Wednesday, March 01, 2023

From Ian:

Jonathan Tobin: Judge the Jewish rioters, but don’t rationalize Arab murderers
On the contrary, the post-Oslo Accords era has made clear that the Palestinians have no more interest today in ending their century-old war on Zionism now than they had in the past, when they rejected repeated Israeli attempts to forge a compromise based on the now-discredited “land for peace” formula that would have created an independent Palestinian state.

Yet as much as the left is determined to establish a moral equivalence between the Palestinians and the Netanyahu government and its supporters in the territories, this is a false narrative.

Even at the worst of times, support for violence against Arabs is limited to a tiny segment of Israeli opinion. It is not merely condemned by a broad sector of the public and the Knesset; those who engage in it are subject to prosecution. Belief in the “purity of arms” and a policy of restraint that seeks to avoid civilian casualties even when fighting terrorism is baked deep into the political DNA of Israel and its culture.

On the other side, terrorism against Jews and Israelis is not only widely supported by Palestinian Arabs but embraced by their political parties. This includes the supposedly moderate Fatah Party that runs the Palestinian Authority, as well as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, whose public support is rooted in their record of violence rather than state-building or bettering the lives of their constituents. Financial support for those who kill and wound Jews is official P.A. policy; terrorist murderers and their families benefit from their crimes.

Just as bad, the support that the P.A. retains in the international community and the willingness of the Biden administration to resume aid to it—regardless of its legal obligations to cut it off because of the 2017 Taylor Force Act that ties assistance to the Palestinians to their ending this “pay to slay” policy—demonstrates the world’s indifference to anti-Jewish terror. The United States has never demanded that the Palestinian factions pay reparations to the families of those Israelis or even Americans like Ganeles, that they murder.

That doesn’t justify lawless actions by Jews. But it does help ensure that this conflict will continue until a sea change in Palestinian thought and politics occurs. Until that happens, Jews should condemn extralegal violence and/or acts of revenge that will do nothing but aid the cause of their enemies. But as long as terrorism is cheered by Palestinians, don’t blame the Israeli right for the continuation of the conflict or the Israeli people for feeling frustrated by the free pass the murderers get from those who dare to lecture terror victims about morality.
Yisrael Medad: Saving Israel’s Arabs, despite themselves
The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies published a report in June 2022 titled “A Picture of the Nation.” According to the findings, whereas between 2011 and 2021 the number of murders in the Jewish population declined (despite a population growth of 20%), in contrast, from 2016 to 2021 the number of murders within the Arab population doubled. Although Arabs represent 21% of Israel’s total population, 80% of all murders in Israel in the years 2020-21 occurred in the Arab population. Why is that?

The Taub Center sees as critical influential factors a “youth bulge” that is “socially disengaged.” These youth are “underemployed and not in higher education.” There is also a gender element involved with the Taub Center finding that in the 2020/21 academic year, 74% of all master’s degree students and 68% of those in a Ph.D. program are women among the Arab population. Parallel to that, between 2004 and 2019, there has been an increase of more than 50% in the divorce rate among Muslims and Druze (and more than doubled among Christians). Muslim marriages are becoming significantly destabilized, and half of all femicide cases in Israel’s Arab society remain unsolved.

Perhaps, oddly, TikTok has been reported to be an element in Israel’s Arab crime epidemic. The social-media site amplifies conflicts and crime in the Arab community, police confirm, with video clips glorifying illegal actions including shooting guns in the street, drug and weapons possession, high-speed driving and threats of murder. The Baladna NGO now researches this aspect of promoting violent messages in the context of crime. The nationalist violence of May 2022 in mixed cities and neighborhoods was fed by this as well, as is the protection racket in the north and south.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote in a 1926 pamphlet, “What the Zionist-Revisionists Want,” that after the establishment of the Jewish state, “a considerable Arab population always will remain … if things fare badly for this group of inhabitants, the entire country will fare badly. The political, economic and cultural welfare of the Arabs will thus always remain one of the main conditions for the well-being of the Land of Israel.”

