Thursday, February 02, 2023

From Ian:

NGO Monitor: The Role of NGOs in Supporting the International Criminal Court (ICC) Investigation
On December 20, 2019, then Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda announced that she intended to investigate alleged war crimes in the “State of Palestine” and filed a request with the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber to confirm her jurisdiction. On February 5, 2021, the Pre-Trial Chamber in a controversial 2-1 opinion confirmed the Prosecutor’s jurisdiction. On March 3, 2021, Bensouda announced the launch of a formal investigation.

This move is to a significant degree the product of consistent and heavy lobbying of the ICC for over a decade by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Throughout, these NGOs have been central to promoting the Prosecutor’s activities: lobbying the Court to accept the Palestinian Authority, filing complaints, representing “victims,” and submitting briefs. Key NGOs include Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, FIDH (France), and Palestinian and Israeli NGOs. The European Union, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, and other European governments have provided tens of millions of dollars to anti-Israel ICC campaigns and lobbying. In some instances, the European funding was explicitly earmarked for NGO activities vis-à-vis the ICC.

According to the legal principle of “complementarity,” the ICC is only authorized to investigate when a country’s judicial system has proven unwilling or incapable of prosecuting cases that fall within the ICC’s jurisdiction. Even if there is evidence of alleged war crimes, the Court is supposed to respect serious local investigations.

Importantly, as part of the NGO Durban Declaration and accompanying BDS campaigns, advocacy organizations have sought to turn the ICC into a court of universal jurisdiction. Like their exploitation of the UN and other international frameworks, these NGOs seek to use the ICC for demonization and to brand Israeli officials as “war criminals.” In contrast, the ICC was created for the explicit and narrow purpose of prosecuting individuals accused of specified crimes, and not for political legal warfare.
NGO Monitor: NGOs Blame the Victims: A False “Massacre” in Jenin and “Legitimate Resistance” outside a Jerusalem Synagogue
On January 26, 2023, the IDF conducted a preemptive counterterror operation in Jenin, during which nine Palestinians – eight of whom were armed members of Islamic Jihad and other organizations – were killed. The Palestinian Authority, reviving the blood libel from Jenin in April 2002 (Defensive Shield), accused Israel of committing a “massacre” and Gaza-based terrorist organizations launched rockets at Israeli cities.

The next day (Friday night, January 27), a Palestinian murdered seven Israeli civilians outside a Jerusalem synagogue; a few hours later (Saturday morning, January 28) a 13 year-old Palestinian shot and wounded two Israelis in a separate incident in Jerusalem.

NGO responses to these incidents reflect an immoral agenda that stands in direct contradiction to the human rights mandate that they and their funder-enablers claim. Palestinian, Israeli, European, and international NGOs and their officials that commented on Jenin before the Sabbath terror attacks repeated the PA propaganda of a “massacre.”

Other NGOs appeared to justify the terror attacks in Jerusalem, or otherwise blamed Israel for the targeting of Israeli civilians. Even those groups that directly condemned the terror attacks simultaneously included condemnations of Israel. One NGO, the Rights Forum (Netherlands), bizarrely denied that the murder of Jews because they were Jews constituted antisemitism.

Importantly, several very vocal and active Israeli advocacy NGOs, including Adalah, B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, and Yesh Din, appear not to have issued statements.
The Tragic Palestinian Children's Crusade
On December 12, 2022, 15-year-old Jana Majdi Zakharna was killed during an IDF operation in Jenin. The IDF's investigation revealed that the girl was shot to death on a rooftop as she stood in proximity to a Palestinian gunman who had opened fire at Israeli troops below and that she assisted the gunmen by observing the soldiers' movements.

The Telegram channel "Jenin Al-Qassam," which serves armed Palestinian groups in the Jenin region, has published instructions for "Jihad fighters" that deal with the use of children "to conduct visual observation and information gathering." The Telegram channel also noted that Jenin has a network of observation units staffed by "young people" assisting terrorist groups by documenting on video and delivering reports about the activities of IDF forces.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has written that under international humanitarian law, "Individuals whose continuous function involves the preparation, execution, or command of acts or operations amounting to direct participation in hostilities are assuming a continuous combat function."
Biden Admin Announces $50 Million in New UNRWA Funding
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday announced $50 million in new funding for a UN agency that is dedicated solely to the descendants of Palestinian refugees and which has been widely denounced for propagating antisemitism, eliciting rebuke from a top Senate Republican.

Speaking in Ramallah alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Blinken said that the money, alongside the $890 million the Biden administration has already provided to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) in the past two years, was intended to “rebuild” the relationship between the US and the Palestinian Authority.

