Thursday, June 29, 2023

From Ian:

No sense of security: Settlers have had it with the current situation
Before addressing the key issues, this column must begin with an unequivocal and unwavering clarification: the recent scenes of Jewish protesters running amok and carrying out acts of vigilante retaliation in the Palestinian villages of Umm Safa, Turmus Ayya, and Urif, must be vigorously condemned. Both as they involved random attacks on innocent people and also due to the fact that these random acts of violence only add fuel to the fire rather than preventing it, they undermine national security rather than helping in any way. Those hooligans who entered the villages and burned down houses endanger lives and should be thrown into prison.

In addition, it is also important to state that, further to what was said by the Minister of Settlements and National Missions, Orit Struck, security forces work night and day, regularly putting their life on the line, in order to protect all citizens of the State of Israel, on both sides of the Green Line (Struck, who later apologized, had implied that they were like the Wagner Force for acting on their own). One of the leading figures in the Judea and Samaria leadership spoke to me at the beginning of the week, and the tough message he relayed is a reflection of the immense complexity characterizing the situation in Judea and Samaria in recent times.

People at the grassroots level have simply blown a fuse
"I really am at a loss as to what to say about what happened in the villages. On the one hand, if my son had been one of those to enter there I would have given him a good hard slap across the face; on the other hand, we really are 'sitting ducks'. The security forces are not doing their work and we have been left on our own. What can you say to a woman who travels, day in day out, from Ateret to Ofra or from Elon Moreh to Tapuach Junction? We have been left to fend for ourselves and nobody is prepared to do what is required to eradicate this phenomenon."

This has taken over a year, with considerable patience on the part of the settlers, who have seen their relatives and friends murdered and wounded in front of their very eyes, while actions against the Palestinians have been generally rather restrained, but the horrific terrorist attack at the gas station last week was the tiny straw that broke the camel's back. Just imagine, you are sitting down to eat at a restaurant, when all of a sudden a terrorist starts shooting wildly, butchering anybody in his path. Now, imagine that for the last year, you have been crying out that this is precisely what will happen and nobody is prepared to take the requisite steps to prevent the continued acts of terrorism, and at the end of the day, your 'prophesy' has come true. Imagine that you are taking your kids to their after-school activities and you just don't know if you will return home safely.

The IDF has failed and the settlers have been left with no option but to take action
In Judea and Samaria, people are unashamedly blaming the security forces for the ineptitude that led to the recent violence in the Binyamin region. The Head of the Binyamin Regional Council, Israel Ganz, phoned senior IDF officers on a number of occasions prior to the recent rampage, warning that after riots by the Palestinians on the Trans-Binyamin Highway, they are preparing for serious action and it was important to bring in sizable forces into the area. Even in real-time, during the rioting by the Palestinians, there was only a small military force on site, so consequently the local residents were forced to react against them, and this was later documented and published.

In other words, as the residents of Binyamin say, the IDF failed in its mission and so the settlers were forced to take action. A senior settlement figure recently told me that an extremely important official in the defense establishment expressed some form of support for Palestinians carrying arms. "There is chaos within the Palestinian Authority and they need to protect themselves," he told me. If that is what senior officials have to say, then what can you expect from the settlers?
UN Report Welcomes Input from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad
The UN Secretary-General’s new report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) welcomed letters and “practical measures” from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

The annual CAAC report, dated 5 June but first published on Tuesday, accuses Israel of being responsible for thousands of violations against children while only explicitly mentioning Hamas to praise its cooperation with the UN.

“I welcome the letters received from Palestinian Islamic Jihad and from Hamas, the appointment of focal points and the identification of practical measures, including those proposed by the United Nations to end and prevent grave violations against children, including those related to the killing and maiming and the recruitment and use of children,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ report said.

The report, which covers violations against children under the age of 18 through 2022, attributes the vast majority of such violations to Israel. Of the 1142 children who were killed, maimed, or required medical assistance after inhaling tear gas, the report says that 975 were caused by the Israeli security forces.

“Most children were maimed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in the context of Israeli forces’ law enforcement operations (473). The main causes of maiming by Israeli forces were live ammunition (153), rubber-coated metal bullets (136) and strikes in Gaza (44),” the report says.

Despite Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad regularly recruiting teenagers and holding training camps for even younger children, the report does not separate out children who were themselves armed members of militant groups.

Asked at a Tuesday press conference for the report’s release about whether the figures for Palestinian children who were killed, wounded or detained should distinguish teenage militants, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba said that it was “regrettable” but immaterial to the report.

