Tuesday, February 15, 2022

02/15 Links Pt1: Bahrain chooses alignment with Israel over submission to Iran; Why we should care about the fate of Ukraine; Hamas Plan to Target Israelis in Philippines Thwarted

From Ian:

Bahrain chooses alignment with Israel over submission to Iran
Since the announcement of the Abraham Accords in August 2020, ties between Bahrain and Israel have grown steadily, reaching a milestone last week when an Israeli military aircraft, carrying Defense Minister Benny Gantz, touched down in Manama. It was the first Israeli military plane to fly over Saudi Arabia and land in a Gulf country.

Bahrain has long suffered from Iranian bullying. In 2007, Hussain Shariaatmadari, an aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote that Bahrain was once a Persian province that Western powers unlawfully separated from Iran. In 2017, the state-owned daily Iran reiterated this claim, asserting that until 1956 Bahrain had been Iranian, with a 70% Persian-speaking Shiite population. In other words, Bahrain belongs to Iran, and its independence is not acceptable.

Neither history nor demographics supports Tehran’s claims. Today, the majority of Iranians who live on the east bank of the Persian Gulf, under Iranian sovereignty, are ethnic Arab citizens of Iran who suffer under immense discrimination and a policy of Persianization.

An island nation that could just about fit inside the Washington Beltway, Bahrain needs allies. Now it has found in military cooperation with Israel a good way to deter Tehran. Close ties to the Jewish state were once unthinkable for the Arab Gulf monarchies, but Iran has kept up its threats despite mounting evidence that it is driving its adversaries closer together.

In Bahrain, the Israeli defense minister met with top officials, including King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa. Gantz also signed a memorandum of military cooperation with his Bahraini counterpart Abdullah al Nuaimi.

The memorandum accorded the Israeli navy basing rights in Bahrain, also home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, according to Israeli media reports. David Salama, the Israeli navy chief, implicitly substantiated such reports when he said that cooperation with Bahrain “will bring safe passageway and a secure maritime area for the State of Israel [like it does] for our partners in the U.S. Central Command.”

Cognizant that military cooperation between Bahrain and Israel will make Iranian bullying harder, Tehran-funded media threatened Manama, citing an attack that pro-Iranian militia launched on an alleged Mossad office in Iraqi Kurdistan. State-backed outlets quoted Israeli reports about the basing agreement, while pundits argued that the real added value to Israeli military power would be Bahrain’s proximity to Iran. “Israel will use Bahrain as a platform to conduct its intel operations” directed against Islamist Iran, an analyst wrote.

Only 170 nautical miles separate Bahrain’s Sitra port from the Iranian docks of Bushehr.

Amb. Alan Baker: Area C of the “West Bank,” EU Hypocrisy, and Double Standards
The EU Signed as a Witness to Uphold the Oslo Accords
Recent policy decisions by the European Union regarding the Israeli-Palestinian dispute indicate profound contradictions, double standards, and hypocrisy.

Being signatories as witnesses to the 1991-3 Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, together with the United States, Russia, Norway, and Egypt, the EU took upon itself a responsibility to encourage the parties to observe the obligations and commitments encapsulated in the Accords and ensure that they would be duly honored and followed by the parties.

By the same logic, one would expect that those witnesses, all highly involved and active stakeholders in the Middle East peace process, would meticulously ensure that they honor the agreements and refrain from any action that could undermine or frustrate them. The significance of such expectation would be that a witness would seek to assist the parties to fulfill their respective commitments pursuant to the Accords and not encourage one of the parties to violate such commitments.

This would be the obvious responsibility of a witness to such a vital international instrument. Otherwise, why would the EU or any of the other witnesses have added their signatures to the Accords?

Witnesses should refrain from actively seeking to undermine and frustrate the Accords by urging the Palestinian leadership to summarily violate their obligations and thereby hinder the viability and integrity of the Accords.

