Wednesday, August 24, 2022

From Ian:

Enough rounds of fighting in Gaza, it is time for victory
The leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad realize that the IDF has no intention of defeating them.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad also understood that if the patience of Israel's security and political echelons runs out, as indeed occurred during Operation Breaking Dawn, at most there will be Air Force planes shooting at infrastructure targets in Gaza, ending like the previous rounds without defeating the enemy.

After every round, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad can return and threaten again to launch rockets at Israel, and after a short period of time hold another round and thus freeze the economic and social activity in the cities and communities surrounding Gaza, a situation that the State of Israel cannot afford.

The situation is worse even than that and goes beyond the boundaries of the Gaza Strip. The army fears that the continuation of the rounds against Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza could lead to a regional explosion and a multi-arena war for which the IDF is also unprepared, which greatly increases the fear in the army to take offensive action.

The IDF is looking for every possible way to maintain peace even at very heavy costs of the complete loss of deterrence. The security and political echelons are looking for mediators like the Egyptians, who will help Israel ameliorate the murderous intentions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are sitting in their holes pleased with themselves that the State of Israel is doing everything it can to ask them to be good children. They see this as a major weakness in the fighting spirit and in the motivation of the IDF commanders to fight.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad well understands that there is a huge difference between the empty declarations of the Israeli political and security establishment about the power of the IDF to hit them, and the bitter truth. The IDF therefore entered a mode of maintaining silence at all costs so as to let sleeping dogs lie.

Thus, over the years, the army dealt with ongoing security, and not with its preparation for the next multi-arena war, and therefore the conduct of the army led to the loss of the value of victory and complete deterrence.

The new Chief of Staff must lead the IDF on a new path and make a 180 degree turn in order to return the value of victory to the IDF, along with a fighting spirit, motivation, determination, adherence to the mission, taking back the initiative - and thus restore deterrence.

The IDF's readiness must be rebuilt for the next multi-arena war so that it can face very difficult challenges in the near and more distant future.

I hope we are not too late.
Israeli PM Lapid refuses to meet with Norway's foreign minister
Israel's Foreign Ministry rejected a request from Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt to meet the Israeli premier Yair Lapid during her visit to the Jewish state next month.

A few days ago, the Deputy Director General of Israel's Foreign Affairs Ministry, Aliza Bin-Noun, met with Norway's Ambassador to Israel, Kåre Reidar Aas, who conveyed to her the Norwegian minister's request to meet with the Israeli prime minister and foreign minister.

In response, Bin-Noun reminded the ambassador of Norway's negative moves toward the State of Israel and made her understand that also due to the elections, a meeting with Lapid would be impossible.

In June, Israel declared itself outraged after the Norwegian government's decision to mark food products from West Bank settlements.

Norway, which is not a member of the European Union, justified its decision with a 2019 European Court of Justice ruling that food products from "Israeli-occupied areas" had to be labeled so as not to mislead the consumer about the origin of the product.

A report published about a year ago by the Israel advocacy group and research institute NGO Monitor found that Norway, the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority, also funds anti-Israel organizations including the BDS boycott movement.

That same year, Norway's largest pension fund further announced that it withdrew its investments from 16 companies linked to West Bank settlements.
Groups tied to terror: UN agency accepted $50 million from Union of Good - opinion
Terrorism and human rights are simply irreconcilable. Despite purporting to champion human rights, the United Nations has nevertheless been at the center of numerous terrorism-related controversies. These include the Taliban’s ongoing candidacy for a seat in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and widespread concerns that the UNHRC’s open-ended Commission of Inquiry targeting Israel is whitewashing and enabling the crimes of Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.

It has now come to light that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – the main UN agency responsible for assisting refugees worldwide – has partnered with and accepted nearly $50 million (NIS165 m.) from member charities of a US-designated terrorist organization: the Union of Good. The relevant member charities are the Qatar Charity and Eid Charity, both of which are already individually designated as terrorist organizations by five Middle Eastern governments.

The Union of Good is an umbrella fundraising organization of charities and was designated as a terrorist organization by the US Treasury, in 2008. This is because it is an organization created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization. As noted by the Counter Extremism Project, the Union of Good includes the Qatar Charity and the Eid Charity.

Since 2012, the UNHCR has accepted approximately $49 million (NIS161 m.) from the Qatar Charity. It also received approximately $4.75 million (NIS15.6 m.) in cash assistance from the Eid Charity in 2020 and 2021. While such money has seemingly been used to help refugees, a humanitarian institution accepting funds from groups tied to terrorism is deeply disturbing. The UN and the UNHCR are exposing themselves to dangerous influences and potentially legitimizing an internationally-recognized terrorist organization.

