Friday, May 13, 2022

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: How Western dupes help propagate murderous Palestinian lies
A Palestinian Arab journalist with Al Jazeera, Shireen Abu Akleh, was shot dead this week in a firefight between Hamas and the Israelis in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Western news outlets initially reported uncritically the Hamas claim that the Israelis had shot her, eagerly regurgitating Al Jazeera’s assertion that the Israelis had “assassinated” her “in cold blood.”

When the Israelis said Abu Akleh might have been killed instead by Palestinian gunfire, journalists grudgingly incorporated this into their reporting while continuing to repeat extensively the incendiary but unsupported Palestinian accusation.

At this point, we still don’t know who killed Abu Akleh. But any fair-minded person would say the Israelis are more likely to be telling the truth.

They said that, having gone into Jenin to root out terrorists responsible for a recent wave of murderous attacks, their forces had come under “substantial fire.” After studying what evidence they had, it looked as if Abu Akleh had been felled by a Palestinian bullet.

This was because, in a video from the scene, Arabs are heard shouting: “We hit a soldier; he is lying on the ground.” Since no Israeli soldier had been hurt, however, the suspicion was that this was Abu Akleh.

Moreover, Honest Reporting’s translated commentary on this video contains another crucial line. After the shouts about a soldier on the ground, there’s a further shout: “It’s a woman.”
Seth Frantzman: Killing of Abu Akleh shows Israel will always be guilty to the world
The guilty verdict before any details are known is part of the mantra about Israel and it sets up Israel to be in a very difficult situation. Israel can investigate potential abuses, and Israel has the technology to do investigations. However, there is a sense that while some want answers about the killing, many do not. Many judged Israel anyway. They have opinions that range from claiming Israel “assassinated” the journalist, to claiming that Israel’s “apartheid” must end. It doesn’t matter if Israel wasn’t responsible or if Israel made a mistake, or even if an individual soldier is responsible, it’s just another example to be used to slam Israel.

It's sometimes difficult to separate the legitimate demands for an investigation from claims that Israel can’t even be trusted to investigate this incident and using the incident to bash Israel. If Israel is put in the position where critics won’t even trust Israel’s own findings on this case and only an “international” investigation can perform the findings, then how will we ever know what happened?

The evidence is already being moved around, the need to protect the scene and do basic forensics is disappearing with time. Lack of cooperation from local Palestinian authorities doesn’t help. An international investigation would take time to assemble. The track record of such investigations is that they are slow. By that time it’s not clear if such a team of investigators could even come to Israel because Israel will naturally not want them to come. Demands for such an investigation put Israel in an impossible spot. If it rejects the “international” investigation it will be seen as covering up details. If it accepts it then it opens the door for more.

Either way, Israel’s current government, which is very different than the last government, has been very forthright with wanting to know the truth. Yet, the anti-Israel critics don’t want to hear anything from this government. In their view, it doesn’t matter if Israel has a centrist or left-leaning government. This impossible situation means Israel is always guilty in the view of some critics. Israel doesn’t need to satisfy those critics, but trying to figure out how to deal with the avalanche of knee-jerk anti-Israel reactions is one of the difficult challenges for Jerusalem. Knowing this bias, it behooves Israel to always be extra careful in confrontations with Palestinians.
Ben-Dror Yemini: Anti-Israel propaganda preaches louder than facts
The Watson Institute at Brown University is holding a record of casualties in wars the U.S. has been involved in since 9/11. Turns out that out of about half a million deaths, 362 were journalists. This happened - it happens. It's usually not intentional unless we're talking about the cold-blooded murder of critics as had happened to 38 Russian journalists.

Throughout the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, only one journalist has been considered "murdered" and it was Suleiman Abdul-Rahim al-Ashi who was slain by the bullets of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Presidential Guard.

These are the facts laid out. But this doesn't stop Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi and his fan club from pinning the blame for no less than "a murder" on Israel.

The journalist's body is still warm, and the existing few testimonies point to Abu Akleh being killed by Palestinian terrorist gunfire. The Palestinians themselves insisted on conducting an independent probe without international supervision, and certainly without Israeli involvement.

The pathologist who carried out the body's autopsy claimed it was impossible to determine who shot her. Yet, Tibi and his ilk are in a hurry to scream bloody murder.