Even if the EU takes issue with the manner in which Israel or the Palestinian leadership implements or fails to implement the Accords, the EU, as a party seeking to help advance the peace process, should act with the parties to assist in settling any dispute rather than encourage that party to openly and blatantly work to defy the Accords.

Regrettably, this is precisely what the EU is doing in assisting the Palestinian leadership to violate the Oslo Accords by encouraging and financing unauthorized development projects and building in that part of the West Bank area of Judea and Samaria under the control and jurisdiction of Israel.
Jonathan Tobin: Why we should care about the fate of Ukraine
Large-scale wars like the one that may happen in Ukraine, which was unimaginable in the not-so-distant past, are now very real possibilities. Small countries that looked to international opinion and a strong United States to ensure their independence are now pretty much on their own. And rogue states like Iran can be forgiven for thinking that the United States is committed to appeasing them no matter the cost.

A weak America doesn't just mean a dismal fate for Ukraine. It means a budding Chinese superpower will be further seeking to limit America's influence and undermine its security. It means that after the next Iran deal, Tehran will be emboldened to further aggression and threats against Israel and regional Arab countries alike. And if Americans think all this will have no repercussions for their economic security, then they haven't been paying attention to what's been going on in Europe and Asia.

Given that the United States is in no position to stop Putin, reversing these losses will be difficult. It would mean a reaffirmed commitment to reasserting power in order to save Taiwan, as well as backing away from the appeasement of Iran.

Right now, that seems unimaginable, especially with an American surrender to Iran in the nuclear talks being held in Vienna seeming already a done deal. Nor is it easy to imagine an administration still obsessed with demonizing its domestic political foes and crippled by leftist intellectual fashions that have undermined belief in American exceptionalism being able to assert itself again on the global stage.

The threats to Ukraine will be the least of America's worries if we are now living in a world in which Washington is neither respected nor feared.

Bennett meets Bahrain king and crown prince, urges ‘peace between people’
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met on Tuesday with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the prime minister, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, during his landmark trip to the tiny Gulf state — the first by an Israeli premier.

“I think we discussed many ways to build new bridges and architecture for a stronger and more stable region. I expect to continue the excellent relationship between us,” Bennett told the king.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Bahraini monarch hailed the “historic day,” noting Bennett is the first Israeli premier to visit the kingdom.

“Because of [Bennett’s] determination and leadership, this was a productive and successful visit,” he was quoted as saying in a statement. “I thank you for coming here.”

Bennett’s office said his tete-a-tete with the king extended beyond the allotted time, leaving no time for their teams to meet.

Arriving earlier at the crown prince’s office in Manama, he was welcomed by a military band playing “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem.

“All responsible nations must make an effort to achieve peace,” the crown prince said, according to a statement from Bennett’s office.

“Not that there has ever been a war between us, but relations between our countries have not been sound.”

Bennett thanked Al Khalifa for the “warm and generous welcome.”
Bennett meets Bahraini crown prince in historic visit

Hatikvah plays at Bahrain Royal Palace as Bennett arrives
A Bahraini military band played Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, outside the royal palace in Manama as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made history, being the first Israeli leader to visit the Gulf state on Tuesday.

As expected, Iran was top of Bennett’s agenda.

Bennett was received by Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, who is also the kingdom’s prime minister, ahead of a one-on-one meeting and a working lunch.

The Israeli prime minister also met with his father, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

The crown prince said that “all responsible nations must make an effort to reach peace.

“I think that, in order to see a broader Middle East, free of conflicts, based on principles of mutual respect, understanding and shared responsibility for security, we must do more to get to know one another better and further establish the Abraham Accords, an important historic achievement,” he said.

Bennett said he sees his visit as a great opportunity.

“I come from Israel with a spirit of goodwill, cooperation and standing together against shared challenges,” Bennett stated. “Our goal in this visit is to turn our peace from peace between governments to peace between peoples…We want to bring content, energy and vigor to our relations.”

