Wednesday, August 10, 2022

From Ian:

Israel’s military operation against PIJ was a short-term success. Here’s how it could be a longer-term one too.
Previous rounds of fighting have historically concluded with an expectation of the one to follow next. But could the final act of Operation Breaking Dawn hold the seeds of a different future amid the shifting sands of the Middle East?

The apparent refusal by Israel’s government to release two PIJ prisoners, Al-Saadi and Khalil Awawdeh, as part of the ceasefire agreement reinforces the administrative separation between Gaza and the West Bank, thereby strengthening the hand of Hamas as an ostensible address for Israel in the south. Senior Israeli officials are speaking of a new “opportunity” to secure the handover of Israelis being held in Hamas captivity and to advance “cooperation [that] we can do, predominantly through Egypt, to improve the situation in Gaza.”

Counter-intuitive as it may seem, Hamas—despite its famous animosity toward Israel—may yet emerge as an independent, if not unlikely, interlocutor for the Jewish state, notwithstanding the difficult implications that this could have for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Israel’s quick removal of sanctions on Gaza and immediate reinstatement of work permits for Gaza residents subsequent to the truce will serve to cultivate pragmatism within Hamas ranks.

Equally noteworthy is the fact that local PIJ ranks in Gaza were able to impose their will for a cessation of hostilities with Israel over the objections of their movement’s Secretary-General, Ziad Nakhaleh, who—while meeting with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander-in-Chief General Hossein Salami in Tehran on August 5—summoned other Gaza-based factions to take up weapons alongside PIJ militants.

These developments take place against the backdrop of the Abraham Accords, the normalization deals signed between Israel and an array of Arab countries across the Middle East and Africa. Statements by the United Arab Emirates and Morocco—two kingdoms that are forging new diplomatic relationships with Israel—pointedly refrained from criticizing Israel’s conduct in Gaza, attesting to the robust nature of these contacts. Eventually, the example of these mutually beneficial ties might persuade decision-makers in both the West Bank and Gaza to also favor constructive engagement with Israel over an alternative fate of increased isolation and despair.

Israel Is the Bad Guy in the Eyes of the Media, Once Again
Many left-wing media outlets frequently place the blame on Israel for its conflicts with the Palestinians and Palestinian terrorist groups, which are proxies for Iran. The New York Times ran a headline that omitted any mention of Palestinian rockets, saying, “Israel Strikes Gaza as Tensions Rise.” The Times article mentions the rocket response in the second sentence of the subheading, saying, “Militants responded with a volley of rockets into Israel.” The Times makes the 1,100-rocket barrage launched at Israeli civilians sound like a game. They also neglect to mention the PIJ by name in the subheading, instead referring to the terrorist organization as “a Palestinian militant group.” See the pattern?

Israel is often blamed for civilians killed during conflicts with Palestinian terrorists (even though Palestinian terrorists use women and children as human shields), but rockets from Palestinian Islamic Jihad actually killed more Palestinian civilians during the fighting than Israeli bombs did. The Associated Press tweeted, “Close to one-third of the Palestinians who died in the weekend of fighting . . . may have been killed by errant rockets fired by the Palestinian side, according to an Israeli assessment that appears consistent with AP reporting.” Surprisingly accurate and fair reporting.

The AP should have included the video evidence that shows an errant rocket being fired from Gaza and then going off course and landing in Jabalia, which killed five Palestinian children. Here is an instance captured by Hezbollah’s Mayadeen outlet showing a long-range missile being fired from Gaza City and then malfunctioning and falling inside a civilian area in Gaza.

Avi Mayer, a former spokesman for the foreign press for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), posted videos that reportedly show the IDF aborting operations because of the possibility of civilians being killed: The fact that the media routinely view Israel’s conflict with its terrorist neighbors — PIJ and Hamas — through a lens that finds a moral equivalence between both sides is not only bad journalism, it’s morally repugnant.

Alan Baker: UN on track to violate both Charter and Staff Rules
Lack of objectivity
In addition to this violation of the UN’s founding principles, the appointment and functioning of the three members of the Inquiry Commission – former UN human rights high commissioner Navi Pillay as chair, and human rights “experts” Miloon Kothari (India) and Chris Sidoti (Australia) – reeks of bias, lack of objectivity and acute partiality.

