Thursday, October 28, 2021

From Ian:

US State Dept. official acknowledges Israel must approve consulate reopening
A senior official in the US State Department told senators on Wednesday that Israel’s permission would be required before the United States could reopen its consulate in Jerusalem serving Palestinians.

US Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to answer questions on a variety of issues. McKeon was asked by Senator Bill Hagerty, a Republican from Tennessee, about the potential reopening of that consulate.

“I just want to confirm something, on the record — is it your understanding that under US and international law the government of Israel would have to provide its affirmative consent before the United States could open or reopen the US consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem?” Hagerty asked McKeon. “Or does the Biden administration believe it can move forward to establish a second US mission in the Israel capital city of Jerusalem without the consent of the government in Israel?”

McKeon replied: “Senator, that’s my understanding — that we need the consent of the host government to open any diplomatic facility.”

In this case though, the facility the US is likely to operate the consulate out of is already under its control. The only Israeli approval required in this process will be in the decision to accept the credentials of whomever the Biden administration appoints to be the consul general in Jerusalem when they are presented to President Isaac Herzog.

US President Joe Biden has pledged to reopen the consulate, but the issue has been a sticking point between Israel and the United States, as well as among some members of Congress. The consulate was shuttered by then-US president Donald Trump in 2019 and its staff was folded into the US embassy — which had been moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem a year earlier — in what the Palestinians view as a downgrading of their ties with the US.






Noah Rothman: The Global War on Terror Comes for Joe Biden
On Monday evening, U.S. officials casually announced that a hostile foreign power was responsible for a “complex, coordinated, and deliberate” attack on an outpost operated by American soldiers.

According to the Pentagon, as many as five drones armed with explosives targeted a Syria-based garrison last week where U.S. forces and Syrian opposition fighters are stationed. The drones were Iranian in origin. The attack was encouraged and materially supported by Iran. And the targeting of this base has disrupted the U.S. mission in northwestern Syria to deter and contain the Islamic State in the Levant.

Just hours later, Colin Kahl, undersecretary of Defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that both the Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan represent a threat to the United States that is all but imminent. “I think the intelligence community currently assesses that both ISIS-K and al-Qaeda have the intent to conduct external operations, including against the United States,” Kahl said. Current estimates indicate that the Islamic State in Central Asia could mount attacks on the U.S. homeland anywhere from six to 12 months from now. As for al-Qaeda, the group responsible for the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil in the nation’s history will again be able to hit the homeland within a year or two.

These two episodes might appear unrelated, but only to those who have forgotten the objectives outlined by George W. Bush at the outset of the West’s Global War on Terror. That enterprise was never limited to non-state actors. That war was to be conducted against terrorists and their state sponsors—“any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism.” Afghanistan is once again just such a nation. Iran always was.
Khaled Abu Toameh: The Role of Iran's Palestinian Mercenaries
Hamas and PIJ, it seems, want to continue receiving funds and weapons from Iran, but they do not want to be seen by Arabs and Muslims as mercenaries serving Iran's interests in the Middle East.

Hamas and PIJ want the Palestinians and the rest of the Arabs and Muslims to believe that their only goal is to "liberate all of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea" -- a euphemism for driving the Jews out of Israel and replacing it with an Islamist state.

That is most likely why both Palestinian terror groups were quick to issue statements denying that their main goal is to defend Iran and serve its interests in the Middle East.

"Take your armies and go with them back to Iran, where you can fight your battles away from the peoples you occupy to achieve your agendas," said Sami Gemayel, head of the Lebanese Kataeb Party. He also criticized the failure of Lebanese leaders to respond to the admission that Hezbollah was created to serve Iran, and not Lebanon: "Are you ready now to face the truth?"

The Iranian commander's [Maj. Gen. Gholam Ali Rashid's] statements coincide with the Biden administration's delusional commitment to the fiction that the US will somehow convince Iran to abandon its plans to acquire nuclear weapons.