Israel’s Premier Meets With Bahraini Jewish Community
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with the Jewish community of Bahrain on Tuesday and gave them a shofar from Israel for their synagogue.

“I’m very delighted to be here in Bahrain, and I could think of no better way to kick off this visit than seeing my family here in Bahrain,” said Bennett. “All of you are indeed family. I come from Israel with goodwill, with warm friendship between the two peoples, and I’m sure you can be a remarkable bridge between Bahrain and Israel. I’m looking forward to a wonderful day to strengthen the Abraham Accords, to strengthen the relationship between the nations.”

He said that the Jewish community is regarded highly by the Bahraini leadership, and that it serves as a model for cooperation between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East in general and in Bahrain in particular.

Bennett arrived in Bahrain on Monday evening, the first visit to the country by an Israeli prime minister. Israel and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords normalization agreement in September 2020.

US Navy Eyes Israeli Robot Boats as Bennett Visits Bahrain, Official Says
The US Navy is considering adding unmanned Israeli boats to its joint Middle East operations, a US official said, a move that could deepen Israel’s growing role in regional military arrangements as it normalizes ties with former foes in the Gulf.

Bahrain, home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and several international naval task forces, is hosting a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the first by any Israeli leader following the 2020 normalization of ties between the two states.

Israel is due to become the 29th country to post an attache to the fleet’s Manama headquarters, officials said, adding the as-yet unnamed envoy would likely be of navy captain or commander rank.

“It’s about keeping the lines of communication open” bilaterally between Israel and the fleet, a US official said, referring to the plan to station the envoy in the Gulf kingdom.

Israel has not formally confirmed the appointment. Fleet chief Vice Admiral Brad Cooper met Bennett on Tuesday, with Bennett telling Cooper he expected “the cooperation among the region’s countries and powerful ally the United States will keep getting closer”, Bennett’s office said.

The US official said the fleet was examining dozens of unmanned vessels as part of current Gulf exercises, and it was interested in Israeli-made surface drones as possible complements to flying and underwater drones.
MEMRI: Emirati Journalist Urges Regional Countries To Increase Military, Intelligence Cooperation With Israel To Confront Threat Of Iran-Backed Militias
Amid the missile and drone attacks carried out by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen against the UAE, Emirati journalist and political analyst Salem Al-Ketbi noted that the threats posed by Iran and its proxies to various regional countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel, are very similar. Writing in his column on the news site Elaph, he argued that, given the similarity of the threats, and in light of the superpowers' preoccupation with other matters, the countries of the region must enhance their military, intelligence and security cooperation – including with Israel – in order to effectively confront these threats.

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]
"The strategic situation in the Middle East is growing worse every day and the tensions are increasing. This stems from several reasons, mainly the spread of terrorist militias and the transformation of the entire region into a hothouse [producing] these militias, which are sponsored, funded and armed by regional forces known to all [i.e., Iran].

"Clearly, silence is not a valid option in the face of these rapid developments, and it is therefore vital for the countries of the region to cooperate in facing these dangers and repelling these threats. [The danger] is not faced only by one of them, since the Houthi militias, which have carried out many criminal attacks against civil facilities in Saudi Arabia, [recently] did the same against the UAE, and are also threatening Israel with similar attacks.

"The solution to this situation cannot be just to purchase systems to defend against missiles and drones, because these mafia gangs bet on the psychological effect more than on causing tangible damage to the facilities and countries they target. These militias realize the significant psychological impact of creating tension in countries that have long been known for their security and stability and [therefore] became an ideal environment for investment, trade and business. Hence, the mere spread of the militias in some countries of our region is enough to threaten all [of its] countries and peoples…

"The peoples of the Middle East cannot [afford] to slumber, and then awaken under the threat of militias. Moreover, it is inconceivable that the security and stability of such a vital region will depend on the delusions of figures like [Houthi leader 'Abd Al-Malik] Al-Houthi, [Hizbullah secretary general Hassan] Nasrallah and other [Iranian] agents who seek to realize various goals that do not at all serve the interests of their own peoples. In fact… [these Iranian agents] are simply conspiring against the security and stability of their own peoples, as evident from the crimes and the starving [of people] in Yemen, and from the disasters they have brought upon Lebanon, which have plunged this Arab country and its people into innumerable economic, political and security catastrophes.

