palestinian Authority against Hamas, and strengthen security cooperation with the PA, which entails weakening Hams and trying to enlist the PA into any truce deal between Israel and Gaza. The broader Palestinian issue will have to wait until later.

In more distant arena, the nuclear talks between Iran and the signatories to the 2015 deal, with the US in the background, continue on and off. The Iranians are holding to a hard line and, in violation of the deal, are working to develop a nuclear bomb. Israel has thus far decided to object to any renewal of the deal. The Biden administration is waiting for an Israeli decision that will directly influence its next steps on Iran.

To the North, Lebanon, Hezbollah, and Syria – as well as the Iranian entrenchment in their territory – are very volatile issues that need to be addressed right away. Defense Minister Benny Gantz will be the person to whom the baton of responsibility is passed, and he will therefore become the most important person on the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet in the near future.

To sum up, I wouldn't recommend that our enemies try testing Israel's defense prowess at this time. The defense establishment is stable and strong, and based on wonderful people whom we can trust.
Biden’s ‘Sanctions Hygiene’ Will Rearm Hamas Terrorists
Iran’s belligerent behavior in the region has continued despite the opening of the JCPOA talks in Vienna. The talks continue despite recent Iran-sponsored attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq. It is therefore certain that the massive sanctions relief the Biden Administration plans to give Tehran will fund another huge expansion of Iranian meddling in regional disputes, military spending, and terrorism.

Such an influx of cash to Iran couldn’t possibly come at a better time for Hamas. During last month’s attacks on Israel, Hamas fired over 4,000 rockets and missiles. While most of these missiles and rockets were made in Gaza, they relied heavily on Iranian funding, training, and expertise. This included Hamas’ newest weapon—the Shehab drone—similar to drones Iran provided to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Hamas is currently trying to rebuild its missile and rocket arsenal with more advanced designs—an expensive undertaking that requires cash from Iran. Although Israel’s Iron Dome system shot down about 90 percent of missiles fired from Gaza, a large number of more sophisticated missiles and drones with advanced guidance systems—which Hamas currently lacks—will be much harder to defend against.

There are many reasons for Joe Biden to halt his effort to rejoin the deeply flawed JCPOA. It does little to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Tehran has already cheated on its commitments. Biden’s plan to grant over $150 billion in sanctions relief to Iran may lead to a catastrophic loss of life and destruction in Israel when Hamas launches a new barrage of rocket attacks.

Biden’s “good sanctions hygiene” will result in a lot of dead Israelis, and possibly dead Americans.
Biden picks Thomas Nides as ambassador to Israel
US President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced that he intends to appoint Thomas Nides as the country's next ambassador to Israel. Nides’ name emerged in April as the likely ambassador.

Nides is currently the managing director and vice chairman of Morgan Stanley, working with global clients and external and governmental affairs issues. He previously served as deputy secretary of state for management and resources under Hillary Clinton from 2011 to 2013. He was also awarded the secretary of state’s Distinguished Service Award in January 2013.

“Thomas Nides is a distinguished public servant and business leader,” the White House said in a statement. “Nides was Chief of Staff to the US Trade Representative Micky Kantor, was Senior Advisor to Speaker of the House Thomas S. Foley, and earlier to House Majority Whip Tony Coelho,” the announcement reads. “He currently serves on the boards of the Partnership for Public Service, the International Rescue Committee, the Atlantic Council and the Urban Alliance Foundation, and currently serves as the Managing Director and Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley.

“He is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the former Chairman of the Board of the Woodrow Wilson Center appointed by President Obama. Nides received his B.A. degree from the University of Minnesota. He is the recipient of the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award.”

Nides was born to a Jewish family in Duluth, Minnesota. He started his career on Capitol Hill in various positions, including as assistant to the House majority whip and executive assistant to the speaker of the House. He later spent a decade as chief of staff for several members of Congress before pivoting to the banking sector in 1996.
We Must Stop US Funds From Indoctrinating Palestinian Children
In the realms of domestic and foreign policy, the Biden administration has made a concerted effort to reverse many of the policies that guided the previous administration. Regarding Washington’s relationship with the Palestinians, the White House and Congress are renewing tens-of-millions of taxpayer dollars in US funding to Palestinian NGOs and UN agencies, after several years in which such support was frozen. In addition, the US plans to provide nearly $40 million in aid to Gaza following the May conflict between Palestinian terror groups and Israel.

