Thursday, March 23, 2023

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: America, Israel and the era of false messiahs
Obama hated Israel because, to him, the Jewish state is a microcosm of the America he believed was responsible for the wars of the region. He turned against America’s Sunni allies in the Persian Gulf and against Egypt because they viewed the United States as a positive rather than a negative force in the region.

For failing to hate American power as he did, Obama determined that the Sunni regimes weren’t “authentic” and he worked to destabilize them by supporting the Iranian mullahs and their allies in the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since jihad was a reasoned response to American aggression, so the thinking went and still goes, by empowering jihadists at the expense of Israel and the Sunni regimes, America could convince them to leave America alone or provide it with moral exculpation.

America’s spurned Sunni allies responded to Washington’s betrayal by casting about for other options. First, they turned to Israel. Then they turned to Russia and China. China’s mediation of the Saudi-Iranian dispute is a testament to the Sunnis’ conviction that the United States can no longer be trusted.

The report this week that the UAE is considering downgrading its relations with Israel is a testament to the growing sense among the Arabs that Israel is going down with America.

The Biden administration’s open support for the revolt of Israel’s post-Zionist elites seems to support this assessment. Those elites have a long record of scuttling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to develop strategic independence and the means to physically destroy Iran’s nuclear program. Instead, they favor support for U.S.-led nuclear diplomacy and appeasement of the ayatollahs. If Israel will not serve as a counterweight to Iran, then it has no value to the threatened Sunnis.

Israel’s takeaway from a generation of failed U.S. messianism must be that the time has come to end Israel’s strategic dependence on Uncle Sam. A restored alliance can only be based on mutual respect and sovereign independence. The mutinous elites must be brought to heel.

America’s takeaway from its generational flight from reality must be to restore reality to its proper place as the basis for American foreign policy. This doesn’t mean that the mythmakers and dreamers should be sent off to pasture. But the image of America that will rebuild its power and vitality isn’t a crusading banner of universal freedom. It isn’t an LGBT flag with a Black Lives Matter fist in the middle.

A restored America will be one that presents an updated version of the icons of the past—Horatio Alger and the Lone Ranger. Theirs told the story of a free people who persevered and prospered because they were willing to pay the price for freedom. They stood up for themselves and succeeded through hard work, courage and grit.

That was the dream Americans had and the one they shared with the world. If it is restored, America may still return to greatness. If it remains elusive, the American dream for its people and the world will disappear.
Mark Regev: Mahmoud Abbas: The rise and fall of the Palestinian leader
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will be celebrating his 88th birthday this year – although a certain amount of online confusion exists as to the precise date, either March 26 or November 15. There is however no dispute about the year (1935), city (Safed) and country (British Mandatory Palestine) of his birth.

Despite his advanced age, Abbas continues to hold three crucial positions: He is president of the Palestinian Authority, chair of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and head of the Fatah political movement.

Abbas assumed these roles following the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004. Arafat had established Fatah in 1959, took control of the PLO in 1969, and became the PA’s founding president in 1994.

For more than a generation, Arafat’s defiant persona, with his trademark black and white checkered keffiyeh, habitual unshaven stubble, and ubiquitous green battle fatigues, was synonymous with the Palestinian cause.

Compared to Arafat’s larger-than-life presence, Abbas is a dry suit-and-tie technocrat. But upon inheriting the leadership, Abbas’ more restrained manner was widely perceived as an advantage, given what his predecessor’s maximalist revolutionary agenda did to hopes for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Mahmoud Abbas, the failed nation-builder
The initial enthusiasm for Abbas’ governance seemed to be vindicated in his January 2005 campaign slogan for the PA presidency: “One authority, one law, one gun.” For many, this indicated that instead of persevering with Arafat’s terrorist war against Israel, the new Palestinian chief would be focusing on positive nation-building.