"Gambling on international intention to defend the security and peace of the region is wishful thinking, given the state of alert, the conflicts and the deep crises that [currently characterize] international relations, and the tension between the superpowers due to the crisis in Ukraine, [the issue of] Taiwan and many other conflicts. Hence, it seems that [the solution] lies in cooperation and coordination between the countries of the region, on all levels, so as to reach a formula that will repel these threats and create an atmosphere of security and stability for the peoples.
Israel swoons as Egypt’s Sissi gives Minister Elharrar a special summit welcome
Israeli officials and journalists Monday gushed over a video showing Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi walking across a Cairo convention hall to personally greet Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar at a conference.

Sissi entered the large hall to fanfare, welcomed the convention’s guests, and then put down his mic to walk to the other side of the hall, where he spoke a few words with Elharrar.

Elharrar, who uses a wheelchair, received international attention after infamously being unable to enter the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year.

A spokesperson for Elharrar said Israelis are right to be enthused over Sissi’s warm welcome at the Egyptian Petroleum Show in Cairo.

“The president approaching the minister, the fact that he said he is happy she came, and invited her to return, is super exciting and testifies to the fact that ties that were once under wraps have become public,” the spokesperson said.

This is the first time Israel has been invited to the major regional gas conference, which has met four times before, according to Elharrar’s spokesperson. Most Egyptians reject ties with Israel despite a decades-old peace treaty between the countries.

In Jerusalem, Sen. Graham Calls for ‘Formal Mutual Defense Agreement’ to Counter Iran
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat.

Graham also held separate meetings with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, heads of the Mossad and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who currently serves as the leader of the opposition.

In a briefing with a select group of reporters, the senator said “even more consequential than Russia invading Ukraine or China making a play for Taiwan is if the Iranians breakout and acquire nuclear capability.”

Asked by JNS to comment on the ongoing negotiations in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 world powers—Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, and indirectly, the United States—Graham expressed his doubt that a return by the Biden administration to a renegotiated Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) could prevent Iran from continuing its enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade.

“I believe that JCPOA 2.0 is not going to be any better than the first one,” he told JNS.

Commenting on the initial agreement signed in 2015 by the Obama administration, Graham stated that “it was a mistake to ever enter into the deal” in the first place.
Nancy Pelosi, US Congress members headed to Israel
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the United States House of Representatives, is heading to Israel this week, where she is scheduled to meet with Knesset members on Wednesday as head of a delegation of members of Congress, according to an official statement.

The speaker's full schedule has not yet been released, but according to the statement she will attend an official welcome ceremony in the Knesset courtyard, sign the Knesset guest book, where she will make statements to the media, and meet with her counterpart, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy.

Pelosi is expected to hold talks with Israeli officials about US efforts to reenter the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In 2015, she called the deal a "diplomatic masterpiece," and has been openly critical of Israel's hesitation to reenter it.

Others who will be on the trip include Representatives Adam Schiff, Andy Kim, Barbara Lee, Bill Keating, Eric Swalwell, Ro Khanna, and Ted Deutch.
'Democrats are a big tent party that in its totality is pro-Israel'
Pro-Israel organizations have recently been confronting a growing number of candidates for office with decidedly anti-Israel positions, in very few cases successfully defeating stalwart pro-Israel incumbent Democrats in primaries.

While the growth of anti-Israel sentiment in politics is concerning, Representative Jake Auchincloss, who is running for a second term representing the state's 4th Congressional District, is part of a new crop of young Democrats who believe that support for Israel has and will remain essential to the Democratic Party's platform.