These commission members have never concealed their negative predilections against Israel. On the contrary, they are openly on record promoting harsh and libelous accusations against Israel, and even antisemitic slurs and tropes.

The appointment and continued functioning of these people violates both the UN Charter itself, as well as the official UN Staff Rules and Regulations that implement the charter provisions and regulate the administration and performance of UN staff members and officials.

Appointing these people to a UN Inquiry Commission contravenes articles 100 and 101 of the UN Charter requiring officials to exercise “highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity” and to “refrain from actions that might reflect on their position as international officials.”

It also contravenes those provisions of the official UN Staff Rules and Regulations which require that political and religious views and convictions of UN officials and staff do not adversely affect their official duties or the interests of the UN.

These rules prohibit engaging in activity that is incompatible with the proper discharge of their duties, including the requirement to “avoid actions and public pronouncements that may adversely reflect on their status, or on the integrity, independence and impartiality that are required by that status” (Staff Regulations 1.1 and 1.2).

The appointment and activity of these commission members also contravene internationally accepted Codes of Conduct and Standards of ethical behavior and professional conduct applicable to the Human Rights Council. These all require that UN officials conduct themselves with the highest standards of objectivity, fairness, impartiality, transparency, moral authority, integrity, honesty, good faith and credibility, as well as avoidance of double standards and politicization.

Violation of the charter
IT IS inconceivable that the UN permits the continued functioning of the Inquiry Commission, in light of the inherent incompatibility of the commission’s mandate with, and violation of the purposes and principles of the UN as set out in its charter.

By the same token, its continued functioning violates those provisions of the UN Charter and UN official Staff Rules and Regulations prohibiting the acute and public bias and double standards voiced by all members of the commission.

The continued functioning of the Inquiry Commission, as well as the continued engagement of those hostile and antisemitic commission members, not only prejudices any integrity and credibility that the UN’s Human Rights Commission might have, but also places in further question the very integrity and credibility of the UN itself.

Serious consideration should be given to terminating the functioning and financing of this ill-advised and damaging Inquiry Commission.

The writer, a former legal officer in the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs, served as the legal adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada. He presently directs the international law program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
PMW: Palestinians to demand full recognition of the “State of Palestine” in upcoming UN session Palestinians to demand full recognition of the “State of Palestine” in upcoming UN session
In preparation for the September gathering of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the Palestinian leadership is conducting extensive lobbying to achieve full UN recognition for the “State of Palestine.” Such recognition, would contravene international law, as delineated in the 1934 “Convention on Rights and Duties of States,” (see below) and would necessitate a positive recommendation of all 5 of the permanent members of the UN Security Council that would be followed by the approval of two-thirds of the UNGA.

To further this goal, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian representatives have been in contact and raised the subject with world leaders and UN officials.
“Permanent Representative of Palestine at the UN in New York Riyad Mansour said that the [PA] leadership is holding contacts at the highest levels led by [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, in order to demand full membership for the State of Palestine in the UN, and thus to preserve the two-state solution.

In statements to [the official PA] radio [station] The Voice of Palestine today, Thursday [July 28, 2022], Mansour added that the political and diplomatic processes being undertaken by the leadership led by the president are being carried out with heads of state, including US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, King of Jordan Abdullah II, and members of the [UN] Security Council, in order to demand full membership for the State of Palestine…

He explained that the Palestinian demands were presented in the speech of the State of Palestine during the Security Council’s open meeting, and that they are being examined by the council’s members. A response to them will be given soon.”

[WAFA, official PA news agency, July 28, 2022]

A week later, the PA official daily updated on the initiative saying that Mansour had met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and that Guterres had welcomed the move and promised to assist the Palestinians with the relevant actors:
“Permanent Representative of the State of Palestine at the UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour met with UN Secretary-General António Guterres in New York yesterday [Aug. 3, 2022]. Mansour gave the secretary-general a letter from [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas on the recent developments and the meetings with many heads of states. He mentioned Palestine’s initiative – which the president raised during his meetings with US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Jordanian King Abdullah II, and others – on [giving] full membership to the State of Palestine at the UN, as a just act and in order to save the two-state solution…

The secretary-general welcomed this initiative and promised that he would help vis-à-vis the relevant parties. He expressed a desire to meet with President Abbas during the session of the UN General Assembly.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 4, 2022]

Hosting a delegation from the US Congress, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh also called on Congress to recognize the “State of Palestine” as a means to express the US belief in a “two-state solution”:
Egyptian envoy lambasts Israel at UN Security Council following brokering successful ceasefire
Shortly after Cairo helped broker a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Egyptian diplomat let loose a barrage on Israel on the international stage.