Even worse, the UNHCR has openly celebrated its relationships with these groups, spotlighting them on its official web page. The current High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has praised the Qatar Charity for its collaboration with the UNHCR. What makes this matter especially concerning is that the UNHCR began to partner with the Qatar Charity in 2012 under the watch of António Guterres, who was then the High Commissioner for Refugees. Guterres is now the secretary-general of the United Nations, a testament to the influence commanded by the high commissioner for refugees.

Caroline Glick: A year since Afghan withdrawal, US still licking its wounds
A year after the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, Americans are still licking their wounds.

Last year, President Joe Biden demanded that all U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan by an artificial timeline. He disregarded the Afghans who fought with the American military for 20 years. He abandoned $90 billion in weapons to the Taliban. He left Bagram Air Force Base and the riches of a country filled with rare minerals to China.

And last week, he tried to convince Americans that everything was perfect. He said that the U.S. was able to kill al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri.

To discuss the real consequences of the withdrawal for the U.S., its allies, its superpower rivals and the morale of U.S. forces, Caroline Glick in this week’s “Mideast News Hour” speaks with two top national security officials from the Trump administration: former deputy national security advisor Victoria Coates and former deputy assistant secretary of state for the Middle East Simone Ledeen.

Ledeen spent more than two years in Afghanistan over three deployments during the Bush II and Obama administrations.

Obama and Afghanistan
After discussing Obama’s role in fomenting the Afghanistan crisis, the conversation shifts to Iran and the nuclear deal. The three talk about what a renewed agreement would mean for the U.S., the Middle East and the entire world, and what America’s spurned allies are capable of doing on their own to prevent Iran from emerging as a regional hegemon.

The three also discuss the deal’s implications for the future of nuclear non-proliferation.

Turkey & Israel ties
Finally, Glick, Coates and Ledeen move to the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey, after both countries last week agreed to restore full bilateral relations.

They discuss the reasons that Turkish President Recep Erdogan decided to press ahead with the move despite his anti-Semitism and hatred for Israel.

Specifically, the group analyzes the potential ramifications on gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, and, in turn, how this can impact on Iran’s rise through its Hezbollah terrorist proxy, the effective ruler of Lebanon which aims to become a major actor in the Mediterranean gas industry.
Caroline Glick: A year after Afghanistan, US is still licking its wounds
To discuss the consequences of the withdrawal Caroline Glick hosts two top national security officials from the Trump administration on this week’s “Mideast News Hour": Fmr. Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates and Fmr. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Simone Ledeen.

They also look at the implications of the impending Iran deal and a recent decision by Israel and Turkey to reestablish diplomatic ties.

Qatar speaks from both sides of its mouth - opinion
United States President Joe Biden thanked the emir of Qatar this month for his role in brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza. Since then, the emir and his court have been basking in the glow of international approval, depicting their country as a global influencer and peacemaker. Yet, at the same time, Doha’s incitement, through the state-owned Al Jazeera network and other channels, worsens the already explosive situation in Gaza.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera Arabic, Majed al-Ansari, the spokesperson for the Qatari Foreign Ministry, tied himself into knots while seeking to explain the contradictions of Doha’s foreign policy. First, he took credit for the ceasefire, saying that Qatar communicated with all parties involved, including “Palestinian factions in Gaza.” He paused, then added, “and with the Israeli side, also.” Ansari was clearly reluctant to admit any interaction with the Jewish state, likely because Al Jazeera and other Qatari organs spend so much time condemning those Arabs who prefer normal relations with Israel to perennial hostility.

To protect himself, Ansari quickly pivoted to Al Jazeera’s preferred talking points about Gaza and the flare-up this past weekend, when PIJ fired 800 rockets indiscriminately into Israeli territory. Ansari repeatedly referred to the conflict as an example of Israeli aggression and said that Qatar denounced Israel twice, the first time for bombing Gaza, and the second time for invading al-Aqsa, a deliberate mischaracterization of Jewish worshipers passing through the Temple Mount.

One way for Doha to iron out the contradictions in its foreign policy is to broadcast different messages to Arabic speakers and English speakers. Accordingly, when Al Jazeera English played clips of Ansari’s interview, it left out his denunciations of Israel, while letting him boast of Qatar’s role as peacemaker.