This government is headed by the successors of the Jabotinsky legacy. It behooves it both to confront the attempts by Israel’s Arabs to obtain an out-of-state cultural and redefined political identity on the one hand, while on the other, assisting them more actively and efficiently to solve their internal social difficulties, even in spite of themselves.
Teenaged perpetrators of terror
Within the last month, three teenage boys carried out terror attacks against Israelis in Israel’s capital. What is motivating children to pick up deadly weapons? The official Palestinian Authority (PA) school curriculum demonizes Jews and promotes martyrdom.

Last month, 13-year-old Mahmoud Aliwat, from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, ambushed a small group of Israeli pedestrians outside of Jerusalem’s Old City, shooting and injuring two. Then, just a few hours apart on February 13, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy stabbed a Jewish teenager in the Old City, wounding him lightly and a 13-year-old Palestinian stabbed an Israeli police officer at a checkpoint near the village of Shuafat. The officer was subsequently hit by friendly fire and died from his wounds. Each teen terrorist was apprehended and will stand trial in Israel.

Impact-SE, an international research and policy organization that monitors education around the world, has done extensive research into the Palestinian Authority curriculum. According to Impact-SE research, the PA published its reformed curriculum for grades one to 11 in 2016 and 2017. It is saturated with incitement to violence, glorification of terror against Jews and Israelis and promises of heavenly rewards for heroes who commit acts of martyrdom.

The curriculum describes Israel as satanic and is rife with antisemitic tropes including Jewish manipulation of global events. It praises Dalal Mugrhabi, the woman who murdered 38 Israelis, including 13 children, on an Israeli bus in 1978, as a “female Arab jihad warrior.” Palestinian children are taught to sacrifice themselves for their homeland and “redeem it with blood.”

The miseducation of Palestinian youth is leading them to extremism
The child terrorists, all residents of Israel’s capital, were likely victims of this kind of miseducation. The Palestinian Authority (PA) school curriculum is taught to more than two million Palestinian children in Gaza, the West Bank and the vast majority eastern Jerusalem schools. In PA texts, Israel doesn’t exist, peace isn’t even an option and the only way to obtain fame is through jihad. It is no surprise that these children chose to emulate the acts of terrorism glorified in their classrooms, taking the violence to the streets of the city where they were indoctrinated.

Anti-reform protests turn violent on ‘Day of National Disruption’
Demonstrations in Israel against the government’s judicial reform program turned violent on Wednesday, which protest leaders dubbed a “Day of National Disruption.”

Police used stun grenades to disperse protesters blocking the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv.

More than 20 people have been arrested, including a man in Haifa for attacking a police officer.

Protest leaders had called for marches throughout the country and strikes at businesses and schools. They also laid out plans to block roads and make “house calls” to the private residences of coalition lawmakers.

The “Day of National Disruption” will culminate with a nighttime demonstration outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem.

“Israel won’t be a dictatorship…and we are now moving on to direct action,” organizers said in a statement. “We will disrupt public order in the face of a government that is trying to disrupt the democratic order. Tens of thousands will go out to activities across the country to stop the regime coup, which has no support among the people,” the statement continued.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir held a situation assessment on Wednesday morning with top police leaders, instructing them to not allow “anarchists” to block major routes.
Israel Police thwart plot to assassinate Knesset member Ben-Gvir
The Israel Police have arrested a man from eastern Jerusalem who confessed to plotting to assassinate Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, according to Israeli media reports.

The suspect planned to steal police license plates and affix them to a vehicle to get close to Ben-Gvir, according to Channel 13. The suspect allegedly received money from terrorist groups to carry out the killing, which was to have taken place during a visit by the minister to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City during the upcoming Muslim holiday of Ramadan.

Ben-Gvir expressed his gratitude to the security forces for thwarting the plot, adding, “I will not be scared away by attempts to harm me, and I will continue to work to ensure a strong right-wing policy, defeat terrorism and return security to the streets.”

According to Ben-Gvir, the suspect had also planned a kidnapping with a view to securing the release of Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israel.

Police have placed a gag order on the case, preventing the release of additional details.
The Caroline Glick Show: The Fate of Israel’s Legal Reform Effort Will Have Implications Worldwide
In this special episode. journalist Caroline Glick speaks with Lord Conrad Black about the legal reforms being proposed in Israel.

International reporting of the Netanyahu government’s judicial reform package has largely followed the Israeli media’s coverage. And since the Israeli media is leading the campaign to prevent the government from advancing its efforts international audiences are confused about what is being debated.