At Monday afternoon’s emergency session at the U.N. Security Council, Egyptian Ambassador to the United Nations Osama Abdel Khalek surprisingly tore into Israel, hours after his Israeli counterpart praised Egypt for mediating a halt of violence.

Abdel Khalek made no mention of PIJ during his speech, labeling all Gazans killed in the weekend’s clashes as “martyrs,” with no differentiation between terrorists and innocent victims. He also did not distinguish between those killed in Israeli strikes and those who died due to faulty PIJ rockets that fell in Gazan territory.

The Israel Defense Forces estimates of the 46 Gazans killed, 11 were civilians caught up in Israeli airstrikes targeting PIJ combatants, while 16 Palestinians were killed by PIJ rockets.

Abdel Khalek also criticized Israel for allowing “settlers under the protection of the Israeli police to incur the courtyards of the Haram al-Sharif [Temple Mount].” He was referring to the more than 2,000 Jews who visited the Temple Mount for the Tisha B’Av on Sunday. Among Abdel Khalek’s other grievances, he claimed Israel “fully responsible” for “occupied” Gaza, despite Israel withdrawing from the territory in 2005, and as Egypt currently maintains a security blockade on Gaza similar to Israel’s.

The diatribe came amid increasingly stronger ties between Israel and Egypt. Earlier in the day, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan said: “I want to take this opportunity to thank [Egyptian] President [Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi for his efforts to restore calm and stability to our region and not for the first time.” A statement from the Israeli prime minister’s office at around the same time noted Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed “his appreciation to the President of Egypt for his extensive efforts to achieve a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip” in a readout of a seemingly warm call between the two.
Russian embassy slams PM Lapid for 'disdain of Palestinians' lives'
The Russian Embassy in Cairo on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Yair Lapid of hypocrisy for attacking Gaza while condemning Russia's military actions in Ukraine.

"Compare Yair Lapid's lies about [Ukraine] in April and attempts to place blame and responsibility on [Russia] for the deaths of people in Bucha brutally murdered by the Nazis with his calls in August for bombing and strikes on [Palestinian] land in the #Gaza Strip. Isn't that double standards, complete disregard and contempt for the lives of Palestinians?" The Russian Embassy tweeted.

It then retweeted a message from Lapid in April in which he wrote, "it is impossible to remain indifferent in the face of the horrific images from the city of Bucha near Kiev, from after the Russian army left. Intentionally harming a civilian population is a war crime and I strongly condemn it."

At the time of Lapid's tweet, he was Israel's Foreign Minister and had not yet become Prime Minister, a position he entered only in June.

He was responding to reports that the Russian army had deliberately killed over 1,300 civilians during its invasion of that city, Russia has denied that accusation.

No response
The Prime Minister's Office said he had no response to that tweet, which came just one day after President Isaac Herzog spoke with his Russian counterpart at the request of Vladimir Putin.
Russian embassy calls Israel's Lapid a liar
The Russian embassy in Egypt accuses Prime Minister Lapid of a 'double standard' over past statements on the Bucha massacre in the wake of the Gaza operation

Our Middle East correspondent Ariel Oseran says these comments may inflame ongoing tensions over the Jewish Agency crisis

Israel, Turkey to Hold First Economic Summit in 13 Years
Israeli Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai has decided to reinstate the role of an Israeli economic attaché to Turkey and on Monday named Matan Safran to the role.

Safran most recently served as adviser to Ministry Director-General Ron Malka. From 2014-2018 he was Israel’s chief economic attaché to Romania.

Turkey is Israel’s fourth-most important economic partner and in 2021 was Israel’s fifth largest export destination. Since May 1, 1997, the two countries have enjoyed a free-trade agreement and held four joint economic summits. The last summit took place in Jerusalem in the summer of 2009, and the fifth is expected to be held this coming autumn.