Al Jazeera Arabic also did its best to pin the blame on Israel for the death of five Gazan children, even though the available evidence was more consistent with PIJ rocket fire as the cause. The network reported that five children were martyred in an Israeli airstrike on the Jabalya refugee camp but there was no source documenting the airstrike. Meanwhile, the IDF said it never targeted Jabalya and released footage apparently showing a PIJ rocket that veered off course, landing in Jabalya. The IDF released its footage a day before the Al Jazeera broadcast, yet the network ignored it.

Blood libel and martyrdom
At other times, the network simply veers into blood-libel territory. One tweet asked, “What are the roots of the genocidal Zionist doctrine?” It linked to an article on that subject that quotes violent passages from the Bible and claims the Zionist movement applies them directly to Palestinians. The article was not an exception but is rather a recurring theme in many of the articles that Al Jazeera writers post on its website.

Al Jazeera’s leading reporters also praise martyrdom, while suggesting that Palestinian militants fight for liberty, not on behalf of extreme, antisemitic interpretations of Islam. Majed Abdul-Hadi is a veteran correspondent, who won acclaim for reporting from the frontline of the US war in Afghanistan, in 2002. In a four-minute package on the clash in Gaza, he said that Sunday’s ceasefire “will not end the conflict, at least not in the minds of those [Palestinians] whose will and yearning for freedom is stronger than that of the steel” of the Israeli missiles. Abdul-Hadi added, “There are a lot of those Palestinians. They give birth, and are martyred, and give birth [again].”
IDF arrests 14 Palestinian suspects, seizes guns in overnight West Bank raids
Israeli troops operated extensively throughout the West Bank in the predawn hours of Wednesday, arresting 14 wanted Palestinians and seizing several firearms, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The IDF said that troops seized three M16 rifles, a handgun, ammunition, and other military equipment in the Palestinian village of Burqin, west of Jenin, and arrested two suspects.

In the adjacent Jenin refugee camp, another Palestinian suspected of terror activities was arrested, the IDF said.

During the raid in the two northern West Bank towns, “Molotov cocktails and explosives were thrown, and the troops shot at suspects who shot at them,” the IDF said.

Unverified Palestinian reports said two people were hurt by IDF fire in the Jenin area. There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry.

The IDF said no soldiers were hurt during the raids.

Footage published by Palestinian media outlets showed an improvised bomb exploding near a soldier in the Jenin refugee camp.
Israeli forces foil effort to smuggle in firearms from Jordan, near Dead Sea
Israeli security forces thwarted a gun-smuggling attempt along the Jordanian border near the Dead Sea on Tuesday night, seizing three assault rifles and three handguns.

The Israel Defense Forces said soldiers operating surveillance cameras identified four suspects along the border, near the town of Neot Hakikar.

Officers and troops dispatched to the scene found two bags containing three M-16 rifles and three pistols, police said.

No suspects were immediately arrested.

Law enforcement officials have indicated guns smuggled in from Jordan are often sold to Arab Israelis and West Bank Palestinians, for both criminal and terrorist purposes.

The military and police have stepped up efforts to halt smuggling attempts along the Jordanian border in recent months.

On Monday, police detained four Bedouin residents of southern Israel near the northern town of Ashdot Ya’akov Ihud, after they allegedly smuggled three handguns over the border.
The Israel Guys: This Rabbi Fought a Terrorist
A rabbi in central Israel fought off a terrorist who tried to attack him. Tensions are rising with Lebanon as Hezbollah threatens Israel. A member of Knesset visited a terrorist who is on a hunger strike in the hospital. Another member of Iran’s revolutionary guard corps was killed. And Amnesty International is hosting a huge anti-semitic conference in France.

Gaza child killed when explosives stored in residential home detonate
A child was killed and several other people were wounded in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday when explosives stored in a residential home in Khan Younis detonated, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

“Another tragedy in the Gaza Strip today. Weapons stored unsafely in the house of a member of a Palestinian terrorist group exploded and killed a young child in the vicinity,” said IDF international spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht.

“These are the sad consequences of militarizing civilian areas for terrorist activity,” he added.

Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza of storing weapons and building military infrastructure in residential areas with a view to shielding them from IDF strikes, even though the practice places civilians at risk.

Gazans call for probe into Islamic Jihad missiles that killed civilians
On second day of the recent round of fighting in Gaza, as the sun set in the overcrowded Jabalia camp, the children played outside. They were not afraid of rocket fire, as they had long grown used to the ongoing military operations in Gaza. As the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement launched rockets from an area near the Imad Aqel mosque, one missile veered off course and struck civilians in the crowded camp. It killed seven people, including four children, and injured 21, according to the Ministry of Health.