Such a view was seemingly affirmed with Abbas’ June 2007 appointment of Nablus-born Salam Fayyad as PA prime minister. Fayyad holds a PhD in economics from the University of Texas and had previously been the International Monetary Fund’s representative to the Palestinian territories. He served as Ramallah’s finance minister under both Arafat and Abbas, and was respected as a reformer committed to strengthening the PA’s institutions and economy.

But Fayyad’s plans for modernization, while very popular with international donors, threatened the way Fatah does business and challenged its system of political and economic control. Tellingly, Abbas sided with his Fatah cronies and Fayyad was forced to resign the premiership in April 2013.
Amb Alan Baker: Legal Perspectives on Israel's Legal Rights to Rescind Parts of Its 2005 Disengagement Law
In a press briefing on March 21, 2023, State Department Principle Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel expressed U.S. concern at new Israeli legislation rescinding parts of a 2005 disengagement law. Similar concerns were voiced by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to Israel's ambassador Michael Herzog.

The 2005 law, which implemented Israel's 2004 Disengagement plan, had called inter alia to remove four Israeli settlements – Homesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim, and Kadim – in the northern part of the West Bank area of Samaria, prohibiting further residence there by Israelis.

The new legislation rescinded this 2005 prohibition on residence in the four localities on the principal grounds that it had overlooked the basic property rights of the residents and, as such, was discriminatory, and that it had failed to result in any reduction in Palestinian hostility and terror.

The new legislation would enable the return of the residents to their homes and properties after the implementation of requisite legal and security arrangements and the resolution of land ownership claims by Palestinians. (The sites of Ganim and Kadim are reported to now be part of Jenin's municipal boundaries in Area A, effectively putting them off-limits to Israelis.)

U.S. spokespersons and former Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer wrongly claim that the new legislation contradicts previous undertakings by the Israeli Government to the U.S. "to evacuate these settlements and outposts in the northern West Bank in order to stabilize the situation and reduce frictions."

In fact, the 2004 unilateral and independent Israeli plan to evacuate those villages, even after implementation, failed in its stated purpose to secure and encourage a reduction in Palestinian hostility and violence.

Israel's new legislation rescinding the provisions prohibiting residence in the four settlements is distinctly not intended to enable new settlement construction but merely to allow the return of those residents previously removed from their homes and the concomitant restoration of their rights.

The reciprocal U.S.-Israeli commitments of 2004, which served as the premise for the implementation of Israel's disengagement plan, contained an essential affirmation by President George W. Bush that "it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion."

A Terrorist’s Best Friend
And as to Tony Blinken, after we and nine other families won our lawsuit in 2015 in the southern district of Manhattan, the U.S. State Department filed a statement of interest asking the judge to go easy on the appeal bond for the Palestinian Authority. They claimed that too high a bond would end the PA and lead to anarchy. Who signed that statement? None other than under-secretary Tony Blinken. The PA bought Abu Mazen a plane for $55 million the week after the judge agreed to the State Department request to reduce the bond from $700 million to $10 million.

Two weeks ago, a cousin of mine living in Israel called to ask for advice. Having been in a terror attack and having navigated the system, we have become a resource at times for others. This cousin had four young children at a bus stop two months ago when a bomb exploded there. One boy was hit in the head with shrapnel and all four were traumatized by the experience. They refuse to get on a bus to go to school. My cousin said that she had been contacted by the U.S. embassy and by the FBI. I was happy to hear that the red-white-and-blue was proactive in reaching out to her, but I told her not to get her hopes up with respect to the FBI. There have been well over 200 terror attacks in and around Israel in which a U.S. citizen has been killed or injured. The Republican Study Group actually used to keep a running list of such attacks during the Second Intifada. The FBI is legally required to open a file for any American injured or killed in an overseas terror incident. And they do open such files. How many terrorists have been indicted? I know of one. How many have been extradited? Zero?