“A child is a child is a child, including when they are perpetrators of violence,” Gamba said. “We cannot make a distinction between children that are fighting against armed forces. We think it’s regrettable. We understand the situation. We’ve had this in many situations….A violation will be recorded, even if it’s the killing, maiming or detention of a child that is found guilty of some type of violence or perpetration of an act.”

Associated Press Ignores Barbaric Reality of Palestinian Child Terrorists
The Associated Press recently reported that the death of a 15-year-old girl in the flashpoint West Bank city of Jenin during an anti-terrorism raid by Israeli forces earlier this month had “renewed scrutiny of the [Israeli] military’s record of causing civilian casualties.”

In the article — subsequently reprinted by The Washington Post and ABC News — the AP’s Middle East correspondent Isabel DeBre uses the funeral of Sadeel Naghniyeh, who was “killed by suspected Israeli fire” while reportedly standing in the driveway of her family’s home, as a hook to supposedly highlight the “rising number of children killed in the heightened violence and the extraordinary risks they face.”

DeBre quotes several people in the first half of the piece, including Naghniyeh’s father asserting that his daughter dreamed of being a nurse, and convicted PFLP member Shawan Jabarin, director of the terror-linked NGO Al-Haq, who appears to suggest Israeli forces are indiscriminately killing Palestinian civilians.

While highlighting the gruesome reality of civilian deaths in conflict zones is important, the article glosses over or outright ignores some very relevant details.

First, the piece presents the risks posed to civilians by armed terrorist groups who hide in densely-populated urban areas as merely an allegation made by the Israeli army — as opposed to an incontrovertible fact. This is despite the use of civilians as human shields by Palestinian terrorists being a well-documented occurrence that has been acknowledged and condemned by even the staunchest critics of the Jewish state.

Second, the article totally overlooks the use of children by Palestinian terrorist groups — either as lookouts or actual combatants.

Despite revealing some telling details about Naghniyeh, including that she was sending photographs of Israeli military positions on the encrypted messaging app Telegram (used by terror networks to communicate) when she died and that her Facebook profile picture consisted of “an unidentified girl wearing an abaya and holding up a rifle,” little consideration is given to the probability that she was affiliated with a terrorist organization.

Mossad abducted terror leader inside Iran to thwart Cyprus attack
The Mossad announced on Thursday its method for recently thwarting a Cyprus terror attack: It kidnapped the mastermind from within Iranian territory.

The stunning revelation, including the identity of the mastermind, Yusef Shahabazi Abbasalilu, was the latest in the saga which itself first broke on Sunday.

“In a unique daring mission within Iranian territory, the Mossad was able to seize the mastermind of the terror cell, who then admitted [to the terror plot] in detail during his interrogation, which led to exposing and the taking apart of the Cyprus terror cell,” said a Mossad statement.

A senior Mossad official said, “We will get to every official who advances terror against Jews and Israelis anywhere in the world, including within Iranian territory.” The IRGC gave terror leader instructions, help

Abbasalilu had received detailed instructions from senior members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and told his interrogators exactly how the plot was to be carried out and where to find all the related supplies and cell members, said the Mossad.

Next, the spy agency passed on the information to Cyprus’ authorities who arrested most of the cell’s other members.

On Sunday, The Jerusalem Post and Phile News reported that the Mossad and Cyprus thwarted a planned Iranian terrorist attack on Jews on the island state.

That initial report said that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps planned the attack, which was stopped in cooperation between Cyprus and Western partners, which named the US and Israel as among the likely partners.
Israel's Mossad catches, interrogates assassin in Iran over plot to kill Israeli in Cyprus

Netanyahu Is Not Showing Contempt for U.S. by Going to China
I wouldn't be surprised if Jerusalem and Washington discussed China's invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Beijing before it was accepted. Those who have suggested Netanyahu is looking for an alternative partnership to the U.S. are clearly mistaken. Netanyahu is never going to lead his country closer to the Chinese dictatorship at the expense of the fundamental relationship with America. The U.S. is and will remain Israel's closest and most important strategic and military ally. China's repressive communist autocracy is anathema to Israelis.

Netanyahu needs to go to Beijing because China is Israel's third largest global trading partner, although the trend of growth between the two countries has slowed as a result of Israel's own national security considerations and accommodation of U.S. concerns. Last year Netanyahu stressed the "limit to how much we can open ourselves up to being dependent on non-like-minded states."