Representing the most Jewish congressional district statewide, Auchincloss, 34, has been vocal in supporting a strong US-Israeli relationship since taking office, supporting pro-Israel legislation, and in September, introducing the House version of a bill that directs the US State Department to create the US-Israel Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Center.

He has supported supplemental Iron Dome funding for Israel and joined colleagues in denouncing anti-Israel rhetoric and bias from Amnesty International's recent report on Israel that falsely compares its policies to "apartheid," in addition to antisemitic statements made by colleagues such as Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

Growing up in the heavily Jewish Boston suburb of Newton, Massachusetts, Auchincloss attended Newton public schools before going on to study at Harvard University. After Harvard, he received a commission as an officer in the US Marines, in which he continues to serve as part of the Individual Ready Reserve. He then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning an MBA.
Biden Administration Kills Israel-to-Europe Gas Pipeline
Biden's decision — reportedly coordinated with Turkey but reached without consulting Israel, Greece or Cyprus, the main countries involved in the project — undercuts three of the strongest American allies in the Mediterranean region.

EastMed's cancellation — variously described as a "disastrous decision," a "strategic mistake" and an act of "appeasement" of Erdogan — represents a major geopolitical victory for the Turkish strongman.

The EastMed pipeline has been in the works for more than a decade. The Israel-Greece-Cyprus project — joined by Bulgaria, Hungary, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia — has long been seen as a way to diversify natural gas supplies to Europe.

The Turkish government has always insisted that Israeli gas can only be sold to Europe through Turkey.

"The Americans do not want the pipeline because Ankara might 'get angry.'" — Theofrastos Andreopoulos, defense analyst,

"If Erdogan perceives the non-paper as some form of appeasement by Washington, he will simply double down on his gunboat diplomacy in the Eastern Mediterranean and play the role of spoiler in the region." — Richard Goldberg, a member of the U.S. National Security Council during the Trump administration.

Is the Biden administration truly concerned about climate change, or does it want to prevent Israel from becoming a strategically important supplier of natural gas to Europe?

"The reversal on the EastMed pipeline becomes only more hypocritical and offensive given the fact that President Biden continues to clear the path towards completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline." — U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"This is a disastrous decision that imperils European security and opens the door for further Russian energy hegemony in European gas markets. It should be reversed." — Ariel Cohen, veteran energy analyst, The Hill.

"Turkey is not looking to participate in Eastern Mediterranean initiatives, it wants to dominate them. Ankara's goal is not one of cooperation but of regional primacy if not hegemony." — Endy Zemenides, Executive Director, Hellenic American Leadership Council.
UN: ‘Sanction Israeli Apartheid’ Campaigner to Stay Chair of Israel Inquiry
In response to a legal petition filed today by UN Watch, the president of the United Nations Human Rights Council defended Navi Pillay’s appointment to a UN inquiry on Israel, despite revelations of her campaigning against the Jewish state on matters that are the object of the inquiry.

As reported by Agence France Presse, and in more detail by Tovah Lazaroff of the Jerusalem Post, following enquiries about UN Watch’s complaint, Ambassador Federico Villegas of Argentina, who is currently serving as council president, issued the following statement:
The President of the Human Rights Council places the utmost importance on examining the independence and impartiality of each member in order to ensure the objectivity of the body.

Additionally, the President places special emphasis on the qualifications, skills, expertise and experience of the candidates when making his/her appointment.

While there were differing views during the negotiations and voting on the resolution that created the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, once the Council adopted that resolution, the Commission became a mechanism of the Council that deserves the full respect and cooperation of all Council stakeholders.

Pillay was appointed in July by the former UNHRC president, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan of Fiji, who is soon to become Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

UN Watch Response to UNHRC President Federico Villegas
UN Watch regrets that the response of Ambassador Villegas fails to address the compelling evidence in UN Watch’s complaint of how Navi Pillay has been overtly campaigning against Israel, signing letters to President Biden urging him to end Israeli “oppression”, and signing boycott appeals that call to “Sanction Apartheid Israel!”