The incident, most of whose victims were children, angered many Gazans. Though they initially blamed Israel for the massacre, the Israeli army reported that five rockets fired toward Israel had fallen inside Gaza. The PIJ fired 1,100 rockets toward Israel, 200 of which fell inside Gaza, killing 15 civilians altogether.

While PIJ officials refused to talk to Al-Monitor, Al-Monitor’s team went to talk to the residents of the Jabalia camp, where a PIJ rocket fell. It found the street where the rocket had hit children was a small and crowded alleyway.

A resident of a nearby street told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “On Saturday, the second day of the military operation, at 9 p.m., we were startled by the sound of a huge explosion hitting the next street. My brothers and I rushed to see what happened. I saw people trying to extinguish a fire with water as they waited for the civil defense and ambulance cars to arrive. I saw a 12-meter-long missile that exploded horizontally. I thanked God that it did not explode vertically. Otherwise, a very big massacre would have ensued.”

He lamented, “Everyone knows that the missile that fell on Saturday was a local missile, but no one dares talk about it, especially to the media and the press, let alone name names. Here, there is no freedom of opinion and expression. There is no respect for others’ points of view, and whoever holds the PIJ responsible for the missiles that veered off course is deemed unpatriotic and a partner in Israeli crimes against us. Whoever they are, they would be arrested by the authorities and investigated. This is why no one would dare talk about this.”

On the third day, Sunday, missiles struck a cemetery and killed five children there, sparked debate over their origin. Israel reported that the missiles were its own.

The man went on, “We are well aware of our struggle with Israel, and we are all for the Palestinian resistance, but we must stand up to this crime and demand an investigation, as this is not the first time that the rockets have fallen on civilians. During the four previous wars, a lot of rockets fell on fields and rooftops, even on people, killing them or seriously injuring them. In 2008, I lost my best friend in one of the explosions caused by resistance rockets, and in 2014 one of them fell on my aunt’s house and left her child totally disabled. But what is new this time around is that the PIJ movement alone responded without Hamas, and our society is very partisan, so many rushed to blame the PIJ.”

A journalist from the Gaza Strip told Al-Monitor, “I covered all the wars in the Gaza Strip, took a lot of photos and videos, and in every war I saw a number of local rockets falling on civilians. In the massacre in the Jabalia camp, I saw with my own eyes a local missile strike. We only want the truth and a clear investigation into the matter. They want us not to talk about this matter, because if we talk, they describe us as collaborators with the occupation. We condemn the occupation and its crimes against our people, but what is happening is a grave crime against civilians and children.”
PMW: Abbas’ “Israel committed 50 holocausts” libel unites the PA, Fatah with opposition terror orgs
After years of fighting, which pitted Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party against the opposition terror organizations such as Hamas, PFLP and others, Abbas has finally succeeded in achieving temporary Palestinian unity behind him. Speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Aug. 16, 2022, Abbas declared that Israel “has committed 50 holocausts.” Whereas the international community’s reaction was swift in condemning Abbas’ hate speech, which forced him to backtrack somewhat and “clarify” his libel, the internal Palestinian world across the political spectrum sees Abbas as a hero for speaking the “truth”:

Editorial by the official PA daily: “President Mahmoud Abbas – he is not afraid to say the truth… The truth is painful, and the frantic Zionist racist incitement campaign against President Mahmoud Abbas proves this.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 21, 2022]

“The Hamas Movement expressed its opposition to and condemnation of the incitement campaign against [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas due to the statements he made in Berlin…

Islamic Jihad MovementPolitical Bureau member Khaled Al-Batsh condemned the fact that the German police launched an investigation over the statements of President Mahmoud Abbas, who spoke about the holocausts and massacres that the occupation has committed against the Palestinian people since 1948…

Palestinian National Council (i.e., PLO legislature) Chairman Rawhi Fattouh: “The attack against President Abbas constitutes direct and public incitement targeting our Palestinian people and its leadership.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 21, 2022]

Deputy Secretary-General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) Qais Abd Al-Karim: “The president said the truth… the crimes that were committed by Israel … for more than 74 years are no less horrible, and this is a historical fact that must be emphasized.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 20, 2022]

Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: “Germany proved that it is a cardboard state, captive and enslaved to the Zionist movement [by] the responses of Germany Chancellor [Olaf] Scholz, his administration, and its political parties over the brave and wise Palestinian position of Palestinian President and leader Mahmoud Abbas.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 22, 2022]

“Official [PA] Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina expressed his fierce condemnation of the incitement campaign against [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 20, 2022]
Fatah official encourages continued terrorist shooting at Jews praying at Joseph’s Tomb

Terrorist in farewell video, Victory or Martyrdom… Let no one ever abandon the rifle

Cousin to murderer of 3 “You’re a hero, you’re an icon”

Khaled Abu Toameh: PA security forces raid Bir Zeit University dorms, threaten students
Palestinian Authority security forces on Tuesday raided student dormitories at Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah, as part of an ongoing crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank.

