Friday, February 23, 2024

From Ian:

Jonathan Tobin: Biden’s ‘help’ at the UN will put Israeli lives at risk
The double standard involved in this dramatic priority given to Palestinians has only one reasonable explanation: antisemitism rooted in Islamist supremacism and left-wing ideologies that falsely demonize Israel as an “apartheid” and/or “settler/colonialist” state of whites oppressing people of color. What passes for enlightened opinion among the chattering classes in the United States and the international community simply exhibits no concern for Israelis. That’s true whether they were killed, raped or kidnapped—or if they are among the hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes in the south due to Hamas and the north due to Hezbollah until the threat of violence is over. Apparently, only Palestinian suffering, which is the direct result of a culture that values hatred for Jews and an urge for their genocide, seems to count.

The U.S. role at the Security Council has provided Biden with more leverage over Israel to force it to accept a disastrous return to the pre-Oct. 7 status quo in which Gaza is an independent Palestinian state in all but name, or even worse, part of a larger and more dangerous entity.

A large part of the explanation for Biden’s two-faced stance is purely political. The president is desperately worried about the open revolt among Democrats against even his half-hearted support for Israel. More and more, he is folding under pressure from progressives inside the administration and his campaign, as well as from Michigan Democrats under the sway of pro-Hamas, Arab-American politicians like Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud. Biden seems to think that he must end the war if he is to avoid a situation in which left-wing voters either don’t vote or support third-party candidates in November, which will effectively hand the election to former President Donald Trump.

Equally important is this administration’s devotion to the United Nations itself. As Anne Bayefsky of Touro College and Human Rights Voices rightly points out, the problem is the idea that the world body is the proper venue for settling this or any dispute. The American resolution “denies the Jewish member state its U.N. Charter legal right of self-defense,” said Bayefsky.

It also “purports to create a ‘maritime corridor’ to Gaza and foil Israel’s ability to thwart the Iranian weapons supply chain to the terrorists killing Jews,” she continued. But more importantly, the willingness of the United States to let the United Nations be the arbiter of this conflict inevitably works to Israel’s disadvantage. “It buys into the lie that the U.N. is playing the role of do-gooder in this conflict, instead of telling the truth that it is encouraging lethal antisemitism—murdering Jews inside Israel and beyond. It is simply dead wrong for the United States to use the U.N. as a sword of Damocles hanging over Israel’s head.”

The United Nations isn’t merely an institution that is linked to antisemitism and prejudice against Israel. It is the mainspring of a campaign of defamation and lawfare involving its agencies—like the International Court of Justice—that are being weaponized to aid Hamas’s propaganda campaign aimed at making Israel an international pariah. Playing the role of Israel’s half-hearted defender in these forums, in which Washington concedes Hamas’s talking points about the cruelty of the war to defeat them and in which preventing Palestinian casualties caused by the terrorists’ actions becomes the primary goal, shouldn’t be interpreted as proof of the administration’s devotion to the alliance with the Jewish state.

To the contrary, every time Washington treats these discussions as legitimate, rather than debates in which the deck is always stacked against Israel and which discards any notion of fairness, it only serves to help Hamas and its international cheering section. To treat Biden and his foreign-policy team as heroes for merely postponing a disastrous ceasefire is to judge them by an absurdly low standard. The vast majority of Americans support Israel and want it to win its war over Hamas—not be forced into allowing a genocidal foe to survive to go on murdering more innocents. Far from ensuring that Israel is allowed to ensure its security, the U.S. stand at the United Nations is preparing a path towards further appeasement of the terrorists and their Iranian sponsors that will inevitably lead to more bloodshed.
Douglas Murray: The trouble with defining genocide
Like a number of ‘anti-colonialists’, William Dalrymple lives in colonial splendour on the outskirts of Delhi. The writer often opens the doors of his estate to slavering architectural magazines. A few years ago, one described his pool, pool house, vast family rooms, animals, cockatoo ‘and the usual entourage of servants that attends any successful man in India’s capital city’.

I only mention Dalrymple because he is one of a large number of people who have lost their senses by going rampaging online about the alleged genocide in Gaza. He recently tweeted at a young Jewish woman who said she was afraid to travel into London during the Palestinian protests: ‘Forget 30,000 dead in Gaza, tens of thousands more in prison without charge, five MILLION in stateless serfdom, forget 75 years of torture, rape, dispossession, humiliation and occupation, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU.’ It is one thing when a street rabble loses their minds. But when people who had minds start to lose them, that is another thing altogether.

I find it curious. By every measure, what is happening in Gaza is not genocide. More than that – it’s not even regionally remarkable.

Hamas’s own figures – not to be relied upon – suggest that around 28,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October. Most of the international media likes to claim these people are all innocent civilians. In fact, many of the dead will have been killed by the quarter or so Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets that fall short and land inside Gaza.

Then there are the more than 9,000 Hamas terrorists who have been killed by the Israel Defence Forces. As Lord Roberts of Belgravia recently pointed out, that means there is fewer than a two to one ratio of civilians to terrorists killed: ‘An astonishingly low ratio for modern urban warfare where the terrorists routinely use civilians as human shields.’ Most western armies would dream of such a low civilian casualty count. But because Israel is involved (‘Jews are news’) the libellous hyperbole is everywhere.