According to the ministry’s Foreign Trade Administration, bilateral trade in goods and services amounted to $7.7 billion in 2021. In that year, Israel exported $1.9 billion worth of goods to Turkey — mainly chemicals, base metals, rubber and plastic. Israel’s main imports from Turkey include base metals, machinery and electronic and mechanical parts, transportation components, and fresh agricultural produce.

“Turkey is an important country for Israel in terms of both politics and economics,” Barbivai said on Monday. “Renewing the activity of the economic attaché has the potential to make a major contribution to the growth of both countries’ economies. I welcome the appointment and wish Matan success,” she added.
East Jerusalem land purchased by Jews in early 20th century reverts to state
A 16-dunam (four-acre) noncontiguous parcel of land on a green hilltop in east Jerusalem, which lies between the security barrier and the eastern border of the Jabal Mukhaber neighborhood, could soon become the most volatile in Jerusalem.

The Justice Ministry has completed the process, conducted secretly, of transferring ownership of the land to the state, on a temporary basis.

Civil researchers hired by the Custodian of Absentee Properties Department in the Justice Ministry secured proof that the land was purchased by Jews in the early 20th century, and a court ruling has confirmed those findings.

In 1924, rents in Jerusalem jumped, making life difficult for the city's Jewish residents. A group named "Vaad Haschenim" (The Neighbors Committee) was set up to purchase land and build a new neighborhood where more affordable housing would be built. They reached out to the Abu Dis town authorities and inquired about purchasing some 400 dunams of land (approximately 100 acres).

The head of the purchase association, which was known as Agudat Hadayarim, was chaired by Yehoshua Avizohar Singalovski (the brother of the founder of the Ort chain of technical schools).

In 1927, the association completed the purchase of 453 dunams (112 acres) of land. Construction was supposed to begin in 1930, but in 1929 a spate of riots targeting Jews erupted. The plans for a Jewish neighborhood were shelved and building never began.

After the riots, Yishuv authorities decided not to build in any of areas of land surrounded by Palestinian areas because of the difficulty of defending them, and rather concentrate building efforts in contiguous areas. After the Great Arab Rebellion and various irregularities discovered in the building association, the group stopped all its activities in April 1936.

Of the 453 dunams acquired, the association managed to register only 371 dunams (91.5 acres) in Abu Dis, leaving 82 dunams legally unregistered, even though they had been paid for.

In 1948, when the city of Jerusalem was divided following the War of Independence, Abu Dis remained under Jordanian control. It grew and new construction started on some of the land the Jews had purchased, even though they were registered with Jordanian authorities.

In 2003, as the Second Intifada raged, Israel built its security barrier, anchoring the existing reality in which only 60 of the 400 or so dunams purchased were left on the Israeli side. The land was transferred to the authority of the Custodian of Absentee Properties. Throughout the years, the ministry located some of the heirs of members of the original Agudat Hadayarim, and transferred the land to them, which were then purchased by the philanthropist Irving Moscowitz.

In 2004, 10 Jewish families moved onto the plots as part of the work of the Ateret Kohanim group.

However, the largest area of this land on the Israeli side of the security barrier, known as F, was never registered with the Jordanians as Jewish-owned land, and is considered abandoned property.
HonestReporting Quick Guide: The Top 5 Terror Groups Threatening Israel’s Existence
In the past days, the world’s media has been awash with reports on terrorism against Israel, following the Israel Defense Forces’ Operation Breaking Dawn against Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah’s threats against Israel over the Jewish state’s maritime dispute with Lebanon, and the killing of a leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in the West Bank city of Nablus.

However, even for the most seasoned observer of Middle Eastern affairs, it can be difficult to grasp what differentiates one terrorist group from the other. Who are the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades? What does Hezbollah believe? What separates Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad?

With this quick guide to the top five anti-Israel terror groups, you will be better able to understand each individual organization, while also appreciating the different threats that face the Jewish state every day.
Islamic Jihad tried to launch drone toward Tamar gas rig - Israeli army
The unsuccessful launch of unmanned aircraft from Gaza prompted Israel to increase defensive measures

Israel's military revealed on Tuesday that Gaza's Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was involved in a failed attempt to launch a drone toward the Tamar gas rig during this past weekend's 'Operation "Breaking Dawn."'