While the Biden administration is talking about "diplomacy" as the best way to rein in Iran's nuclear program, the mullahs are preparing for war and advancing their scheme to annihilate Israel and, with the help of their six "armies," occupy still more Arab countries.


The Ideological Obsession behind Washington's Palestinian Policy
Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Director-General of the Israel Foreign Ministry, explained why Washington insists on saying that it did not know in advance about the Israeli announcement banning the six Palestinian NGOs affiliated with the PFLP: "During the recent period, American policy reflects internal concerns more and more, and not necessarily what should be foreign policy concerns. The Palestinian issue has become very important for the very progressive wing of the Democratic Party. These elements don't feel a closeness to Israel, they feel alienation. Incidentally, this position is very far from the general public opinion in the U.S., which is still close to Israel."

Gold added that one couldn't separate the current story from the American insistence on opening a consulate for the Palestinians, specifically in the building on Agron Street in the heart of the capital of Israel. "It's an ideological obsession."

"In Israel-U.S. relations, the president is the one who makes the final decision, and I wonder how much the president is involved. As he weakens, is not interested, and gives his attention to other matters, all sorts of more junior elements take over the formation of U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East and toward Israel, and their approach is not friendly."
Honest Reporting: In-depth Look: Inside the West Bank & Israel’s ‘Settlements’
For the first time since US President Joe Biden was elected nearly one year ago, the Israeli government this week green-lighted the advancement of plans to construct some 3,000 housing units in Jewish communities in the West Bank, a territory also known by its Biblical name Judea and Samaria. Under the proposal, mainly new homes would be built, whereas other existing structures would be legalized retroactively.

The decision was panned by the United States, with the Axios news site having quoted Israeli officials as saying that Secretary of State Antony Blinken protested the move in a “tense” phone call with Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Moreover, the Jewish state once again faced a media onslaught, with virtually all major outlets publishing articles claiming that Israeli “settlements” are considered “illegal under international law” and are regarded as an “obstacle for peace” (see, for example, here, here, here and here). Often lost in the mix was that Israel’s Higher Planning Council also approved the building of 1,300 new homes for Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli security and civil control.

Every time Israel advances plans to build homes in disputed territories, the same dynamic repeats itself: Jerusalem defends its decision amid a torrent of international criticism. It is about as there comes to a pre-written script in diplomatic affairs, a cycle of bloviation that HonestReporting has addressed over and over again.
13 European states call on Israel to halt plans for 3,000 settlement homes
A group of 12 countries on Thursday collectively urged Israel to scrap plans for the construction of more than 3,000 settler homes in the West Bank. The United Kingdom separately issued a similar statement urging Israel to reverse plans for fresh settlement construction.

A day after the US criticized the plan, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden said in a joint statement that Israel should cancel its decision to build in the settlements.

“We urge the Government of Israel to reverse its decision to advance plans for the construction of around 3,000 settlement units in the West Bank,” the foreign ministries of the 12 said.

“We reiterate our strong opposition to its policy of settlement expansion across the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which violates international law and undermines efforts for the two-state solution,” they said.

In its own statement, the UK said settlements “are illegal under international law and present an obstacle to peace and stability.” It urged Jerusalem to reverse its decision.
Germany Censures Israel’s Linking of NGOs to Terrorism
The German government criticized Israel’s decision on Oct. 22 to name six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist groups.

“We are very concerned by the Israeli decision,” said a spokeswoman from the German Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, reported AFP. “We are waiting for further information from the Israeli government.”

Jerusalem said its decision was due to NGO financing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a designated terror group by Israel, the United States and a number of other countries. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz accused the NGOs of secretly working with the terror group.

Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett greeted visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a special Cabinet meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem by stating that the alliance between their two countries had “turned into a friendship.”

With the center-left Social Democrats in Germany emerging as the victor in last month’s elections, it remains to be seen how the new relationship will move forward.


PA condemns Israel's plan to advance housing units in settlements
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday strongly condemned Israel’s approval to construct more than 3,000 housing units in West Bank settlements, saying the decision “destroys what is left of the two-state solution.”