With increasing Chinese diplomatic involvement in the Middle East, Netanyahu cannot afford to be left out of the moves that China is making in the region, all of which have a direct bearing on Israel's critical national interests. It is not good enough for him to stand on the sidelines and watch as events unfold. It is crucial that Xi Jinping understands Israel's position directly from the prime minister.
Is Israel cozying up to China at expense of US?
Carice Witte, Bradley Bowman and Dan Perry discuss Israel's China gamble, and whether it will cost it good standing with the US.

Isaac Herzog to address joint session of US Congress next month
President Isaac Herzog will address a joint session of the US Congress on July 19, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy announced on Thursday.

The trip is meant to mark the 75th anniversary of Israeli statehood.

"In May, I became the second Speaker of the US House of Representatives in history to address the Israeli Knesset, and now, it is my privilege to host Israeli President Isaac Herzog for a similar honor. The only other President of Israel to share this distinction is his father—President Chaim Herzog—more than 35 years ago,” McCarthy said.

The Speaker said that “the world is better off when America and Israel work together.

"Eleven minutes after declaring independence in 1948, the United States was the first to recognize the state of Israel, and today, we continue to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two democracies," he added.

Herzog is also expected to meet with US President Joe Biden at the White House during his visit to Washington.

Biden has not yet invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, even saying in public earlier this year that he has no plans to do so. Biden has criticized this government's judicial reform, and his administration is also critical of Israeli construction plans in Judea and Samaria.
Dan Shapiro to lead US efforts to integrate Israel regionally
The State Department tapped Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, on June 29 to become its new senior adviser for regional integration.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the new role on Twitter, stating that Shapiro “will support U.S. efforts to advance a more peaceful and interconnected region, deepen and broaden the Abraham Accords and build the Negev Forum.”

The position will be housed in the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs bureau.

Shapiro was reportedly Blinken’s favorite for the job last month. In recent months, the Biden administration has been making a diplomatic push to convince Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel.

With Yael Lempert, who holds the State Department’s Abraham Accords and Negev Forum portfolios, is President Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Jordan, which is why Blinken was considering Shapiro, per Axios reporting.

Saudi Arabia not committing to allowing Israeli reps to attend UNESCO meeting
Saudi Arabia has so far not signed a document committing to free access to all UNESCO members for the World Heritage Committee's meeting in September, with the issue of allowing Israeli officials to enter the country as the main sticking point, Israeli officials and Western diplomats with direct knowledge of the issue told Axios.

The big picture: Saudi Arabia appears to be taking a cautious approach to any public steps that could be seen as normalization with Israel. The two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations, though the U.S. is pushing to get an agreement between the countries by early next year, U.S. officials have previously told Axios.

U.S. officials have previously said they believe Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is ready to normalize relations with Israel but wants to do it as part of one big package deal with the U.S., and therefore, he doesn’t want to take any more incremental normalization steps.

If the kingdom agrees to allow the Israeli representatives to visit the kingdom to participate in the meeting, it would be the first time officials from Israel are allowed to officially and publicly enter the country.

If the Saudis refuse, the event could be moved to a different country.
Seth Frantzman: Why did Vladimir Putin call Middle East leaders after Wagner revolt?
For Moscow, Iran is of great importance. Putin spoke to Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi after the rebellion and discussed issues relating to the Caucasus and also the Astana process regarding Syria. “While congratulating the arrival of Eid al-Adha, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, presented a report on the recent armed rebellion in this country and stated: Russia acted with strength against this rebellion,” Iran’s pro-regime media said.

The leaders discussed a North-South trade corridor and also discussed bilateral trade and Syria. Putin also spoke with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Kremlin reported on Monday. “Having received exhaustive information, the Emirati leader declared his full support for the actions of the Russian leadership,” the Kremlin said in a statement. Trade and other ties were on the agenda in the talks.

The two calls represent how Moscow continues to view the Middle East as a key player in its policy goals. In addition, Ukraine’s critique of Israel over the last week for not providing more defense technology support for Kyiv also illustrates how much the region matters.

Ukraine has not been critiquing Brazil, South Africa, or many other states in the world regarding the need for air defenses and support. This is because while many countries in the world may have large economies, many of them do not make state-of-the-art radars and air defenses or other technologies that will be of use in the conflict.

The Middle East’s relevance is linked to trade and also defense issues. This is because the Middle East has been a testing ground for new defense technology since the early days of the Cold War. Air defenses, tanks, missiles, drones and other technology have all been combat proven in the region. Iran developed drones in the region to target Saudi Arabia, Israel and others; and then sent them to Russia.