This isn't the first time Israel is facing propaganda of this sort. During the 2014 Gaza War, various Palestinian bodies published a list of 17 journalists who were killed by the JDF. The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center diligently examined every name on the list. Their findings revealed that two of the 17 were killed by Palestinians, and most others were members of Hamas or the Islamic Jihad. Only four were actually killed in the line of duty. The problem is this kind of anti-Israeli propaganda has no dearth of buyers.

The U.S. is demanding a prob"e, given the journalist had American citizenship. "The investigation must be immediate and thorough and those responsible must be held accountable," U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price tweeted out.

May we ask the honorable spokesman how many American soldiers or officers, who are "responsible" for killing journalists, were held accountable? Was any of them put on trial? He'd scoff.

The Washington Post was quick to publish a culpatory headline singling out Israel, as we Al Jazeera. Most other media outlets were a little more recalcitrant. So this is not the biggest blunder on Israel's part in the face of hostile propaganda. But when zooming out a bit, the failure reveals itself in its full splendor.

For as the U.S. fought terrorism and Jihad, from the Islamic State to Al-Qaeda, Israel is justified in its struggle against Palestinian terror and Jihad. And this is a fundamental truth that Israel has failed to communicate.

The Palestinian Authority's offensive use of slain journalist for anti-Israel propaganda
This is not the first time that a tragic death was immediately pinned on Israel. In September 2000, 12-year-old Palestinian Muhammad al-Durrah, was apparently killed by a bullet when he was caught in the crossfire between Palestinian forces and Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip. His death immediately became a symbol used by Palestinian activists to accuse Israel of murder, and he became a martyr for the Palestinian cause around the world.

Footage of the shooting, disseminated by the France 2 broadcaster, became iconic, and Israel was widely blamed, but a large and growing number of experts maintained that al-Durrah likely died from Palestinian gunfire.

Today, not only has the Palestinian Authority provided no evidence demonstrating that Israeli forces fired the bullet which killed Abu Akleh, they doubled down and even accused Israel of doing it purposefully. According to the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry, Israel “intentionally and deliberately” targeted Abu Akleh.

For a regime which has refused to conduct an open and transparent investigation with Israel, such accusations are more than absurd; they amount to little more than a blood libel against Israel which may lead to further violence.

For its part, Al Jazeera, the news agency based in and funded by Qatar, also wasted no time in accusing Israel of “intentionally targeting and killing” Abu Akleh. Al Jazeera, which is no stranger to publishing anti-Israel misinformation, would do well to follow the evidence wherever it leads, rather than peddling propaganda without providing evidence.

Make no mistake, the death of any civilian, particularly a journalist, is a tragedy. Journalists provide an integral service sharing vital information about the world and they help us understand complex issues while working in oftentimes dangerous environments, which is why the attempt to use Shireen Abu Akleh’s death to further anti-Israel propaganda is so offensive.

Rather than celebrating the life of a journalist, and honouring her life’s work by fully investigating her death, the anti-Israel movement has evidently decided that launching a blood libel against Israel is more preferable than pursuing the truth.
Ben-Dror Yemini: Israel must find a way to outsmart Hamas on public relations front
Can Israel change this? Israel cannot hope to sway the usual anti-Israel brigade, nor the "human rights organizations" that have become an integral part in the prevalent hate campaign against the Jewish State.

But, not everyone is an Israel hater, some have simply been swept by the propaganda. This includes parts of the American Jewry, which acts as a strategic backbone of the State of Israel. We cannot afford to lose them, and in order to avoid that, Israel has some work to do before before the next confrontation with Hamas breaks out.

This means changing direction. This means offering Hamas a slew of benefits: Lifting the blockade, rehabilitating the Gaza Strip, establishing a seaport, all that and much more in exchange for one thing only - the demilitarization of Gaza.

We know in advance that Hamas will refuse that. After all, the Mideast Quartet (U.S., Russia, UN and EU) has already submitted a similar proposal, as did the EU. The answer was always a vehement “no”.

Hamas prefers destruction and devastation over construction and welfare. So why even offer? Because it is doubtful that those who hate Israel know that Hamas was offered proposals of growth and peace. In order for such a philanthropic proposal to become mainstream news item, much more needs to be done. Israel has never made this effort, which will cost it effectively nothing.

The confrontation between Israel and Hamas takes place on two fronts. The military front and the conscious one. It doesn’t matter how strong Israel is on the former front, in the end it always surrenders because of the latter.