The PA was responding to the Civil Administration’s decision to advance plans to build 3,130 housing units in Area C of the West Bank. A statement issued by the PA presidency said that “such unilateral measures belittle the efforts of the US administration, which would require a Palestinian response to these offensive measures based on the decisions of the Palestinian leadership, international law, and UN resolutions.”

The PA called on the US administration to implement its pledge to reject settlements and unilateral measures.

“These Israeli measures call for a decisive stance from all parties of the international community, including the International Quartet and the Security Council, to confront these Israeli decisions and practices that seek to steal Palestinian land and push matters towards a state of instability and tension, which will negatively affect everyone,” the PA added.
Swiss President Meets With PA Head Over Peace Process
witzerland President Guy Parmelin and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met on Thursday about reviving the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis.

“Switzerland can play an important role in the peace process,” Parmelin said during the meeting with Abbas in the West Bank city Ramallah.

Parmelin said that Israelis and Palestinians must return to the negotiating table, and offered Swiss resources to that end, according to The Times of Israel.

“The creation of a political horizon is at the heart of Switzerland’s concerns,” he said, “and Switzerland is committed to supporting dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis.”

“Economic measures cannot prevent violence if they are not part of a political effort,” Parmelin added.

The Swiss president also urged Abbas to hold Palestinian national elections, which have not been held for more than 15 years.

Ramallah insists the elections were delayed because Israel did not allow Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem to vote, while others claim that Abbas feared his Fatah faction would face defeat to its rival Hamas.

“We urge the Palestinian Authority to end the division and step up its efforts to hold Palestinian national elections,” said Parmelin.
Israeli ambassador urges UN to adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations and the US, Gilad Erdan, met on Wednesday with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC)'s antisemitism envoy Miguel Moratinos in order to encourage the UN to adopt the IHRA's definition of antisemitism.

The IHRA definition will allow the UN to more efficiently fight antisemitism within its ranks, including on the United Nations Human Rights Council and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Erdan said. Adopting the definition will also facilitate improved sanctioning of state representatives who espouse antisemitism, as officials from Iran and other countries have done on numerous occasions on UN stages.

During the meeting, Erdan told Guterres that "the IHRA's definition of antisemitism is now that global standard, and has been adopted by 34 countries. The definition provides an answer not just to the fight against classical antisemitism, but also against modern antisemitism – including the negation of Israel's right to exist, along with discriminatory treatment and demands of Israel that are not made of any other country. Last year, the definition was officially adopted by Bahrain's King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence, which is essentially the first time the definition was fully adopted by an Arab state."

The Israeli ambassador went on to emphasize that "it cannot be that even Arab countries are starting to adopt the definition and only the UN remains behind."
Hamas head urges Sheikh Jarrah families to reject compromise
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has urged families from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to reject a compromise that would allow them to remain in their homes for 15 years.

Earlier this month, the High Court of Justice presented the compromise to four Palestinian families facing possible eviction from their homes, which were owned by Jews before 1948.

According to the proposed compromise, during the time that the families remain in their homes, the issue of land ownership could be adjudicated, but in the interim, the court would recognize them as protected tenants and the Jewish Nahalat Shimon Company as the owners of the property.

The families would also agree to pay legal and court costs in the sum of NIS 30,000 to the Nahalat Shimon Company, according to the proposal. The families are among 28 families facing possible eviction due to a land dispute between them and the company that claims ownership of the land on which their homes are located.
Construction on park near Arab graves sparks widespread outrage
Gardening work in an area containing Arab graves near a cemetery outside the Old City of Jerusalem has sparked outrage among Palestinians, officials and activists around the world, despite assurances by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and Israeli courts that the graves would not be impacted.

Work began on the site a number of years ago as part of efforts to form a park on the land next to the Yusufiya Cemetery, also known as the Bab Al-Asbat (Lion’s Gate) Cemetery. Earlier this month, clashes between Arabs and Israeli security forces broke out at the site after human bones were reportedly uncovered by workers at the site.