Obviously the same for prosecution and incarceration. I have spoken to people in the FBI and at the Department of Justice, and they have no shortage of excuses—the Israelis get first dibs, the Israelis don’t share all of the evidence, there is some agreement between Israel and the U.S. not to try the same terrorist on the same charges in different countries, lack of access to the prisoners, and more. All of this might be true, but if the U.S. wanted someone, they would get him or her. The U.S. has more than a handful of levers it can use to get the Israelis to cough up any terrorist desired, but the problem is that there is no desire. The U.S. does not want to prosecute these cases and Israel is more than happy to oblige.

Each year, except for a few during the Trump years, the U.S. sends hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority. Much of this money is used to pay the salaries of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails; the guys from our attack have made a fortune while in jail. The Taylor Force Law was supposed to address these payments, but the U.S. government has just ignored it. Even if the monies were reduced, whatever the U.S. sends simply frees up other monies to support terrorists and their families. The U.S. is one of the largest supporters of the Palestinian terror enterprise and this fact has been true for every administration of late—both Republican and Democrat. The monies not taken during the Trump years were the result of a law that would have made the Palestinians agree to be tried in cases like ours in the U.S.: it was the PA that did not want the money, not Trump’s Arabist State Department refusing on principle to send money to the bad guys.

The U.S. talks a good game about fighting global terror. U.S. troops are in multiple hot spots around the globe to fight ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other Islamic terrorist organizations. But for all of the U.S. efforts, the U.S. still is a major provider of funds to the Palestinian Authority, who was found guilty on all counts in a federal courtroom for its role in wounding and killing American victims. Tom Nides can’t condemn Palestinian terror; it would be like someone condemning Google while holding a lot of Google stock. The U.S. continues to endanger Israeli and U.S. citizens by supporting a terror body that glorifies the murder of innocent civilians. Every year we remember the day in which we were injured and thank G-d for our recoveries. We will continue to fight the terrorists in court and in any way we can. I wish that our leaders in Washington could say the same.

JPost Editorial: Netanyahu causing cumulative damage to US-Israel ties
An unwise democratic decision
Yet, not every decision made democratically is wise, nor the timing particularly opportune. And this is one of those cases. Benjamin Netanyahu is seen gesturing at the Knesset, on July 26, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)Benjamin Netanyahu is seen gesturing at the Knesset, on July 26, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Not for nothing did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu block this type of bill from passing the Knesset in the past.

In March 2019, before the first of a cycle of five elections, then-justice minister Ayelet Shaked said that Netanyahu had blocked the cancellation of the Disengagement Law for political reasons, and that her New Right Party would work for the law’s repeal in the next coalition. The prime minister reportedly kept the bill from progressing on numerous occasions from 2015–2019 because he understood its sensitivity, including the impact in could have on his relations with Washington.

It’s a shame that Netanyahu, circa 2023, did not listen to Netanyahu, circa 2015-2019.

Had he done so, it could have spared Israel a reprimand from the US State Department which characterized the law as “provocative and counterproductive,” saying that it contradicted prior commitments given to America 20 years ago by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, and just a few days ago by the current government.

While Israel can withstand US disapproval of one policy or another, when the disagreements come in quick succession there is a concern about accumulative impact.

The Knesset Disengagement Law comes hot on the heels of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s utterance that there is “no such thing as a Palestinian people.” And that followed his comment that Huwara should be erased. Both remarks were condemned by the US.

This is in addition to America’s stated concern about the judicial reform bill. President Joe Biden, who has pointedly not yet invited Netanyahu to the White House for a meeting, spoke with the prime minister by phone this week and, according to a US readout of that conversation, “underscore[d] his belief that democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the US-Israel relationship, that democratic societies are strengthened by genuine checks and balances, and that fundamental changes should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support.”

The aggregate of all this is negative, and is coming at a time when Iran continues moving closer to the nuclear finish line and Israel will need US assistance – diplomatic or otherwise – to prevent it from crossing that line and gaining nuclear capabilities. It is also coming as some in the Democratic Party, and not only the usual suspects of far-Left progressives, are speaking of the need to curtail aid to Israel.

