Tuesday, September 20, 2022

09/20 Links Pt1: Ebrahim Raisi's predictable 'CBS News' performance; Germany wake up! Do you know what Holocaust denial you are funding?; Is Ireland going to recognize a Palestinian state?

From Ian:

Ruthie Blum: Ebrahim Raisi's predictable 'CBS News' performance
The brouhaha surrounding Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's comments about the Nazi genocide of the Jews, during an interview that aired on Sunday with CBS News's "60 Minutes," is puzzling.

Anyone who expected the radical political figurehead of the mullah-ruled Islamic Republic to acknowledge, let alone denounce, the acts of the Third Reich – when his regime makes no bones about wanting to finish the job that Adolf Hitler started – is living in an alternate universe.

Nevertheless, the short exchange he had on the topic with correspondent Lesley Stahl made international headlines and was circulated widely on social media. When asked by Stahl whether he "believe[d] the Holocaust happened – that 6 million Jews were slaughtered," Raisi replied, "Look, historical events should be investigated by researchers and historians. There are some signs that it happened. If so, they should allow it to be investigated and researched."

The only thing noteworthy about this was his willingness to point to "some signs that it happened." It was almost amusing of him to suggest that it be "investigated and researched."

As though he had no idea that it's been studied for decades and verified by historians and survivors. And as if his role-model ayatollahs aren't keen to emulate the Holocaust, albeit Islamist-style: first, through terrorist proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Judea and Samaria and Gaza, and ultimately with nukes.

"So, you're not sure; I'm getting that you're not sure," Stahl said quietly, being careful to avoid causing her interviewee to rue over having agreed to be challenged by a woman.

"What about Israel's right to exist?" she then queried.

Here, Raisi didn't hesitate or moderate his answer. But he did, however, refrain from repeating the name of the Jewish state that's in the crosshairs of his massive arsenal of weapons, both in Iran and along Israel's borders.

"You see, the people of Palestine are the reality," he said. "This is the right of the people of Palestine who were forced to leave their houses and motherland. The Americans are supporting this false regime there to take root and to be established there."

Stahl failed to remind Raisi that the ancient homeland of the Jewish people became a state in 1948, 13 years before he was born. Instead, she invoked the Abraham Accords.

Starving the terrorists of cash -opinion
Israel’s security forces closed down seven Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the West Bank on August 19.

The reason given was that those particular NGOs had been diverting to the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) charitable funding provided to them for their own use. The PFLP is designated a terrorist organization by Israel, as well as by the US, the EU, Japan, Canada and Australia. The UN immediately condemned the closures as “totally arbitrary.”

In October 2021, Israel accused six Palestinian civil society groups of funneling donor aid to militants, in particular the PFLP, and consequently designated them terrorist organizations. Justification for this can be traced back to a document published by the Israeli government in February 2019 titled: “Terrorists in Suits.”

It presented dozens of examples of ties between NGO activists who delegitimize Israel, and the PFLP and Hamas. The ideological connection between them is that all reject the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, and oppose any normalization between Israel and its neighbors.

The report, which lists in detail the ties between the various bodies, also found that many of these NGOs were led or staffed by members and operatives of known terrorist organizations.

In designating the six NGOs as terrorist-linked, the Defense Ministry said that the groups had “received large sums of money from European countries and international organizations, using a variety of forgery and deceit,” and that the money had been passed to the PFLP to support its activities.

“Those organizations present themselves as acting for humanitarian purposes,” it said. ”However, they serve as a cover for the ‘Popular Front’ promotion and financing.”

“Terrorists in Suits” is not the only exposé of this connection between non-governmental and terrorist organizations. In November 2021, the Institute for National Security Studies, a research body associated with Tel Aviv University, published an 11,000-word academic research paper.

It analyzed the extent to which the EU, as well as individual European nations, consistently pour millions into the coffers of certain Palestinian NGOs nominally concerned with economic development, peace and human rights.