Video and photos shared by Palestinian media showed the alleged remains laying in the dirt at the site; they have not yet been identified. Despite only a small number of bones being photographed, the official Palestinian Authority WAFA news agency claimed that the bones of “dozens” of deceased persons were uncovered in the reported incident.

Mustafa Abu Zahra, head of the Committee for the Care of Islamic Cemeteries in Jerusalem, told WAFA that Israeli workers were completely covering the cemetery with dirt on Tuesday and claimed that the area included the graves of people who had died before 1967.

On Monday, a video of a woman named Alaa Nababta showing her holding on to her son’s grave in the area as Israeli security forces attempted to pry her off went viral on social media, with many Arabic news sites using the footage to attack Israeli authorities.
Israel to Start Scheduled Blackouts over PA’s Electric Bill Debt
Israel has informed the Palestinian Authority that in a week it would start initiating power outages to various areas, Kan 11 News reported Wednesday night. The planned blackouts will continue until the PA settles its debt to the Israeli Electric Company and the Arab eastern Jerusalem electric company – roughly half a billion shekels altogether ($156 million). Senior PA officials have gone abroad to raise the needed funds to reduce the debt.

The Palestinian Authority receives electricity from Israel, both directly through the IEC, and indirectly through the East Jerusalem Electric Company, which buys it from Israel and supplies it to the PA. Over the years, the PA has accumulated a debt of half a billion shekels that has yet to be paid, and in the past two years it hasn’t paid anything for Israeli electricity.

Two weeks ago, a warning letter was sent to the Palestinian Authority stating that if it does not settle the debt, starting next Wednesday, the IEC will begin scheduled blackouts of four hours at a time in the Ramallah area, Bethlehem, and villages in the Jerusalem area. The PA sent the IEC a list of areas with hospitals and other vital facilities where it asked not to cut off the service.

Two months ago, riots broke out in Tulkarm following power outages, so the blackouts have the potential to produce unrest.

About four years ago, the PA’s debt reached two billion shekels ($626 million). Israel then forgave a quarter of the amount, the PA paid a part of the debt, and the rest was spread in payments over two years – of which the PA has not paid a penny.
PA Britain Ends Direct Funding of PA Teachers
UK Middle East Minister James Cleverly has said that due to development assistance prioritization, "the UK no longer provides direct funding to the Palestinian Authority to support the salaries of education workers and health professionals."

However, the UK will continue to support "quality education for Palestinian children" through support to UNRWA and the British Council.

He told the House of Commons this week that funding was cut because of financial pressures caused by the pandemic.

Britain has spent $137 million in the last five years, including on salaries of Palestinian civil servants and teachers responsible for drafting PA textbooks.
Watchdog Group Asks UNRWA to Reveal Names of Staffers Suspended for Incitement
A watchdog group called on the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees to reveal which employees were recently suspended for allegedly inciting antisemitism and violence.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) reportedly suspended at least six of its employees after a report by UN Watch named 113 of its educators and other staffers who have publicly promoted antisemitism and violence on social media. In his letter on Tuesday, UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer asked UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini to identify which of the named employees were suspended.

Neuer accused Lazzarini of “refusing to engage with the extensive research and documentation of United Nations Watch, which demonstrates UNRWA’s failure to apply its purported ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards teachers who incite racism and violence, while at the same time seeking to kill the messenger by maliciously defaming United Nations Watch for providing a minimal form of oversight that UNRWA itself has failed to exercise.”

Neuer also said that UNRWA “owes basic transparency and accountability to its donors before they transfer vast sums of taxpayer dollars,” a reference to the UN agency’s international donors conference slated for mid-November, where UNRWA will seek $800 million for its education, health and social services.


The Palestinian ‘same old, same old’ is getting them nowhere - analysis
“Palestinians renew threat to nix agreements with Israel,” read the headline to a story in Wednesday’s Jerusalem Post.

According to the story by Khaled Abu Toameh, Palestinian officials are threatening to rescind the Oslo Accords, cut off security cooperation and demand one democratic state – instead of a two-state solution – if Israel does not recognize an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital along the pre-1967 lines.