However, past experience suggests that US vetting mechanisms are insufficient to ensure that aid isn’t provided to extremists who oppose US values and policies.

The decision to reinstate aid courts dangers, as well as opportunities. If the US is going to advance its principles and interests, officials must first recognize and correct past failures in selecting Palestinian NGOs, before moving forward with major funding initiatives.

In this context, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) March 2021 audit of USAID funding to the West Bank and Gaza is particularly important. The GAO publication covered projects from 2015 to 2019, focusing on issues of compliance with the agency’s anti-terror vetting protocols. Auditors found serious deficiencies when implementing required procedures, concluding that vetting of second-tier grantees — akin to subcontractors — was often incomplete or conducted after the fact.

Extending the GAO’s work, NGO Monitor, in a newly released report, analyzed specific USAID grants during that time period. The research revealed that USAID provided approximately $7.2 million to a series of Palestinian NGOs that glorified violence and presented convicted terrorists as role models for children.

Chief among these is Juzoor, which has received over $6.6 million from USAID as part of three separate projects since 2013. On multiple occasions, this NGO introduced teens to convicted Palestinian terrorists, including those that served sentences for involvement in murdering an Israeli civilian, firing on Israeli vehicles, stabbing an Israeli, and an assortment of other violent crimes.
Palestinian Arabs and their "Days of Rage"
So we will have another day of rage, for a change, and then a day of anger followed by a day of outrage, a day of violence, a day being miffed, and a day of pique. As if that isn’t enough, we will then have a day of fury, a day of hatred, a day of tantrums, and a day of enmity.

Being endlessly enraged, we will follow all of this with a day of vexation, a day of animosity, a day of being irked, a day of hurt feelings, a day of temper, a day of being unhinged, which could be every day, a day of raving, and a day of delirium.

As if this is not enough and as there are on average thirty or thirty one days a month, we go on to a day of being wild, a day of madness, which actually is also every day, a day of frenzy, a day of hysteria, a day of fuming.

What fun we are all having and it certainly beats trying to earn a living and doing work, G-d forbid. Then we continue with a day of wrath, a day of irritation, a day of wounding, a day of incitement, a day of destruction followed by our latest invention, a day of stabbing.
Palestinians said to assemble new peace negotiating team at initiative of US
The Palestinians have assembled a new team of negotiators, with the encouragement of the United States, for renewed peace talks with Israel, according to a television report Tuesday as the new Israeli government settled into office.

Citing a “senior official in Ramallah,” the West Bank city where the Palestinian Authority is based, Channel 12 news said the PA negotiating team was set to demand an extension of the PA’s authority in the West Bank as part of talks brokered by US President Joe Biden’s administration. Nobody on the reported team was named.

The demands were said to include blocking Israel Defense Forces soldiers from entering Area A of the West Bank, which is under the full control of the PA, and to have expanded authority — including on security issues — in Areas B and C. The PA has civil control in Area B, while Israel has security control. Israel maintains control over both civil and security matters in Area C.

The PA was also reportedly to demand other unspecified “trust-building measures” aimed at maintaining the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinians warn PA against resuming peace talks with Israel
Palestinian factions on Wednesday warned the Palestinian Authority against conducting peace negotiations with the new Israeli government headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The warning came in response to a report on Channel 12 that claimed that the PA has formed a negotiating team to deal with the new government at the request of the administration of US President Joe Biden.

According to the report, the PA team will demand that Israel return to the situation that existed in the West Bank before the Second Intifada. This means that the IDF would no longer enter Area A of the West Bank to arrest Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorist activities. The PA negotiating team will also demand that control over additional areas in Areas B and C.

The Olso Accords signed between Israel and the PLO divided the West Bank into three areas of control. Area A is exclusively administered by the PA; Area B is administered by both the PA and Israel; and Area C is administered by Israel.