The recipients, however, are “substantial political and economic actors, and are among the leaders of intense soft power conflict, voicing repeated allegations of fundamental Israeli wrong-doing and encouraging anti-Israel campaigns through boycotts and lawfare.”
PMW: Germany wake up! Do you know what Holocaust denial you are funding?
The hate speech above was disseminated on PA TV by Saed Erziqat, head of PA’s General Union of Palestinian Teachers and is far more odious than PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ libel that “Israel committed 50 holocausts.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was “disgusted” by Abbas’ “outrageous… intolerable and unacceptable,” statement. Now Abbas’ hate-speech has been repeated and compounded by a top PA educator on official PA TV, and was included in a letter written on behalf of 60,000 Palestinian teachers, whose salaries are paid by Germany and the EU. This is what Palestinian teachers are taught to believe and is what Palestinian children are learning from their teachers, that Germany is funding.

Ironically, German and the EU are funding PA teachers specifically because the donors don’t want their money to go to PA hate and terror promotion. After Palestinian Media Watch presented US and European donors to the PA with documentation that the PA was using their donor money to pay salaries to terrorist prisoners, many donor countries stopped funding the PA’s general budget in order not to fund the terror salaries. Among the projects the EU and Germany chose to fund instead were the salaries of the PA teachers, thinking this was a secure, non-terror and non-hate related contribution.

But now Saed Erziqat, the head of the PA’s General Union of Palestinian Teachers that represents 60,000 educators, has revealed that the teachers’ union has adopted a hate ideology of Holocaust “relativization” and Antisemitism. Erziqat came to the defense of Abbas’ “50 holocausts” libel. The teachers’ union leader repeatedly compared Israel to Nazis, saying that what Israel has done to the Palestinians is “worse than the Holocaust itself”:
Secretary-General of the General Union of Palestinian Teachers Saed Erziqat: “A blessing to His Honor [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, He is the one who wrote about Nazism and Zionism, that they are two sides of the same coin… When His Honor the President spoke [in Germany] about [50 Palestinian] holocaust[s] he did not deny what happened to the entity- and the Jews in Germany, rather he attempted to show that the Palestinian people has also been subjected to massacres, more than the Jews in Germany experienced… We in the Palestinian Teachers’ Union sent a letter to the German teachers’ union that there are massacres that have happened to the Palestinian people that were worse than the Holocaust itself.”

Host: “And it is happening now, not in 1945.”

Erziqat: “Yes. Also, the Palestinian holocaust has not ended. The occupation’s (i.e., Israel’s) daily measures are a holocaust that renews every day... It attempts to do to our Palestinian people what they did to [the Jews] in Germany… He [Abbas] is the most knowledgeable person on the thinking of the occupation and the thinking of Zionism, because he wrote [a thesis] about the comparison between Zionism and Nazism. Therefore, he is the person who most understands the importance of [this] narrative to the world.”

[Official PA TV program Topic of the Day, Aug. 20, 2022]

Is Israel allowing a BDS boycott? EU deal will force artists to avoid West Bank
The government is expected to approve an agreement with the EU that would, in effect, force Israeli artists and institutions participating in the program to boycott Judea and Samaria.

The program in question, Creative Europe, in which the EU provides grants to cultural projects and institutions, is expected to be brought before the cabinet next Thursday.

The total budget for Creative Europe is €2 billion. Israel plans to contribute NIS 33 million (€9.6m.), and the Culture and Sport Ministry expects Israeli culture will get back far more than that.

Like all EU programs, however, Creative Europe will not apply to Judea and Samaria, as well as areas under Israeli sovereignty that the EU does not recognize, including east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Israel endorses self-BDS?
“This is a real self-BDS,” said Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, head of the Kohelet Policy Forum’s international law department. “We are encouraging artists to sign up for a deal where they will be breaking the Boycott Law.”

According to Israeli law, boycotts based on geographic location, such as in the West Bank, are grounds for civil lawsuits.

“Artists getting grants just won’t want to be bothered and will steer far clear of the Green Line, [creating] a huge and immeasurable chilling effect,” Kontorovich said.
UK ambassador 'optimistic' King Charles will visit Israel
British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan expressed hope this week that King Charles would visit Israel during his reign.

Speaking to Israel Hayom, Wigan, who is in London for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, said that King Charles has a good and warm relationship with the Jewish state.