Such a dramatic proposal on the part of Israel will not stop the protests against it, but it will weaken their legitimacy.

And in an age where every confrontation is managed on two fronts, such an achievement can have great benefits.
Israel isn’t winning the narrative battle on Shireen Abu Akleh — but it isn’t losing
Public Diplomacy Directorate
“After years of getting used to seeing the world adopt the stories of the Palestinians as absolute truth, we finally have a Public Diplomacy Directorate that does not leave the media stage to the inventions and lies of our enemies,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Instagram, praising the work of the directorate as why Israel has had better messaging during this public relations crisis.

The Public Diplomacy Directorate was reestablished by Bennett’s government in December, with its chief purpose to facilitate the synchronization of Israel’s external messaging. The Israeli position has largely been uniform about the death of Abu Akleh, with some slight variations that officials have walked back or deleted.

Competing narratives
As soon as Abu Akleh was killed in a gun battle in Jenin between IDF soldiers and Palestinian gunmen, two competing narratives emerged.

According the pro-Palestinian position, IDF soldiers deliberately targeted and killed a clearly marked journalist. The pro-Israel position has largely been that while it is possible that the IDF accidentally shot Abu Akleh, it was likely Palestinian gunfire, and therefore an investigation needs to be opened.

“Offering the Palestinians a joint investigation was the proper decision, and the PA’s predictable refusal ought to underscore they have no intention of deducing the truth, but would rather only shamefully and cynically exploit Abu Akleh’s death and this terrible tragedy for political purposes,” said Arsen Ostrovsky, chairman and CEO of The International Legal Forum, and an expert in digital diplomacy.

“I think they made the right call in continuing to request a joint investigation and to even have a credible third party participate,” said Aviva Klompas, cofounder of the new think-tank Boundless.

Initial IDF probe of reporter’s death proposes 2 scenarios for who fired fatal shot
The military on Friday released interim findings from its probe into the death of prominent Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, killed Wednesday amid clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin.

The Israel Defense Forces said it had not yet been able to determine who fired the fatal shot. But it said it had narrowed down the possibilities to two scenarios — one involving an instance of indiscriminate Palestinian gunfire, and the other a case of possible errant IDF sniper fire.

In the first, Abu Akleh was hit when armed Palestinians fired “dozens of bullets indiscriminately” toward military vehicles in the northern West Bank city. The IDF said the bullets were fired in the direction where Abu Akleh was standing, adding that it was “possible this is the source of the gunfire that hit her.”

The second scenario covered by the probe involved a soldier who the military said used a gun with a telescopic sight to fire back at a gunman through a slit in the armored vehicle he was riding in.

“The gunman fired bursts toward the IDF soldier several times and there is a possibility that the reporter was struck by the soldier’s fire toward [him],” a statement from the IDF said.

Abu Akleh was about 200 meters from the vehicle at the time, according to the military.

The IDF said a “professional ballistics test” could be decisive in determining how Abu Akleh was shot but noted that the Palestinian Authority has so far rebuffed Israeli requests to hold a joint investigation and examine the bullet. It said the Palestinians also rejected offers to be present and take part in the inquiry alongside an American representative.

The army statement also expressed condolences over Abu Akleh’s death and said IDF Chief of Staff Avi Kohavi has ordered the investigation to continue.

“The IDF will continue to act to thwart terror wherever necessary and will continue to fulfill its missions while making an effort to refrain from harming those uninvolved,” the statement added.

Why Were Israeli Soldiers in Jenin, Anyway?
That’s why here we are, 27 years after the PA became the sole ruler in Jenin, and the city is still filled with active terrorist cells from Hamas, Fatah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (the gang which murdered my daughter Alisa).

Even the New York Times occasionally admits that terrorists roam free in PA cities. On March 23, 2014, for example, the Times reported that Israeli troops were forced to enter the Jenin refugee camp in pursuit of terrorists because although Jenin is under the “full control” of the PA, “the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps.”

The PA, by its deliberate inaction, has forced the Israeli army to occasionally enter Jenin in pursuit of terrorists. The alternative would be for the Israelis to just sit back and wait for the terrorists to attack again. Obviously, they can’t do that. They have to chase them. And sometimes that means chasing them into a Palestinian Arab city.

No Israeli commander relishes sending his soldiers into a dangerous, populated area like Jenin. It means endangering the soldiers’ lives. It means the possibility of situations in which bystanders are inadvertently harmed. But the Israelis literally have no choice.