In addition, the Palestinian leadership has decided to dispatch envoys to several countries urging them to pressure Israel, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is planning a visit to Russia to get Moscow to do the same and press Israel into committing to a two-state solution. Maybe, in Moscow, an idea first broached in 2007, a Russian-sponsored international conference on the Middle East, will be floated yet again.

Abu Toameh’s story, with a slight change of the names of some of the officials quoted inside, could have been written in 2005, 2010 and 2015. It is as if time has stood still, as if the Palestinians have a set diplomatic menu from which they call in an order from time to time. Nothing has changed. Not the threats to scrap Oslo, stop security cooperation with Israel or lobby the world to step up the pressure on the Jewish state.

One staple on that menu that was not mentioned this time, at least not yet, was that Abbas would resign, something he has threatened to do – but has failed to deliver on – numerous times in the past.


PMW: PA Mufti’s veiled call to kidnap Israelis
During official PA TV’s religious program Fatwa, the PA’s Grand Mufti, Muhammad Hussein called on Palestinians to use “all means” to free Palestinian prisoners – i.e., imprisoned terrorists and murderers. Not only is the term “all means” a Palestinian euphemism for violence and terror, but the Mufti continued with a statement that can certainly be understood by Palestinians as a call to kidnap Israelis to bring about “prisoner exchange deals.”

Specifically the Mufti mentioned the Jibril Exchange of 1985 in which Israel released 1,150 Palestinian prisoners, including terrorist murderers, in exchange for three Israeli soldiers who had been taken hostage by the PFLP. He added that other deals with “large exchanges of prisoners between us and the occupation” had also taken place, thereby reminding Palestinians of the more recent exchange of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for 1,027 terrorist prisoners:
PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein: “There is no doubt that the utmost duty of us all together in the PA, in the society, and everywhere is to work with all means that will lead us to releasing our prisoners and setting them free… As for example what was implemented or exchanged, and this happened more than once in the prisoner exchange deals. The most known was the 1985 [Jibril Exchange], and before and after it were deals that included large exchanges of prisoners between us and the occupation.”

[Official PA TV, Fatwa, Oct. 20, 2021]


Earlier this year was the 10-year anniversary of the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas’ captivity in exchange for 1,027 terrorist prisoners. In that context, Palestinian Media Watch recently reported that an Islamic Jihad official predicted that “freedom is coming” for “all the heroes inside the occupation’s prisons,” because Hamas is “still holding a number of Zionist prisoners and soldiers’ [bodies]” – a reference to Israeli hostages Avraham Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed and the bodies of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin that are still held by Hamas.


A Brief History of Hamas' Wars Against Israel
In 1967, Egypt, Jordan, and other Arab nations launched what became known as the Six-Day War. Its aim was Israel's extermination. Its failure left Gaza and the West Bank in Israeli hands. In 2005, Israelis conducted a bold experiment. They withdrew every soldier, every farmer, every grave from Gaza. But Hamas waged and won a civil war against the PA. Since 2007, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has not dared set foot in Gaza.

Turning Gaza into a Mediterranean Singapore was never on Hamas' to-do list. Hamas exists to fight Israel, firing missile salvos that ignited wars in 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2021. Israelis try to limit the weapons that Hamas receives. Israel's enemies call that a "blockade" and pretend it's the cause - not the result - of Hamas' terrorism. But food, medicine, and other non-military goods move into Gaza daily from both Israel and Egypt.

Although the Israelis gave Gaza to the Palestinians, the Israelis never took Gaza from the Palestinians. It was an Ottoman possession and then a British possession until those empires exited. In 1948, when the Arab states launched a war to drive the Jews into the sea, Egypt conquered Gaza. But it never attempted to transform the territory into a Palestinian state.
Hamas has secret foreign investments worth hundreds of millions - report
Hamas is concealing secret foreign investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars in seemingly legitimate businesses, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Furthermore, if the West cracked down on these investments and the countries facilitating them, some of the Gaza-based terrorist group’s destructive activities could be impaired, according to the Double Cheque website and former Mossad officials.