“All of these steps are part of the longer term ambition to re-establish, but then not just re-establish, rebuild our relationship, as I said, with the Palestinian people and with the Palestinian Authority,” Blinken said. “And this will allow us to more effectively work toward the goal of Palestinians and Israelis enjoying equal measures of democracy, of opportunity, of dignity in their lives. We believe that that can be achieved by a realization of two states. President Biden remains committed to that goal.”

Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, slammed the move Wednesday.

“The Biden Administration is far too eager to give out US taxpayer dollars to UNRWA,” Risch told The Algemeiner. “I do not support a single US taxpayer dollar going to UNRWA without serious reform, in part because their textbooks continue time and again to include antisemitic content. That is why I will be re-introducing my UNRWA Accountability & Transparency Act which would halt funding to UNRWA until all of its antisemitic issues are thoroughly addressed.”

Blinken’s statements on the two-state solution make the world a more dangerous place
If fighting to sustain the flat-lining two-state solution were merely a waste of time, it would be bad enough. But in fact, the Biden administration’s efforts actively harm the cause of peace.

This is because many Arab states want to enter the Abraham Accords, but the Biden administration has put them in a position in which this is almost impossible. The Arab states cannot be seen as caring less about the Palestinians than an American president. If it wants to advance the cause of peace, the White House should at least go about its misguided diplomatic efforts quietly and out of the public eye. This would give those Arab states the safe space necessary to normalize relations with Israel. The Biden approach effectively gives the Palestinians veto power over the peace process. The Arabs are done with that and it is time the Biden administration got the message.

The administration is very unlikely to change course, however, because President Joe Biden is almost certain to run for reelection. As a result, he must appease his progressive base, which sees the Palestinians as people of color oppressed by a systemically racist, apartheid, white Israel. While Biden may not agree with this, he is more interested in helping himself politically than in pointing out that the progressives’ view of Israel is a baseless lie.

The truth is, we must be willing to accept that some problems have no solution and need to be managed rather than solved. To the extent that there is a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it will have to wait until Saudi Arabia joins the Abraham Accords. This would finally put an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and only then will Israel and its Arab partners be free to engage in a constructive effort to resolve what is currently an intractable problem.

Unfortunately, Blinken’s statements have pushed that day further into the future. The Palestinians will have to wait that much longer to know the blessings of freedom, security, opportunity and dignity.

Regardless of how well-intentioned Biden’s efforts are, they are counter-productive and undermine the quest for peace. Foreign policy must be based on reality and the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. Policies based on fantasy and magical thinking are always bad and perilous policies. Blinken’s statements on the two-state solution do not advance peace, they make the world more dangerous.
Israel Is Capable of Handling Its Own Internal Affairs
In a recent New York Times column, Thomas Friedman called on President Joe Biden to "save Israel from itself," referring to the planned reform of the judicial system. Friedman's approach is wrong, paternalistic, and heavily biased. For the most part, the U.S. and Israel have honored an informal, mutual understanding to refrain from meddling in each other's internal affairs. After nearly 75 years of independence, Israel is quite capable of handling its own internal affairs without the need for others to intervene.

Friedman's call implies that Israeli society and its institutions are not mature or strong enough to overcome internal strife, hence some "responsible grown-up" should come to help. The reality is, of course, quite different. Israel's parliament is functioning on a par with its counterparts in other developed countries; the Israeli press is independent, strong and "biting"; Israelis take to the streets, demonstrate, and express their opinions freely; Israeli academic institutions are independent and chart their own course; its judicial system is also independent and strong, and the people of Israel will ensure that it remains so in the future.

The writer is a professor at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, where he served until recently as the executive vice president and director-general.
Will America Invite Israel to Join Its Multinational Coalitions?
From the Korean War onward, the U.S. has rarely fought wars alone, but has instead led coalitions of various allied states. Israel stands out in that it has close military and diplomatic relations with Washington yet its forces have never been part of these coalitions—even in the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraqi missiles were raining down on its cities. The primary reason for its exclusion was the sensitivity of participating Arab and Muslim nations. But now that Jerusalem has diplomatic relations with several Arab countries and indeed regularly participates alongside them in U.S.-led joint military exercises, David Levy believes it may someday soon be asked to contribute to an American expedition.