Caroline sits down with historian Lord Conrad Black in Toronto to discuss the nature of the reforms, the effect the passing or non-passing of them will have on the rest of the world and what is the real path forward.

Handbook to the Israeli legal reform: Life without a constitution

Fitch Affirms Israel’s Credit Rating at ‘A+’ with a ‘Stable Outlook’
The Israeli Finance Ministry released a statement after Fitch Ratings released their position on Israel. Fitch Ratings affirmed Israel’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (LTFC IDR) at ‘A+’ with a Stable Outlook.

Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich said in response, “Israel’s economy is strong and with God’s help it will remain so. Last week, the government approved an excellent, responsible, restrained and growth- and infrastructure-oriented budget, and despite rising global inflation, we are succeeding in fortifying the State of Israel as an island of stability, a growing economy, and an excellent place for investment. The credit ratings prove that we are taking all the right steps to move the State of Israel forward.”

Some of the key rating drivers mentioned in the report are:
Rating Strength and Weaknesses: Israel’s ‘A+’ rating balances a diversified, resilient and high value-added economy and strong external finances against a high government debt/GDP ratio, elevated security risks and a record of unstable governments that has hindered policymaking.

Well-Positioned to Resist Downturn: Fitch expects Israel’s GDP growth to remain robust at 2.9% in 2023 after 6.4% in 2022, despite global challenges and monetary policy tightening that will hit private consumption and investment. Growth will be supported by continued exports from the high tech and the defence industries, strong population growth and growing government spending once a budget is in place. We project growth to return to its long-term potential above 3% in 2024 and 2025.

Inflation to Peak: We project inflation to peak in 1Q23 and to gradually recede to around 3% by the end of the year. The deceleration will be underpinned by the soft landing of the Israeli economy, with the cooling down of the frothy high-tech sector that has driven strong growth in private-sector wages. We also expect real estate price growth to moderate under the combined effect of the high prevalence of a variable rates component in mortgages and a higher level of construction. Banks are well-capitalised and -provisioned and in a good position to absorb a rise in non-performing loans (NPLs).
New York Lawmakers Call for Full-Time Abraham Accords Ambassador
Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Mike Lawler (R-NY) on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation to create a Special Envoy for the Abraham Accords, the 2020 agreement that normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states.

“The Abraham Accords have given birth to a new Middle East, which is unfolding in real time,” said Rep. Torres in a joint statement announcing the measure. “However, these breakthrough diplomatic agreements cannot be allowed to wither away due to bureaucratic neglect or negligence. Regardless of the administration, too often we see progress muddled by bureaucracy in which many people have power but there is no actual responsibility. There must be a clear delineation of power coming from within the federal government such as an ambassador-level special envoy position because the Abraham Accords are so monumental.”

According to the bill, the Special Envoy will “serve as the primary advisor to, and coordinate efforts across, the United States Government relating to expanding and strengthening the Abraham Accords” and “engage in discussions with nation-state officials lacking official diplomatic relations with Israel regarding the Abraham Accords.”

The Abraham Accords initially established relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and were later joined by Morocco. Sudan’s steps towards normalization with Israel as part of the accords framework was halted when Sudan’s government was toppled by a military coup in October 2021.

Rep. Lawler said that the accords have already “dramatically” improved relations between Israel and the Arab states.

“There is still room for improvement, though, and I truly believe that establishing a new special envoy position in the Department of State that is focused on advancing the Abraham Accords will lead to a safer and more prosperous future for Israel and all nations in the Middle East,” he said in the announcement. “I am hopeful that the Biden administration, House Republicans, and Senate Democrats will all work together to make this critical and necessary envoy a reality.”
Azerbaijan ambassador arrives in Israel
The first-ever ambassador of Azerbaijan to Israel has arrived in Tel Aviv, with Azerbaijan set to become the first Shiite Muslim country to open an embassy in the Jewish state.

The move comes amid burgeoning relations between Israel and Azerbaijan and threats of violence against both by Iran. It is also the fruit of three decades of covert and overt ties rooted in a centuries-long affinity that has expanded from a security- and energy-related focus to include diverse people-to-people relations.

Ambassador Mukhtar Mammadov, who previously served as deputy education minister and is a veteran of both the Education and Foreign ministries, will work from the Azeri trade office that already exists in Tel Aviv until an embassy building is inaugurated, officials said.