The terrorist group's unsuccessful launch of an unmanned aircraft from Gaza prompted Israel's army to step up its efforts to protect the platform located 14 miles off the coast of Ashkelon in southern Israel.

During the 11-day conflict with Hamas in May 2021, the terrorist rulers of the Gaza Strip fired dozens of rockets toward Tamar, missing the intended target, which is protected by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system and other defensive measures.

Fuel was removed from the rig and it was temporarily taken offline at the start of the fighting between Hamas and Israel. The move during last year's conflict with Hamas came at the order of then energy minister Yuval Steinitz’s office.

According to Israeli military estimates, the PIJ launched around 1,175 rockets from the Palestinian coastal enclave at Israel during the three days of conflict that ended late Sunday night with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.
Israel releases helmet-cam footage of Nablus raid
Israel on Tuesday released new footage of the raid in Nablus on Sunday that resulted in the death of wanted Palestinian terrorist Ibrahim Nabulsi and at least one additional gunman.

During the daylight raid, members of Israel’s National Counter-Terror Unit (known by its Hebrew acronym, “Yamam”) surrounded a residential building in Nablus’s Kasbah area where Nabulsi and several other gunmen had barricaded themselves, according to the Israeli military.

The terrorists opened fire at the Israeli forces, leading to an hours-long gun battle. Two terrorists were killed and tens of others were wounded, some critically, according to Palestinian media reports.

The footage also shows the last moments of the unit’s specially trained Belgian Malinois, Zili, who was killed in the exchange of fire after nine years with the force.

During the operation, local residents rioted, hurling rocks and explosive devices at Israeli forces, who responded with riot-dispersal tools as well as live fire.

Nabulsi, known locally as “The Lion of Nablus,” was a member of an unaffiliated terrorist cell, and was responsible for several shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the Nablus region and the surrounding area, including at Joseph’s Tomb, according to the Israeli military.

High on Israel’s wanted list, he had narrowly escaped from the Israeli military several times in the past.

Saudi Arabia, UAE Criticize Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rocket Attack on Israel
Following the military conflict between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Israel from Aug. 5-7, criticism was leveled in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against the terror organization entrenched in the Gaza Strip, appearing in both the press and social media.

According to a report by MEMRI, critics claimed, among other things, that the PIJ is an Iranian proxy organization acting for the benefit of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on Gaza residents. Further, they argued that the conflict erupted due to Iran’s desire to expedite nuclear talks in Vienna. One writer criticized the launch of Iranian missiles from within the civilian population in Gaza.

Elements in Saudi Arabia and the UAE also mocked recent statements by commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warning that Israel would pay a high price for its crimes in Gaza and that Hezbollah would strike Israel hard when the time was right. They questioned why Iran was not following through on its threats.

In a lengthy front-page report on Sunday, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized the PIJ, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, when the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.”

Saudi journalist Tariq Al-Homayed mocked Iran and PIJ in his Sunday column in the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily: “The question addressed here to the Qods Force commander and all members of the mendacious resistance is: When will ‘the time be right’ to remove Israel from the map and the globe … and why not [do it] now in response to Israel’s focused attack on Gaza, especially against the [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad movement?”
Fathers of Jenin, Nablus terrorists hold senior jobs in PA security forces
The father of Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, the gunman killed by the IDF in the Old City of Nablus on Tuesday morning, is a senior officer with the Palestinian Authority’s Preventive Security Service (PSS).

Like other Palestinian security services, the PSS has long been involved in security coordination with the IDF.

The PSS has also been strongly criticized by some Palestinians for cracking down on members of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and even unruly Fatah gunmen in the West Bank.

The father, Ala’ Izzat al-Nablusi, holds the rank of colonel in the PSS, the Palestinians’ equivalent of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency.

Hours after the fugitive was killed by the IDF, PSS headquarters published a statement offering condolences to “the brother and member of the [PSS] Col. Ala’ Izzat al-Nabulsi on the martyrdom of his son, Ibrahim, and the other martyrs.”

Sources in Nablus said on Wednesday that the slain gunman, who was suspected of carrying out a number of shooting attacks against IDF soldiers and bases, as well as at Joseph’s Tomb, was not wanted by the Palestinian security forces.
Israel Bashers Jump on Gaza Fighting, and Give a Pass to Islamic Jihad
The Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) joined Kiswani in condemning Israel and expressing support for terrorists.