It is unlikely that Israel would be expected by the U.S. to deploy the Golani [infantry] brigade or any other major army unit. Instead, Washington will likely solicit areas of IDF niche expertise. These include missile defense and special forces, two areas in which Israel is a world leader. The IDF has capabilities that it can share by providing trainers and observers. Naval and air support would also be expected as these assets are inherently deployable. Israel can also provide allies in foreign wars with intelligence and cyber-warfare support, much of which can be accomplished without the physical deployment of troops.

Jerusalem’s previous reasons for abstention from coalitions were legitimate. Since its independence, Israel has faced existential threats. Conventional Arab armies sought to eliminate the nascent state in 1948-49, 1967, and again in 1973. This danger remained ever-present until the 1978 signing of the Camp David Accords, which established peace between Egypt and Israel. Post-Camp David, the threats to Israel remain serious but are no longer existential. If Iran were to become a nuclear power, this would pose a new existential threat. Until then, Israel is relatively well secured.

Jerusalem’s new Arab allies would welcome its aid. Western capitals, especially Washington, should be expected to pursue Israel’s military assistance, and Jerusalem will have little choice but to acquiesce to the expeditionary expectation.
The Israel Guys: The Biden Administration’s Obsession With the Two-State Solution
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has been in Israel for the last few days, and let’s just say his time here has proved just how biased he is towards the Palestinians.

Arab-Israeli students held a pro-terror protest at Tel Aviv University.

An Arab car rammed two IDF soldiers at the Tapuach Junction.

Israeli delegation in Sudan to finalize expanding the Abraham Accords
Sudan is reportedly ready to finalize its move to join the Abraham Accords as an Israeli delegation headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Eli Cohen met with the country’s ruler Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Khartoum on Thursday, according to Hebrew and Arab media.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry would not confirm that Cohen was in Sudan, only issuing a statement that he was heading an Israeli delegation and would hold a press conference upon his return from a “historic state trip” at Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday evening.

However, Reuters reported that an Israeli delegation arrived in the Sudanese capital to discuss the normalization of ties between the two countries, citing two Sudanese government sources.

Sudanese news outlets also reported that the country intends to take a “significant step” regarding relations with Israel.

Sudan was the fourth Muslim state to join the Abraham Accords, signing the agreement to normalize ties with Israel in January 2021.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco have also signed onto the accords.

Sudan first agreed to normalize relations with Israel in October 2020 on the condition of being removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Then-U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to that stipulation. The process was completed last month, Reuters reported.
Netanyahu joins Chad’s president to open new embassy in Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined visiting President of Chad Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno in Tel Aviv on Thursday morning to officially open the African nation’s embassy in Israel, a move both leaders hailed as “historic.”

In 2019, during Netanyahu’s previous term, he and late president Idriss Deby Itno, the current president’s father, announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. Chad had severed ties with Israel in 1972 due to pressure from Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

The elder Deby, who ruled the Muslim-majority nation for more than three decades, was killed in 2021 on the battlefield in a fight against rebels. His son replaced him as president at the head of a military junta.

“This is a historic moment. It follows the steps we took with your late father, my historic visit to Chad, and your historic visit to Israel now, in which we are formally opening the embassy today,” said Netanyahu.

“We are strengthening our common interests and friendship, and pursuing peace, security and prosperity,” he added. “I welcome you in great friendship and I hope to see you again in Chad.”

Mahamat Deby also paid tribute to his father and to Netanyahu.

“This is a great day, a historic day for Chad and for Israel,” he said, dedicating the moment to “my father, a very courageous man with a vision.”

Chad opens embassy in Israel during President's surprise visit

South Africans expose the ‘Israeli apartheid’ fallacy
Nor does Pogrund see apartheid on the West Bank. The essence of apartheid, he notes, is intentional discrimination on the basis of a racist ideology. “That is not the West Bank. There is no ideological aim to discriminate against Palestinians.” The dispute is about land. It is not about race. “How can it be? The Palestinians are relatives of the Palestinians who live in Israel and who are Israeli citizens with the rights of citizens. They are from the same stock.” Moreover, West Bank Palestinians who work legally in Israel “enjoy the same labor laws as Israelis.” And Palestinians who work in industrial zones in West Bank settlements receive “the salaries and benefits provided in Israeli law.” Thus, Pogrund says, conditions on the West Bank are “nothing like the meticulously organized and institutionalized racism of apartheid South Africa.”

Similarly, Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, chief rabbi of South Africa, has written that the apartheid accusation “presents a grotesquely distorted picture of both South African history and the current reality in Israel.” The goal behind this slander, he maintains, is “to delegitimize Israel, to portray it falsely as a state founded on the cardinal sin of racism, thereby denying it the moral right to exist.” Moreover, he says, “[T]here can be no greater desecration of the memory of the victims of apartheid than ripping the word out of South African soil, detaching it from its original meaning, and weaponizing it in the cause of another form of bigotry.”