A senior PA official in Ramallah refused to comment on the Channel 12 report.
Karim Khan, new ICC chief prosecutor, to decide Israel’s fate
Khan said he was less concerned that the ICC itself would try war criminals than that war criminals be tried somewhere, even if in their home countries where they perpetrated their crimes.

The incoming prosecutor said he would correct gender imbalances in the office favoring men and confront sexual harassment allegations.

Regarding ongoing cases, Khan said, “Requesting preliminary investigations is a start. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. ... We cannot invest so much [in trials], raise expectations so high,” while achieving so little so often in terms of convictions.

A recent decision Bensouda issued regarding the Philippines may provide some hope for Israel. Although Bensouda has moved to open a full criminal probe against the Philippines, she also issued her most pragmatic statement to date about potential limits on the probe in light of the ICC’s limited diplomatic support and resources.

Looking into the future, she wrote earlier, “Any authorized investigation in the Philippines will fall to my able successor, Mr Karim Khan, to take forward... It is clear ... the office, under his leadership, will ... take into account the operational challenges arising from the continuing pandemic, the severe limitations on the ICC’s available resources, and the Office’s current heavy work commitments,” she said.

“There is a serious mismatch between situations where the Rome Statute demands action by the Prosecutor and the resources made available to the Office,” she said.

Bensouda’s term was characterized by slow-moving cases, only around 10 convictions and criticism from all sides.
ICC prosecutor went after Israeli settlements, but not Cyprus
Former International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda broke her commitment to decide the case of the Turkish settlements occupation of Northern Cyprus before leaving office Wednesday, despite publicly committing to do so, and going after Israel as early as late 2019.

Amid the all-important ICC debate about whether Israeli settlements are a war crime, the question of the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus has been almost completely ignored. As recently as only a few weeks ago, The Jerusalem Post received clear indications that Bensouda still intended to rule on the Turkish settlements issue before her term ended.

Sources have indicated that there were last minute changes. Bensouda said she had hoped that “during 2021 decisions could be reached either to dismiss or proceed, with respect to Mexico, Cyprus (settlements), Yemen (arm exporters), Cambodia (land grabbing) and Syria/Jordan (deportation). Despite progress made on a number of these assessments, I will again be handing these over to the incoming Prosecutor to consider and decide upon, as he deems appropriate.”

All of this came after Bensouda publicly committed on February 18 during a virtual conference hosted by the Institute of International and European Affairs to making the decision before the end of her term.

Her office issued a flood of last minute decisions on Tuesday but nothing more about the Turkish settlements and Northern Cyprus before her term expired at noon on Wednesday.

Israeli officials and Israel’s supporters have accused Bensouda and the ICC of a double standard on the settlements issue.
First images of Abu Dhabi's Abrahamic Family House under construction released
Construction work is well under way on the Abrahamic Family House, Abu Dhabi's multi-faith place of worship.

New images show the foundations of the church, mosque and synagogue being built on Saadiyat Island.

The names of the three houses of worship have been revealed as Imam Al Tayeb Mosque, St Francis Church, and Moses ben Maimon Synagogue.

The project, which also includes a cultural centre, will welcome visitors to worship, learn and engage in dialogue.

A fifth of the project is now complete, officials said, and it is due to open in 2022.

The project is a legacy of Pope Francis's visit to Abu Dhabi in February 2019.

Its design was unveiled by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, at a meeting of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, in New York.

The committee is a group of religious leaders, scholars and cultural leaders who were inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity, signed by Pope Francis and Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, during the pontiff's visit to Abu Dhabi.

The Abrahamic Family House’s design, by Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye, captures the values shared between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.


Israel Strikes Hamas Sites Over Fire Balloons
Israeli aircraft struck Hamas sites in Gaza on Wednesday after incendiary balloons were launched from the Palestinian enclave in the first such attacks since a fragile ceasefire ended 11 days of deadly fighting last month.

The violence poses an early test for the government of new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whose patchwork coalition came to power on Sunday on a pledge to focus on socioeconomic issues and avoid sensitive policy choices towards the Palestinians.