For almost 20 years since Israel withdrew from Gaza, we have heard the same allegations. Israel has been accused of committing genocide in Gaza during exchanges with Hamas in 2009, 2012 and 2014. As a claim it is demonstrably, obviously false. When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the population of the Strip was around 1.3 million. Today it is more than two million, with a male life expectancy higher than in parts of Scotland. During the same period, the Palestinian population in the West Bank grew by a million. Either the Israelis weren’t committing genocide, or they tried to commit genocide but are uniquely bad at it. Which is it? Well, when it comes to Israel it seems people don’t have to choose. Everything and anything can be true at once.
Richard Goldberg: Biden’s Hezbollah Plan Is a Win-Win—for the Terrorists
Hezbollah gave up nothing in the deal. It didn’t have to withdraw from territory, dismantle infrastructure, or destroy weapons. It just had to hold its fire. The Biden administration’s current proposed deal would require Hezbollah—and by extension Iran—to cede strategic advantages. And that’s something Israel’s top Nasrallah watchers assess has a near-zero possibility.

None of this is to suggest that Nasrallah is rushing to a full-scale war. Indeed, he held his fire after October 7, a moment of unprecedented weakness for Israel when a full-scale attack could have landed an unimaginable blow. Despite multiple escalations by Israel—including a targeted strike against a Hamas leader in a Hezbollah compound in Beirut, and attacks against high-value Hezbollah personnel and facilities—Nasrallah has not responded in a manner that could give Israel international support for an invasion. His objective appears to be twofold: Keep Israel distracted and afraid, forced to stretch itself to defend against the potential threat, while keeping most of his capabilities intact to be ready for the day when Iran really needs them.

To that end, Nasrallah might be persuaded to agree to certain window-dressing concessions as long as he can spin the deal as a win for Lebanon. The threat from Hezbollah’s “Radwan” special forces—a group that’s been training for years to execute a complex invasion of northern Israel like the one Hamas perpetrated on Gaza’s border communities—forced Israel to evacuate all communities close to the Lebanese border. Many of these families might be willing to brave occasional rocket attacks, as they have for decades, but none will return to a border crawling with Radwan terrorists.

In the weeks after October 7, the IDF targeted Radwan leaders, prompting Hezbollah to pull these high-value assets farther back from Israel’s border. Thus, a deal that requires these fighters to stay 10 kilometers from Israel’s border and removes their outposts south of that line would be a meager concession for Nasrallah. But alongside an historic surge of IDF border patrols, it could offer Israel enough of a fig leaf to persuade evacuated communities to return home.

Unsurprisingly, that is exactly the deal on the table from the United States and France. With reports that sweeteners might include a massive economic bailout for Lebanon and Israeli negotiation over its disputed land border with it, too. Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent 17 years helping Hezbollah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hezbollah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within 10 kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from 10 kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hezbollah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Israel faces a harsh reality in which an American president is saying ‘No.’ President Biden will not come to Israel’s aid in the U.N. Security Council or from the White House podium. He will not approve requests for emergency resupply of critical munitions Israel will need in a war with Hezbollah. Biden felt compelled to support Israel in a war against Hamas after seeing the horror of October 7, but he does not want conflict to continue in the Middle East deep into his re-election. These truths compel the Israeli government to secure whatever agreement can both buy time until Jerusalem is independently prepared for a full-scale war and give its citizens the illusion of security on the northern border.

Whatever the Hochstein process delivers, it will not deliver Israelis the security they need, along the border or in major cities in the north and central regions. Nor will it in any way degrade the robust capabilities of a terrorist group that threatens America as much as Israel. The longer the Hezbollah can gets kicked down the road, the bloodier and costlier the eventual day of reckoning will be.

Wavering Biden sends Israel a warning shot
By tabling a UN resolution calling for a Gaza ceasefire, Joe Biden has fired a shot across Israel’s bows — a very public warning that the US Security Council veto can’t be relied on.

The US vetoed a straightforward ceasefire resolution tabled by Algeria on Tuesday, saying that any deal that didn’t include releasing the hostages would only prolong the conflict.

But it circulated its own draft resolution using the “C” word for the first time.

While, in and of itself, the draft resolution is fairly uncontroversial, it is the first tangible sign of how Biden’s once muscular support for Israel is waning as he is pressured by his own party.

The draft US resolution comes with conditions, including the release of all hostages and the lifting of all barriers to the distribution of humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

It calls for a “viable plan” to protect civilians in Rafah and prevent their displacement. It states that a large ground offensive shouldn’t proceed under current circumstances, which could force civilians into Egypt with “serious implications for regional peace and security”. It’s a dramatic change of position from December when the US vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire because, in part, the text didn’t include any condemnation of Hamas.