Exploring this theme of misappropriation, the black South African attorney and activist Olga Meshoe Washington has written, “Calling Israel an apartheid state trivializes the humiliation and injustices endured by black South Africans who lived through apartheid and who still, together with their children and grandchildren, bear the scars of its legacy. If black South Africans enjoyed the rights enjoyed by Israeli Arabs, there would have been no need for South Africa’s liberation movement.” Continuing, she concludes, “It is thus morally repugnant for any person, any organization, or any government to incorrectly appropriate South Africa’s apartheid history to Israel.”

Unfortunately, the apartheid slander continues to gain momentum. So let’s hope these South African supporters of Israel get the attention they deserve.

The IDF Strategy for Reducing Palestinian Attacks
The IDF approach to recent security threats is to complete portions of the West Bank barrier wall and continue preemptive raids, expecting that these moves will succeed over time.

The speed of the new wall additions has been unprecedented, occurring in multiple spots simultaneously, using a more sophisticated set of specialized construction machines than in the past.

Even if someone manages to break through all of the additions in the wall, it will take them longer. New sensors will have gone off earlier, and it will be much easier to catch the intruders.

The IDF estimates that Palestinians who have been illegally crossing into Israel know that the rules of engagement have become tougher.

It will take about 12 to 18 months to finish the barrier. That means there are still plenty of holes. This is where the regular night raids come into play.

The current strategy of IDF commanders is to bring the fight to the terrorists' home turf, rather than wait for them to bring it into Israel.

IDF and Israel Security Agency intelligence units have reached new highs for locating terrorists before they are fully ready to carry out an attack.
Israel Goes into Jenin Because the PA Doesn't Do Its Job
Former Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat told the Times of Israel on Sunday: "Terror can't be a lever to pressure Israel. If we give them [the PA] what they want, they'll fight terror; if not, they'll leave us to deal with terrorism - [that line of thinking is] a total mistake. That cannot be in the PA's toolbox."

"The PA simply doesn't do its part. It doesn't want to be in conflict with anyone, so it lets the thugs in Nablus establish the Lions' Den terror group, it lets the thugs in Jenin store weapons and take over the refugee camp. And it leaves Israel to deal with the results....Why does Israel go into Jenin? Because the PA doesn't do its job."

Ben-Shabbat argued that the main context for the overall rise in violence was the fact that Operation Defensive Shield, when IDF forces retook West Bank cities in 2002 to stop a series of suicide bombings, is now 21 years in the past. "The [Palestinian] public that experienced Operation Defensive Shield really does not want to go back to those days, but the youth knows those experiences less."
The Myth of "Lone Wolf" Palestinian Terrorists
Recent Palestinian terror attacks in Jerusalem are generally viewed as "lone wolf" attacks. That's a mistake.

Alqam Khayri, who killed six Israelis and one Ukrainian national on Friday night outside a Jerusalem synagogue, was not affiliated with any terror groups. Neither was Muhammad Aliyat, 13, who shot and injured two Israelis outside Jerusalem's Old City on Saturday.

Rather, the two were encouraged by media messages from the Palestinian Authority and by several Islamist groups operating in eastern Jerusalem.

These groups include Hamas and the Islamic Movement's Northern Faction, both branches of the Muslim Brotherhood. They also include the Mourabitoun, Tahrir, and Turkish charity groups.

These organizations whip up eastern Jerusalem, then stand back and watch the fallout.
IDF strikes Hamas weapons sites in Gaza after rocket attacks
The IDF struck weapon production and storage facilities in Gaza overnight on Thursday after rocket sirens sounded in Sderot, Ibim and Nir Am at various points throughout the night.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed the strikes on Thursday morning, saying "any shooting at the State of Israel or any attempt to harm the lives of the residents of the south will be met with the strength of the IDF."

The escalating violence between Israel and the various Palestinian militant groups has continued despite appeals from the United States for calm from both sides.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir had previously called for an immediate meeting of the security cabinet to determine what action should be taken in response to the rocket attack.

Local residents in Sderot reported hearing a loud explosion shortly after the sirens sounded and the IDF confirmed that the Iron Dome air defense system intercepted a rocket that had been launched from the Palestinian coastal enclave.

However, the IDF announced on Thursday that the Iron Dome wasn't activated, as 11 rockets hit the open ground or exploded mid-air, while another firing attempt failed.