Intelligence information indicates that from the early 2000s until 2018, Hamas controlled some 40 commercial companies in Turkey, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Algeria and Sudan, Double Cheque reported.

Most of the companies involved are in the real-estate and infrastructure sectors. Through the companies, Hamas manages huge projects and has a reliable way to conceal around $500 million in assets, the article said.

Double Cheque was established to “provide a service for business and intelligence companies as well as financial and regulatory bodies interested in maintaining legitimate business activities and avoiding illegal deals,” its website says.
Hamas condemns six Gazans to death for cooperating with Israel
Hamas condemned six people to death on Thursday for cooperating with Israel, the military judiciary in the Gaza Strip announced on Thursday.

Additional sentences were issued as well, ranging from hard labor to life in prison, as well as one acquittal due to lack of evidence.

Two of the people sentenced to death, a 58-year-old Gazan and a 57-year-old resident of Khan Younis, have evaded the authorities in the Gaza Strip, according to the military judiciary.

The judiciary stated in the announcement that the sentences were issued "within the framework of carrying out its duty to protect Palestinian society, and to confront the scourge of communication with the Israeli occupation."

Earlier this month, the military judiciary announced that two Palestinians were sentenced to death by hanging and another two were sentenced to hard labor on charges of collaborating with Israel.

According to the Palestinian Safa news agency, any collaborator who surrenders willingly to the authorities in Gaza will benefit from an easing of trial procedures.


Quo Vadis, Where Are You Going, Lebanon?
Today, Hizbullah is contemptuous of the President’s authority granted in the 2006 Mar Mikhail Agreement signed by Michel Aoun and Nasrallah, which established their Shiite-Christian alliance.1 The agreement was meant to set Lebanon’s supreme and ultimate authority, but it ended with a President unable to withstand Hizbullah’s pressure. Hizbullah is pursuing its ideological course to change Lebanon into a new political entity in accordance with the instructions of the Supreme Leader in Tehran. In Lebanon’s sectarian and religious context, Hizbullah’s designs lead to a chaotic situation in which diverse communities are forced to demarcate their territory and fight anyone who tries to impose his hegemony.

Hizbullah and Amal have been actively obstructing the judge’s mission. The two movements played a crucial role in forming the government at the instruction of Tehran, and the Shiite tandem, in a concerted effort to stop Bitar, paralyzed the executive by threatening to provoke the government’s resignation. The two Shiite ministers have boycotted the government’s sessions and announced that they would not participate in any meeting if Bitar keeps carrying on his investigation. Indeed, the Lebanese government has not convened since the beginning of October 2021. Observers consider it as a government already on the way to resignation and a de facto caretaker just like the ones that preceded it. The implication of that move is obvious: this government’s life, which was limited from the very beginning since it had to resign before the next elections, will not be able to carry out any reforms, and the country will continue to drift economically, financially, and politically into the abyss.

In such a case, one could assess with a great deal of certainty that the next parliamentary and presidential elections might be postponed sine die! Hizbullah cannot afford being accused of the explosion in Beirut, and accordingly, together with Amal, it will do all in its power to derail Bitar’s investigation. If this happens, then the Christian backlash could have a negative impact on the Christian support for Aoun’s and Bassil’s electoral lists. However, the problem is that the sudden escalation in violence could provoke new developments in Lebanon that lead to a cancellation of elections and take the country into unknown territories that one cannot foresee now.

The logic of this present assessment is clear: Lebanon has reached another dead end and is heading towards a civil war. Of course, this does not mean that the civil war will blow up in the immediate future. But for sure, all camps are preparing themselves for a confrontation that will shape Lebanon’s future.
Saudi Arabia puts Hezbollah financial arm on terror blacklist
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday declared the Lebanese Qard al-Hasan Association a terrorist entity due to its direct connection with Hezbollah as the terror group’s financial arm.

Al-Qard al-Hasan, whose name in Arabic means “the benevolent loan,” offers interest-free loans up to $5,000 and is considered Lebanon’s largest non-banking financial institution giving microloans.