The Palestinian Arabs, however, do have a choice. They don’t have to pick up guns and shoot at the Israeli soldiers. In fact, if the Palestinians were as “moderate” and “peace-seeking” as J Street and the State Department are always telling us, they wouldn’t pick up guns at all—instead, they would cheer when the Israelis arrest terrorists.

Instead, the Palestinians shoot. And notice how the international community and news media treat such shooting—as if it’s perfectly acceptable behavior. When extremists in an American city open fire on police officers, there is unanimous horror. There are calls for stricter enforcement of laws restricting guns.

Why don’t we hear such calls when Palestinian pick up guns? How come nobody talks about “gun control” in Jenin? Why are scenes of Palestinian Arabs firing automatic weapons at Israeli soldiers considered normal and fine?

Or, to put it another way—why do the media and the United Nations treat Palestinian Arabs as if they are morally incapable of non-violence? Why do they act as if Palestinians are inhuman savages who must resort to murder? Those are the questions that I’d like to see asked at the next State Department briefing or J Street press conference.

Israel Advocacy Movement: Mehdi's wrong about Shireen Abu Akleh
Debunking Mehdi Hasan's claim that the IDF killed Shireen Abu Akleh

Barry Shaw: Stop Blaming Israel for Palestinian Propagandist’s Death!
Although her death is regretable Miss Abu Agla was not an honest dispassionate journalist in the image of Marrie Colvin.She was a Palestinian propagandist in the service of a news agency with an agenda to see the end of the Jewish State of Israel.

As such, she and the agency she worked for did more to fester hate and division than to herald an era of peace and cooperation.

These are the facts. The IDF is innocent until proven guilty. STOP THE FALSE ANTI-ISRAEL EMOTIONAL NARRATIVE.

The misinformed world must learn the truth.

Israeli Police Clash with Palestinians at Journalist’s Funeral
Israeli police clashed with Palestinian mourners packed around the coffin of killed Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh at the start of her funeral procession in Jerusalem on Friday.

Police officers faced scores of flag-waving and chanting Palestinians in the compound of St. Joseph’s Hospital in eastern Jerusalem, television footage showed.

Officers then charged the crowd and at one point the group carrying her coffin backed against a wall and almost dropped the casket, recovering it just before one end hit the ground.

A few minutes later, Abu Akleh’s coffin was placed in a vehicle that headed toward the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin in Jerusalem’s Walled Old City, where the ceremony proceeded peacefully.

In a statement, Israeli police said that “under the auspices of the funeral and taking cynical advantage of it, hundreds of people began disrupting the public order before it even began.”

“As the coffin was about to exit the hospital, stones began to be thrown at officers from the hospital’s plaza, and the officers were forced to use riot dispersal means,” police said. There was no immediate comment from Palestinian authorities.

Actress Susan Sarandon accuses Israel of 'executing' Al Jazeera reporter
American actress Susan Sarandon accused Israel of "executing" Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, whose death is still under investigation.

The frequent critic of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians on Wednesday tweeted that "Israeli snipers" had shot and killed the reporter for "telling inconvenient truths."

Sarandon questioned the longstanding bipartisan relationship between the United States and Israel by putting "allies" in quotes in her tweet.

Abu Akleh was killed on Wednesday morning while covering an Israeli counterterrorism operation in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Her employer, the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera media outlet, immediately blamed Israel for her death, as did the Palestinians.

However, Israeli officials say Palestinian gunmen may have fired the fatal shot.

BBC News website uncritically promotes Al Jazeera claims once again
Clearly BBC editors were quite happy to promote a very serious allegation that they had not confirmed themselves, even though it came from a source with a long history of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activity and ‘reporting’.

It was, after all, Al Jazeera which in 2008 threw a birthday party for the convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar. It was Al Jazeera which published the ‘Palestine Papers’ in 2011 and promoted the notion (copiously amplified by the BBC) that Yasser Arafat had been poisoned by Israel in 2012. In 2017 Al Jazeera turned its sights on ‘the Israel lobby’ in Britain and in 2019 it had to suspend two of its journalists over a Holocaust video. Just last year, the BBC uncritically amplified Al Jazeera statements relating to the targeting of a multi-storey building housing Hamas in the Gaza Strip while failing to report the award presented by Hamas to the head of Al Jazeera’s bureau there.