Smotrich doubles revenue withheld from PA over ‘pay for slay’
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced on Thursday the signing of an order doubling the amount of tax and tariff revenue Israel withholds from the Palestinian Authority because of its “par for slay” policy.

“The P.A. finances terrorists and the State of Israel is saying ‘Enough.’ Israeli citizens will not be a part of this farce,” said Smotrich when announcing the move.

He said that Jerusalem had withheld NIS 100 million from the revenue collected and transferred to the P.A. in accordance with the Oslo Accords.

Israel’s Security Cabinet earlier this month approved several punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority in response to what it described as Ramallah’s ongoing “political and legal war” against the Jewish state.

The move came a week after the U.N. General Assembly, at the P.A.’s behest, passed a resolution calling on the International Court of Justice to “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.”

As part of the measures, the Security Cabinet decided to withhold funds collected on behalf of the P.A., in an amount equal to that which Ramallah paid to terrorists and their families in 2022 under its “pay-for-slay” policy.

Now, Smotrich has doubled that sum.

P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the punitive measures imposed on the P.A. would “promptly lead to its collapse.”

Activist 'Day of Rage' In NYC Calling For Release Of Palestinians Imprisoned For Terrorism By Israel
On January 21, 2023, the anti-Israel organizations Samidoun and Within Our Lifetime held a "day of rage" in NYC's Grand Central Station calling for the release of PFLP leader Ahmad Sa'adat, who is serving a 30-year sentence in Israel for orchestrating the 2001 assassination of Israeli cabinet member Rehavam Ze'evi, and of Ahmad Manasra, a Palestinian youth serving a prison sentence in Israel for attempted murder of an Israeli teen. The protestors chanted "Free them all, Zionism must fall!", "With our spirit and our blood, we will redeem you, oh Palestine!", "We don't want no two states, we want all of it!", "Five, six, seven, eight, crush the settler Zionist State!", and "Globalize the Intifada!" Samidoun was founded by PFLP members and is considered a terrorist organization by Israel. Footage of the event was posted on social media by Within Our Lifetime and by journalist Christopher Leon Johnson.

Egyptian Tycoon Says Palestinian Jerusalem Attacker Is a "Terrorist"
Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, Egypt's second richest man, has sparked controversy after calling the Palestinian man who killed seven Israelis near a synagogue in Jerusalem last week a "terrorist."

He first said Israeli soldiers operating in Jenin were terrorists. Then, referring to the Palestinian shooter, said, "This young man, may God have mercy on him, is also a terrorist, because whoever kills innocent civilians according to all religions is a terrorist."
Palestinian envoy to UK fails to condemn terrorist killing of seven Israelis
The PLO’s envoy to the United Kingdom, Husam Zomlot, refused to condemn the attack that killed seven Israelis on Shabbat, and described Islamic Jihad terrorists as “refugees” who were “ethnically cleansed.”

In an interview on Sky News, host Kay Burley asked Zomlot whether he condemns last Friday’s attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem, which she pointed out took place on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Every life lost is absolutely a tragedy, and no one works for a nonviolent solution to this more than us,” he responded.

At which point Burley interjected: “Do you condemn it?”

“No,” answered Zomlot, adding: “I condemn the origin of all this. That’s what needs to be condemned here.”

When pressed again on whether he condemns the murder of Jews, Zomlot mumbled for a few seconds before responding: “We can sit here until the morning talking about condemnation. We must stop the cycle of violence. That’s what we need to do. And we must visit the root cause of this violence.”

He proceeded to describe Israel as a “colonizer,” “occupier” and “besieger.”

Shin Bet: Lebanese man tried to recruit Palestinians for terror via TikTok
The Shin Bet security agency on Thursday said it had recently uncovered attempts by a Lebanese man, a former Hezbollah operative, to recruit Palestinians for terror via the TikTok video-sharing mobile application.

The agency said two East Jerusalem men, residents of Israel, were arrested over their alleged ties with the man, Salah Swouti, known as Abu Ghassan.

According to the Shin Bet, Abu Ghassan instructed them to conduct surveillance operations in Israel, as the pair have Israeli ID cards. The agency said they “photographed places in Israel, with a focus on Jerusalem, in order to advance terror attacks.”

The two men were not identified, and it was not clear when they were arrested.

The Shin Bet said Abu Ghassan, a former operative in the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group, would make contact with potential operatives in East Jerusalem and the West Bank via TikTok.

“At the beginning of the exchange, ‘Abu Ghassan’ focuses on personal matters and general discourse, such as the situation in Jerusalem and conflicts between Jews and Arabs,” the agency said.