For instance, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy said on Sunday that Washington should condition its aid to Israel. “I think the United States needs to draw a harder line with this government,” he said in a CNN interview. “If we’re going to continue to be in the business of supporting the Israeli government, they have to be in the continued business of a future Palestinian state.”

Even if the prime minister disagrees with these sentiments, the Netanyahu of past governments would have been attuned to them and adjusted policy accordingly. The current Netanyahu, however, is not similarly attuned, and the result – as the summons of Herzog to the State Department attests – is bad for Israel-US ties.

Michigan GOP party slammed for tweet trivializing the Holocaust
“History has shown us that the first thing a government does when it wants total control over its people is to disarm them. President Reagan once stated, ‘If we lose freedom here, there is nowhere else to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.’” So read a tweet on March 22 from the Michigan Republican Party.

Quoting the former president and opposing gun control are red-meat issues for a conservative social-media account. But the photo of rings that the Nazis confiscated from Jewish victims—along with the caption “Before they collected all these wedding rings … They collected all the guns.”—sparked outrage, including from conservatives.

Matt Brooks, CEO of the Republican Jewish Jewish Coalition, called the tweet “absolutely inappropriate and offensive.” He said it should be taken down immediately.

Another Twitter user, who stated that he is Jewish and worked for the Michigan Republican Party, said: “I’m so disgusted and furious beyond words that this horrible trivialization of the Holocaust is being normalized by my state party.”

“Whether you are opposed to gun control or support it, this tweet should be called out as extremely offensive,” wrote Joel Petlin, superintendent of the Kiryas Joel School District in New York state. “The Holocaust should never be used as a political weapon, and such false analogies are insulting to both the victims and survivors of the Nazi genocide. Shame on you.”

Labour suspends councillor over Jew murder tweet
A Labour councillor in Preston has been suspended by the party after sharing a social media post justifying the terrorist murder of Israeli Jews.

Councillor Ismail Bax, who represents the Lancashire city’s Deepdale ward, used his Twitter account to re-post comments about the fatal shooting of seven people outside a synagogue in east Jerusalem in January.

The post read: “You terrorise a people. You strangle them. You destroy their homes. You occupy their lands. You murder their children. You bomb their hospitals. You restrict their movements. You blockade them. How will they react?”

The Labour investigation was triggered by a local Jewish resident, who said it “doesn’t feel right” for a councillor to be endorsing such statements.

Interviewed by the Lancashire Evening Post, she reportedly said: “When a councillor retweets something justifying the murder of these Jews…it’s not just offensive, it’s downright scary for us.”

She added that she and other members of Preston’s small Jewish community were too fearful to do anything that would “openly” identify their religion, saying: “We have a rabbi and we get together, but we would never go to the Flag Market and celebrate, say, Chanukah.

“I’m not out here to cause any harm to anyone — I’m not somebody who cancels people. I just felt that retweeting that post was justification [of the attack].”

She also said there was a strong pro-Palestinian movement in Preston “and you have to really find a balance between being pro-Palestinian and not being antisemitic — and there is a way of doing it.”

The council’s Labour leader, Matthew Brown, said his group had recently taken antisemitism training and said the local authority had also held “quite extensive dialogue with the Jewish community”.

MEMRI Executive Director's Op-Ed In 'Newsweek': 'Terrorists Love New Technologies. What Will They Do With Artificial Intelligence (AI)?'
On March 14, 2023, Newsweek published an op-ed titled Terrorists Love New Technologies. What Will They Do With AI? by MEMRI Executive Director Steven Stalinsky. Below is the op-ed.

Today, it's not a question of whether terrorists will use Artificial Intelligence (AI), but of how and when. Jihadis, for their part, have always been early adopters of emerging technologies: Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden used email to communicate his plans for the 9/11 attacks. American-born Al-Qaeda ideologue Anwar Al-Awlaki used YouTube for outreach, recruiting a generation of followers in the West. Indeed, by 2010, senior Al-Qaeda commanders were conducting highly selective recruitment of "specialist cadres with technology skills" – and, of course, Islamic State's use of Twitter to build its caliphate is well known.