“Anyone who takes a moment to see what Navi Pillay has said and endorsed in her campaigning against Israel, and then reads what her UN panel is charged to investigate, will see immediately that Pillay’s continued membership on the commission of inquiry is a mockery of the principles of impartiality, and a travesty of justice,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
Report: Israel, Turkey working to deport Hamas officials from Ankara
Turkey has been conducting secret negotiations with several countries in the region for about a year and a half, Turkish daily Hürriyet reported this week. According to reporter Hande Firat, "the most intense talks were with Israel, which wants Hamas members to be deported" from the country.

The report has neither been confirmed nor denied by Ankara.

According to Firat, Turkey informed Hamas leaders that its "members holding military ranks will not remain in Turkey" and "will not receive military assistance."

Nevertheless, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that even if Jerusalem and Ankara do come to an agreement, "it will not change its policy with regard to the Palestinians" and the country will not turn its back on its commitment to a Palestinian state.

Israel and Turkey expelled their ambassadors in 2018 after a bitter falling-out and relations have remained tense but Ankara has taken steps to mend strained regional ties, including with Israel.

President Isaac Herzog is expected to visit Turkey in mid-March, the first such trip in years, adding the two countries could discuss energy cooperation. The two leaders spoke on the phone shortly after Herzog was voted in, as well as several times after.
Hamas Plan to Target Israelis in Philippines Thwarted — Police
The Philippine National Police (PNP) announced on Tuesday the uncovering of a plan by Hamas to target Israelis in the southeast Asian country.

According to a report by Police Brig. Gen. Neil Alinsangan, PNP Intelligence Group director, a local contact of the Gaza-based terrorist group tipped authorities to the alleged plot to recruit Filipinos to carry out terrorist attacks against citizens of the Jewish state.

“Our Filipino source identified the Hamas operative as ‘Bashir,’ who was reportedly attempting to establish a foothold in the Philippines with pledges of financial support to some local threat groups, including militant extremists with links to the international terrorist organizations,” Alinsangan said.

Alinsangan disclosed that Bashir’s real name is Fares Al Shikli, who police say is the head of Hamas’ Foreign Liaison Section.

The report was sent to Police Maj. Gen. Michael John Dubria, PNP director for intelligence.

The Filipino source made several trips to Malaysia between 2016 and 2018 to meet with Shikli to discuss terrorist attacks against Israelis in exchange for financial assistance.
Must see film: What is Sheikh Jarrah? Both sides of the recent eviction
I knew that I couldn't truly understand the Israel-Palestinian Arab conflict by sitting in an office or on a couch 7,000 miles away. I also knew that looking mostly at the macro and not understanding the micro would be disastrous. So I decided to go hyperlocal and talk to a family who is being evicted from their homes and the owner who is evicting them on the eastern side of Route 1, aka the Green Line.

After years of legal action in the courts, the family was evicted as expected and all hell has broken loose. Also as expected, reporters are rushing in to fan the flames of war, thus strengthening the weaponization of media in Fattah and Hamas' war against Israel. This documentary was my attempt to speak to both sides of the real estate dispute before all that.

On Sat. Feb. 12, 2022 there was an arson attack against a Jewish neighbor's home on the Sabbath. No one was hurt in the attack which is under investigation. However, Sat. night and Sunday violence ensued in the streets. Dozens of cameras were seen filming evicted family members in front of the house with police at the site. I was there weeks ago and had in depth conversation with both parties involved with this real estate dispute.

This is a tragic story about a real estate dispute between two individuals, a widow who may have been paying rent to the wrong owner for more than seventy years and a terrorist regime using her as an excuse for another war against Israel. This is a story of the economics of change from the eye of the storm, in Nachalat Shimon aka Sheikh Jarrah.