Everything for Biden is now is about the US presidential election. Conventional wisdom is that foreign policy does not dictate the winner of American elections. But in a tight contest, which is exactly what 2024 is shaping up to be, it might make the difference in the margins.
US: No ‘sustainable ceasefire’ in Gaza without release of hostages
There can be no ceasefire between Israel and Hamas until the terror organization releases the hostages in Gaza, the U.S. representative at the United Nations said on Thursday.

Washington vetoed Algeria’s U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire on Tuesday—the third time it has thwarted such a measure. On Thursday, the 15-member council held its regular monthly session on the Israeli-Palestinian file.

Robert Wood, the U.S. deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said that the best way to ensure long-term Israeli security is through the establishment of a Palestinian state, but the diplomat admitted that many obstacles impede that vision.

“These obstacles include Hamas’s and other groups’ continued holding of 134 hostages,” he said. “I have said it before, and I will say it again: There can be no sustainable ceasefire in Gaza without the hostages being released. After five months of fighting, this is clear.”

Washington floated its own resolution, which supports a temporary humanitarian ceasefire “when practicable,” before the Security Council this week.

Several council members, who have said an immediate halt to hostilities is necessary to ramp up aid flow into Gaza, gave the U.S. resolution draft early negative marks, though it is critical of Israel’s planned military operations to root out Hamas terrorists in Rafah.

It is unclear whether that draft resolution will be put to a vote.
Hamas rockets must stop before two-state solution, 13 Dems in Congress say
U.S. President Joe Biden and officials at the White House, U.S. State Department and at other departments in the administration have said often that Hamas must release all of the hostages it holds in Gaza as the officials have called for a temporary ceasefire to facilitate humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians.

In a Feb. 22 letter to Biden, Reps. Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Dan Goldman (N.Y.), Jamie Raskin (Md.) and 10 other Jewish members of Congress went one step further. Hamas rocket fire must stop before there is a focus on a two-state solutions, the 13 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote.

The 13 encouraged the U.S. president to “redouble your efforts at this critical juncture to facilitate a mutual, temporary ceasefire agreement that will: return all of the hostages to their families; stop the violence in Gaza and rocket fire on Israel from Gaza; and end the tremendous civilian suffering in Gaza by enabling a massive surge in humanitarian aid.”

“After that occurs,” the 13 Democratic members of Congress wrote, “we can turn our focus forward to working with you and our allies to promote enduring peace in the Middle East through the neutralization of Hamas and the creation of a long sought-after two-state solution.”

There have been more than 11,000 rockets fired on Israel since Oct. 7, according to the Institute for National Security Studies, which is affiliated with Tel Aviv University.

In addition to Nadler, Goldman and Raskin, the Jewish Democrat signatories were Reps. Becca Balint (Vt.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Greg Landsman (Ohio), Seth Magaziner (R.I.), Dean Phillips (Minn.), Kim Schrier (Wash.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), Elissa Slotkin (Mich.) and Susan Wild (Pa.).

“We cannot overstate the urgency of the hostages’ situation in Hamas’s captivity in Gaza, where they have been held for 139 days in dreadful conditions,” the 13 wrote. “Recently, we learned that 32 of the 134 remaining hostages are dead. Every day that the remaining living hostages are left to suffer in the tunnels in Gaza without medical attention increases the chances that more will die. The hostages and their families simply cannot wait any longer.”
How the US Abandoned Israel under Biden
"Israel must again be a safe place for the Jewish people. And I promise you: We're going to do everything in our power to make sure that it will be." — US President Joe Biden, October 18, 2023.

It did not take long, however, for the Biden administration to completely turn that promise on its head. The reversal began with US demands on Israel to scale down military operations, which were already scaled down....

"Israel implemented more measures to prevent civilian casualties than any other nation in history.... Israel's use of real phone calls to civilians in combat areas (19,734), SMS texts (64,399) and pre-recorded calls (almost 6 million) to provide instructions on evacuations is also unprecedented." — John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute, United States Military Academy West Point,, January 31, 2024

The only relevant country that has apparently not been invited to the "urgent" discussions [to reward terrorists unilaterally with a soon-to-be-militarized Palestinian State] is Israel.

Biden, clearly, seems not that intent on making Israel or the Free World a safe place again. At least not if it might compromise his reelection.

Blinken, Kirby 'disappointed' in Israel's approval for thousands of new West Bank Settlements
The US is disappointed with Israel's announcement to approve thousands of new settlements in the West Bank, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday during a press conference in Buenos Aires with Argentine Foreign Minister Diana Mondino.

Israel intends to advance plans for 3,000 new settler homes in the aftermath of the West Bank terror attack next to a checkpoint heading into Jerusalem, in which one man was killed, and another eight were injured, The Post reported on Thursday.

Blinken expressed his condolences for the victims of the terror attack, and said the US continues to support Israel's right to self-defense and to deal with terrorism.

"It's been long-standing US policy, under Republican and Democratic administrations alike, that new settlements are counterproductive to reaching enduring peace. They're also inconsistent with international law," Blinken said. "Our administration maintains firm opposition to settlement expansion and in our judgment, it only weakens and doesn't strengthen Israel's security."