Throughout their 20 years of Internet and social media use, terrorists have always been on the lookout for new ways to maximize their online activity for planning attacks. Artificial intelligence (AI) could be their next game changer. A United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) report warned in 2021: "As soon as AI becomes more widespread, the barriers to entry will be lowered by reducing the skills and technical expertise needed to employ it... AI will become an instrument in the toolbox of terrorism."

Over the past decade, research from my organization's Cyber & Terrorism Lab has documented how terrorists use technology, including cryptocurrency for fundraising and encryption for communications. It has also shown them using elements of AI for hacking and weapons systems, including drones and self-driving car bombs—a focus of their experimenting for years—as well as bots for outreach, recruitment, and planning attacks.

The dangers inherent in AI, including to national security, have dominated both media headlines and the discussion on its possible implications for the future. Governments and NGOs have warned that the day was coming when AI would be a reality. That day has now arrived.

Not surprisingly, all the recent media coverage of the dark side of AI is inspiring terrorist groups. On Dec. 6, a frequent user of an ISIS-operated Rocket.Chat server, who has a large following, posted that he had used the free ChatGPT AI software for advice on supporting the caliphate.

Noting that the software is "smarter than most activists," he shared the full ChatGPT reply to his questions, which included detailed steps for identifying and mobilizing a "core group of supporters," developing a "political program and ideology," gaining support from "the Muslim community," taking "control of territory," establishing "institutions and government structures," and promoting and defending the new caliphate.

Two weeks later, on Dec. 21, other ISIS supporters expressed interest in another AI platform, Perplexity Ask, for creating jihad-promoting content. One popular user shared his findings in a large discussion as users agreed that AI could be used to assist the global jihad movement.
The Israel Guys: Two Israeli Soldiers Injured After Hitting Landmine On Border With LEBANON
An IDF vehicle hit a landmine on the northern border with Lebanon and two soldiers were injured.

Israel repealed the disengagement law for four communities in northern Samaria and America responded as they usually do, strongly condemning Israel for this audacious act.

The world went crazy when Betzalel Smotrich made some honest statements at a conference in Paris.

Wanted Palestinian gunman killed by Israeli forces in West Bank raid
A wanted Palestinian gunman behind a series of shooting attacks in the West Bank was shot dead on Thursday morning during a raid by Israeli forces near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, police said.

According to a Border Police spokesman, undercover officers entered the town of ‘Izbat Shufa, on the outskirts of Tulkarem, to arrest Amir Khadijah, 25, after receiving intelligence about his whereabouts from the Shin Bet security agency.

Police said that when forces arrived at a hideout apartment where Khadijah was holed up, the suspect opened fire at the officers, who shot back, wounding him.

The officers then broke into the apartment, and Khadijah again opened fire at the Israeli forces, police said. The officers shot back and killed the suspect, the spokesman said.

No officers were hurt during the raid.

Khadijah was accused of carrying out several shooting attacks against Israeli settlements near Tulkarem and against Israeli forces at the nearby Te’enim Checkpoint.
Syrian Spy Caught by Israel Reveals Hizbullah's Methods
A Syrian national arrested by Israeli security forces and accused of spying for Hezbollah revealed during his interrogation the terror group's espionage methods at the northern Israeli border, Ynet learned on Wednesday.

Ghaith Abdullah, 24, was arrested last January after entering Israeli territory and faces charges of being a member of a terrorist group, espionage and providing support and resources to foreign terrorist organizations.

During his interrogation, Abdullah also revealed the perks and the salary he was offered in exchange for his services. "As far as he is concerned, he was offered a good job with a good salary," the Israel Police said.

According to the indictment, Abdullah, who lives in the Syrian Golan, was recruited by a Hezbollah operative in late 2019 to monitor IDF maneuvers along the Syrian border, gather classified information and pass it on to his Hezbollah handlers.