An Egyptian-mediated truce that halted fighting between Israel and Gaza militants did not immediately appear to be threatened by the flare-up, with the overnight Israeli airstrikes giving way to calm by morning.

There were no reports of casualties on either side.

The overnight violence follows a march in eastern Jerusalem on Tuesday by Jewish nationalists that had drawn threats of action by Hamas, the ruling militant group in Gaza.

Israel’s military said its aircraft attacked Hamas armed compounds in Gaza City and the southern town of Khan Younis and was “ready for all scenarios, including renewed fighting in the face of continued terrorist acts emanating from Gaza.”


AP’s Muddled Coverage on Arson Attacks and Airstrikes
The Associated Press coverage today of overnight Israeli airstrikes against Hamas buildings in the Gaza Strip in response to the launching of arson balloons which sparked some 20 fires yesterday in southern Israel is a far cry from the “world-class journalism” that the news agency promises.

“Israeli airstrikes target Gaza sites, first since cease-fire” misreports several points concerning the incendiary balloons and the Israeli airstrikes that were carried out in response to the arson attacks.

First, the article fails to make clear the fact that Israel’s airstrikes this morning were in response to Palestinian arson balloon attacks targeting southern Israel.

Rather than making a general statement about unspecified violence emanating from Gaza, the army put out a very clear statement that the airstrikes were in response specifically to the arson balloons. AP obscured the causation between the arson attacks and airstrikes.

Unlike AP, other wire services made clear in their headlines and very first sentence that the airstrikes were a response to the arson balloons.


How do the terrorists in Gaza get the helium gas for their incendiary balloons?
Summary
Helium is the lightest gas known to man and is used for filling incendiary balloons that are sent to from Gaza to Israel because of the buoyancy
Balloons filled in Gaza from old cooking gas cylinders containing gaseous compressed Helium
Liquid Helium is used in Gaza hospitals for their MRI devices that need topping us due to heat inleak, producing the gaseous Helium.
This gas is then filled into the old cooking gas cylinders(LPG) and/or some of the liquid helium is specifically taken off from the flasks and allowed to produce the gas that is then filled into the old cooking gas cylinders There is an international standard for color coding for helium gas cylinders – brown.
Cylinders used to fill the balloons range from blue, through green to red but not brown.
Liquid Helium in flasks is transferred from Israel to Gaza
Neither COGAT, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics have data on export or import to Gaza of Helium
The IDF has not answered a question from a Likud MK about export of Helium to Gaza
The only company in Israel that imports liquid Helium into Israel is Israel Oxygen and Argon Works Ltd based in Caesarea (subsidiary of Air Products Inc.)
The imported liquid Helium into Israel comes from the USA
Israel Defense Forces Seize Smuggled Weapons From Jordan
The Israel Defense Forces intercepted two shipments of smuggled weapons headed across the Israeli border from Jordan.

Soldiers worked with Israeli border police and other authorities on Monday to halt a shipment as it approached the border. Israeli forces identified and fired at one suspect before he was able to cross into the country. A reserve soldier was wounded in the operation. The cause of his injuries is under investigation.

Three smugglers attempted on Monday to bring a second weapons shipment, which included 10 Kalashnikov rifles and 5 sniper rifles, from Jordan into Israel. Defense Forces soldiers, in cooperation with Israeli police, seized the smugglers along the border.

It is not clear where the weapons originated.

The interceptions occurred during a surge of illicit activity on Israel's borders. In recent months, Israel has flagged more than 1,000 packages seized by troops for containing potentially smuggled illicit goods with military use. The packages—the majority of which were headed to Gaza—contained materials that could benefit Hamas's operations against Israel.
Palestinian Woman Shot After Attacking Israeli Troops: Army
Israeli troops shot a Palestinian motorist on Wednesday who tried to ram them in the West Bank and then brandished a knife, the Israeli military said.

The Palestinian health ministry said the woman had died of her injuries. There was no word of Israeli casualties.

The incident follows a rise in tensions after a Jewish nationalist march in Jerusalem on Tuesday, and the launch of incendiary balloons across the Gaza border and retaliatory Israeli air strikes.