“This morning a historical moment! I had the pleasure of welcoming Mukhtar Mammadov, 1st ever Azerbaijani ambassador on his arrival to Israel,” tweeted Michal Hershkovitz, director of the Central Asia and Caucasus Department in the Israel Foreign Ministry, affixing a photo with the ambassador at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday.

The ambassador is expected to present his credentials to President Isaac Herzog next week.

Israel has operated an embassy in Baku since 1993, a year after relations were established. Israel was one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

For Israel, ties with Muslim oil-rich Azerbaijan—which shares 428 miles of border with the Islamic Republic, split into two sections separated by the Armenia-Iran frontier—are of great strategic importance, both as a conduit for reconnaissance but also because Baku supplies Israel an estimated 40% of its oil needs and is a leading purchaser of its military hardware.

‘A loss for the world’: Israeli-American Elan Ganeles, killed by terrorists, buried
Elan Ganeles, a 26-year-old Israeli-American killed in a terror attack near the Dead Sea on Monday, was laid to rest in a Ra’anana cemetery on Wednesday.

Ganeles’s family, who live in West Hartford, Connecticut, flew to Israel for the funeral, with thousands in attendance.

Eulogizing her son, Ganeles’s mother Caroline said, “He was the brightest boy in the world… he had never-ending inquisitiveness.”

“While in Israel, he fell in love with the land and the people. This is where he wanted to be,” his father Andrew said. “He was going to make aliyah.”

Ganeles was raised in West Hartford, where his family belonged to the Young Israel of West Hartford synagogue, and he attended Modern Orthodox schools.

He was killed on Monday when gunmen opened fire at his car on the Route 90 highway, close to Nevo military base. The terrorists then continued driving and opened fire at another car near Beit Ha’arava Junction, then shot at a third car nearby, the IDF said.

As Ganeles’s parents spoke, the IDF released a statement saying that it had arrested two suspects in the attack following an operation near the West Bank city of Jericho, close to where their son was shot as he drove.

Ganeles’s parents spoke of their son’s passion for nature, travel and culture, describing his decision, inspired by a trip to China, to “master the art of ramen noodle soup making.”
Israeli Forces Arrest 3-Man Terrorist Cell Behind Deadly Jericho Shooting
Israeli security forces on Wednesday raided a three-man Palestinian cell in an operation in the refugee camp of Aqabat Jaber in the West Bank.

The raid targeted a house that served as a hideout for the terrorists who murdered Israeli-American Elan Ganeles earlier this week. The joint Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet operation took place concurrently with the victim’s funeral.

Two of the terrorists were arrested while the third was shot as he tried to flee.

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Galant praised the successful completion of the operation.

The past months have seen a sharp upsurge in violence in Palestinian violence against Israelis amid almost daily IDF operations to flush out and capture terrorists. Recent developments saw the usually relatively quiet city of Jericho emerge as one of the conflict’s flashpoints.
Transport minister vows to complete Huwara Bypass Road frozen under previous government
On Sunday, brothers Hallel Menachem and Yagel Yaakov Yaniv, both from the community of Har Bracha, were gunned down by a terrorist at point-blank range as they drove on Route 60 through the Arab village of Huwara, just south of Shechem (Nablus).

The terrorist waited in hiding on the side of the road for nearly 30 minutes, scoping for a target, Israel television reported. Once heavy traffic built up, he charged the car and fired. The young men had no chance of escape.

Some are asking whether the brothers would have been spared if the “Huwara Bypass Road” had been completed, allowing Israelis traveling to and from central Samaria communities including Yitzhar, Elon Moreh, Itamar and Har Bracha to use a safer route instead of the current route through the hostile village.

In 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government approved an 800 million shekel plan (around $220 million) to construct bypass roads throughout Judea and Samaria, including the Huwara Bypass Road between the Tapuach and Yitzhar Junctions, to improve security for Israeli motorists while creating safer and modernized roads for Jewish and Arab commuters alike.

However, under the previous government, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, the head of the Labor Party, froze road projects in Judea and Samaria, including the bypass road, a spokesperson for the Samaria Regional Council told JNS.
Israel should ‘wipe out’ Palestinian town of Huwara, says senior minister Smotrich
Far-right minister Bezalel Smotrich, one of the most senior members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, said Wednesday that Israel should “wipe out” the Palestinian town of Huwara in the West Bank.