PYM attached an image to the tweet listing the names of the “martyrs,” one of which included Taysir al-Jabari, a top PIJ commander killed by Israel.

“The Israeli government is massacring Palestinian children in Gaza and playing victim,” antisemitic Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour wrote on Facebook. “The Israeli government has the most expensive and state of the art artillery and equipment. They have computerized precision missiles, yet they target apartment buildings with families and areas with civilians.”

This accusation couldn’t be further from the truth. While the deaths are lamentable, video evidence shows that many of the civilian casualties were caused by Palestinian rockets which misfired.

One Palestinian rocket misfire in Jabaliya left at least four children dead.

The weekend-long conflict showed that Israel has learned, adapted, and continues to implement new methods to minimize civilian casualties.

During “Operation Breaking Dawn,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) delayed or aborted strikes on PIJ targets after seeing civilians were nearby. The IDF also continued its roof knocking tactics — light explosions which notify civilians a building is about to be struck, giving them time to evacuate the area.

As the group Aurora Intel noted, photojournalists were able to focus on a target before it was struck after witnessing the roof knocks.

It was later reported that of the 1,100 rockets fired by PIJ, 200 landed in Gaza. Meanwhile, of the nearly 1,000 remaining rockets that made it into Israel, 380 were stopped by the Iron Dome and all other rockets landed either in the ocean or in open spaces.

Kiswani, Sarsour and other Israel-bashers have said nothing about the role PIJ played in creating the conflict with incessant terrorist plots against Israel. Nor have they called for the group, and the larger and deadlier terrorist group Hamas, to move its rocket arsenals and operations centers away from densely populated neighborhoods to minimize the risk to civilians.

Their goal is clear: to destroy and defame Israel at any cost.
Israel: Stuck in never-ending conflict with Gaza?

The Israel Guys: Palestinian Leaders CALL FOR ARAB UPRISING
In a counter-terrorism raid in Nablus, the IDF finally eliminated the terrorist leader known as the ‘Lion of Nablus’, an update on the Gaza war and a how world leaders are viewing it, Yair Lapid addresses the nation after the completion of Operation Breaking Dawn, and Hezbollah calls for a national uprising amid threats against Israel.

Israel Opens Southern Airport to Palestinian Passengers, Flights to Turkey Begin This Month
Palestinians in the West Bank will be able to fly abroad through Israel’s Ramon Airport starting later this month, Israel’s Airports Authority announced Tuesday.

Under the initiative, flights will be offered twice a week to the Turkish resort city of Antalya beginning at the end of August, and to Istanbul in September. They will be run by the carriers Atlas and Pegasus on Airbus A321 planes.

Ramon Airport is located near the Red Sea port and tourist hub of Eilat.

Reports of the plan emerged in mid-July, as Israel greenlit a series of goodwill gestures to Palestinians ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to the country, including an increase of Gazan workers allowed to enter Israel and the approval of Palestinian construction plans in the West Bank.

The proposal to open Ramon Airport to Palestinian passengers — and establish a “safe passage” to ferry them from the West Bank — was also considered at the time, Israel’s Kan news reported. In exchange, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz requested concessions from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, mainly to withhold from advancing proceedings against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

The scheme will open a new mode of travel for Palestinians in the West Bank, who otherwise largely have to cross to Jordan to fly internationally.
Hamas issues, rescinds sweeping regulations on journalists in Gaza
Hamas issued and then withdrew sweeping restrictions on foreign journalists working in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of this week’s conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, according to the Associated Press.

The restrictions included a ban on coverage about PIJ rockets falling short in Gaza and causing injuries and deaths, as well as a general rule requiring that Jerusalem be blamed for the latest escalation, according to the report.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents international media in Israel, announced that the regulations were scrapped following discussions with the terrorist group.

“Such a move would have constituted a severe, unacceptable and unjustifiable restriction on the freedom of the press, as well as the safety of our colleagues in Gaza,” the FPA said in a statement cited by AP.

The report nevertheless suggested that Hamas’s initiative has made clear its future expectations, which could have a “chilling” effect on reportage from Gaza.

Hamas already requires all visiting journalists to have a local sponsor, generally a Palestinian colleague or a translator hired by the given news outlet. Under the now-defunct restrictions, sponsors were warned they must “demonstrate national spirit, defend the Palestinian narrative and reject the foreigner’s bias to the Israeli narrative,” according to AP.