Iron Dome was developed to stop Iranian-backed rocket fire from Lebanon and Gaza. Ukraine now wants Iron Dome. European countries are rushing to acquire new defense technology and looking to the Middle East to see what works. Turkey developed cheap armed drones and has used Syria and Iraq as an area for target practice to increase sales. All of this is evidence that while some policymakers want to be done with the Middle East, the region is still like the scene in Godfather III, it continues to drag people back in.
Palestinian Authority Criticizes Russia's Decision to Open Diplomatic Office in Jerusalem
The Palestinian Authority on Monday expressed frustration at Russia's June 16 decision to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem. "Such a decision could be taken advantage of by other countries waiting for the opportunity to follow," Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said during a meeting with Russian Ambassador to the PA Gocha Boachidze in Ramallah. The decision came without prior coordination with the Palestinian side or providing an explanation afterward, al-Maliki noted.

Joe Truzman: Unrest in the West Bank: More Than Two Years of Escalating Violence
The West Bank is undergoing a period of major instability due to the significant allocation of resources by various armed groups, namely Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and Hamas. Adding fuel to the fire, Iran and Hezbollah are supporting the unrest by transferring arms and finances.

A marked surge in hostilities between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants began in June 2021 when Islamic Jihad Jenin commander Jamil al-Amouri and two Palestinian security forces officers died in a shootout with a special unit of the Israeli Border Police. The occurrence signified the start of a persistent conflict that has swept across parts of the West Bank, including some areas of Israel.

At some point in 2022, Iran recognized an opportunity in the West Bank and consequently intensified its support to Islamic Jihad and other affiliated militant groups. Iran has boosted its assistance to extremist groups like Islamic Jihad in a bid to heighten destabilization efforts in the West Bank and ramp up attacks on Israeli targets. Iran has also recognized the vulnerability of the Palestinian Authority. It sees the destabilization of the West Bank as a way to weaken its authority further, thus benefiting Hamas, a major beneficiary of the regime’s support.

Speaking to FDD’s Long War Journal, an Israeli security official expressed concerns over Iranian funding to Islamic Jihad and the group’s potential to execute acts of terrorism in the West Bank. “Iran is the Islamic Jihad’s funder. The Islamic Jihad is working very hard to promote terror in the West Bank. The money enables purchase of weapons and munitions, and the establishment of improvised weapons manufacturing facilities in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Furthermore, as per the words of the Israeli security official, Iran is actively instigating and promoting terrorism within the West Bank. “Of course, it’s the Iranian regime who wishes to see Israel being destroyed from within. Therefore, they encourage incitement and terrorism in the West Bank.”

The concerns expressed by the Israeli security official are not unfounded. In August 2022, the head of the IRGC, General Hossein Salami, implied that Iran is contributing to the armament of the West Bank. Later, in April 2023, Salami vaguely suggested Iran may be involved in the West Bank.

“The Zionist regime has surrounded itself with walls of several hundred meters, and uses the most powerful sensors to create [its own] security, so that not even an animal can cross its borders. But invisible hands have armed the West Bank, and you [now] see modern automatic rifles and automatic weapons in the hands of the Palestinians,” said Salami.

The Israel Guys: In SHOCKING First, Militants Launch Rocket Inside the WEST BANK
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Biden administration just proved that they have another level of Israel hatred, not only did they cut support to scientific and technology research in Israeli institutions in the so called West Bank, they condemned the decision to build 5,700 new houses in Judea and Samaria and increased their funding of one of the most anti-Israel factions of the UN, UNWRA.

Two rockets were fired from Jenin, but thankfully no one was injured.

And the Defense Ministry just confiscated millions of shekels that would have gone to funding terrorism.

Israeli investigative series led to Dutch arrest of father-daughter terror team
The arrest announced on Monday by Dutch investigators of a father and daughter last week for “large-scale financing” of Hamas in breach of E.U. sanctions was the direct result of an Israeli investigative series produced by Ad Kan, an Israeli activist group.

The series, “Shtula,” which means “plant,” aired on Channel 13 as a five-part series in October and November 2022.

The show’s title refers to the young Scandinavian woman who went undercover as a human rights activist to expose the connection between terrorist organizations, antisemitic BDS groups and so-called “human rights groups.”