The Israeli military said the Palestinian woman “attempted to ram into a number of IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldiers” near the Palestinian village of Hizma, northeast of Jerusalem.

“After the car-ramming attempt, the assailant exited her vehicle with a knife drawn … The soldiers responded with fire towards the assailant and neutralized her,” the military said in a statement.

There has been a rise in violent incidents in the West Bank in recent weeks.


PMW: PA cult of Martyrdom worship still going strong
When one Fatah Central Committee member posts a picture of himself kissing the blood-stained shirt of a “heroic Martyr,” and another praises Palestinian women for being special because they see “their children as insignificant compared to the homeland” and make “sounds of joy for the Martyrs,” and when a PA official talks about a young man’s death as his “crowning his struggle with Martyrdom-death,” then it is clear that the Palestinian Authority’s cult of Martyrdom worship is still flourishing. These also indicate that PA leaders are still promoting death as “Martyrs for Palestine”– an ideal the PA has cultivated in Palestinians for decades.

While violent riots were raging in Jerusalem, only two weeks prior to the recent war, Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki praised Palestinian women for not grieving when losing their loved ones as do other women. Zaki described the priorities of Palestinian women who “view their children as insignificant compared to the homeland,” and elaborated on how they are “proud of Martyrdom, and sing for the grooms” – a reference to the belief that a Martyr's funeral is considered his wedding to the 72 Virgins in Paradise in Palestinian Islam and culture:
Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki: “Palestinian women are not like any other women in the world. All [the other] women worry about their loved ones, their children, and their husbands much more, and when they die even a natural death, [the women] tear at their cheeks and go crazy, [and call] “Allahu Akbar”. The Palestinian women, due to all the suffering and massacres that they have seen, view their children as insignificant compared to the homeland. [They] have seen great people die for the sake of the cause, and all they do is make sounds of joy for the Martyrs, be proud of Martyrdom, and sing for the grooms.”

[Official Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki, April 29, 2021]
Palestinian women view their children as insignificant compared to the homeland, says Fatah official

Israel and America “will disappear, while we are remaining,” says senior Fatah official

All Christians believe Jesus was a Palestinian and that Jews tortured him, claims Fatah official

MEMRI: Lebanese Journalist: Palestinian Authority's Weakness, Hamas' Extremism Will Cause Palestinians To Lose Gains In World Public Opinion
In his June 2, 2021 column in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, titled "The Missing Link in Palestinian National Action," Lebanese journalist Hazem Saghiya questioned the Palestinians' ability to take advantage of the global sympathy they gained following the recent round of fighting with Israel. The problem, he explained, is that no element in the Palestinian arena is able to dialogue with the international community, for Fatah and the PA are too weak, while Hamas is too radical and does not share the world's values. Although it often tries speak in terms that the world likes to hear, Hamas is actually an extremist Islamic force that oppresses the Gazans and can spark a civil war at any moment, said Saghiya, and added that the Palestinians deserved a better leadership.

The following are excerpts from Saghiya's article:[1]
"The immense accomplishment of the Palestinian cause – in the form of changes in world public opinion [regarding it] – is impressive and inspires optimism. Optimism not only regarding the Palestinian rights but regarding the fairness of the world we live in and its capacity for change. But this accomplishment requires there to be someone in the Palestinian arena who can capitalize on it, react to it, understand the aspect of fairness and anti-racism within it and build on it.

"Is there any such element in the Palestinian [arena]?