Nevertheless, Al Jazeera’s long record as an unreliable and ideologically conscripted source (along with supposed BBC standards of accuracy and impartiality) was obviously not enough to make BBC editors pause and demand any sort of independent investigation of their own before uncritically publishing the outlet’s latest unverified anti-Israel claims.
Guardian peddles propaganda about Al Jazeera journalist's death
Though unlike the Independent, the Guardian’s headline in their report on the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh yesterday during IDF clashes with Palestinian gunmen in Jenin wasn’t problematic, the article itself is thinly veiled pro-Palestinian propaganda.

The piece (“Al Jazeera accuses Israeli forces of killing journalist in West Bank”, May 11) by Jerusalem correspondent Bethan McKernan begins by airbrushing the fact that Jenin is a hotbed of terror. McKernan describes it merely as “a stronghold of the Palestinian Fatah movement and historical flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, while omitting that it’s a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) ‘stronghold’. In fact, PIJ posted a video yesterday showing its members firing at IDF forces. Recall also that a Palestinian man from a village near Jenin shot five people dead in Tel Aviv in March, while last week two Palestinians from Jenin killed three in an attack in Elad.

McKernan then uncritically repeats Al Jazeera’s unsubstantiated allegation that Israel “deliberately killed” the journalist, whilst omitting that the outlet is well known as a “mouthpiece for the Qatari monarchy” and a “purveyor of Islamist extremism” whose claims can’t be accepted at face value. A couple paragraphs down, McKernan uncritically quotes a ‘journalist’ from Al-Quds Network suggesting that the killing was an Israeli “assassination”, without reminding readers that Al-Quds is associated with Hamas.

Later, McKernan writes that Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, said Israel had “offered the Palestinians a joint pathological investigation”, but fails to note that Palestinians reportedly rejected the offer.

The Guardian journalist also omits this statement by a Palestinian forensic doctor from the PA Health Ministry, acknowledging that he couldn’t determine who was to blame.

Police commando killed in fierce gunfights with Palestinians in Jenin area
A police commando who was seriously wounded during fierce exchanges of fire between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in the northern West Bank on Friday morning has died of his wounds, police said

The officer was named as 47-year-old Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz, a 23-year veteran of the elite Yamam counterterror unit.

Raz “fell this morning during a fight with armed terrorists who opened fire on our forces during an operation in the village of Burqin near Jenin. During the battle he was wounded and evacuated by helicopter to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where he was declared dead,” police said.

Raz, a founder and resident of the settlement Kidah in the West Bank, leaves behind a wife and six children. Police hailed him as an experienced fighter who had “taken part in hundreds of operations to prevent terror, risked himself and saved lives.”

He was a brave, professional and humble fighter,” the statement said.

Raz was hit during an operation that included raids on terror suspects’ homes.

The Israel Defense Forces earlier acknowledged that forces from the military and Shin Bet as well as Yamam were operating in Burqin in order to arrest a number of suspects.
‘One of the best’: officers, officials mourn death of police commando Noam Raz
Noam Raz, the veteran police commando, who was killed in an Israeli operation near Jenin in the West Bank on Friday, was hailed as a hero and beloved family man.

Raz, 47, was a founding member and resident of the settlement of Kida in the West Bank and leaves behind a wife and six children.

Police chief Kobi Shabtai said Raz, a 23-year veteran of the elite Yamam counterterrorism unit, was one of the best officers in the force.

“We bow our heads in the memory of Noam Raz z”l who fell in an exchange of fire with terrorists,” said Shabtai. “Noam was a dedicated husband, an exemplary father, and one of the best fighters in the Israel Police.”

He revealed that Raz, who was a paramedic in the unit, had recently saved the life of a seriously wounded comrade during previous clashes in Jenin in recent weeks.

“Heroism and values were inherent in his character and operational activity in the Yamam,” he said.
Palestinian hurls cinderblock at Israeli car in West Bank, is shot by soldier
A Palestinian man hurled a cinderblock at a car carrying Israeli civilians in the West Bank before being shot by a IDF soldier Friday morning, according to the military.

The Israel Defense Forces said the suspect was spotted by military lookouts near the Beit El settlement as he threw the cinderblock and also tried to open the door of the vehicle.

A photo showed the smashed windshield of the car.