The remark by Smotrich — who is the finance minister and also a minister in the Defense Ministry in charge of civilian affairs in the West Bank — came days after a terrorist from Huwara shot dead two Israeli brothers, which was followed by extremist settlers rampaging through the Nablus-area town and setting homes and cars on fire, resulting in one Palestinian shot dead and several badly hurt.

The Sunday evening rioting was explicitly backed the following morning by coalition backbencher Zvika Fogel, a lawmaker for the extremist Otzma Yehudit party, which triggered widespread outrage. On Wednesday, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and State Prosecutor Amit Aisman cleared police to launch an investigation of Fogel, head of the Knesset’s National Security Committee and a former IDF brigadier general, over his comments.

The new remark Wednesday was made by Smotrich, a far more senior politician, and it arguably went even further — saying that as a matter of policy, Jerusalem should seek to remove the entire town, which has a population of some 7,000.

The Religious Zionism party leader, who was taking part in a financial conference hosted by The Marker business daily, was asked why he had on Sunday evening “liked” a tweet by Samaria Regional Council deputy mayor Davidi Ben Zion that called “to wipe out the village of Huwara today.”

“Because I think the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out. I think the State of Israel should do it,” Smotrich replied.
PA’s Abbas said to tell forces to resist IDF troops, settlers who enter ‘our lands’
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has instructed PA security forces to confront Israeli troops and settlers if they enter Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, a senior PA official said on Tuesday.

“President Abbas instructed the security services to confront the occupation forces and settlers,” Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of the executive leadership of the Fatah party and the Palestine Liberation Organization told the Palestinian Satellite Channel. “We stress the importance of the national resistance,” he added.

“If they enter our lands, don’t hesitate to confront them,” al-Ahmad said, apparently referring to Abbas’s instructions regarding Area A of the West Bank.

“The best example is what is going on in Nablus [where battles between IDF soldiers and Palestinian gunmen have taken place in the northern West Bank city], and even in Huwara,” the site of a violent extremist settler riot, he said.

“Not long ago, they [PA security forces] fought with them [Israeli soldiers] in Huwara,” he claimed, without giving details.

The Israeli security establishment has long hailed coordination with PA forces as critical for combating terror and maintaining stability in the West Bank. Abbas recently cut ties following a deadly Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank that killed nine Palestinians, including at least one civilian.
Bill on death penalty for Palestinian terrorists passes preliminary Knesset vote
The Knesset on Wednesday advanced a government-backed bill to impose the death penalty on terrorists who kill Israelis, approving it in its preliminary reading.

The bill was approved 55-9, with the support of the Yisrael Beytenu opposition party. It was passed alongside a near-identical version submitted by Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer, and the two will likely be combined further along in the process.

The primary legislation stipulates that courts will be able to impose the death penalty on those who have committed a nationalistically motivated murder of a citizen of Israel. However, it would not apply to an Israeli who killed a Palestinian.

The initiative has long been weighed by the Israeli right but has consistently faced opposition from the security establishment, arguing that it would not deter future terror attacks, and the legal establishment, which cites legal challenges and warns it could harm Israel in international forums.

While previous coalitions ultimately agreed to shelve death penalty legislation, the current hardline ruling bloc led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most right-wing in Israeli history and the initiative was one of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s central campaign promises.
Europe warns Israel against ‘game-changer’ death penalty legislation
The Knesset plenum on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to the bill, an item that National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s far-right Otzma Yehudit party has long been pushing for. It is set to be discussed by the high-level security cabinet, which is seen as likely to insert modifications.

“It’s a game-changer that would negatively impact relations,” said the official from a European Union member state in a conversation with The Times of Israel.

“That would lead to a certain change in perception and a switch from the democratic side, another step towards states that are having more authoritarian stances,” the official continued.

According to some reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is seeking to delay the legislation, and the attorney general is expected to oppose it. Haredi parties have also expressed reservations.

While EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano would not comment on domestic Israeli legislation that has not passed, he told The Times of Israel that the 27-member bloc has “a strong and unequivocal opposition to the death penalty in all times and in all circumstances.”