"Although Hamas leaders used to speak on the European and American media in terms 'that the West likes to hear,' on Sunday [May 30, 2021] Hamas held a rally in northern Gaza titled 'Honoring the Families of the Martyrs,' in which the speaker was Fathi Hammad, a member of Hamas' political bureau and its interior minister in 2009-2014. Hammad spoke in terms that 'we [Arabs] apparently like to hear.' He said that the [recent Gaza] war began predominantly a religious war, and that the only thing he had for the Zionists was the sword.[2] The word ['sword'] was accompanied by a slight but precise gesture of passing his finger across his throat… He stressed the treachery of the 'Jews' and then swallowed his tongue and started using the word 'Zionists.' The local news agencies omitted his reference to the Jews, but this man has a record of brutal antisemitism: In a 2019 speech he called to 'kill the Jews everywhere,' although he soon took back his words and Hamas renounced them as well.[3] The satellite channel Hammad founded, Al-Aqsa TV, is incapable of speaking even to Islamic [organizations] other than Hamas, such as the [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad, not to mention speaking to global public opinion. His record as interior minister is replete with 'accomplishments'… Here are some of them:

"–There was an remarkable increase in violations and attacks against journalists in Gaza at the time.

"–In 2009, a ban on young women riding bicycles behind men and a ban on women dancing.

"–In 2010, women were forbidden to smoke hookahs in public, in order to 'end the steady rise in divorce cases.' Women were also forbidden to have their hair styled by a male hairdresser, on pain of imprisonment. Widespread protest thwarted [this] plan by Hamas, [but] there was [nevertheless] brutal pressure on hairdressers to refrain from [serving women], and… many women's hair and beauty salons were bombed. The same year, the security apparatuses shut down a hip hop party one night, on the pretext that its organizers had not obtained a license. After [Hamas] accused UNRWA of teaching schoolgirls 'physical fitness, dancing and licentiousness,' an UNRWA summer camp was attacked: [its] large plastic tents were torn and its storage units burned down. The head of UNRWA in Gaza called this 'an attack on children's happiness,' while human rights activists added that Hamas was 'increasing its efforts to impose strict Islamic norms in Gaza.' One of Gaza's recreational parks, Crazy Water Park, was closed for allowing [men and women] to swim together, and was later torched by 'anonymous' armed groups.
Poll shows ‘dramatic’ surge in Palestinian support for Hamas after Gaza fighting
A new poll released Tuesday finds a dramatic surge in Palestinian support for Hamas following last month’s Gaza conflict, with around three-quarters viewing the Islamist terrorists as victors in a battle against Israel to defend Jerusalem and its holy sites.

The poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research also found plummeting support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who was sidelined by the fighting but is seen internationally as a partner for reviving the long-defunct peace process.

The poll found that 53% of Palestinians believe Hamas is “most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people,” while only 14% prefer Abbas’ secular Fatah party.

Head pollster Khalil Shikaki, who has been surveying Palestinian public opinion for more than two decades, called it a “dramatic” shift, but said it also resembles previous swings toward Hamas during times of confrontation. Those all dissipated within three to six months as Hamas failed to deliver on promises of change. Palestinians march in the West Bank city of Bethlehem with the Palestinian, Hamas and Fatah flags on May 21, 2021. (Wissam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The march toward the recent violence began in April, when Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police on a nightly basis in East Jerusalem over coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings during the holy month of Ramadan. The clashes eventually spread to the Temple Mount compound, a flashpoint site holy to both Jews and Muslims, and were also fueled by the pending evictions of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem homes claimed by Jewish nationalists.


MEMRI: Commander in Islamic Jihad Al-Quds Brigades: Tunnels Will Be Graveyard of Soldiers of the Occupation
“Abu Al-Bahaa,” a commander in Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades Commando Unit said that the Gaza tunnels will be the graveyard of the “soldiers of the occupation.” He made his remarks during an interview that was filmed in one of the tunnels, dubbed “tunnels of freedom” by Abu Al-Bahaa, and aired on Palestine Today TV (Gaza/Lebanon) on June 12, 2021.

Abu Al-Bahaa said that the unit is ready to join the fray at any given moment, and its fighters have their hands on the triggers while they await a decision by their leaders to attack the “Zionist enemy” inside the “lands occupied in 1948.” He also said that they are waiting to surprise the “enemy” and initiate a new round of fighting. Abu Al-Bahaa directed a message to the “Zionist public,” saying that it must “get out of our lands” or the PIJ will come to kill and kidnap them.