"It's true that the Queen never visited Israel, but King Charles has visited several times as prince and was received by President Isaac Herzog very cordially," he said, adding that Prince William also visited Israel several years earlier.

"Will Charles visit Israel now as King? We very much hope so, but cannot guarantee that it will happen. He has to decide on his [foreign] visit plans and has an obligation to Commonwealth countries such as Canada and Australia" first.

Herzog, who is also in London for the royal funeral, told King Charles on Sunday that Israel would be delighted to host him.

According to Wigan, when then-Prince Charles was in Israel, he visited the Israel Museum and "was fascinated by the Dead Sea Scrolls. The subject of the Holocaust is also very important to him, and he has friends who are survivors. I saw how moved he was when he met Auschwitz survivors. I don't know how deeply the royal family is involved in Israeli politics, but they do have a great interest in Israel in general, so I'm optimistic."
Oman May Not Join the Abraham Accords Anytime Soon, but Its Relationship with Israel Is Improving
Like many Arab nations, the Persian Gulf sultanate of Oman has no formal relations with the Jewish state, and those with Israeli passports are generally barred from entry. Yet its covert ties with Jerusalem date to the 1970s, and in recent years these ties have become increasingly public. Yoav Limor, after returning from several days touring Oman—using a non-Israeli passport—praises the country as a tourist destination, and comments on its place in the Arab world:

Oman is very different than the rest of the Middle East. You won’t hear people shout or swear or honk. Everything is calm and everyone is courteous.

This is perhaps why the sultanate doesn’t usually grab the media spotlight. Compared to its flashy neighbors like the UAE and Qatar, Oman is more modest. But underneath this veneer, there lies a country that is definitely worth a visit—perhaps more so than any other Gulf destination.

Oman lies on the eastern part of the Persian Gulf. . . . It has also been influenced to a large degree by India and Pakistan and by the legacy left behind by the British, whose decades-long rule ended in full only in 1971. It belongs to the Gulf Cooperation Council alongside Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait, but unlike those countries, it espouses neutrality. That’s why it refused to join the Saudi-led coalition to fight the Houthi rebels in Yemen. This allowed it to enjoy a peaceful border on that flank.

This is also why Oman has not joined the Abraham Accords, and probably won’t do so in the foreseeable future. However, beneath the surface, it has maintained good relations with Israel, which have been managed by Mossad. Efraim Halevy, who was Mossad director, . . . visited the sultanate for the first time in 1974. Since then, the Mossad chiefs have visited this place quite often, but not only them. Yitz?ak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Benjamin Netanyahu all visited Oman as prime ministers. Various cabinet ministers and government officials also visited Muscat when Israel-Arab relations flourished (such as during the heyday of the Oslo Accords), but also when things turned south in the region.

Recently the two countries have seen an uptick in cross-border engagements.
Pakistan, Indonesia delegations in Israel for secret talks – report
Diplomatic delegations from Pakistan and Indonesia are both in Israel for secret visits this week, according to Pakistani news reports on Monday.

Pakistani delegation to meet with Isaac Herzog
The Pakistani delegation is headed by Pakistani-American Nasim Ashraf, a former minister of state in former prime minister Pervez Musharraf 's government.

During their visit to Israel, the Pakistani delegation was given tours across Israel. They are also scheduled to meet with President Isaac Herzog later this week, the report added.

The report further notes that the delegation includes a Karachi-based journalist. In June, Pakistani journalist Ahmed Quraishi was fired from his show on Pakistan's state television for visiting Israel a month prior.

Secret Indonesian delegation headed by 'senior official'
The Indonesian delegation in Israel is headed by a "senior official." Reports of a diplomatic presence of the two most populous Muslim nations in the world in Israel come amid recent warming of ties between Israel and Indonesia.