One of those featured in the series was Amin Abu Rashid, described in the series as “the central figure of Hamas in Holland. He is considered one of the key people of the fundraising system of the organization in Europe.”

Amin Abu Rashid and his daughter Israa are widely believed to be the two suspects arrested by Dutch authorities. (According to Dutch law, the names of suspects are not released unless there’s a conviction.)

“My job is Israel down. That’s my job,” Abu Rashid says in broken English to the undercover agent, a Danish architecture student, at one point in the series. “2024 is the year Israel will be destroyed.”

Dutch authorities said that in addition to sending approximately €5.5 million ($6 million) to Hamas, the suspects are also believed to have participated “in a criminal organization whose purpose is to support Hamas financially.”

Abu Rashid leads the Stichting Israa (“Israa Foundation”) located in Rotterdam. The Israa Foundation is part of a network known as the Union of Good. The U.S. Department of the Treasury labeled the Union of Good a terrorist group in 2008.
Iran helped create Palestinian Lions' Den terror group - Shin Bet
The Palestinian Lion’s Den terrorist group has been heavily influenced by Iran, Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar said on Tuesday, adding that they represent a new kind of organization, functioning as much on social media as in the physical world.

Speaking at the Tel Aviv Cyber Week Conference, he said: “Behind this group is the long arm of Iran. Iran influences and targets young people online who are likely to move toward terror, incites them, sends them funds and provides them weapons.”

“The Lion’s Den, which was attacked by our forces in the Kasbah, was born on smartphones, and not in a Mosque,” said the Shin Bet chief.

Bar also noted ISIS's influence behind a terror attack carried out in Beersheba in 2022.

The Shin Bet chief’s point was not that these terrorists were necessarily part of Iran or ISIS’ direct chain of command.

Rather, it was that Iran and ISIS are sophisticated enough to cause terror around the world, even if their proxies may not fully understand who is directing them.

Further, Bar talked about the profound role of artificial intelligence in preventing terror going forward.
V Terror hub Jenin is “beautiful bride, who perfumes herself daily with the scent of Martyrdom” in PA TV poem
Official PA TV narrator: “Jenin is the pain of the oppressed
The pain of those rising up
The symbol of the fighters
Jenin is exporting freedom to the entire world
And presenting its sons as a sacrifice for Jerusalem and the cause
Jenin is our beautiful bride, who perfumes herself daily with the scent of Martyrdom”
[Official PA TV News, June 19, 2023]

Official PA TV added the recital of the poem to a broadcast about Palestinian terrorists ambushing Israeli forces in Jenin on June 19, 2023. The terrorists wounded 7 Israeli soldiers with an explosive while 7 Palestinians, most of them terrorists, were killed and dozens wounded in the ensuing gun battle.

Fiancée of imprisoned terrorist murderer “It’s the prisoner’s right to live naturally like any other person”
Official PA TV host: “We send greetings to the prisoner sentenced to life, our brother Abdallah Agbaria (i.e., Israeli Arab terrorist, murdered 2). Now we’ll watch an interview with his fiancée from the Gaza Strip – Allah willing you’ll meet your fiancée soon outside of the prison walls.” …

Yasmin Al-Harathani, terrorist Abdallah Agbaria’s fiancée: “I’m Yasmin Al-Harathani, a resident of Gaza, fiancée of prisoner Abdallah Agbaria… I’ve been engaged for 5 years already. At the start of the engagement I hesitated whether to agree or not. I asked Allah to guide me … and afterwards I agreed… They gave me the dowry and a gold necklace, and we wrote up the marriage contract… I spoke with him [Abdallah] through a letter... He congratulated me and I [congratulated] him… It’s the prisoner’s right to live naturally like any person. I say to you, Abdallah, I’ll wait for you my entire life… and the two of us will rejoice together, have a wedding [ceremony], and raise a family.” [Official PA TV, Giants of Endurance, June 22, 2023]

Abdallah Agbaria – 20-year-old Israeli Arab terrorist who stabbed and murdered 2 Israeli university students – Sharon Steinmetz, 21, and Yehiel Finfter, 25 – while they were hiking at Nahal Keini near Megiddo Junction on Aug. 29, 1999. Agbaria confessed to the murders and is serving 2 life sentences.