“It is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity, and fails to act as a deterrent to crime,” Stano continued. “It is a definitive punishment that makes potential miscarriages of justice irreversible.”

He added that the EU is working for the abolishment of the death penalty in countries where it is still practiced.
The Israel Guys: Israelis Start New Settlement in the West Bank
In the second terrorist attack in as many days, one American-Israeli man was killed. Hamas responded by saying that this is not enough and that they will continue stabbing, shooting, ramming, and setting fires all over the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Hundreds of Israelis came to reestablish the settlement of Evyatar in response to the horrific shooting attack on Sunday.

Guardian legitimises Kristallnacht analogy to Hawara settler violence
A Guardian article by Bethan McKernan, about the violent rampage by dozens of extremist Israeli settlers on Sunday targeting Palestinians in Hawara, a West Bank town on the main road leading to Nablus, in revenge for a Palestinian attack which killed two Israelis, (‘Never like this before’: settler violence in the West Bank escalates) included the following strap line:
Retaliatory rampage in Palestinian village likened to ‘Kristallnacht in Huwara’ with one dead and 350 injured

The use of the word “Kristallacht” was culled from the opening paragraph:
Aqtash was somehow the only fatality during an unprecedented hours-long settler rampage in the vicinity of Huwara overnight: more than 350 Palestinians were injured, while dozens of homes and businesses and hundreds of cars were set alight, according to rights groups and Palestinian officials. In an article published on Monday morning, a prominent rightwing Israeli commentator, appalled by the reported inaction of the IDF, dubbed the events “Kristallnacht in Huwara”.

In an article in the Financial Times by their Jerusalem correspondent James Shotter (“Settler rampage inflames fears of greater violence in the West Bank”, Feb. 27) included the following:
The attacks drew criticism from opposition Israeli politicians and commentators, with one politician calling the violence a “pogrom”, and an Israeli commentator comparing it to Kristallnacht.

For clarity, the Israeli journalist referred to in the Guardian article (based on the link provided) is Yedioth Ahronoth journalist Nahum Barnea, whilst the Financial Times is likely referring to Yossi Melman from Haaretz:

Also, before proceeding, let’s be clear about one thing. The settler violence in question, which killed one and injured dozens, in which Palestinians were beaten and their homes and cars torched, was an act of terror, full stop. It was also, it should be noted, with some notable exceptions, widely condemned within Israel.

However, the decision by both journalists to cite, thus legitimising, the intellectually and morally unserious comparisons between what occurred in Huwara and Kristallnacht is extraordinarily irresponsible.

US State Department offers $5 million reward for info on al-Shabaab leader
The U.S. State Department offered a reward of up to $5 million for information about the whereabouts of Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dheere, a senior leader of al-Shabaab. The department’s announcement on Tuesday came nearly 15 years after it declared al-Shabaab a Foreign Terrorist Organization in March 2008.

The Mogadishu-born Rage has planned attacks in Kenya and Somalia, according to the department, which labeled him a specially designated global terrorist in August 2021. The U.N. Security Council has also sanctioned Rage.

“Al-Shabaab is responsible for terrorist attacks in Kenya, Somalia and neighboring countries that resulted in loss of life, including of U.S. citizens,” stated Foggy Bottom. “The terrorist group continues to plot, plan and conspire to commit terrorist acts against the United States, U.S. interests and foreign partners.”
IAEA confirms Iran on verge of weapons-grade enrichment, Pentagon sounds alarm
International inspectors found uranium particles enriched up to 83.7% in Iran's underground Fordo nuclear site, a report seen Tuesday by The Associated Press said.

The confidential quarterly report by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency distributed to member states likely will raise tensions further between Iran and the West over its program. That's even as Tehran already faces internal unrest after months of protests and Western anger over sending bomb-carrying drones to Russia for its war on Ukraine.

The IAEA report only speaks about "particles," suggesting that Iran isn't building a stockpile of uranium enriched above 60% – the level it has been enriching at for some time.

The IAEA report described inspectors discovering on Jan. 21 that two cascades of IR-6 centrifuges at Iran's Fordo facility had been configured in a way "substantially different" from what had been previously declared. The IAEA took samples the following day, which showed particles up to 83.7% purity, the report said.