A recent series of meetings, statements and reports in the last few months of 2021 indicate that Israel and Indonesia have grown closer, with cooperation in trade and tourism prevalent.
i24NEWS Exclusive: Top Indonesian official on secret visit to Israel
In addition, a Pakistani delegation has arrived in Israel, the delegation is headed by a former senior Pakistani minister

i24NEWS' Guy Azrieli and Owen Alterman have the story on Middle East Now with Jacob Eilon

Israel, Bahrain start free trade agreement talks
Israel-Bahrain trade in 2021 totaled just $7.5 million, while Israel-UAE trade could reach $10 billion by 2027

Israel and Bahrain began negotiating a free trade agreement, Israel's Economy Ministry said Tuesday.

The Jewish state normalized diplomatic relations with the Gulf Arab state and its neighbor the United Arab Emirates two years ago under the US-brokered Abraham Accords, which hit its two-year anniversary last week.

While economic ties with the UAE took off, Israel's trade with Bahrain lagged far behind.

In May, Israel forged a free trade deal with the UAE – its first with an Arab country – that officials estimate will increase trade from $1.2 billion to $10 billion in five years.

Israel-Bahrain trade in 2021 totaled just $7.5 million.

Is Ireland going to recognize a Palestinian state?
Recent statements by Ireland’s leaders relating to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit over the weekend have raised concerns in pro-Israel groups that Dublin plans to recognize a Palestinian state.

Both Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin and President Michael Higgins referred to Abbas as “the President of the State of Palestine” when tweeting about their meetings with him.

In response to a parliamentary question about recognizing a Palestinian state, ahead of Abbas’s visit last week, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Ireland might do so if it feels progress toward a two-state solution has stalled.

“Our commitment is to recognize a State of Palestine as part of a lasting settlement to the conflict, or when we believe doing so will progress efforts to reach a two-state solution or protect the integrity of Palestinian territory,” he said.

However, “in the absence of progress towards a two-state solution, I would be prepared to recommend to the Government recognition by Ireland of a State of Palestine,” he added.

Coveney acknowledged that doing so would contradict EU foreign policy and thus reduce Dublin’s influence on the Israel-Palestinian conflict at the EU and on international foreign policy.

“The timing and context of any such decision would affect whether such a loss of influence would be matched by a commensurate benefit for the Palestinian people and a positive impact on the peace process and a two-state solution,” he said.

Ireland on Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Both houses of Ireland’s legislature passed nonbinding motions recognizing a Palestinian state, but the government has yet to adopt that position.

Ireland is “absolutely not anti-Israel,” Coveney said at a press conference with PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, adding that his government disagrees with “some in the Irish political system who seem to want to cut all ties with Israel.”

At the same time, he said, Israel was acting illegally as “an occupying power on Palestinian lands.”
Qatari ambassador to UN who called Jews ‘our enemies’ loses bid to chair rights forum
The Qatari ambassador to the United Nations, Hend al-Muftah, lost her bid to become chair of the upcoming U.N. Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law after a watchdog group revealed that she had called Jews “our enemies” and gays “disgusting.”

In a letter sent earlier this month to the president of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC), UN Watch called on diplomats to reject al-Muftah’s bid due to her “long record of publishing racist and classically anti-Semitic tropes about Jews, bigoted attacks on gays, and spreading false information and conspiracy theories about Western societies and liberalism.”

In a recent report, UN Watch documented al-Muftah’s numerous anti-Semitic remarks made online, including a Twitter post from 2012 in which she wrote, “The Jews focused their investments in industry and the media, and that is why they dominated, tyrannized and ruled the world.”

In separate Twitter posts, al-Muftah wrote that “Jews are our enemies,” promoted anti-Israel conspiracy theories, called for the “expulsion of Jews from Palestine” and shared an anti-Semitic video in which a child talks about trampling on the corpses of Jews.

In response to her failed bid, UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer commended UNHRC president Federico Villegas for “doing the right thing and rejecting Qatar’s ambassador of hate,” adding: “Hend Al-Muftah is a rabid antisemite who over a decade has been tweeting vile hate against Jews and gays, while spreading malign conspiracy theories about Western countries.

IDF rules of engagement protect civilians, critics seek to handicap IDF - opinion
Seeking to handicap IDF soldiers
NEVERTHELESS, THE US engaged in multiple recent conflicts over the last couple of decades involving asymmetrical warfare, should know better than to cast aspersions over the IDF’s rules of engagement. Moreover, the Israeli army already took such care not to target civilians that it risks its own soldiers’ lives and operational activities.