About a month later, he received a camera and began taking photos and videos of the forces. In every meeting with his handler Abu Ali, Abdullah handed over the full memory card, and the operator gave him a new, empty memory card so that he could continue to document IDF maneuvers. Eight months later, the suspect learned that the man who he was involved with was a Hezbollah operative, and yet he continued spying on the IDF.

Security prisoners call off hunger strike, defusing Ramadan tensions
A hunger strike by Palestinian security prisoners that was set to begin on Thursday, the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, has been canceled at the eleventh hour.

The decision to call off the protest will help to ease tensions between Israel and the Palestinians during Ramadan, Palestinian sources said.

The sources claimed that the decision to cancel the hunger strike was taken after “intensive contacts” between senior Palestinian Authority and Israeli officials in recent days.

A Palestinian official told The Jerusalem Post that there was “deep satisfaction” in Ramallah over the cancellation of the hunger strike. The official claimed that the US, Egypt and Jordan were also involved in the effort to avert the hunger strike which, he added, “could have led to an explosion with Israel during Ramadan.”

Some 2,000 security prisoners were planning to join the protest as part of a series of measures against new restrictions imposed on them by National Security Prisoner Itamar Ben-Gvir. More prisoners were expected to join at a later stage.

The “punitive measures” include, among other things, the transfer of hundreds of inmates to various prisons, limiting the use of water for showering to a few minutes, and banning the prisoners from baking their own bread.
Gaza’s Popular Resistance Committees attempts to establish a foothold in Judea and Samaria
On Tuesday, the Shin Bet said that in recent weeks it arrested four Palestinians in Judea and Samaria who were attempting to carry out attacks against Israeli targets. The Shin Bet alleged that the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) recruited and directed the suspects.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal has tracked the PRC’s movements in Judea and Samaria since March 3 and reported the group’s attempt to establish a foothold in Jenin.

The Shin Bet alleges Iman Zakot and Mohammed Aram—both residents of Rafah and members of the PRC—recruited Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria. The pair provided recruits with training and instructions on carrying out operations against Israeli targets, including smuggling weapons into the area.

During the investigation of two Palestinian suspects, it was uncovered that they had received a firearm and direction from the PRC to carry out a shooting attack in Jerusalem, according to the Shin Bet.

Last month, the Shin Bet arrested two additional Palestinian suspects. The Shin Bet alleges the pair were planning to carry out a bombing on behalf of the PRC.
Hollywood-Style ‘Documentary’ Invites Sympathy for Paranoid Palestinian Terrorists
Imagine a scenario in which a global news organization released a slick movie trailer that glorified a murderous terror group like ISIS, for example.

Picture the outrage as viewers were invited to sympathize with balaclava-clad militants as they sharpened their blades before executing a weeping hostage crouched before them in an orange jumpsuit.

Unfortunately, one need not envisage such a scene considering Al Jazeera just released something very similar.

Masquerading as a serious piece of journalism, the seven-minute short titled, ‘Inside the Jenin Battalion,’ takes viewers through the streets of the West Bank city dubbed the “Palestinian terror capital” and draws on them to empathize with gun-toting terrorists who are planning attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.

The “documentary” is anything but a factual insight into the group’s activities, but rather a piece of pure propaganda from a Qatari-owned news channel with a long track record of smearing the Jewish state.

The clip opens with dramatic music and spliced footage showing militants stalking the Jenin streets while clutching automatic weapons, presumably searching for the “Israeli enemy” that supposedly frequently intrudes on the city’s refugee camp but is nowhere to be seen on this particular night.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Palestine Declares War On Kailasa By: Dr. Nu vo Denn (satire)
In an unprecedented joint statement, the head of the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas movement controlling the Gaza Strip declared that their nation has launched a defensive war on the Kailasan republic.