The association, officially a non-profit charity, is one of the tools by which the Iran-backed Hezbollah entrenches its support among the country’s Shiite population, even as the group has come under enormous criticism over the past year among Lebanese furious at the political elite.

“The association works on managing funds for the terrorist organization (Hezbollah) and its financing, including support for military purposes,” the Saudi Presidency of State Security said in a statement.

Riyadh said it was freezing all of Qard al-Hasan’s assets, prohibiting any entity from conducting direct or indirect dealings with the association, and warned of “strict measures” against those who are confirmed to be connected to the Hezbollah-linked group Wednesday.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will continue to work to combat the terrorist activities of the terrorist organization (Hezbollah), and will coordinate with international partners to target the sources of financial support for the organization, whether they are individuals or entities,” the Saudi statement added.
Hizbullah Operatives Given Refuge in Venezuela
A group of hackers in Venezuela, in cooperation with former state intelligence officials, gained access to information on Hizbullah operatives living in the country under the protection of President Maduro.

The terrorists entered the country as Spanish-language students under the cover of "government language studies programs."

They appear to be involved in arms and drug trafficking as well as money laundering to finance terror.

Jalal Maklad, for example, is described as "involved in the cocaine trade and the trafficking of strategic minerals and international terror financing."


The Iranian Revolutionary Apparatus and Hizbullah in West Africa
There has been an increase in the activities of Iranian partners and proxies in West Africa, including the outreach programs Iran and Hizbullah conduct with the Lebanese Shi'a diaspora in the region. These capitalize on weak governance as well as pre-existing international organized crime groups and smuggling routes. There is an urgent need for African countries and their partners to understand the nature and gravity of the threat posed by Iran-linked militant organizations.

As a result of Lebanese fleeing wars, between 1960 and 1970, the Lebanese population in West Africa rose from 17,000 to 75,000, reaching 150,000 by 1985. Within West Africa, the Lebanese often dominate multiple sectors of the economy. Extensive fundraising operations for Hizbullah occur through Lebanese in Africa, as well as enabling it to engage in money laundering, the drug trade, and arms dealing. Hizbullah cells are surreptitiously provided cover by Iranian diplomatic offices as well as Iran's steady development of social infrastructure which is used to conceal illicit activity.

There are 4 million Shi'a Muslims in Nigeria, 2 million in Tanzania, and 900,000 in Niger, with smaller numbers in the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda, and Senegal.


PreOccupiedTerritory: Rapist Iran Prison Guard Hopes For Promotion To Modesty Police (satire)
Evin Prison, October 28 – An employee at the Islamic Republic’s most notorious detention facility known for its humiliation and brutal physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of the incarcerated voiced his ambition today for professional advancement into the ranks of men in charge of finding, identifying, and mistreating women and girls who fail to adhere to the regime’s public sartorial and behavioral standards.

Bangdem Sharmutaz, 33, spoke to reporters during his morning coffee break at the prison, where he has worked for six years. “Don’t get me wrong, I like working here,” he acknowledged. “The pay’s just fine, it’s not far from my home, and I get to release my inner brutal beast multiple times a day, if my stamina holds up. It was easier when I was a rookie, fresh from some other prisons, and I could beat, restrain, and rape the women – and sometimes the men – more or less every day. But I’m not getting any younger, and while I enjoy the sense of power, not to mention the physical release, I also get the feeling there’s more to this career than just humiliating political dissidents in every way possible. I’m going to apply to join the modesty patrols.”

Mr. Sharmutaz anticipates the move to involve an improvement along multiple career axes. “First of all, I know the pay’s better, and I’m in government service already, so my seniority will make sure I certainly don’t get paid any less,” he began. “Then of course there’s the fact that this is primarily an indoor job, within the same walls day after day, whereas as a modesty policeman I’d be out and about in the fresh air, or at least in reasonably comfortable indoor public facilities such as shopping malls or catering halls. Just the ability to walk around will make a huge difference.”











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