Fiancée of imprisoned terrorist and accomplice to murder: “I’m full of pride to get engaged to him”
Official PA TV host: “We’ve come to the ceremony announcing the engagement of prisoner Husam Omar (i.e., terrorist) who was sentenced to 35 years.” …

Prisoner Husam Omar’s fiancée Ala’ Rumeilat: “My relationship with Husam Omar, or in effect my relationship with a prisoner, is like the relationship of any young woman with a young man who has a right to be happy and live. Husam Omar has sacrificed 21 years of his life. What prevents me from sacrificing and waiting 14 years? I’m prepared to wait my entire life, not just 14 years. My brother Uday introduced me to Husam... My brother told me a lot about him and said that Husam loves good deeds, loves to help others, and this attracted me to get to know Husam. The relationship between us was only based on what my brother told me, I didn’t know him personally. Until the day his sister came and asked if I was ready to get engaged. My answer at the start was no, until she asked me: ‘Even if the groom is Husam Omar?’ I told her: ‘Husam is a man who cannot be refused, and I’m full of pride to get engaged to him.’”
[Official PA TV, Giants of Endurance, May 25, 2023]

Husam Omar – Palestinian terrorist arrested in 2002 and charged with accomplice to murder. PMW was unable to determine the details of his crimes.

PMW: Abbas’ Advisor: Arab participation in Jerusalem municipal elections is “betrayal of Allah” and “a crime”
PA fatwa: “The Palestinian Supreme Fatwa Council confirmed the fatwa, which bans participating or running in the elections for the occupation’s (i.e., Israel’s) municipality in Jerusalem…This constitutes a violation of religious law and of the national consensus”

Any Palestinian who runs or votes in Jerusalem municipal elections is committing “a crime” and “will lose his national identity and his Palestinian affiliation”

The Jerusalem municipal elections are scheduled for October 31, 2023, but the PA is already warning Arab residents of Jerusalem against participating as candidates or as voters. In fact, the Palestinian Supreme Fatwa Council has issued a fatwa – an Islamic religious ruling - prohibiting participation in the elections, stating that it “constitutes a violation of religious law”:
Headline: “The [Palestinian Supreme] Fatwa Council bans participating in the elections of the occupation’s municipality in Jerusalem,both as candidates and as voters”

“The Palestinian Supreme Fatwa Council confirmed the fatwa (i.e., Islamic religious ruling) that it issued, which bans participating or running in the elections for the occupation’s municipality in Jerusalem. It explained that this constitutes a violation of religious law and of the national consensus.”

[WAFA, official PA news agency, June 15, 2023]

PA Supreme Shari’ah Judge and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor on Religious Affairs and Islamic Relations Mahmoud Al-Habbash stressed that any participation in the elections “constitutes a betrayal of Allah,” as well as of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, “the blood of the Martyrs, and the sacrifice of the Jihad fighters”:
“Al-Habbash expressed appreciation for the fatwa issued by the Palestinian [Supreme] Fatwa Council, which defined participation in these elections as a crime, because it constitutes a violation of the national position and recognition of the occupation’s legitimacy. He emphasized that this also constitutes a betrayal of Allah and His Messenger [Muhammad], the blood of the Martyrs, and the sacrifice of the Jihad fighters carrying out Ribat (i.e., religious conflict over land claimed to be Islamic).”

[Ma’an, independent Palestinian news agency, June 20, 2023]

Hezbollah Utilizes Western Military Equipment Supplied To The Lebanese Army Along The Border Area With Israel
Hezbollah’s infiltration of the ranks of the Lebanese army, as well as its military use for its own benefit of the army’s infrastructure, the army’s activities, its soldiers, and officers, was recently mentioned in several publications and is well-known to us. Hezbollah uses Lebanese army communications antennae and radar, is present on Lebanese vehicles patrolling southern Lebanon, and “employs” soldiers and officers to collect information and influence operations. It is also likely influencing the Lebanese army and its soldiers’ activities toward IDF soldiers carrying out the border barrier construction.

At the same time, there is a risk that Western military equipment, weapons, and armaments will end up in the hands of Hezbollah to be used against Israel. The weaponry and ammunition were provided to the Lebanese army by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and other European countries. These include anti-tank missiles, man-portable air-defense systems, surveillance equipment, and various electronic systems. They are quite likely to be aimed at Israel in the next conflict.

According to our assessment, some Western military equipment is already in the hands of Hezbollah, which regularly applies it along the Israeli border. Advanced monitoring and communications technologies, including surveillance devices and sophisticated day and night cameras, will likely reach Hezbollah operatives acting along the Israeli border. The Americans and the British provided this equipment to the Lebanese army to support the LAF – Joint Border Project, a Lebanese border defense and security project focusing on the border with Syria. According to our understanding, this effort was led by the US Department of Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

The abolition of conscription in Lebanon in 2012, demographics that favor Shiites (at least 50% of the population), the difficult economic situation, and the erosion of military salaries driving Christians out of the army since they no longer see a military career as a prestigious and rewarding option, all these causes over time play into Hezbollah’s hands.