Israel’s enemies know this well and that is why they have used Abu Akleh to up the pressure on the IDF. They seek a severely handicapped military force so the terrorists can further inflict damage, bloodshed and tactical defeat on Israel with fewer losses on their side.

They already manipulate sympathetic NGOs and the hand-wringing of the international media, which frequently keeps an unprecedented daily score of deaths, aiming to delegitimize Israel’s security concerns.

Every death is a tragedy we constantly hear and while that is certainly true, it doesn’t lead to where Israel’s enemies and opponents wish others to take it: that every innocent civilian death means the conflict or operation is unjust or illegitimate.

If this were to be so, the West battling radical terrorist organizations should just close shop and hand the keys of civilization, freedom and democracy to the extremists.

Israel shouldn't change ROE
Israel can and should not change its rules of engagement, unless towards taking greater measures in ensuring security for its citizens by other tools. By calling for a reexamination of Israel’s rules of engagement, the Jewish State’s enemies become emboldened, furthering their dream of ultimate victory and ensuring many more will die on both sides in the future.

The US should be dropping these absurd demands and should be instead giving Israel unequivocal backing to end the conflict once and for all by giving it all necessary assistance to achieve victory.

The goal should always be to end the conflict because by ending the conflict the bloodshed will cease.

This will be a victory for both Israelis and Palestinians. The current geo-political reality within the Palestinian system makes it difficult, if not impossible, to renew negotiation towards any diplomatic solution.

Until then, Israel has the right to defend itself using all available tools and to expect its friends, especially its greatest ally, to be supportive of these efforts. This will be not just a tactical win but also a diplomatic one for the Israelis.
IDF arrests 8 terror suspects in overnight raid
The IDF arrested eight individuals suspected of terror activities near Nablus overnight Tuesday as part of its extensive counterterrorism campaign in Judea and Samaria.

A soldier was slightly wounded in the arm while conducting a raid in the Bayt Rima Palestinian village and was later hospitalized. Locals also threw stones at the forces, who responded with crowd dispersal means.

Early Tuesday, soldiers reported shots directed at a military base near Nablus.

Meanwhile, an operation by Palestinian Authority security forces overnight Monday descended into clashes with gunmen in the West Bank city, resulting in the death of a 53-year-old resident.

According to Israeli media, the man was shot dead during gun battles that took place as angry crowds marched in the streets of the city.

The PA's forces had entered Nablus to arrest senior Hamas member Musab Shtayyeh as well as two other individuals, according to the reports.

Shtayyeh was a close associate of terrorist Ibrahim al-Nablusi, who was killed in August during an Israeli mission.

The IDF has stepped up its own security operations in Judea and Samaria amid a spike in terrorist attacks originating from the Jenin and Nablus areas, in particular.
Israel, region conspiring against Palestinians, Palestinian Authority claims
The Palestinian Authority claimed on Tuesday that it was facing a “conspiracy” by Israel and some regional countries that seek to harm the Palestinian national enterprise.

The claim came in response to riots that erupted in Nablus on Monday night after the PA security forces arrested two Palestinians, Musab Shtayyeh and Ameed Tbeileh.

PA cracking down on terrorism?
Shtayyeh was described by Palestinian sources as close to a senior member of Hamas’s armed wing, Izaddin al-Qassam, who is wanted by Israel for his involvement in terrorism.

He was also a close friend of Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, a gunman who was recently killed by the IDF in Nablus, the sources said.

Shtayyeh and Tbeileh were transferred to the PA-controlled Jericho Prison, said a human rights activist in Nablus.

Shtayyeh’s family issued a statement in which they denied claims that he had handed himself over to the PA security forces.

The arrest of the two men is seen by some Palestinian political analysts as a message from the PA to Israel and the US that it is cracking down on terrorism in the West Bank. They also noted that the riots reflected the state of deep discontent with the PA among the Palestinians.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians Cuddle up with Arabs Who Kill Palestinians
A report published on September 18 revealed that 638 Palestinians have been tortured to death by Syrian intelligence officers in the past few years. The victims include 37 women.