The predawn raid, which drew sharp criticism from students and other Palestinians, is seen by Palestinians in the context of the dispute between the PA and Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

“The [Palestinian] General Intelligence officers raided the dormitories after midnight and searched some of the rooms,” one of the students told the Ultra Palestine website. “They searched my room and asked me about posters of [slain anti-corruption activist] Nizar Banat and other banners. One of the officers told me, ‘Take care of yourself; don’t cause trouble.’”

Banat, a resident of Hebron, was beaten to death by PA security forces during a raid on his home in June 2021. He was famous for posting videos on social media in which he accused PA officials of corruption.

The student, who was not identified by name, said he heard the screams of other students who were apparently beaten by the PA officers.

A representative of the Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc at Bir Zeit University said two of his colleagues were severely beaten by the officers during the raid. The officers also confiscated the laptops of the two students and handed them summonses for interrogation.

In Beirut, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad heads discuss ‘next stage’ of anti-Israel action
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah met with Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief Ziyad Nakhaleh in Lebanon on Wednesday and discussed regional developments, including in Gaza and the West Bank, according to the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese news outlet Al Mayadeen.

The meeting was held in a southern suburb of Beirut, the report said, with the two sides reviewing recent events in the Palestinian territories and the results of this month’s round of fighting between Israeli forces and PIJ terrorists in Gaza, dubbed by Israel Operation Breaking Dawn.

Nasrallah and Nakhaleh assessed the battle on the field, as well as its “political and media levels,” the report said.

The report also suggested potential future cooperation between the two terror organizations, saying the pair discussed “the expected roles of the various parties in the axis of resistance in the next stage.”

The report did not elaborate on what that “next stage” could entail.

The meeting comes amid heightened tensions between Israel and Hezbollah over offshore fields thought to hold natural gas deposits and repeated threats by Nasrallah that have raised concerns in Israel over a potential flare-up on its northern border.

Israel and Lebanon have been engaged for over a year in US-brokered talks aimed at resolving the dispute over some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea that both countries claim for themselves.
Israel Must Prepare for a Military Operation Against Hezbollah
In recent months, Israel has been negotiating to settle maritime border registration with Lebanon. This negotiation, which has known difficulties – and included new and illogical demands from the Lebanese side – is apparently nearing its end with a very good possibility that the agreement will be approved in the coming weeks.

At the same time, Hezbollah threatens Israel with the possibility of military action, most likely against a naval target, and in particular, against the Karish gas rig located offshore Israel, in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has recently threatened several times to carry out military action against Israel if Jerusalem is not willing to reach an agreement with Lebanon that will satisfy the Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist group.

On the one hand, Hezbollah is not interested in a large-scale war against Israel, due to the Israeli deterrence that was achieved back in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and due to the threats of senior Israeli officials to return Lebanon to the Stone Age and to widely attack civilian infrastructure in the country.

On the other hand, Hezbollah is interested in strengthening its image as the defender of Lebanon and the real entity that safeguards Lebanon’s political, security and economic interests. Hence, there is a real possibility of escalation between the parties, and Israel, including the IDF, takes the threats of Nasrallah as seriously as possible.

It is possible that in the absence of an agreement in the coming weeks that would regulate the maritime borders between Israel and Lebanon, Hezbollah would be interested in a few days of fighting against Israel, but in a limited way. The IDF in its part has already thickened the defense systems around the Karish gas rig, including the placement of special sensors that will warn against hostile actions.

Seth Frantzman: Why the US airstrike on Iranian forces in Syria matters
US forces carried out airstrikes in Syria on Tuesday, targeting groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The airstrikes took place in the Euphrates River Valley, in the administrative region of Deir ez-Zor.

Washington said the strike was intended to defend US forces from recent attacks. A statement by US Central Command cited an August 15 attack on American forces as an example.

The airstrike is important because the US has rarely retaliated for dozens of attacks carried out by the IRGC and its proxies against its forces over the past several years. These attacks increased in 2019 and have resulted in harm to US personnel in Iraq. Under the Trump administration, the rising tensions led to America killing IRGC Quds Force head Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

When the Biden administration came into office, it was widely expected to dial down the previous administration’s stance. For instance, under Trump, the US sanctioned the IRGC and the Houthis in Yemen. The Biden administration rolled back sanctions on the Houthis but has so far kept them on the IRGC.