“Kailasa poses an existential threat to Palestine,” the statement said. “We can no longer stand aside and watch as the leaders of Kailasa endanger Palestine with their reckless behavior. Because of their irresponsible activities, there is a grave risk that local and national leaders will begin questioning whether or not other nations they currently show respect for and send money to actually exist. That is essentially a threat of genocide against our nation and we will not let that happen. Within days, we will be mobilizing our forces to defeat the racist, colonialist, Zionist forces of Kailasa unless they immediately agree to cease all further activities undermining our long-suffering and heroic people.”

According to sources close to the Palestinian Authority leader, the decision to declare war came after the American city of Newark, New Jersey, declared it was twinning with Kailasa. Within days, the implications became clear and Fatah, the organization controlling the Palestinian Authority, reached out to the Hamas movement leadership to negotiate the joint statement.

In a surprising response to the joint statement, the opposition Islamic Jihad movement released a TikTok video in which they expressed unqualified support for what they called a “jihad against one of the most cowardly of the enemies of Islam. Our response will surely come.” Later the same evening, two rockets were fired toward southern Israel.

An anonymous Hamas source said that Iran will soon instruct Lebanon’s Hizbullah organization to send reinforcements and advisors to Gaza.
An Emboldened Hizballah Is Trying to Remake the Status Quo
Two weeks ago, a terrorist—most likely working for Hizballah—managed to cross into Israel from Lebanon and plant an explosive device near Megiddo that wounded a civilian. The attack, according to Matthew Levitt, is a sign of the Iran-backed militia’s increasing willingness to challenge the tacit understanding it has had with the IDF for over a decade. Such renewed aggression can also be found in the rhetoric of the group’s leaders:

In the lead-up to the 2006 war, [Hizballah’s] Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah famously miscalculated how Israel would respond to the cross-border abduction of its soldiers. According to Israeli analysts, however, he now believes he can predict the enemy’s behavior more accurately, leading him to sharpen his rhetoric and approve a series of increasingly aggressive actions over the past three years.

Nasrallah’s willingness to risk conflict with Israel was partly driven by domestic economic and political pressures. . . . Yet he also seemed to believe that Israel was unlikely to respond in a serious way to his threats given Hizballah’s enlarged precision-missile arsenal and air-defense systems.

In addition to the bombing, this month has seen increased reports of cross-border harassment against Israelis, such as aiming laser beams at drivers and homes, setting off loud explosions on the Lebanese frontier, and pouring sewage toward Israeli towns. Hizballah has also disrupted Israeli efforts to reinforce the security barrier in several spots along the Blue Line, [which serves as the de-facto border between Lebanon and the Jewish state].

This creeping aggressiveness—coupled with Nasrallah’s sense of having deterred Israel and weakened its military posture—indicate that Hizballah will continue trying to move the goalposts.
Congress Presses Europe To Designate Iran's Military as a Terror Group
A coalition of Republican senators is pressuring the European Union to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, warning that Tehran’s paramilitary fighting force is "sowing terror in the West."

"The IRGC clearly presents a threat to the EU and our collective security," 12 Republican senators led by Sen. James Risch (R., Idaho), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote on Wednesday to Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. "It is long past time to cut off its resources before the next tragedy strikes."

The EU has stalled for months on a recommendation by the European Parliament that it designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization and put in place a strict sanctions regime. European countries have been hesitant to move forward with such a designation due to trade relations, but pressure has mounted in the months since Iran began supplying lethal drone technology to Russia for its war in Ukraine. Iran has issued threats of "unwanted legal and political consequences" for Europe if it designates the IRGC as a terrorist group.

Republicans say an EU "designation will cripple the IRGC's ability to promote terrorism and will make the world safer for Americans and Europeans alike," according to a copy of the letter exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The United States designated the IRGC as a global terrorist organization in 2019. The decision authorized a bevy of sanctions on the IRGC, its terrorist affiliates, and large portions of Iran’s economic sector that are controlled by the elite fighting force. While the Biden administration initially contemplated removing this designation as part of concessions aimed at securing a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear deal, Republican pushback thwarted that effort.

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