An Israeli soldier fired at the suspect under the military’s arrest protocol, an IDF statement said, adding that he was taken to a hospital for medical treatment after the incident. The statement did not specify the suspect’s condition but Hebrew media reports said he was seriously wounded.

The military also said a knife and bottle of acid were found on the suspect.

Video of the incident showed the Palestinian throw the cinderblock and try to open the car’s door, as a white van that a soldier was driving stops on the other side of the road.

The soldier can then be seen with his rifle drawn running after the Palestinian, who appears to charge toward the serviceman with a large stone in hand before being shot.

Frustrated by his cautious approach, Palestinians lose faith in Biden
Euphoria washed over Ramallah when Joe Biden was elected president of the United States in November 2020.

Palestinian officials say it had more to do with Donald Trump’s exit than the return of a Democrat to the White House, as the previous four years had seen US-Palestinian relations deteriorate to an all-time low. Ramallah severed ties with Washington after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017. The Republican president responded by cutting virtually all aid to the Palestinians, shuttering their diplomatic mission in Washington and closing the US consulate in Jerusalem, which had served as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians.

But Biden campaigned on rolling those steps back, and it led to rising expectations in Ramallah as to what might be possible over the next four years.

Fast forward a year and a half and those high hopes have been dashed, with four Palestinian officials telling The Times of Israel that they no longer have faith the US can deliver on its promises, let alone launch bolder initiatives aimed at resolving the conflict.

Their primary grievance relates to the Jerusalem consulate, which the US has yet to reopen amid Israeli pushback. Administration officials insist publicly that the matter remains on their agenda, but in private they admit they’re not going to act against the express wishes of their longtime ally.

The US president is slated to visit Israel late next month, for a trip that will include a stop in the West Bank to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. But Ramallah is not optimistic it will mark a shift in Washington’s priorities.
PA is ramping up the 'victims of the Israeli occupation' narrative
The PA’s efforts are directed mainly toward the US and the EU.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas wants the Biden administration to “end its silence” and increase its involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He wants the Biden administration to exert crushing pressure on the Israeli government to stop all IDF “incursions” into Palestinian cities and villages. He also wants the Biden administration to fulfill all its promises to the Palestinians, especially the commitment to the reopening of the US Consulate in Jerusalem.

On the other hand, Abbas and his officials want the EU and other Western donors to unconditionally resume their financial aid to the PA.

Meanwhile, there’s growing concern in Ramallah over the rising influence and popularity of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank. While it’s true that the IDF crackdown on Hamas and PIJ members serves the interests of Abbas, it nevertheless underscores the weakness and alleged collaboration of the PA with Israel. Each IDF operation and each killing of a Palestinian further erodes the Palestinian public’s confidence in Abbas and the PA.

For now, all eyes in Ramallah are set on the upcoming visit of Biden to the region.

The PA is hoping that Biden will carry with him a number of gifts for the Palestinians. The talk about the possibility that the US president may visit a hospital in east Jerusalem without the presence of Israeli security officers has already sent a positive message to the PA – namely, that the US considers east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

But the PA knows that a visit to a hospital carries more symbolism than substance, which is why Abbas has made it clear that he expects the Biden administration to “translate its words into deeds” and fulfill all its promises to the Palestinians without delay.

Abbas’s main message to the Americans and Europeans is: Submit to my demands, or the Palestinian Authority will collapse, and you will have a Hamas takeover of the West Bank.
Jpost Editorial: A stable Lebanon is in Israel's interests - editorial
Lebanon is part of the Iranian axis, even though many Lebanese don’t approve of this hijacking. The UN has failed to rein in Hezbollah and enforce demands that its illegal weapons do not percolate around the country, yet Hezbollah continues to build up an arsenal. A recent video appeared to show a new anti-ship missile in Hezbollah’s hands. Israel recently upgraded and received new naval platforms, such as the Sa’ar 6. This will matter in any future conflict with the armed Lebanese terror group.

Hezbollah also slammed US mediator Amos Hochstein recently, proclaiming in a video that it did not want to meet with any more “Steins,” a thinly veiled antisemitic reference that sought to highlight Hochstein’s Jewish background. With this language, it is hard to be optimistic about any future negotiations with Lebanon that might settle the maritime boundary and also enable peace and stability.

Nevertheless, we should not give up hope. Lebanon is an important country, and our friends in the Gulf care about what happens in Beirut. We should work closely with the US and partners in the region to make sure Lebanon remains stable, regardless of the outcome of the election.