Iran had demanded that these sanctions be lifted as part of a return to the Iran deal. In short, Tehran has always demanded impunity and freedom of action for its IRGC as well as proxy and terrorist groups in the region.

Iran wants money from the West as blackmail to keep it from developing nuclear weapons while maintaining the “right” to take over Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen and then use those countries to attack neighboring countries such as Israel.

This isn’t a secret or a matter of opinion: Iran openly says this is what it has in mind. It believes its units in those countries are part of the “resistance” and openly says it wants to use them against the US, Israel and other countries, such as several in the Gulf. Iran has used drones and missiles to attack US forces in Iraq and Syria, targeted the UAE and Saudi Arabia and attacked ships in the Gulf of Oman.
IAF F-35s penetrated Iranian airspace months ago - Saudi report
Israeli Air Force F-35 advanced fifth-generation fighter jets penetrated Iranian airspace multiple times over the last two months, according to the Saudi media outlet Elaph. Both Iranian and Russian radars failed to locate them, according to the report.

According to the news site, Israel and the US have conducted large-scale exercises over the Red Sea in order to simulate an aerial and maritime strike on Iran and the seizure of Iranian vessels in the Gulf Sea. The exercises come as part of a series of drills conducted by the two countries both secretly and publicly in order to prepare for strikes on Iranian nuclear sites.

Israel has been preparing its aerial fleet - chief among them the F-35s - to be prepared in the case of a nuclear Iran, specifically upgrading the jets so that they would not require mid-air refueling.

The IAF recently integrated a new one-ton bomb into the arsenal of weapons used by the F-35s (known in the IAF as the “Adir”) that can be carried inside the plane’s internal weapons compartment without jeopardizing its stealth radar signature.

The IDF has held independent as well as joint F-35 drills with other countries over the last few months.

The Israeli Navy has also strengthened its presence off the coast of Lebanon and in the Red Sea, according to the report.

An Arab source told Elaph that the exercises between the US and Israel show that Israel will receive support and assistance if it strikes Iranian facilities after a deal is reached with Tehran in Vienna. The source added that he does not rule out the outbreak of a conflict between Israel and Iran soon.
Iran Prepares to Take Out Israel – Right after Iran Deal Is Signed
The mullahs appear convinced that once the Biden administration capitulates completely to their demands for reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, they will be able to step up their already significant efforts to eliminate Israel and export their Islamic Revolution to Arab and Islamic countries. Iran already occupies four Arab countries: Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.

Iran's mullahs appear to be so confident that the Biden administration has turned its back on its Arab allies in the Middle East that they are issuing direct threats not only against Israel, but also against any Arab country that dares to cooperate with the Israelis.

Meanwhile, the mullahs are busy trying to open a new battlefront against Israel, this time in the West Bank.

The mullahs appear to be so emboldened by the Biden administration's weakness that they are now openly talking about using the West Bank as a launching pad to attack Israel and kill Jews.

Under pressure from the Iranian regime, Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives held a meeting in the Gaza Strip earlier this week to discuss ways of stepping up the "resistance" against Israel.

In an attempt to appease their masters in Tehran, Hamas and Islamic Jihad issued a joint statement after the meeting in which they pledged to step up the "armed struggle" against Israel "until the liberation [of all of Palestine]," a euphemism for the destruction of Israel.
MEMRI: Former Iranian Presidential Advisor: Iran Is Much Safer with the Ability to Build a Nuclear Bomb
On August 17, 2022, posted an interview with Iranian economist Saeed Laylaz, who has served as an advisor to former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Laylaz said that Iran must not renew its commitment to the JCPOA since Iran is much safer with the ability to build a nuclear bomb, and he described this ability as a “geo-political shield”. He speculated that while the U.S. may be hesitant to attack Iran because it is juggling its relationships with the Arab countries, Israel would hesitate much less if it felt the need to attack and would not feel obligated by the JCPOA even if a new agreement is reached. He also said that he believes Iran has already crossed the “nuclear breakthrough threshold”. Laylaz emphasized that Iran’s enriched uranium is an important deterrent, and he said that stability only comes from the “muzzle of a cannon”.

Full text: Opening remarks by Lapid at briefing to foreign journalists on Iran nuclear talks
The following are remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid at the opening of a briefing on Wednesday for foreign correspondents that focused on the ongoing nuclear talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna:

A week ago, the E.U. made Iran what they called their “final offer” for a return to the nuclear deal. They declared it was “take it or leave it.” The Iranians, as always, did not say no. They said, “yes, but,” and then they sent a draft of their own, with more changes and demands.