According to our assessment that many Shi’ite troops, officers in the Lebanese army, and several Shi’ite-dominated Lebanese army units will fight alongside Hezbollah. They will serve as Hezbollah proxies in the next conflict with Israel. They will do so, among other things, with weapons and know-how provided to the Lebanese army by Western countries led by the US.

Bipartisan resolution rejects nuclear Iran, supports Israel’s ‘freedom of action’ to prevent it
A new bipartisan resolution introduced on Tuesday reiterates U.S. opposition to a nuclear-armed Iran and declares support for Israel’s “freedom of action” to stop an Iranian nuclear weapon.

The resolution, which comes amid rising bipartisan concern over Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon and the Biden administration’s renewed efforts to engage with Tehran over its nuclear program, is sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX), joined by Republicans Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Rich McCormick (R-GA), and Democrats Brad Schneider (D-IL), Jared Golden (D-ME), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Kathy Manning (D-NC).

“In the face of unprecedented nuclear provocations from the Iranian regime, it is vital the United States make clear that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable,” McCaul said in a statement. “I am proud to lead this bipartisan resolution declaring with no ambiguity that Iran must not be able to obtain a nuclear weapon, and that the United States is willing to use all means necessary to prevent a nuclear Iran. Nothing is off the table.”

The resolution declares that it is U.S. policy that a nuclear Iran “is not acceptable” and cannot be permitted “under any circumstances or conditions”; that the U.S. will “use all means necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon”; and that U.S. partners and allies, including Israel, have the “freedom of action… to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

The legislation condemns “international complacency” toward Iran’s nuclear program, which “threatens the global nonproliferation regime.”
Biden’s Iran Deal Will Bring Tehran Even ‘Closer to the Nuclear Threshold,' Analysis Finds
The Biden administration’s latest nuclear deal with Iran could enable the hardline regime to make "up to eight nuclear weapons in three months," according to an analysis released this week.

The agreement, which Biden administration officials are negotiating in secret, will bring Tehran "closer to the nuclear threshold" than ever before, according to a policy analysis published on Wednesday by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

"Nothing in the reported arrangement would stop Iran from constructing a new underground nuclear facility that experts fear would make it all but impossible to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons," according to the analysis authored by Richard Goldberg, former director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction at the White House National Security Council, and Behnam Ben Taleblu, a veteran arms control expert.

The findings are likely to further galvanize Republican opponents of a new Iran deal, who are already concerned the Biden administration will violate the law by signing an agreement without first receiving legislative approval. Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House are already laying the groundwork to subpoena top Biden administration officials over their secret talks with Iran, which are reportedly being held in Oman. Secretary of State Antony Blinken affirmed on Wednesday that the United States is "willing to explore diplomatic paths" with Tehran, and Iranian officials have signaled a similar willingness in recent weeks.

While the contours of the deal remain heavily guarded, details that have leaked into the press indicate the Biden administration is offering Tehran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for minimal restrictions on Tehran’s contested nuclear program. FDD says Congress should immediately intervene to stop the deal and consider issuing a "temporary restraining order against the Treasury Department" to prevent the sanctions relief.
FDD: U.S. Releases Funds to Pay Iran’s Debts
Latest Developments
Iran’s deputy oil minister, Majid Chegeni, said on June 25 that Iraq repaid its $2.76 billion debt to Iran on purchases of natural gas using funds previously frozen by U.S. sanctions due to Tehran’s nuclear development and other malign activities. The transfer coincides with reports that the Biden administration is negotiating an agreement it says will limit Iran’s nuclear enrichment and release three Americans wrongfully detained by the Islamic Republic.

Chegeni, who is also head of the National Iranian Gas Company, told the Iranian state-affiliated Shana News Agency that Tehran does not have direct access to the funds, which is consistent with reports the Biden administration is allowing Iran to use the funds for paying off debts rather than to repatriate the money.