MEMRI: Hamas Awards Shield Of Honor To Representative Of Houthi Movement, Sparks Rage In Saudi Arabia
On June 6, 2021, Hamas' representative in Yemen, Mo'az Abu Shamala, met with Muhammad 'Ali Al-Houthi, a member of the Houthi Supreme Political Council. At the meeting, attended also by two other members of the Hamas office in Yemen – office head 'Omar Al-Subakhi and political affairs director 'Abdallah Hadi – Abu Shamala presented Al-Houthi with a shield of honor on behalf of Hamas, in appreciation for the Houthi's support of the Palestinian cause. Abu Shamala also conveyed greetings from Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya to the Houthis and their leader, 'Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi, and expressed the Hamas movement's gratitude "for the efforts, initiatives, and activities announced by the Houthis in support of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause."[1] Abu Shamala stressed that "by all indications, resistance is the correct path for liberating Palestine." [2]

This meeting between the Houthi representative and the Hamas representative reflects the cooperation between the two movements, which both enjoy Iran's political, financial and military support. It is worth noting that, on May 26, 2021, a few days after the end of the recent round of fighting between Hamas and Israel, a delegation representing the Houthi Supreme Political Council visited the Hamas office in Sanaa to congratulate Hamas on "the victory of the resistance over the Zionist entity and its army in the Sword of Jerusalem campaign [Hamas' name for the recent round of fighting]. On the following day, another Houthi delegation, headed by the secretary-general of the movement's political bureau, Fadl Abu Taleb, also came to congratulate Hamas.[3]

In addition to expressions of mutual support, the meeting between Abu Shamala and Muhammad 'Ali Al-Houthi apparently dealt with efforts to free Hamas members imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, including Muhammad Al-Khudari, Hamas' representative to Riyadh, who has been imprisoned in the kingdom along with his son Hani since 2019.[4] A few days after the meeting, Al-Houthi tweeted a proposal to the Yemeni Al-Islah party, which maintains good relations with Saudi Arabia, involving a prisoner exchange deal in which Al-Islah would press the Saudis to free Hamas operatives imprisoned in the kingdom in return for the release of Yemeni prisoners close to Saudi Arabia. The latter include former Yemeni defense minister Mahmoud Al-Subaihi and Gen. Mansour Hadi, the brother of the Yemeni president, who have been held hostage by the Houthis since 2015.[5] It should be noted that previous exchange deals proposed by the Houthis for freeing Hamas prisoners in Saudi Arabia were welcomed by Hamas but rejected by the Saudis.[6]

The meeting between the Hamas representative in Yemen and the senior Houthi official provoked rage in the Saudi media. Articles in the Saudi press described the meeting as an act of betrayal by Hamas reflecting overt support for Iran's Houthi agents, who seek to undermine the kingdom's stability. The article added that presenting a shield of honor to the Houthis was an act that crossed all the red lines, and that Hamas was no longer a national resistance movement but had become a pawn on the Iranian chessboard – and would consequently end up on the "trash heap of history."
Clifford D May: Iran’s nuclear secrets have been exposed
Three months later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference. He said the materials proved that Tehran had a “program to design, build and test nuclear weapons … to use at a time of its choice to develop nuclear weapons.”

That meant that the nuclear deal President Obama had concluded in 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was predicated on lies told by Iran’s rulers, and that the JCPOA did not, as claimed, block their path to a nuclear weapons capability.

Proponents of the JCPOA insisted there was nothing earth-shattering in the materials, and that Mr. Obama had concluded as good a deal as could be expected. President Trump, long mistrustful of the deal, soon formally withdrew.

David Albright, a physicist, and the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, also known as the Good ISIS, persuaded the Israeli government to allow him access to the materials. Since then, he and his team have conducted a comprehensive forensic analysis.

The result is a new book: “Iran’s Perilous Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons,” co-authored with Sarah Burkhard. He points out that the very “existence and maintenance of a secret archive containing nuclear weapon design and manufacturing data is not compatible with Iran’s legally binding nuclear non-proliferation commitments” under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the fundamental international agreement for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Albright notes that by “secretly storing and curating an extensive archive focused on developing and building missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” Iran’s rulers also violated their “JCPOA pledge that ‘under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.’”
FDD Podcast: Tehran’s Nuclear Secrets
David Albright is a physicist, a former nuclear inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency, an expert on nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation, and the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security – also known as “the Good ISIS.”