White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby echoed this disappointment during a call with reporters on Friday.

"It's been a long-standing US policy under both Republican and Democratic administrations that new settlements are counterproductive to the cause of peace. Frankly, they're also inconsistent with international law," Kirby said. "And this administration maintains our firm opposition to settlement expansion."

Biden Admin Won’t Say if West Bank Sanctions Apply to Jews Living in Jerusalem
The Biden administration will not say if its decision to impose sanctions on Israelis it accuses of committing human rights abuses in the West Bank will apply to those living in Jerusalem, leaving open the possibility that Jews living in Israel's capital city will be targeted with punitive measures.

Congressional Republicans who are concerned the Biden administration is quietly working to erode Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem are raising questions about the scope of the White House’s February executive order, which only referred to the "West Bank."

The order itself is vaguely worded, referring only to those living in the West Bank, but could include areas of East Jerusalem, undermining Israeli sovereignty over the city and walking back the United States’ 2020 recognition of Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s undivided capital. Neighborhoods in East Jerusalem could fall under the administration's definition of the West Bank but would signal the United States does not view the entirety of the city as being under Israeli control, which has been America's official policy since the former Trump administration's declaration.

The State Department declined to answer Washington Free Beacon questions about whether the sanctions apply to Jerusalem, telling a reporter, "we would refer you to the [executive order] text on the White House's website." The White House National Security Council also declined to answer questions about the executive order.

The ambiguity around the executive order is heightening concerns among Republicans in Congress that the administration is taking a new stance on Israel's borders. It also shows the bind the administration is in with far left activists in the Democratic Party who have been pushing Biden to soften his support for Israel since Hamas's terror attack that left 1,200 civilians dead and more injured.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) asked the White House on Tuesday to clarify the executive order, giving the administration a week to respond to his inquiry.

"Your recent executive order targets Israelis with sanctions who are ‘in the West Bank.’ Does this phrase include Jerusalem? If so, what parts of Jerusalem?" Cotton asked. "Where are the borders within Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, that you are using for purposes of implementing the executive order?"
Revealed: UK, US designation of settlers lacked basic checks with Israeli law-enforcement
Three weeks after the US announced sanctions on four Israeli citizens because of "high levels of extremist settler violence", it turns out that only one of the four is known to the law enforcement authorities in Israel as having problematic conduct, Israel Hayom can report.

It also emerged that of the three Israelis punished by Britain, not a single one is known to the authorities. As a reminder, in early February, President Joe Biden issued an unprecedented executive order that led to the designation of four residents of Judea and Samaria, citing "high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction."

The American president added that he was imposing the sanctions on them because the actions "reached intolerable levels and constitutes a serious threat to the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East region."

Britain soon followed suit by taking similar steps against four Israelis, including one (Yinon Levy) who was also part of the US announcement.

As a result of these sanctions, the seven Israelis' bank accounts were frozen, their assets in the US and Britain were frozen, and they were banned from entering those countries. It should be noted that France also announced the imposition of sanctions against 28 Israelis, but did not publish their names.

An investigation by Israel Hayom shows that with the exception of one of the seven, who was previously linked to violent incidents against Arabs, the other six were not known to the Shin Bet and Israel Police as having engaged in such conduct.

Moreover, Israel Hayom learned that the Americans and British did not conduct any preliminary checks or consultations with the police and Shin Bet before imposing the sanctions. This, even though they have extensive ties with Israel's security agencies in a very wide range of areas.

Meanwhile, data received by Israel Hayom shows that in the fourth month of the Gaza war, there was a nearly 50% drop in incidents defined as "extreme violence" in Judea and Samaria, a downward trend that has continued since the start of the war on Oct. 7. These figures essentially debunk claims by the US on a supposed surge of settler violence.

'Occupation' deprives Palestinians of state — Ireland, Jordan tell ICJ
Israel’s 57-year “occupation” has deprived Palestinians of their basic rights to a state, Irish and Jordanian officials told the International Court of Justice as they urged its judges to issue an advisory opinion rendering the situation illegal.

“By its prolonged occupation of Palestinian lands and continuous settlement activity on those lands – Israel has prevented the exercise by the Palestinian people of their right to self-determination,” Ireland’s Attorney-General Rossa Fanning told the court on Thursday.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told the ICJ that “there can be no peace until the occupation ends” and “the right of the Palestinians to self-determination” is realized through the establishment of a state “on 4 June 1967 lines.”

Ireland and Jordan were among 49 countries and three organizations that are addressing the court during the six-day process that began February 19 and is expected to end this coming Monday.

The United Nations General Assembly had asked the ICJ at The Hague to issue a non-binding legal ruling on the status of Israeli control of the territories it captured from Jordan and Egypt during the 1967 Six Day War.

The request was submitted before the Israel-Hamas war, but the hearing itself took place more than four months into the IDF’s military campaign to oust the terror group from Gaza. The hearing also comes as there are calls by politicians in Europe for the unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, with the US pushing to relaunch a peace process through the framework of a Saudi normalization deal.