'Iran most destabilizing force in Middle East,' says US CENTCOM chief
Iran is "the number one destabilizing factor" in the Middle East, commander of United States Central Command Maj. Gen. Michael Kurilla told Dubai-based Arabic television news channel Al-Arabiya on Thursday.

Kurilla, who was on a tour of Saudi Arabia and Egypt as part of what he called a "listening tour," told Al Arabiya on Thursday that countering the threat posed by Iran required regional cooperation.

"I view Iran as the most destabilizing force in the Middle East. The United States' position is that we will not allow a nuclear Iran. However, our concerns about Iran go beyond its nuclear capability," said Kurilla, who took command of CENTCOM last month.

Describing Iran's ballistic missile program and its support for armed proxies and Iran-backed militias in the region as other concerns for the US, Kurilla said, "The Iranian threat requires a firm effort from us and our security partners in the region... CENTCOM is committed to that effort."

Asked about Iran-backed Houthi rebel attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with the support of weapons being smuggled in, he said: "We are concerned about the smuggling of advanced conventional munitions by sea to support Houthi operations. Therefore, anti-smuggling operations with the Royal Saudi Naval Forces will serve as an area of focus for me."

"This visit to the CENTCOM region… is largely an opportunity to glean insights from our partners here. In so doing, I'm looking for gaps, risks, and opportunities in security for our partners and for the region," Kurilla added.
New Mideast task force can counter Iranian arms smuggling, but more capabilities are needed
In addition to the airborne assets, CENTCOM needs the ability to analyze and exploit the intelligence, which will require a robust cadre of analysts. To act on that intelligence, the task force will also need at least four to six ships on station at any given time based on the size of the area of responsibility. Ideally, most of these ships would come from regional partners, and their contributions would grow. Combined training among the participants and the sharing of best practices will help each of those ships operate more effectively over time.

If CTF-153 works with partners to build increased naval capacity and capability in the Red Sea, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden, it would help secure these vital commercial and military waterways, counter weapons smuggling and potentially reduce the regional security burden on the United States.

The new task force also offers an opportunity to build a more unified and capable coalition of countries countering Iran. The experience working with U.S. senior staff in conducting complex maritime operations will raise the operational expertise of regional navies.

The Combined Maritime Forces’ 34 member nations include Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Washington should encourage each of these countries to participate in CTF-153 while simultaneously inviting Israel to at least join CTF-153 patrols, if not formally join the task force, depending on Jerusalem’s preferences. CENTCOM should also specifically encourage Saudi Arabia to participate in CTF-153, as Riyadh has a deep interest in Red Sea security and possesses meaningful naval forces.

Such suggestions would have been unthinkable a few years ago, but Israel and some Arab states have been slowly increasing military cooperation since the 2020 Abraham Accords, the U.S.-brokered agreement in which Israel established formal relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. And Saudi Arabia and Israel have been tiptoeing toward overt security cooperation in recent months.

In short, if properly resourced and supported by the United States and its regional partners, CTF-153 will help counter weapons smuggling and terror attacks in the waters around Yemen, which remain vital to U.S. and international economic and security interests, while advancing Arab-American-Israeli security cooperation and sending a positive deterrent message to Tehran.
Biden seen personally resisting IRGC terror delisting, dividing Democrats
The problem, according to a Democratic congressional staffer who is closely monitoring the talks, is that there is no political upside to lifting the designation, especially if an American soldier dies in an Iranian-backed attack.

“Some poor kid is gonna get killed by an Iranian drone and that kid will be the face of every television commercial for the next three years,” said the staffer, who asked for anonymity to speak freely.

One possible compromise, the staffer added, is to keep the IRGC’s Quds Force, its external operations arm, on the terrorist list while delisting the broader organization. It’s not clear if this would appease Iran’s negotiating team.

J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group which backs reentry, said that fears of political blowback are unmerited.

“Poll after poll shows that not only a majority of voters overall but a supermajority of Democrats and a supermajority of Jewish Americans want the deal restored, and it’s important to remember that not one lawmaker who voted for the deal in 2015 lost their seat to someone who opposed the deal in 2016,” said Dylan Williams, J Street’s senior vice president for policy, noting that at the time, some figures close to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee predicted electoral consequences for Democrats who favored the deal.