His important new book, written with Sarah Burkhard: “Iran’s Perilous Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons.”

It’s based on the secret archive of the nuclear weapons program of the Islamic Republic. Israeli spies located that archive in a warehouse in Tehran, and spirited much of it out of the country.

What David Albright reveals is alarming and should have a significant impact on the policies of the Biden administration vis-à-vis Iran’s rulers.

He joins host Cliff May and Andrea Stricker, who worked at the Good ISIS for 12 years, and is now a fellow at FDD where she conducts research on nuclear weapons proliferation and illicit procurement networks.


Biden Admin Prepared to Lift Sanctions on Iran’s Top Terrorism Financers, Senator Says
The Biden administration is prepared to lift sanctions on the Iranian regime's primary vehicles for terrorism financing, according to the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, which is investigating Treasury Department efforts to waive these crippling measures.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), whose committee has jurisdiction over the Treasury Department, is demanding the Biden administration turn over internal documents related to its impending decision to dismantle the toughest sanctions campaign in U.S. history.

Toomey suspects the administration will lift sanctions on Iran's central bank and its national oil company, both of which were sanctioned by the Trump administration for acting as the primary funders of Tehran's global terrorism operation. As negotiations with Iran in Vienna continue this week, Toomey and other leading Republicans are stepping up efforts to block the Biden administration from granting Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief. GOP foreign policy leaders say they are seeing signs that President Joe Biden will waive sanctions that even the Obama administration pushed to keep in place.

"I am particularly troubled by reports that the administration is preparing to lift restrictions on significant economic entities, including the Central Bank of Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company," Toomey wrote in a June 10 letter to the Treasury Department in which he demands that the agency produce scores of documents related to future sanctions relief. "These firms were designated as terrorism-supporting entities following a 2017 law mandating terrorism sanctions on IRGC agents and affiliates."

Like other congressional committees investigating the Biden administration's closed-door negotiations with Iran, Toomey's committee is questioning claims by U.S. diplomats that sanctions relief will not fund Iran's regional terror operations.
Lifting Sanctions May Help Russians Supply Spy Satellites to Iran
If sanctions prohibiting the import of U.S. technology used in Russian satellites are lifted as part of a quid pro quo during this week’s summit between Russian president Vladimir Putin and President Joe Biden, one consequence would be a major enhancement of Iran’s military.

On May 11, the Washington Post reported that Moscow was preparing to sell a surveillance satellite system to Iran. Three unnamed sources that spoke to the Post stated they had been briefed on the sale of the Russian-made space system, designated Kanopus-V.

This satellite would be launched from a Russian cosmodrome and fitted with some of the latest hardware developed by Moscow’s satellite industry that would permit Iran’s military to have continuous digital downloads of imagery of the oil and gas facilities of American allies in the Persian Gulf, military installations in Israel, and U.S. troop deployments in Iraq.

A Middle Eastern official who spoke to the Post said the Kanopus-V is "will allow Iran to maintain an accurate target bank and to update that target bank within a few hours" and on a daily basis.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has been negotiating with Moscow since 2018 to acquire the Kanopus-V. The IRGC operates separately from Iran’s standard armed forces, employs overpowering high-technology surveillance apparatus against the Iranian population, and operates its own autonomous fleets of aircraft, armored vehicles, and air defense systems.

Three days before the Post article appeared, several Russian news agencies quoted the head of Russia’s Space Agency, Dmitri Rogozin, saying that production of several satellite systems could not be completed due to U.S. sanctions that prohibited microchips from being sold to Russia.

"We have more than enough booster rockets, but nothing for them to launch [into orbit]," said Rogozin.

These sanctions were enacted after Russia’s March 2014 occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its subsequent invasion of the Eastern Donbas Ukraine regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. Later sanctions prompted a 2018 report in the Russian press that specified high-technology firms that were targeted and blocked from acquiring microchips and other items needed for their production lines.











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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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