"What is happening inside the Syrian detention centers against the Palestinians is a war crime by all standards." — Action Group for Palestinians of Syria (AGPS), September 18, 2022.

AGPS also revealed that 4,121 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the civil war there.

The fate of 1,797 Palestinian detainees, including 110 women, remains unknown despite repeated appeals to the Syrian authorities.

By rushing to embrace the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Hamas, whose leaders control the Gaza Strip from their luxurious villas, hotel suites and spas in Qatar and Turkey, has again shown its contempt for the Palestinians and other Arabs who have fallen victim to the atrocities committed by the Syrian authorities, especially over the past decade.

Iran's mullahs want to make sure that their terrorist proxies and the Assad regime remain on good terms. The mullahs are hoping that the renewal of ties between Hamas and Syria will strengthen the Iranian-led "axis of resistance" in the Middle East. The "axis of resistance" refers to an anti-Western/anti-Israeli/anti-Saudi political and military alliance between Iran, the Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Syrian regime and Hezbollah.

Hamas... apparently has no problem embracing an Arab regime that has so much Palestinian blood on its hands.

The Hamas embrace of the Assad regime is yet another example of how Palestinian leaders care nothing about their own people, let alone the lives of other Arabs.

The leaders of Hamas, who are living the good life in Qatar and Turkey, are much more interested in stuffing their coffers with money from the mullahs in Iran than in seeing the suffering of their people in the Gaza Strip or in any Arab country, including Syria.

The leaders of the Palestinian Authority are not much different. They too are preoccupied with looking after their personal interests and making sure that they remain in power forever.

Shortly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will head to the United Nations General Assembly to spew yet more venom against Israel. The plight of his people in Syria and other Arab countries will be at the very bottom of his list of priorities, if at all. Like Hamas, Abbas too does not seem to care if his people are being slaughtered by an Arab dictatorship.
Joe Truzman: Arrest of Militants Signals Hamas’ Involvement in Uptick of West Bank Violence
The ISA said the suspects were arrested in September, though a FDD’s Long War Journal open-source analysis of some of the names published, reveals further information.

Palestinian social media reported Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops arrested Abdullah Jihad al-Qawasmeh in Hebron on April 14. Later, on June 28, Palestinian media reported the IDF arrested a “former prisoner” Musab al-Haymouni. Lastly, on September 7, the IDF published a tweet saying it conducted an arrest operation in the West Bank which Palestinian media reported included the village of Beit Furik.

FDD’s Long War Journal cannot independently corroborate the information reported by the IDF and Palestinian media networks.

The arrest of the militants signals Hamas’ continued efforts to direct attacks against IDF troops and Israeli civilians during a major uptick in violence inside the West Bank. Since last year, militant organizations led by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have strengthened their presence in several northern West Bank cities. Furthermore, they have established units loyal to the organizations in Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarm, and Tubas that regularly clash with IDF troops. [See FDD’s Long War Journal: Analysis: Understanding the Militant Groups Behind the Violence in the West Bank]

While PIJ and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have taken credit for much of the strikes in the West Bank, Hamas stands to benefit the most during this period of significant violence. The weakening of Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority coupled with instability created by the almost daily reports of assaults creates a narrative for Palestinians that a West Bank governed by Hamas is a viable alternative over the current authority whose influence erodes further each passing day.
Palestinian factions in Nablus battle one another with gunfights, tear gas
Violence broke out between Palestinian Authority security forces and armed factions in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday with gunfights erupting on city streets.

The fights began late Monday night when 53-year-old Firas Yaish was shot dead by Palestinian Authority security forces in clashes that continued into the morning with local militias. PA forces used gunfire, tear gas and other protest dispersal means in an attempt to stop the violent riots.

The clashes, involving hundreds of people, erupted after Palestinian security forces arrested Musab Shtayyeh, a Hamas commander wanted by Israel. Four others have sustained injuries, according to Palestinian media, with one of them being identified as Anas Abdel-Fattah.