Since then, there have been more discussions about this. The Iranians are making demands again. The negotiators are ready to make concessions, again. This is not the first time this has happened. The countries of the West draw a red line, the Iranians ignore it, and the red line moves.

If the Iranians didn’t “take it,” why didn’t the world “leave it?”

On the table right now is a bad deal. It would give Iran a hundred billion dollars a year. This money will not build schools or hospitals. This is a hundred billion dollars a year that will be used to undermine stability in the Middle East and spread terror around the globe.

This money will fund the Revolutionary Guards. It will fund the Basij, who oppress the Iranian people. It will fund more attacks on American bases in the Middle East. It will be used to strengthen Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

This money will go to the people who are trying to kill authors and thinkers in New York. And of course, it will be used to strengthen Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel is not against any agreement. We are against this agreement, because it is a bad one. Because it cannot be accepted as it is written right now. In our eyes, it does not meet the standards set by President [Joe] Biden himself: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.
As Europeans Pressure US to Respond on Nuclear Deal, Iran Attacks IAEA Chief for Contacts With ‘Zionist Regime’
As European negotiators attempt to push the US into a response on a revived nuclear deal with Iran, the Islamic Republic on Tuesday launched a bitter attack against the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), accusing him of working with “the Zionist regime” to prevent the lifting of sanctions against Tehran.

An editorial published on Tuesday by Nour News — one of the Iranian regime’s numerous official news outlets — accused IAEA chief Rafael Grossi of undermining Iran’s insistence that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes, charging that he had raised concerns about its activities “regardless of Iran’s goodwill and based on undocumented reports provided to the IAEA by the Zionist regime.”

The editorial went on to assert that “Grossi’s continued adoption of this approach shows that he, along with the Zionist regime, is still the main obstacle to the finalization of the sanctions-lifting negotiations.”

The Nour News agency is affiliated with the Iranian regime’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and specifically with Gen. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council.
Seth Frantzman: What underpins the danger and drive for an Iran deal?
In a scene from the first Godfather film, Michael Corleone, the leader of a mafia family, discovers who is backing two of his adversaries. “I didn’t know until this day that it was Barzini all along,” he says, referring to one of the rival mafia dons.

An Iran deal that may be coming soon appears to have commonalities with that discovery in the film. It could be that Russia is in part behind the push for a new deal in order to alleviate sanctions. If the deal is driven more by economic issues than the nuclear issue, is it as dangerous as it has been in the past.

Who is behind the Iran deal? Who benefits from it? Why is there a sense that trains in Washington, Tehran and elsewhere have left the station and are on track toward a deal destination?

When the Biden administration came into office, it was willing to discuss a return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This is part of the phenomenon of US politics, where each administration treats foreign policy like an extension of domestic policy.

For instance, the Trump team didn’t like Iran or the deal, so they sought to tear it up. Biden was part of the Obama administration, and some of the thinking among Democratic foreign-policy gurus is that the US would be better off with some kind of diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear threat than confrontation. So the US zig-zags – one administration is anti-Iran; the other is willing to work with Tehran.

This isn’t a simple story. The Obama administration, guided in part by John Kerry and others, ran toward a deal and was willing to do whatever possible to obtain one. The administration did the heavy lifting for Iran, with think tanks and groups pushing a narrative about how it was “either a deal or war.” Some on the Left went as far as to label members of Congress who stood against it as if they were putting Israel before US interests.
FDD: Nuclear Deal with Iran Would Gut IRGC Sanctions
Latest Developments
A top Iranian spokesman said on Sunday that Iran achieved “huge progress” in “sanctions issues.” The West has reportedly offered Iran economic concessions that would lift indirect sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). As part of a revived nuclear deal, this action would effectively dismantle the bipartisan sanctions architecture overwhelmingly enacted by Congress just five years ago while America remained a participant in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This and other forms of sanctions relief would allow Tehran to access up to $275 billion during the accord’s first year and $1 trillion by 2030.