MEMRI: Friday Sermon Aired On Palestinian Authority TV Hours Before Jerusalem Synagogue Massacre: Allah Gave You Permission To Wage Jihad; Live Free Or Die As Martyrs; Kill And Be Killed For The Sake Of Allah
On January 27, 2023, hours before the Jerusalem synagogue massacre in which a Palestinian terrorist killed seven Israelis and injured several others (the most lethal terror attack in Israel since 2011), the Palestinian Authority's official broadcaster, Palestine TV, aired a Friday sermon delivered in the West Bank village of Khan Al-Ahmar. The imam, whose name was not given, told his audience that Allah has "given them permission" to wage Jihad, that they must live free or die as martyrs, and that the Quran urges Muslims to "kill and be killed" for the sake of Allah.

Allah Gave You Permission To Wage Jihad, No Other Permission Is Required

Imam: "When facing this aggression and this arrogant and barbaric attack [in Jenin] — Allah gave you permission to wage jihad.

"Allah in the heavens has given our people permission to wage jihad, to fight, and to defend themselves and their rights using all possible means. Once Allah's permission has been given no further permission by anyone is required — not from any international entity and not from anyone else — since this decision has been made by Allah himself.

"Live Free And Proud Or Die As A Martyr — This Is The Faith That Was Passed Down To Us"

"Live free and proud or die as a martyr — this is the faith that was passed down to us from our parents and their parents, and what we learned from our religion and from our beloved Prophet Muhammad. [Israel] is deluding itself.

"Therefore, my brothers, Allah bought [our lives], and we sold them to Him. [The Quran says:] 'Allah has bought from the believers...' What did He buy? Their lives and their property. It is Allah who bought [our lives] and we are the ones who sold them. [The Quran says:] 'Allah has bought from the believers their lives and their property, because they shall have Paradise.' That is the deal. "

''They shall fight for the sake of Allah and they shall kill and be killed. That is the promise He took upon himself in the Torah, in the Gospel, and in the Quran.'"

PMW: Released terrorists urge kidnappings of Israelis as a means to free imprisoned terrorists
In at least two different interviews, newly released Israeli Arab terrorist murderer Karim Younes implicitly encouraged kidnappings of Israelis. This would - via resulting exchange deals - serve as a means to free terrorist prisoners before they have served their full time.

Having himself served a sentence of 40 years, Karim Younes recalled the past when “every three or four years there was an exchange deal, and therefore the prisoners always had hope.” He seemed to blame the “factions” – a Palestinian euphemism for terror groups - for not having pulled this off more, and implored that they “must not let despair and frustration enter the souls of [the prisoners].” In other words, they should continue kidnapping Israelis, thereby creating the possibility for exchange deals to give the imprisoned terrorists hope:
Terrorist murderer Karim Younes: “In the past, [Palestinian] prisoners weren’t [in prison for long.] The time between one [prisoner] exchange deal and the next was no more than five or six years. Every three or four years there was an exchange deal, and therefore the prisoners always had hope. Today our people and our factions must not let despair and frustration enter the souls of [the prisoners.] They must not feel that they are paying a price to no avail, in the shadow of the absence of a future for them and for all our people.”

[Official PA TV, Giants of Endurance, Jan. 5, 2023]

Another statement by Karim Younes two weeks later could be understood as a hint at the same kidnappings and exchange deals. Here he addressed “all the officials” and “all the factions,” stating that they ought to “take more serious action” in order to bring about the “freedom” of the prisoners, who he described as “soldiers” who “did what they did on orders from them” – the officials:

MEMRI: Criticism In Lebanon Following Iranian FM's Visit: His Statements Are False; Visit Is Meant To Clarify That No Lebanese President Will Be Elected And No Regional Agreements Will Be Made Without Iran's Involvement
On January 12, 2023, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian arrived in Lebanon for a three-day visit during which he met with senior Lebanese officials, including caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Foreign Minister 'Abdallah Bou Habib, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.[1] While in Beirut, Abdollahian also met with the Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziad Al-Nakhalah, and reaffirmed Iran's continued support for the Palestinian resistance.[2] In statements he made upon arrival at the airport, Abdollahian urged Lebanon's political forces to hold a dialogue to agree on a new president, and added: "I have complete confidence that the Lebanese [political] forces possess independence and wisdom which enable them to manage their affairs themselves, far from [any] dictates and from any external interference." He added that Iran would continue to support "[our] sister, the Lebanese republic, it people, its army and its resistance."[3]