“I think it’s also clear that Republicans will attack any outcome, whether there is a deal or no deal,” he added.
More details emerge about IRGC official interrogated by Mossad - report
New information has emerged in what appears to be a continued public relations war over an Iran Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps official who was nabbed and interrogated by the Mossad, with broad implications for US-Iran diplomacy.

Iran International TV in Persian provided significant additional details on Thursday about Mansour Rasouli’s connections with the IRGC.

It had been reported last week that the Mossad got Rasouli to admit that he was assigned to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in Turkey, a journalist in France, and most significantly for the diplomatic front, a senior US general in Germany.

News about an IRGC plot to kill a US general seemed designed to undermine any chance that the Biden administration would remove the IRGC from its Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list, a deadlock that could torpedo the Iran nuclear negotiations.

According to the report, Rasouli is a member of an external unit affiliated with the IRGC.

His origins are as a Kurd from the Hashemabad region near Ziwa in West Azerbaijan Province.

Rasouli’s unit launders money through a border cooperative called Dalapar, and in exchange for cooperating with the IRGC, is allowed to carry out illegal exports and imports, the report said.

Regarding illegal activities, the report said that the Rasouli family cooperates with the IRGC in drug trafficking to Turkey and Iraq.
Iran nuclear talks back on track, EU foreign policy chief says
The European Union's foreign policy chief said Friday he is hopeful that stalled talks with Iran over the country's nuclear program can yield an agreement.

The talks between Tehran and world powers were deadlocked in part over Iran's demand the United States lift a terrorist designation on the country's Revolutionary Guard.

There is little chance of the United States agreeing to remove Iran's elite security force from its list of foreign terrorist organizations any time soon, a French diplomatic source said on Thursday, casting a further pall over nuclear negotiations.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the Group of Seven major economies in Germany, Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign policy, said an EU envoy visited Tehran this week for talks that had "gone better than expected."

"The negotiations have been stalled for two months due to this disagreement about what to do with the Revolutionary Guard," Borrell said.

"These kinds of things cannot be solved overnight, but let's say the negotiations were blocked and they have been unblocked, which means there is a perspective of reaching agreement."

The EU envoy to the Iran nuclear talks, Enrique Mora, said Friday that he and his colleagues were briefly detained at Frankfurt Airport while transiting from Tehran to Brussels, in breach of diplomatic rules.
MEMRI: Iranian Official Hassan Rahimpour-Azghadi: Hitler Had Jewish Origins; Israel Abducts Muslim Children, Harvests Their Organs, Sexually Abuses Them In Military Bases
On April 29, 2022, in honor of International Quds Day, Channel 1 (Iran) aired a lecture given to foreign students in Iran by Iranian Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution member Hassan Rahimpour-Azghadi at an International Quds Day conference in 2019. In the lecture, Azghadi claimed that Israel abducts children from throughout the Arab world, harvests their organs to be used as "spare parts" by wealthy Jews and Westerns, and sexually abuses them in military bases. He also expressed doubts about the Holocaust and said that according to studies, Hitler was "born to Jews."

Jews "Rely" On Claims Of "The Slaughter Of Jews In Europe By Germany And Hitler In WWII"; "Hitler Had Jewish Origins"

Hassan Rahimpour-Azghadi: "They rely on the slaughter of Jews in Europe by Germany and Hitler in WWII. Let's assume that this really happened, without asking any questions, like whether this really happened, or if there were six million Jews to be killed in the crematoria. Where did the figure of six million come from? In addition, even if six million Jews were killed, 70, 80, or 100 million Christians were also killed. After all, Europe is the most savage continent in the world, as you know.

"I would like to tell you something that you might not believe. I have recently read studies and saw that Hitler had Jewish origins. He himself was born to Jews.

Israelis Take Palestinian, Iraqi, Syrian, And Yemeni Children And "Use Them For Spare Parts For Wealthy Europeans, Americans, And Zionist Jews", Or "Take Them To Military Bases Where They Sexually Abuse Them"

"You know, in recent years the [Israelis] have been taking the Palestinian children — as well as the children of Iraq, Syria, and Yemen — and they use them for spare parts for wealthy Europeans, Americans, and Zionist-Jews. You know, they harvest their organs and freeze them, and if the child of a wealthy Westerner has a problem with his kidney, heart, lungs, or eye, and needs spare parts, they use these Palestinian, Iraqi, Syria, and Yemeni Muslim children.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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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