Expert Analysis
“The Biden administration’s decision to keep the IRGC on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list now looks like a legal sleight of hand and not like a principled defense of that designation. If reports are true, the Biden team has agreed to gut IRGC sanctions and allow tens of billions of dollars to flow to terrorists actively plotting to murder even more Americans.”
— Mark Dubowitz, FDD Chief Executive

“Either President Biden believes the IRGC is a terrorist organization, or he doesn’t. If this were ISIS or al-Qaeda, would anyone be offering sanctions relief to their top financiers or negotiating how foreigners could do business with their affiliates? Given ongoing IRGC terror plots against the United States, any sanctions relief benefitting the group should be unacceptable. Congress has been firm in its support for sanctions against IRGC affiliates and may need to act to reimpose those sanctions.”
— Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Nuclear Deal Would Enrich the IRGC
The proposed deal would demolish indirect sanctions on the IRGC — the terrorist organization that controls between 20 and 40 percent of Iran’s economy — by reportedly allowing non-U.S. persons to conduct business with the group’s affiliates. While the IRGC would remain on the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list and continue to be designated by the Treasury Department, the full enforcement of U.S. secondary sanctions against IRGC affiliates would be lifted.

The original 2015 agreement gave the IRGC indirect sanctions relief by lifting sanctions on entire sectors of Iran’s economy that the IRGC controls in whole or in part. In so doing, the deal circumvented (but technically complied with) earlier U.S. sanctions on the IRGC for its nuclear program, missile proliferation, human rights abuses, support for Syria’s Assad regime, and terrorism committed by the Quds Force, the IRGC’s foreign-operations arm.

This latest deal exceeds the terms of the original JCPOA. It would provide the IRGC with the same indirect sanctions relief as before, with additional terrorism-sanctions relief for the IRGC’s top financiers, including the Central Bank of Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company.

MEMRI: Saudi, Emirati Concerns Regarding West's Nuclear Deal With Iran: It Disregards Iran's Threat To Region, Support Of Terror; Due To U.S. Hesitancy, Iran Is Greatest Winner In Negotiations
Amid reports in the global media that Iran and the superpowers, headed by the U.S., are close to renewing the nuclear deal, many articles in the Saudi and Emirati press express concern regarding the emerging agreement. They note that, like the deal of 2015, the renewed one does not address the demand of the Gulf states to restrain Iran's problematic conduct in the region, and does not include firm restrictions on Iran's missile program or the terrorist militias it deploys in Arab countries. The articles warn that dismissing these concerns will exacerbate the tension and violence in the region and in the world.

The articles also accuse the Biden administration of conducting the negotiations in haste out of a desire to reach an agreement, which can be presented as an achievement to the American voter, before the U.S. Midterm Congressional Elections in November. The Biden administration, they say, was excessively weak and hesitant in the negotiations, whereas Russia and China firmly supported Iran, as a result of which Iran received many concessions and emerged as the big winner in the negotiations.

The concerns regarding the emerging deal, and the criticism against the U.S. for being over-lenient with Iran and ignoring its terror in the region, also found expression in cartoons published in the Gulf press.

This report presents some of these articles and cartoons.
While Iran prepares a nuclear bomb, U.S. hits it with a feather, saying "Succumb!" (Al-Iqtisadiyya, Saudi Arabia, August 17, 2022)

Senior Saudi Journalist: Agreement's Disregard of Iran's Military Action In Arab States Will Increase Violence In Region And World

Senior Saudi journalist 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed writes in his column in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the Western eagerness to renew the nuclear deal with Iran, and its disregard of this country's military involvement in Arab countries, is even more worrying than the concessions Iran may receive as part of the deal, such as the lifting of sanctions, the funds it will receive and the release of its prisoners. This disregard, he warns, can increase the tension and violence in the region and may even have global implications:

"According to the leaked information, the 'comprehensive agreement' between the superpowers and Iran is very similar to the previous agreement, and does not inspire optimism. It includes secret articles that both sides are concealing, but it won't be long before they are exposed by some angry politician or diligent journalist, as happened with the previous agreement, whose secret details amazed many people when they were made public in 2015.

"The Americans and Europeans have been negotiating in Vienna for a year and a half now, and Iran's Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] has only several more weeks to decide on the matter, because time is passing. The shadow of Donald Trump and the Republicans looms over the upcoming [Midterm] Congressional Elections in November [2022], and if the Democrats lose the majority in the Congress and Senate, which is likely, it will be harder and perhaps impossible to sign the agreement. In light of this urgency, the marathon of negotiations ceased, and Vienna became a delivery room where [the agreement is being delivered] by C-section. The main issues have mostly been agreed on, and what remains is the details, and that's where the devil lies. No matter what is [eventually] agreed upon, [the resulting deal is] likely to be a disfigured creature, whether or not Iran gives up its [demand] to lift the sanctions from the IRGC, whether or not South Korea transfers the $7 billion [it owes] Iran, and whether or not the Europeans release all the malicious criminals close to the [Iranian] regime.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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