Israel has boycotted the hearing, arguing that the ICJ lacks jurisdiction and that the intent of those seeking a ruling was to deprive the Jewish state of its right to self-defense and to avoid a negotiated peace process by seeking unilateral solutions.

The Palestinian Authority was blunt on the opening day of the hearing about its intention to use the ruling to isolate Israel diplomatically as a way of forcing it to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines.

On Thursday, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Raza Najafi asked the ICJ to issue an opinion that would allow for Israel to be internationally isolated as he accused the Jewish state of acts of apartheid and genocide against the Palestinian people.

The legal adviser to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Ma Xinman, argued that the Palestinians had a legal right to violently resist Israel’s occupation, but stressed that this must be done within the framework of international humanitarian law.

Netanyahu’s ‘day after’ Hamas plan stresses security control
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night formally presented for the first time his “day after” Hamas plan, which reiterates his oft-stated goal of completely eradicating the Palestinian terror group and emphasizes ongoing Israeli security control west of the Jordan River, including in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

In the short term, the plan emphasizes the need to completely eliminate the military and governing capabilities of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, free the remaining 134 Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza and ensure that the Strip never again constitutes a security threat to the Jewish state.

To this end, Netanyahu envisions the Israel Defense Forces maintaining full operational freedom in Gaza indefinitely, as well as establishing a buffer zone along the border to protect southern communities.

The buffer zone will remain in place for “as long as there is a security need for it,” according to the proposal.

The military will act to ensure that the Strip remains demilitarized, “beyond what is required for the needs of maintaining public order.” This includes creating a “southern closure” along the Egypt-Gaza border, including the Rafah crossing, to prevent the re-emergence of terrorism and smuggling through Hamas’s elaborate tunnel system in the Philadelphi Corridor.

In this matter, Israel will work in cooperation with Egypt and the United States “as much as possible.”

In parallel, the IDF will empower “local officials” unassociated with Hamas to govern areas of Gaza. Israel’s goal is for community leaders to manage the reception and distribution of humanitarian aid, while security forces will prevent terrorists from interfering with this process.
‘We’re not asking to check their homework,’ Pentagon says of Israel’s Rafah plans
The U.S. Defense Department is unaware of any plans presented to Washington for review about how Israel would aim to protect Palestinian civilians in Rafah during a ground invasion, a Pentagon spokeswoman said at a press conference on Thursday.

“We’re not asking to check their homework,” said Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary.

“What we’re asking them to do is put forward a credible plan that they will be able to, as we have said in many conversations, protect the over one million innocent Palestinians that are there,” Singh said.

The Pentagon spokeswoman added that any “credible plan” would have to account for food, medicine and “services” for Palestinians.

“How are you going to provide those as you move a population? I know that’s something that they’re working through,” she said. Austin “remains engaged” with Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, “not just at his level, but levels here at this building and throughout the interagency,” she added. “But I’m just not going to get ahead of any plans that Israel is working on right now.”

Also on Thursday, Lloyd Austin, the U.S. secretary of defense, discussed “Israel’s operations against Hamas in Khan Younis” with Gallant, per a Pentagon readout of their call.

“The secretary raised the need for a credible plan to ensure the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering in Rafah before any military operations proceed there,” according to Singh.

IDF eliminates terrorist in Jenin en route to commit terror attack
The IDF and Shin Bet eliminated a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist in Jenin in a drone strike on Thursday night, the IDF and Shin Bet said in a joint statement on Friday morning.

The terrorist, identified as Yasser Hanoun, was on his way to commit a shooting attack and had carried out several terrorist attacks against Israeli forces and Israeli towns in recent weeks.

According to Palestinian reports, a second Palestinian, identified as Saeed Jaradat, was killed in the strike as well and over 10 others were injured.

"Our jihad continues and our weapons are deployed in all arenas. It is a jihad of victory or martyrdom," said the Jenin branch of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad on Thursday night.

Additionally on Thursday night, the IDF, Shin Bet, and Border Police arrested two suspects from the village of Za'tara, where the terrorists who conducted the shooting attack near Ma'ale Adumim on Thursday were from.

Second airstrike in Jenin in matter of days

The strike comes two days after the IDF and Border Police arrested 14 suspects in Jenin and eliminated three terrorists in the city. During the raid, the forces uncovered explosives buried under roads.

The IDF also carried out an airstrike against terrorists during the raid in Jenin on Tuesday night.

Since the war began, thousands of terrorist suspects have been arrested by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including over 1,000 Hamas members.

WSJ: The Sham Investigation of Unrwa
The United Nations is meant to help keep international peace, not undermine it. Yet last month the Journal reported that Israeli intelligence revealed that at least 12 employees of the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency were connected to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres then announced that the U.N.’s Office of Internal Oversight Services, or OIOS, would investigate the alleged ties. After spending four years as an investigator in that office, I can confidently say that its investigation will amount to nothing.

The OIOS’s mandate is to investigate breaches of staff regulations and rules, but the heaviest disciplinary measure the U.N. can impose on a staff member is dismissal. In this case that’s already happened. Of the 12 Unrwa staff alleged to have participated in Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault, two have reportedly died and 10 have been dismissed. What, then, does the secretary-general hope to achieve?