Sponsors would have also been required to inform Hamas of “any suspicious behavior or illogical questions” by foreign journalists, and to submit a full report of what journalists did in Gaza, in addition to links to all published works.

MEMRI: Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah: Allah Appointed Me To Defend The Lebanese People; We Are Ready To Sacrifice Our Souls, Children For The Sake Of Our Country
Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said that he was appointed by Allah to defend the Lebanese people in a video that was posted on Fasl Al-Khitab on YouTube July 31, 2022. He said: "We are people who were appointed by Allah because we fear Judgement Day." Nasrallah also said that his people are ready to "sacrifice our souls, our children, and all who are dear to us" for the sake of Lebanon and its people, even those people "whose position is unbecoming and inappropriate."

"For 40 Years, We Have Always Been At The Ready... To Sacrifice Our Souls, Our Children, And All Who Are Dear To Us For The Sake Of Our Country"

Hassan Nasrallah: "For 40 years, we have always been at the ready, and tonight I am saying that like always, we are ready to sacrifice our souls, our children, and all who are dear to us for the sake of our country and our [Lebanese] people as a whole — even for the sake of those whose position is unbecoming and inappropriate. We are ready to make this tremendous sacrifice.

"Who Appointed Me? Allah Did... We Are People Who Are Appointed By Allah"

"Who appointed me, you ask? Knock it off. You're calling yourself a human being? Who appointed me? Allah did. Who appointed you? Allah appointed me. We are people who were appointed by Allah, because we fear Judgement Day. We fear Allah on Judgement Day. We believe that on Judgement Day, Allah will not ask us only whether we prayed, fasted, made pilgrimage, and read the Quran, carried the masbaha prayer beads, and so on.

"He will ask us about the people, their honor, their lives, their defense, their security, and many other things. He will only ask us about the things that were within our capabilities, because there are people in Lebanon who want us to do things that are beyond our capabilities. Allah created his servants and did not ask them to do things they cannot."

JCPA: What Iranian Officials Told the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Chief
Even before Israel’s Operation Breaking Dawn in Gaza was launched, Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Secretary-General Ziad Nakhalah was in Tehran to meet with top regime officials and military commanders.

The Tasnim News Agency, affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), commented1 on August 6, 2022, on the unfolding events. The agency doubted that the clash between Nakhalah’s organization and Israel would become a large-scale war. It said Israel’s military strategy would not permit its government to continue the conflict. Instead, “it is the resistance that should make the most of the current opportunity.”

Nakhalah came to Iran on August 2, the day Israel arrested top Islamic Jihad official Bassam al-Saadi in the Jenin refugee camp. Nakhalah received the news of the arrest of Al-Saadi and his son-in-law, Ashraf Aljada, as he was preparing for his first meeting in Tehran. His host for that meeting was Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, foreign minister in the government of President Ebrahim Raisi.

Nakhalah went to additional meetings before the IDF’s operation in Gaza began. On August 3, he met with Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, chair of the Iranian parliament, and Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iran’s spiritual leader Ali Khamenei.2

On August 6, the Iranian foreign minister called Nakhalah3 to share his condemnation of Israel for launching the operation. Amir-Abdollahian told Nakhalah that Israel’s latest “savage attacks” were aimed at creating a crisis in Gaza to divert attention from Israel’s own “multilayered crises.”

Nasser Kanaani, the spokesperson of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said4 at the onset of the operation, “Iran strongly condemns the Zionist apartheid regime’s barbaric offensive against Gaza, and it is the legal right of the Palestinian people and the resistance organizations to defend themselves against the Zionist regime’s aggression and acts of terror.”

Kanaani said, “In its savage onslaught,” Israel had “killed resistance commanders and helpless Palestinians, and the fledgling [Lapid] regime, which likes to create adventures and take provocative steps, is responsible for this crime and thus for the consequences of the aggression as well.”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader from Tehran: ‘Zionist entity will be annihilated’
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Ziyad Nakhalah stated on Mayadeen TV (Lebanon) on Aug. 5 that the “Zionist entity“ will be destroyed, and that the Palestinians must continue fighting and being patient.