Abdollahian repeated his remarks at a press conference held with Lebanese Foreign Minister Bou Habib, and stated: "We spoke about the best ways to strengthen the bilateral ties in the economic and commercial sphere so as to further the interests of both peoples. Iran," he added, "will always remain a sincere and faithful friend of Lebanon, in good times and bad." He also repeated Iran's proposal to supply oil to Lebanon and help it build power stations in order to alleviate its energy crisis. He also said that "Lebanon's security and development are part of Iran's security and development." Regarding the crisis surrounding the election of a new Lebanese president, Abdollahian stated that Iran "does not interfere in the internal affairs of its sister Lebanon" and called on the political forces in the country "to meet and to hold a dialogue in order to fill the vacuum in the presidency," and expressed confidence that the Lebanese "have sufficient awareness, understanding and experience to find a solution to [this] crisis."[4]

Abdollahian's statements, and particularly his remarks that Iran does not interfere in the internal affairs of the "sister" country Lebanon and is willing to help resolve Lebanon's energy crisis, drew extensive criticism from Lebanese politicians and journalists who characterized them as nothing more than hypocritical and false political discourse. Former justice minister Ashraf Rifi tweeted, "We say to Minister Abdollahian that he can tone down his diplomatic humility, which is a fraud. Iran does not interfere in Lebanese affairs. It occupies it and controls its destiny and the decisions [made] within it. History will yet show that your regime, [which is] hegemonic and arrogant towards our countries [sic][5], is about to collapse, so heed our advice."[6]

Similar statements appeared in Lebanese press articles which claimed that Abdollahian's "sugary diplomatic discourse," his expressed hope for the quick election of a new president and his remarks in praise of "sister" Lebanon are nothing but "outright lies" and an attempt to deceive the public. Even his offer of Iranian oil and Iranian help in the construction of power stations are false, they added. They concluded that Abdollahian's visit was meant to convey a message to Lebanon and to other regional and international players, namely that no president will be elected in Lebanon and no regional agreements will be made without Iranian involvement.
Why Iran's Missile Program Alarms Its Rivals
Isfahan is a hub for Iran's production, research and development of missiles, including the assembly of Shahab medium-range ballistic missiles, which can reach Israel and beyond. Iran has steadily been ramping up its long-range missile capabilities in recent years and Israel fears that those missiles could one day be used to deliver a potential nuclear warhead.

Danny Yatom, a former head of the Mossad, told Army Radio in Israel on Monday that the attack targeted a facility developing hypersonic missiles - long-range munitions capable of traveling up to 15 times the speed of sound with terrifying accuracy and which could be enabled to carry a nuclear warhead.

Iran's missile arsenal is the largest in the Middle East. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., who retired recently as head of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last year: "They have over 3,000 ballistic missiles of various types, some of which can reach Tel Aviv. Over the last five to seven years, they have invested heavily in the ballistic missile program. Their missiles have significantly greater range and significantly enhanced accuracy."
Israel targeting Iranian arms flow to Ukraine, Netanyahu tells CNN
Israel is targeting the production of Iranian weapons that could be sent to Russia for use against Ukraine, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN in an interview aired on Wednesday.

“Israel... acts in ways that I will not itemize here against Iran’s weapons productions, which are used against Ukraine,” Netanyahu said.

Israel has already been active in working to thwart Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, but in his conversation with CNN, he said that such efforts were also directed toward preventing the flow of Iranian weapons to Russia.

He spoke days after The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that Israel was behind an explosion at a weapons depot in the Iranian city of Isfahan, known to be a place where Iran has enriched uranium. It’s been unclear if the target of the explosion was Iran’s nuclear program, its missiles or its armed drone program. Iran sends both missiles and armed drones to Moscow.

Israel, as is its policy in such instances, has not confirmed or denied the report. Netanyahu also prevaricated when talking with CNN.

“I never talk about specific operations... and every time some explosion takes place in the Middle East, Israel is blamed or given responsibility. Sometimes we are, sometimes we’re not.”

Blinken wraps up visit to Jerusalem
He spoke with CNN just after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spent two days in Israel meeting with top officials, including Netanyahu.

As he wrapped up his visit, Blinken publicly spoke about the tension between Washington and Jerusalem over its stance on Ukraine, urging Israel to do more to support Kyiv.