Mr. Guterres has said that any Unrwa employees involved will “be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.” That’s commendable but meaningless. The U.N. doesn’t have prosecutorial authority or the ability to extradite people from one country to another, meaning any legal accountability would have to come from national authorities. Whatever the U.N. says, Hamas certainly wouldn’t send them from Gaza to sit for criminal trial in Israel.

That isn’t the only fly in the U.N. ointment. The only information connecting these Unrwa employees with criminal activity has come from the Israelis, in part from sensitive signals intelligence and interrogations of captured Hamas fighters. Without disclosing the intel’s primary source, such information won’t meet any legal standard of proof. The OIOS is thus left sitting in the middle of a mess that might have been mitigated had Unrwa suspended the implicated staff members without pay. Instead, the U.N. appears to have panicked—not because Unrwa staff were allegedly involved in terrorism but because member states started to withdraw their financial support.

The technical reality is that Unrwa fired employees without due process. As reported by the Guardian, Unrwa chief Philippe Lazzarini described their firing as “reverse due process,” adding: “My judgment, based on this going public, true or untrue, was I need to take the swiftest and boldest decision to show that as an agency we take this allegation seriously.” If the OIOS can’t confirm or produce a declassified version of the Israeli intelligence, the organization will be forced to concede that those staff members were wrongly terminated and either re-employ or compensate them.

It beggars belief that Mr. Guterres, a savvy political operator, could have unknowingly walked into this dilemma. An alternative explanation is that the secretary-general is attempting to restore Unrwa funding by creating the semblance of a legitimate inquiry. When in all likelihood the OIOS issues an inconclusive report, the calls to disband Unrwa will appear less justified.
‘Absolutely necessary’ to meet with Israeli officials, says UNRWA review head
The head of a U.N.-commissioned group reviewing UNRWA’s neutrality, or lack thereof, said on Thursday that it is “absolutely necessary to meet with Israeli officials,” as well as Palestinian authorities, as the panel carries out its work.

Catherine Colonna, a former French foreign minister, addressed reporters shortly after meeting with António Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general.

The review group she is helming is the result of a request from Philippe Lazzarini, the embattled commissioner-general of UNRWA, the Palestinian-only refugee and social services agency long accused of ties to Hamas and of ignoring the terror group’s use of U.N. facilities in Gaza for its military operations.

Critics have called the review group a “farce” and a “desperate scheme” to save UNRWA, which is under dire financial pressure following the suspension of aid by 16 countries. The suspension came following allegations that a dozen UNRWA employees participated in Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

Subsequent reporting has suggested that about 10% of UNRWA’s staff has ties to Palestinian terror.

Colonna’s review is operating parallel to a separate U.N. investigation into the allegations. She said on Thursday that she does not intend to communicate with the U.N.’s investigative agency.

One of three research agencies participating in Colonna’s review already authored a report in 2022 exonerating UNRWA from accusations lodged against it over the years, blaming “misunderstandings” and “unfounded claims.”

The 2022 report also claimed that demands by UNRWA donor countries to maintain the agency’s neutrality “may also be deeply problematic, since the line between neutral and political is difficult to draw.”

UN Watch: Hillel Neuer on the Alex Pierson Show: UNRWA cannot claim they didn't know
Hillel Neuer was interviewed on the Alex Pierson Show on Toronto Talk Radio AM to discuss UN Watch's long history of sending warnings of Hamas infiltration in UNRWA for almost a decade, and how the UN not only ignored them, but disparaged and attacked UN Watch as a result.

UNRWA operations ‘severely’ in jeopardy by March
Philippe Lazzrini, commissioner-general of UNRWA, asked the president of the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday for permanent U.N. budgetary support for the scandal-plagued Palestinian-only refugee and social services agency.

Lazzrini wrote to Dennis Francis appealing to U.N. member states “for a solution that closes the gap between UNRWA’s mandate and its funding structure, which relies upon voluntary contributions that make it vulnerable to wider political considerations, such as UNRWA faces now.”

UNRWA is under financial strain after 16 donor countries suspended aid in the wake of Israeli allegations that 12 UNRWA staff members participated in Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre. Subsequent reports have suggested that 10% of UNRWA’s staff has ties to Palestinian terror groups.

UNRWA relies exclusively on donations and receives no support through the regular U.N. budget.

There have long been allegations that UNRWA has direct ties to terror groups in Gaza or, at best, ignores the use of U.N. facilities for military purposes by Hamas and other terror groups. Lazzarini wrote with “profound regret” that UNRWA has reached a “breaking point, with Israel’s repeated calls to dismantle UNRWA.”

While Lazzarini and U.N. officials stated weeks ago that the agency would most likely be forced to shut down by the end of February without new funding, he wrote to Francis that UNRWA operations in Gaza and elsewhere “will be severely compromised from March.”

Throughout the letter, Lazzarini attacked Israel, claiming that “UNRWA’s mandate embodies the promise of a political solution,” a solution that Israel is attempting to erase.