What is most alarming to me about this story is how it is turning out and the media's negligent role in stoking the flames of war and profiting the entire way to the bank. Perhaps the real headlines should be about the economical dysfunction of junk food media today and the short sightedness of reporters rushing in and striking again.

Government Approves Plan to Reinforce Windows in Sderot Safe Rooms
An Israeli ministerial Committee on Civilian Sector Emergency Readiness approved a plan on Monday by Defense Minister Benny Gantz to upgrade safe room windows in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, which in the past has suffered frequent rocket fire launched by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups based in the Gaza Strip.

The committee approved the decision to reinforce the windows to 32 millimeters (1.2 inches). The decision is in line with recommendations by the Israel Defense Forces and the IDF Home Front Command, said Gantz’s office, following a professional review conducted by Home Front Commander Maj. Gen. Uri Gordin.

The review was put into motion following the death of 5-year-old Israeli child Ido Avigail, who was killed by shrapnel that penetrated the window of the safe room he was sheltered in during last May’s “Operation Guardian of the Walls.”

The Israeli Ministry of Defense will allocate NIS 57 million ($17.5 million) towards the project, according to Gantz’s office, adding that the expenditure will be utilized by local residents in coordination with the Defense Ministry, IDF Home Front Command and Sderot Municipality.
Media Must Spotlight Rising Gazan Opposition To Hamas Says HRC In The Suburban
In Montreal’s The Suburban newspaper on February 16, HonestReporting Canada commented on how the vast majority of Gazans are poor, and living in densely populated areas, under the oppressive thumb of the Hamas regime. And now, they may be finally speaking out – at great personal risk – against Hamas. This movement, called They Kidnapped Gaza, is spreading on social media, but will the Canadian media tell their story and show the true face of Hamas?

Read our full commentary below.
Life for the two million Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip isn’t easy. Widespread poverty, limited electricity, 70% unemployment, overcrowding and poor sanitation are some of the difficulties they endure on a daily basis.

Among advocates of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, Israel is frequently accused of being the culprit of Gaza’s misfortune. Such allegations are widespread, but nevertheless devoid of factual basis. In truth, the Jewish state evacuated all of its civilians and soldiers from Gaza in the summer of 2005, during its unilateral disengagement from the enclave.

For the last 15 years, Gaza has been ruled by Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group who became globally known in the 1990s and 2000s for their horrific suicide bombing campaigns in Israel, which took the lives of countless civilians in restaurants, buses, stores and discotheques.

Hamas law dictates how women must dress and act in society, and even requires that they have a male escort in public. Hamas has executed homosexuals and anyone even suspected of daring to collaborate with Israel, the hated liberal democracy next door, which provides most of Gaza’s electricity.

Hamas has also plunged Gazans into repeated and fruitless wars with Israel, which have taken a high human toll, caused significant infrastructure damage, and produced nothing of benefit for Palestinians.
Fatah posts song honoring 3 murderers in honor of 3 terrorists killed by Israel

Abbas calls on Palestinians to murder Israelis in revenge for killing of 3 terrorists

Israel Dispatches Envoy to Iran Nuclear Talks in Vienna for First Time
In a rare move, Israel has dispatched an envoy to the ongoing talks in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear program in order to meet with the heads of the US negotiating team, as well as other nations involved in the talks, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

Envoy Joshua Zarka, the Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, has already met with Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi, according to Israeli news site Walla, and is set to meet Tuesday with the heads of the various negotiating teams.

An unnamed top Israeli official told Walla that Zarka would meet with all parties to the negotiations except the Iranians themselves.

The decision to send Zarka to Vienna was reportedly made after a situation assessment at the Foreign Ministry last week, at which Foreign Minister Yair Lapid agreed to the proposal.

This marks the first time Israel has sent such an envoy since the Vienna talks began following US President Joe Biden taking office.