Militant factions in Nablus called for a general strike, declaring that until security forces release Shtayyeh, they will not let them enter the city. According to reports, Radio Hayat, based in Nablus, was taken off the air to ensure the safety of the broadcasters, and An-Najah National University, as well as the Nablus municipality, will operate remotely on Tuesday.

US court awards $111 million to victims of Hezbollah rockets in 2006 war
A US court has ordered the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah to pay millions of dollars in damages to a group of joint Israeli-American citizens who sued, saying they were wounded by the group’s rockets during a war with Israel in 2006.

The case was brought under the US Anti-Terrorism Act and alleged that Hezbollah caused the plaintiffs physical and emotional injury and damaged their property.

The judge ordered Hezbollah to pay damages of $111 million to the plaintiffs.

Such civil lawsuits brought against terror groups are difficult to enforce but Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said it was an important legal victory against the Iran-backed group.

“Only by exacting a heavy price from those who engage in the business of terrorism can we prevent the suffering and loss of additional victims to their violence,” Darshan-Leitner said in a statement.
Sources: Lapid might bypass Knesset by holding secret vote on border deal with Lebanon
Israeli negotiators tasked with resolving the ongoing dispute with Lebanon on the maritime border near the Israeli gas field Karish have been exploring the possibility of having the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet hold a secret vote on any final deal before it is presented to the public, Israel Hayom has learned from sources who are close to the negotiations.

Under official government procedures, an international agreement with a foreign country must be submitted for to Knesset by the relevant cabinet minister for a two-week review process, after which the government holds a vote on it. However, in rare instances, the rules provide for a mechanism that allows that minister to withhold this information from the general public and instead submit it to the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet without having the Knesset review it or the full government ministerial panel vote on it.

The rules stipulate that "the prime minister may decide that there are special circumstances involving national security of foreign relations that require an international treaty be presented to the ministerial committee for national security [the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet] rather than the government."

The sources told Israel Hayom that government officials are also considering redefining the negotiations on the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon so that they would determine the "marking of a border" rather than the "setting a border" in order to avoid triggering the relevant law that would require a national referendum on changing that status of Israel's sovereignty in areas under its control.

American Jew detained in Lebanon on suspicion of espionage after having visited Israel
An American Jew was released from custody in Lebanon after being detained for several days on suspicion of espionage for having booked his hotel reservation in Beirut from Israel, Kan News reported on Monday.

According to the report, the man in his 20s had recently studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem and then traveled to Lebanon after visiting Cyprus. He intended to go from Beirut to the Kurdish region in Iraq, said the report.

Officials told Kan News that upon arrival at the hotel in the Lebanese capital, he was arrested by authorities because they had discovered he made the reservation while in the Jewish state.

His passport also reportedly indicated that he had been to Israel.

The man was released on Thursday or Friday amid behind-the-scenes diplomatic pressure from U.S. officials and members of Congress, according to the report.

The incident comes as U.S.-brokered talks to resolve a longstanding maritime border dispute between Israel and Lebanon are reportedly making progress.
Congress Wants Access to Iran Nuclear Deal Docs
Congressional Republicans are moving to compel the Biden administration to release details of its nuclear deal negotiations with Iran, including any side deals that could provide the hardline regime with access to billions of dollars in cash.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.) and 20 Republican colleagues are spearheading a legislative measure that would force the Biden administration to submit to Congress all documents "relating to any initiative or negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program," according to a copy of the legislation.

In addition to forcing the release of the deal itself, the measure would expose any side deals that are being negotiated as part of the accord, according to sources familiar with the bill. This requirement was included as a result of the Obama administration’s decision to airlift Iran $400 million in cash in 2015 as part of a secret side agreement with Tehran that only became public knowledge after a Wall Street Journal exposé.