Blinken told reporters in Jerusalem, “Tehran’s deepening ties with Moscow and the sophisticated weaponry that they’re exchanging to enable one another’s aggression are among the many reasons that we’ve raised with Israel the importance of providing support for all of Ukraine’s needs – humanitarian, economic and security – as it defends its people against Russia’s brutal war.”
France seizes Iran assault rifles, missiles heading to Houthi rebels in Yemen
French naval forces in January seized thousands of assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles in the Gulf of Oman coming from Iran and heading to Yemen’s Houthi rebels, officials said Thursday.

While Iran denied being involved, images of the weapons released by the US military’s Central Command showed them to be similar to others captured by American forces in other shipments tied to Tehran.

The announcement comes as Iran faces increasing Western pressure over its shipment of drones to arm Russia during its war on Ukraine, as well as for its violent monthslong crackdown targeting protesters.

Regional tensions also have heightened after a suspected Israeli drone attack on a military workshop in the central Iranian city of Isfahan on Saturday. Previous cycles of violence since the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers have seen the Islamic Republic launch retaliatory attacks at sea.

The seizure occurred on January 15 in the Gulf of Oman, a body of water that stretches from the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, through to the Arabian Sea and onto the Indian Ocean. CENTCOM described the interdiction as happening “along routes historically used to traffic weapons unlawfully from Iran to Yemen.”

Iran blames Israel for Isfahan drone strike, vows vengeance
Iran has blamed Israel for Saturday’s drone attack on an arms factory near the central city of Isfahan and vowed to take revenge.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Tehran’s envoy to the international body said that a “primary investigation suggested Israel was responsible” for the attack.

“Iran reserves its legitimate and inherent right, in accordance with international law and the United Nations Charter, to defend its national security and respond resolutely to any threats or wrongful actions by the Israeli regime, wherever and whenever deemed necessary,” added Amir Saeid Iravani in the missive.

“In light of the destructive consequences of the Israeli regime’s persistent malicious activities in the region, particularly its threat to use force against Iran’s critical infrastructure and peaceful nuclear facilities, the United Nations Security Council must fulfill its responsibility under the Charter and condemn Israel’s warmongering statements and acts of terrorism, including state terrorism, which pose a serious threat to regional and international peace and security,” Iran’s U.N. ambassador continued.

Iran said it thwarted the drone strike on the defense installation, said to be a munitions plant, while video footage showed a flash of light as well as emergency vehicles and fire trucks at the scene.

The target of Saturday’s strike was reportedly a production facility for Shahed-136 kamikaze UAVs, which Iran has supplied to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine.

Iran claims UN watchdog inspector made mistake in report on centrifuge change
Iran said a UN nuclear watchdog inspector was mistaken about covert changes to one of its uranium enrichment clusters and said the issue has now been resolved, state media reported Thursday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had substantially modified an interconnection between two centrifuge clusters enriching uranium to up to 60 percent at its Fordo Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP).

In a confidential report seen by AFP on Wednesday, it said this had been done without declaring it to the IAEA.

“An agency inspector inadvertently reported that Iran had made changes in the operating procedure at the enrichment site… that it had not announced before,” Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi was quoted as saying late Wednesday by IRNA news agency.

Tehran provided “explanations” to the inspectors and “the inspector in question realized his mistake,” he said. “After coordination with the agency’s secretariat, the matter was resolved.”

The IAEA said that during an unannounced Fordo inspection on January 21, it found that “two IR-6 centrifuge cascades… were interconnected in a way that was substantially different from the mode of operation declared by Iran to the agency.”

Since late last year, the two cascades have been used to produce uranium enriched to up to 60%, the report to member states added.

The IAEA did not specify the kind of changes made to the interconnection between the cascades.

Iranian-Canadian Activist Hamed Esmaeilion At Ceremony Commemorating Ukrainian Flight Downed By IRGC
On January 8, 2023, a memorial ceremony marking three years since the IRGC shot down Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 was held in Toronto by the Association of Victims' Families of Flight PS752. At the event, the association's founder Hamed Esmaeilion, whose wife and daughter had been aboard Flight 752, said that the Islamic Republic is a "mafia gang" and a "tyrannical state that produces nothing but terrorism, repression, and injustice." He said that the Islamic Republic does not represent the Iranian people, and he spoke about the death of Jina (Mahsa) Amini and of protestors killed and executed by the Iranian regime.

In addition, he expressed hope that Iran will face justice in the ICJ, and he said that the families of the victims live for a day of freedom and justice in a democratic Iran in which women and girls can decide for themselves what they wear. He added: "We live for a day without the Islamic Republic and [without] the criminals who ruin that beautiful country." The event was also attended by Mayor of Toronto John Tory, and videos from the ceremony were posted to the association's YouTube account.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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