Expert Analysis
“It’s troubling to see the administration helping to fill Iran’s coffers while the Islamic Republic continues to increase its malign activities on all fronts: terrorism and terror finance, nuclear mendacity, hostage-taking, and assassination attempts, in addition to human rights abuses against its own people. This deserves immediate scrutiny by Congress. And imagine the message this sends to Democrats and Republicans alike who lost loved ones at the hands of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps: paying the regime for nominal, reversible nuclear commitments is prioritized over satisfying Iranian judgments owed to victims’ families.” — Toby Dershowitz, FDD Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Strategy

“The evidence continues to mount that the administration is providing Iran sanctions relief prior to congressional review. That should prompt immediate hearings, requests for documents, and action to prevent another dime from going to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Assessing Israel's Ongoing Campaign Against Iran in Syria
Since 2013 - and more intensely since 2017 - Israel has been conducting an active military and intelligence campaign against Iran's presence in Syria. The Israeli defense establishment assesses that its pressure on Iran's presence in Syria is effective.

Israel's campaign includes airstrikes in Syrian territory and occasionally in northern Iraq, and low-intensity naval warfare - including operations by Israeli special forces against Iranian ships carrying oil or weapons to Lebanon and Syria.

The purposes of the Syrian campaign are to destroy Iran's efforts to build up a significant military presence in Syria and disrupt the line of supply to Hizbullah in Lebanon.

The Israeli air force could act almost without losses against targets in Syrian territory, as long as it secures deconfliction arrangements with foreign air forces operating there, including Russia, beginning in September 2015.

When Iran tried to retaliate in May 2018 by firing 34 rockets into the Israeli Golan Heights, the Israeli air force responded with a massive attack on nearly 100 Iranian targets all over Syria.

The IRGC continues to seek alternative methods of retaliation against Israel. Iranian agents or people in their pay plotted attacks on Israeli citizens in Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Turkey and Greece.

All were averted by the local authorities, apparently with the help of Israeli intelligence tip-offs.
A Rejuvenated Iran-Al-Qaeda Link Poses New Security Threats
Despite the many military blows that Salafi jihadist entities have absorbed over the years, both ISIS and al-Qaeda have been able to survive and create new threats due to their ideology, which cannot be bombed out of existence.

The new leader of al-Qaeda, Saif al-Adel, who arrived in Afghanistan from Iran in November 2022, has significance for Israel, according to Michael Barak, senior researcher at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT). "Al-Adel is in very good contact with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)," Barak told JNS. "It's a relationship that goes back to the 1990s. Al-Adel has a team behind him. And al-Qaeda and Iran have cooperated in the past - Iran can use al-Qaeda to launch attacks against Israel while denying their involvement."

In November 2022, an Israeli businessman in Georgia was the target of a Pakistani terror squad affiliated with al-Qaeda. The squad had traveled to the country under Iranian orders. "Al-Qaeda still has some of its leadership in Iran," said Barak. "With al-Adel now trying to strengthen his status within al-Qaeda, this organization poses more of an external threat to Israel than ISIS."

Despite Egyptian declarations about the elimination of ISIS, it remains a problem in northern Sinai, particularly near Rafah. "It's weakened significantly, but still there," Barak said. In recent months ISIS has reemerged, carrying out attacks on Egyptian security personnel and civilian infrastructure sites. In Syria and Iraq, ISIS still maintains some 10,000 operatives, who have entered into guerilla warfare mode. ISIS and al-Qaeda "say that they will set up an Islamic Salafi jihadi base as soon as they can on Israel's borders, and from there they will attack Israel, and that this is a highly important goal," he said.
Iran takes Canada to UN’s world court, claiming terror charges breach legal immunity
Iran has taken Canada to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for allegedly breaching Tehran’s state immunity by designating it a sponsor of terrorism, the UN’s top court said Wednesday.

Canada listed Iran as a terror sponsor in 2012 and broke diplomatic ties as relations frayed over Tehran’s support for Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, its nuclear program and threats to Israel.

The Islamic Republic said Canada had breached its immunity by a law passed in 2012 that allows victims and their families to collect damages from state sponsors of terrorism.

Foreign states are normally immune to Canadian civil claims.

Iran had launched legal proceedings against Canada on Tuesday “concerning alleged violations of its immunities” as a sovereign state, the Hague-based ICJ said in a statement.

“Canada has adopted and implemented a series of legislative, executive, and judicial measures against Iran and its property in breach of its international obligations,” Iran said in its filing to the court.

Iran demanded compensation from Canada for the “violation of its international obligations,” and asked the ICJ to tell Ottawa to overrule any judgments against Tehran in Canadian courts.

There was no immediate reaction from Canada.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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