Israeli War Cabinet votes to dispatch team for Paris hostage talks
Israel’s War Cabinet reportedly voted unanimously on Thursday night to dispatch a team to Paris for hostage negotiations.

The meetings will take place on Friday and Saturday, building on last month’s initial gathering in the French capital as well as intermittent talks in Cairo aimed at realizing a proposal to free the remaining 134 Israeli captives in exchange for an extended pause in the war.

According to reports, heading to Paris are the same players from the Jan. 28 summit and who met in Cairo on Feb. 13—David Barnea, director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency; CIA director Bill Burns; head of Egyptian intelligence Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel; and Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani.

The decision to send the delegation comes after France confirmed on Wednesday that 45 Israeli hostages have received urgent medications that entered the enclave over a month ago in a deal brokered by Paris and Doha.

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden demanded a temporary ceasefire to secure the release of hostages in Gaza, claiming that the deal “has to” go through before Israel launches a military operation in Rafah.

“There has to be a temporary ceasefire to get the prisoners out—to get the hostages out,” Biden said. “I’m hoping that the Israelis will not make any massive land invasion in the meantime. It’s my expectation that’s not going to happen.”

Can't These Privileged White People Feel Compassion for Israelis Murdered by Hamas?
Controversy over Israel's war in Gaza continues to spread in the art world, with Zoya Cherkassky the latest Israeli artist caught in the crosshairs.

Tel Aviv-based Cherkassky, 47, was in New York last week to discuss her "7 October 2023" exhibition at the Jewish Museum with its director James S. Snyder. As the pair took the stage before an audience of 200 attendees, a small group of protesters began to disrupt the event. In waves, they rose from their seats at the sold-out event and began reading in unison from a script.

"As cultural workers, as anti-Zionist Jews of conscience, as New York City residents, we implore you to confront the reality," they chanted, calling the Kyiv-born Jewish artist's work "imperial propaganda" that serves to "manufacture consent for genocide."

They handed out flyers featuring a caricature of "The Zionist Artist at Work," showing an artist painting a missile, and charged that the museum "propagates the Zionist tropes and IOF (Israel Occupation Forces) propaganda upon which the current genocide of Palestinians hinges."

Cherkassky, who was sitting on the stage and holding the microphone, kept her response brief.

"Fuck you," she said.

In an interview with Haaretz after returning to Israel, Cherkassky said the disturbance was unfortunate but that she was not at all surprised by it. The ruckus, she pointed out, was relatively small compared to what had taken place earlier that week in a different part of Manhattan, when hundreds of protesters streamed into the Museum of Modern Art for a stunt they labeled a "reoccupation." Another group did the same at the Brooklyn Museum.

Shoshana Bryen: Biden's Two-Faced Approach to Hamas is Hurting Israel | Top Story
Why is the Biden administration verbally supporting Israel while hamstringing Israel's Rafah operation? Why is it vetoing a UN resolution for an immediate ceasefire while proposing a resolution that calls for one? Why has the Biden administration prioritized fighting against "settler violence" right after Israel has suffered the worst massacre since the Holocaust?

In this week’s episode of Top Story, JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin is joined by Jewish Policy Center Senior Director Shoshana Bryen to discuss Biden's two-faced policy in the Middle East.

Q & A, Hosted by Jay Nordlinger: Burning Issues, with Bret Stephens
Bret Stephens is a columnist for the New York Times. Previously, he was a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. In 2013, he won the Pulitzer prize for commentary. Earlier in his life, he was the editor of the Jerusalem Post. He and Jay talk about Russia and Ukraine. And about Israel, Gaza, and antisemitism. And about the U.S. media. A rich, multilayered conversation.

Caroline Glick: Netanyahu Out? Think Again
Despite what the media and Biden administration say, new polling suggests that Netanyahu and the right have a lot of public support. Caroline Glick breaks it down and analyzes why we are being fed lies that the Israeli government is on its way to collapse.

The Israel Guys: BREAKING: Spokesperson for Israel’s Prime Minister Speaks on Judea & Samaria
Joshua Waller sits down with the spokesperson for Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office and talks about the current situation in Gaza and in Judea & Samaria. Tal Heinrich made some incredible statements about what is happening in Judea & Samaria.

Don’t miss this explosive interview with Tal Heinrich!

Over 80% of Brazilians take issue with Lula's anti-Israel comment
Everyone knew it was just a matter of time.

Everyone knew that given left-wing Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s pro-Palestinian past, the anti-Israel aides surrounding him (including his wife and top adviser Celso Amorim), his ambitions to lead the global south, and his ties to Iran, it was just a matter of time before he would say something outrageous about the current war in Gaza.

After all, this is a man who donned a keffiyeh and laid a wreath at the tomb of Yasser Arafat in 2010 in Ramallah while refusing to visit the grave of Theodor Herzl in Jerusalem during the same trip. It is also the same man who recalled Brazil’s ambassador to Israel in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge, leading then-Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor to memorably quip that Brazil was “an economic and cultural giant” but a “diplomatic dwarf.”