"Iran informed the agency that 'unintended fluctuations' in enrichment levels may have occurred during the transition period," the IAEA report said. "Discussions between the agency and Iran to clarify the matter are ongoing."

Iran's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to questions regarding the report, details of which had been circulating for about a week. The IAEA report said that it would "further increase the frequency and intensity of agency verification activities" at Fordo after the discovery.
US defence chief warns that Iran could have enough material for a nuke in '12 days'
A senior US defence official has warned that the Iranian government could produce enough fissile material for a bomb in under two weeks.

On Tuesday, US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl warned that Tehran's uranium enrichment scheme is far more advanced than previously thought, comments that echoed those made in an interview aired over the weekend by CIA chief William Burns.

In the primetime interview, Burns said that while he didn't believe "The Supreme Leader in Iran has yet made a decision to resume the weaponization program", he described recent advancements in their enrichment schemes as "worrisome."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that history has shown that in the absence of a credible military threat or actual military action, Iran will become a nuclear power.

“The longer you wait, the harder that becomes to prevent. We’ve waited very long. I can tell you that I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That is not merely an Israeli interest; it’s an American interest; it’s in the interest of the entire world,” he said.

Last month, the Associated Press obtained a copy of a confidential IAEA quarterly report stating that “particles” of the substance, just below the 90% enrichment level considered “military grade,” had been detected.
Behind the Headlines: What Are Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions? A Fireside Chat with Tzvi Kahn, Research Fellow and Senior Editor at Foundation for Defense of Democracies
The nefarious activities of Iran’s theocratic leadership are well known, from funding Islamist terrorist activity in the Middle East and beyond to brutally suppressing dissent within its own borders. But lesser-known is the details of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions.

While global negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are frequently in the news, the details are often less clear, including how much progress Tehran is making, how experts know it is developing weapons, rather than nuclear power, and how long will it take Iran on its current course to develop weapons potentially?

In this week’s podcast, we sit down with Tzvi Kahn, Research Fellow, and Senior Editor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, to help simplify some of the often complex answers around these questions.
Senior IDF officer: Iran tried to drone strike two vessels in Arabian Sea last month
The head of the military’s Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Oded Basiuk, revealed Wednesday that Iran had twice attempted to attack Israeli-linked vessels in the Arabian Sea in the past month.

His remarks came after Israel accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-linked tanker in early February, a strike that the ship’s operator said caused “minor” damage.

“Iran is not just Israel’s problem. And I’m not just talking about the nuclear threat. For example, the distribution of UAVs and the violation of international freedom of navigation in the region,” Basiuk said at a conference hosted by the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

“In the last month, Iran tried twice to attack vessels in the Arabian Sea and failed, and it did so using drones, which we also see being used in the Ukraine-Russia war,” he said. “Iran poses a danger to the security and stability of the entire region.”

He didn’t provide further details on when exactly the incidents occurred or what had transpired that led to the failure.
Iranian Warships Dock in Brazil
Two Iranian warships docked in Brazil on Tuesday, fueling concerns about Tehran’s militarization in the region.

The two ships docked at a port in Rio de Janeiro, after arriving in the Panama Canal last month. The arrival of these ships—both of which are sanctioned by the United States—sets up a potential diplomatic showdown between the Biden administration and Brazil, which could face sanctions for hosting the vessels.

"The docking of Iranian warships in Brazil is a dangerous development and a direct threat to the safety and security of Americans," Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) told the Washington Free Beacon. "These Iranian warships are already sanctioned, and so the port in Rio de Janeiro where they docked is now at risk of crippling sanctions, as are any Brazilian companies that provided them services or accepted payments—and so are all foreign companies that entangle themselves with the port or those Brazilian companies in the future."

Iran’s military presence in Latin America presents a challenge for the Biden administration as it faces down the rise of anti-American dictators in the region. Iran has increasingly sought to boost its ties with Latin American leaders, most notably Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro. By driving warships into the region, Tehran is signaling that it can move its military forces into direct confrontation with America.

"The Biden administration is obligated to impose relevant sanctions, reevaluate Brazil's cooperation with U.S. antiterrorism efforts, and reexamine whether Brazil is maintaining effective antiterrorism measures at its ports," Cruz said. "If the administration does not, Congress should force them to do so."

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 18 years and 38,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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