According to the video published by MEMRI, Nakhalah claimed that there are no “red lines” in the current conflict between Israel and the PIJ, which he described as a “survival war.” Nakhalah spoke from Tehran.

“This is a time for prolonged fighting. The Zionist entity initiated this aggression, and it should expect us to fight non-stop, until victory, inshallah [God-willing],” said Nakhalah.

“Palestine is our land, and we will fight to regain it, no matter how long it takes. These are the goals for which we are fighting, and this is the will of the Palestinian people. The Palestinians will continue to adhere to their resistance,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Israel has gradually begun lifting security restrictions on southern Israel and on the Gaza-Israel border crossings as a ceasefire with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad continued to hold on Monday.

Iranian IRGC member charged for plot to kill John Bolton
A member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has been charged with attempting to hire hitmen to murder former national security advisor John Bolton in an apparent retaliation attempt for the January 2020 assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, the US Justice Department announced on Wednesday.

Shahram Poursafi, aka Mehdi Rezayi, a resident of Tehran, Iran, attempted to pay individuals in the US $300,000 to murder Bolton in Washington, DC or Maryland on behalf of the Quds Force, according to court documents.

On October 22, 2021, Poursafi asked a US resident he had previously met online to take photographs of Bolton, claiming that the photos were for a book he was writing. The US resident told the IRGC member that they could introduce him to another person who would take the pictures for $5,000-10,000 and later introduced him to an associate.

On November 9, the IRGC member contacted the associate on an encrypted messaging app and then directed them to a second encrypted messaging app for further communications. According to court documents, he offered the associate $250,000 to hire someone to "eliminate" the former national security advisor and this amount was later negotiated up to $300,000.

The IRGC member directed the associate to open a cryptocurrency account to facilitate the payment, but stressed that they would likely have to carry out the murder before they could be paid and that Poursafi's "group" would be angry if the person was paid and the murder was not completed.

The associate updated the IRGC member that he had found someone to conduct the murder and later informed him that the person was from Mexico and maintained contacts with a cartel. Poursafi assured the individual that "his group" had people in both Iran and the US who could provide protection for both them and the person they had found to carry out the murder.

The American Institute of Iranian Studies: Propagandizing Students for the Islamic Republic
Thus, in practice, AIIrS has engaged in assisting in the propagandizing of American students, with the help of the Sa'adi Foundation. Their joint efforts are being run by officials who have direct relationships with the worst elements of the Iranian regime.

AIIrS has received government funds in the past from the now-nonexistent U.S. Information Agency. Its recent public tax forms indicate that it still receives roughly two-thirds of its income from U.S. government sources. When asked which agency funds AIIrS currently, AIIrS responded via email that it is "funded through CAORC," which, while a private nonprofit, is heavily financed by the U.S. State Department to the tune of about $4.4 million a year. AIIrS's budget is, unsurprisingly, significantly smaller, about $150,000 annually in recent years. Roughly one-third of its budget goes directly to the salary of Erica Ehrenberg, AIIrS's executive director, with no other salaries being reported. The goal of AIIrS, according to CAORC, is to "facilitate access to research resources, provide a forum for contact and exchange, offer library and technical support and accommodation, and disseminate information to the scholarly and general public," which wouldn't seem to include any real influence on what happens in Iran.

This suggests that AIIrS is, in essence, a State Department–funded junior partner to Sa'adi and other Iranian institutions, simply shuffling papers for U.S. students who wish to visit Iran. It is another way (along with having multiple former regime officials working at U.S. universities) for Iran to manipulate American foreign policy by setting the conditions of debate years in advance.

Americans should want to learn all they can about Iran, and it is important to be in contact with sympathetic Iranians. But facilitating Potemkin-village visits, controlled by the regime, is not honest academic inquiry. It may well be true that, given the nature of the regime, sending any researchers to Iran will require bowing to the ayatollah's wishes. Yet as Rubin previously suggested, Uzbekistan may serve the same purpose in terms of learning Persian language and culture, at a much lower risk of being used or propagandized by one of the worst regimes in the world.

American political leaders ought to look more deeply into this, discover just how much influence the regime and its various fronts have over AIIrS and the programs it facilitates, and decide if this enterprise serves the interests of the U.S.

We suspect they will agree that it does not.

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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 18 years and 38,000 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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