On Sunday, while attending an African Union summit in Ethiopia, Lula exceeded all expectations, not just blasting Israel as expected but sounding as though he had suddenly morphed into Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments. In fact, it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews,” he said. “It’s not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children.”

The blowback from Israel was swift and fierce. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed Lula’s comments “Shameful and grave,” and said they amounted to “Holocaust trivialization and an attempt to harm the Jewish people and the right of Israel to defend itself.”

The next day, Foreign Minister Israel Katz summoned Brazil’s ambassador, Frederico Meyer, for a reprimand, but not in the Foreign Ministry, as is usually done, but, rather, at Yad Vashem. There, he said that Israel will “neither forget nor forgive” Lula’s comments.

Rep. Cori Bush accuses AIPAC of ‘exploiting rape’
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) attacked the American Israel Public Affairs Committee after the organization tagged her in the sharing of an X post that highlighted the systemic sexual violence used by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7.

On Feb. 21, CNN anchor Bianna Golodryga created a series of “threaded” X postings that began, “Excerpts from today’s report on Hamas’ sexual violence during and after Oct 7th from ARCCI submitted to the U.N. ‘Analysis of the data reveals that sexual and gender-based violence systematically occurred in all arenas where the Oct 7th massacre occurred, as well as in captivity.’”

Golodryga then followed with six more posts presenting details and testimony of the atrocities.

AIPAC shared the first post to its more than 140,000 followers, tagging Bush and eight other House members associated with the progressive “Squad,” including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). AIPAC wrote, “A ceasefire now keeps these rapist monsters armed and in power in Gaza.”

Bush reshared the post, writing, “As a survivor of rape, AIPAC’s tactic of exploiting rape is outright vile and appalling. Their playbook relies on bullying, lying, harassing, belittling & intimidation to try to manipulate the public & force those calling for a ceasefire into submission. It won’t stop us.”

Adar Rubin, director of mobilization for #EndJewHatred, shared Bush’s words and wrote in response: “There can’t be any more radio silence, the backlash needs to be louder and more bipartisan. Over the past few days, Cori Bush, AOC and Rashida Tlaib have made it clear that they will not condemn Hamas’ rape and sexual violence. They need to be kicked out of the Democratic Party.”

In a House vote on Feb. 14 to condemn Hamas’s use of rape as a weapon of war, representatives joined in near unanimity except for Tlaib, who voted “present.”

As of press time, Bush’s X post has received 1.7 million views.

Palestinian granted visa by government liked tweets celebrating October 7 Hamas attacks as deeply flawed process exposed
The government’s security checks on Palestinians before they were granted Australian visas has been exposed as being deeply flawed.

Since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, the Australian government has granted more than 2200 visa to Palestinians.

Senior Labor Ministers have repeatedly defended the visa process as rigorous but it has now been called into question after it was revealed in Senate Estimates the processing time took as little as one hour to complete.

However, it took Sky News Australia host Sharri Markson only a few hours to expose a critical flaw in the visa checks with one man found to have liked horrific posts on the October 7 massacre.

Ms Markson revealed on Thursday night she was provided with a list of hundreds of Palestinians who had been granted visas – 81 of them in Australia.

On that list was 21-year-old Zaher Abuamro now living and working in Melbourne who has liked multiple tweets depicting and celebrating Hamas’s terror attack.

Abuamro liked a tweet on October 7 – the day 1200 Israelis were slaughtered by the terrorist group – which showed Palestinians celebrating in the streets.

“At this crucial time, we stand alongside our brothers and sisters in Palestine and stress the need to support their cause and work to end the occupation and establish their independent state,” the post said.

‘Another shameful episode’: Ugly scenes of violence at pro-Palestine rally in Melbourne
Australian Jewish Association President Dr David Adler says Australia’s reputation is being “trashed internationally” after pro-Palestinian protesters swarmed Melbourne’s Town Hall.

This comes after a ceasefire motion was narrowly voted down by the Melbourne council.

The pro-Palestinian protesters were seen pushing and shoving three Jewish community members trying to get to the council meeting carrying an Israeli flag.

“This is another shameful episode for Australia – Let me make it clear that people need to understand Australia’s reputation is being trashed internationally,” Mr Adler told Sky News host Steve Price.

“It’s horrible to see – I didn’t expect, in my lifetime, that we would see this overt anti-Jewish activity, the anti-Semitism on streets of our capital cities.”

Comedian banned
British comedian Paul Currie has been dropped from comedy festivals in Melbourne and Brisbane following an antisemitic incident in London.

Currie has been banned from ever performing again at the Soho Theatre in London after he threw an audience member out for being Jewish and incited the audience to scream abuse at the man.

He was supposed to perform in Melbourne in April, but the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) has removed him from its program.

He was also no longer listed on the website for the Brisbane Comedy Festival this week.

A statement from MICF said they recognise that the art of comedy is a natural environment for exploration of and comment on contemporary social and political issues.

“The festival endorses the artist’s freedom to push creative boundaries however, no audience or staff member, in any festival venue, should ever feel victimised or threatened,” the statement read.

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich called it “a victory for decency and our shared values”.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 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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