Foxx’s measure is likely to garner widespread Republican support and attract some Democrats who have become frustrated with the ongoing negotiations. If passed, Congress would be permitted to access "copies of any document, memorandum, or other communication in [the president’s] possession, or any portion thereof, that refers or relates to any initiative or negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program," according to the measure. The measure comes amid a push by a bipartisan group of lawmakers who wrote to the White House this month demanding it "not to return to any deal with Iran prior to releasing the full text of the agreement and any side agreements to Congress."
Iran’s Narco-Terrorism Policy
In June and July, Turkey arrested three terrorist cells linked to Tehran that were planning attacks on Israelis. If the Turkish press is to be believed, these would-be assassins were affiliated with Iranian organized-crime networks operating in the country—which, according to Omer Dostri, would not be surprising given the Islamic Republic’s record. Dostri explains how Iran utilizes ties with cartels and drug dealers—which stretch from using Hizballah to launder money for cocaine syndicates in South America to working with heroin kingpins in Afghanistan—to accomplish its goals.

Iran benefits in several ways from its engagement in criminal activity and drug trafficking. First, it makes money, especially since Iran is subject to economic sanctions that force the regime to look to illicit revenue streams. These payments are also sent to Hizballah in Lebanon, Kataib Hizballah in Iraq, and Ansar Allah (the Houthis) in Yemen, among others.

Second, Iran’s drug-trade-and-distribution efforts aim to poison the populations of Western countries, mainly the United States, where most of the trade is focused. According to Iran, which officially opposes drug usage for religious reasons, drug distribution in these countries will damage their society, create economic hardship, increase welfare costs, and diminish national resilience.

Thirdly, Iran uses international crime not just as a way to make money but also as an endless resource for using criminal organizations to support terrorism and even buy material for its nuclear program.

In the past, Israel, the EU, and the U.S. have at times cooperated in opposing such activities, but Dostri is skeptical about these efforts:

Such global cooperation will be complicated now, as the Biden administration follows the Obama administration’s course of action to get Iran back into the nuclear accord in exchange for several significant concessions. In this political climate, Israel will find it difficult to persuade the U.S. administration to undertake coordinated and large-scale operations against criminal organizations affiliated with Iran—a move that could endanger discussions for a renewed agreement. As a result, it is conceivable to offer the Americans a form of compromise in which Israel and the U.S. will focus on prosecuting Hizballah members involved in narcoterrorism while turning a blind eye to such activity affiliated [directly] with Iran.

Musk says he’ll seek ‘exemption’ from Iran sanctions to provide internet service
SpaceX CEO Elon said Monday that the company’s satellite-based internet service provider Starlink will request an “exemption” to international sanctions on Iran to provide service in the Islamic Republic, which faces frequent shutdowns.

Rights activists say that the Iranian government often disrupts internet access during times of civil unrest.

Most recently, the internet connection has significantly slowed and was even disconnected in areas in which large-scale protests erupted against the government following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on Friday in police custody, UK-based cybersecurity watchdog Netblocks reported Monday.

Amini was detained after morality police found alleged fault with her hijab, violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

Musk’s laconic comment, made on Twitter, was prompted by Erfan Kasraie, a doctoral student and journalist.

Responding to a statement by the billionaire earlier Monday that Starlink had become available on all seven continents, Kasraie asked in a tweet if it was “technically possible” to give the “Iranian people” access to the service, calling it “a game changer for the future.”
Iranian protests against the regime's brutality hit third night
Demonstrations have carried on into their third straight night as Iranians protest police abuses against women. The protests come in the wake of the killing of Mahsa Amini, a woman who was detained by Iran’s “morality” police while on a trip to Tehran with her family.

Reports in the Kurdistan region of Iran, a region in the northwest, say that civil society organizations have called for a general strike “against the torture and murder of Jina Mahsa Amini by Iranian forces.”

Various Kurdish groups have supported the protesters. The young woman was detained last Tuesday and fell into a coma after being beaten by police, according to Iranian reports.

She was detained because Iran has thuggish theocratic “morality” police who are known to terrorize women and accuse them of not covering their hair to the standards the regime requires.

She was taken to a police station where she later was reported to have fainted and was taken to the hospital. The police claimed she had heart failure, but the family alleges that she was tortured and had a brain hemorrhage.

Her death was confirmed on Friday and authorities in Iran have recognized that the murder of a young woman by police will anger locals. The authorities have tried to excuse and justify the death of Amini, they have even appeared to admit mistakes, but the anger of average people has poured out onto the streets.

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