Urban traffic link tunnels (UTLTs) could become increasingly more complex because they incorporate both looped main tunnels and multiple branch tunnels. In such a complex tunnel structure, smoke control in the event of fire becomes more difficult than that...
Originally, Bartholomew (#18), the Gnome Rogue’s main motivation for founding the alliance had been to search the Slayer’s Dungeon for the remains of the Lost Alliance’s members in order to liberate them from their possessions. But after they’d unexpectedly found a means to bring one of them, Shoktor the Transmuter, back to life, he had quickly become an important ally and friend. And as the group followed the tracks of the Lost Alliance and learned more about their fate, he found that their discoveries had affected them in unexpected ways.
Between him and Kulldrak (#20), the Half-Orc Paladin, an unspoken competition had started, and they felt compelled to outdo each other in combat. And between Taio (#21), the Warrior Mage, and Jypzy (#6), the Elf Wizard, a tender romantic relationship had blossomed, so they were reluctant to leave each other’s side for long.
It almost felt as if they were reenacting what had befallen the Lost Alliance…
As if that wasn’t worrying enough, after their latest trip to the Slayer’s Dungeon, an important task had remained unresolved: After defeating the Dark Empress, they had discovered one of Shoktor’s allies in her Throne Room, bound to a table, his soul imprisoned in a strange crystal, leaving his body in a stasis, trapped between life and death. Unsure how to free him without causing irreparable damage, they’d left him there, with Taio magically sealing access to the place.
After spending a few days researching dark rituals and forbidden eldritch experiments, help came from an unexpected direction: Lady Eleanor, who had accompanied them before during their ill-fated second dungeon expedition learned about their inquiries and made a proposition:
In return for three artifacts, she offered them a tome describing the occult procedure to return a soul to its body. Grudgingly they accepted the deal, took the tome, and made their way back through the Great Wyrm’s tunnels into the depths of the Slayer’s dungeon.
Quests: Displacement, Lady Eleanor, Dark Empress
On their way to the sealed portal leading to the Throne Room, they made short work of the creatures that had made the previously cleared rooms their new home. Bartholomew winked at Kulldrak and quickly dispatched a pair of giant spiders in one room, Jypzy incinerated another room harboring a zombie and a gargoyle, while Taio dealt with an ogre in a third room. All that was left for Kulldrak to do was to search the rooms, discovering a treasure chest and a strange broken amulet.
[o]Just as in my previous game, the continuing Rivalry between Bartholomew and Kulldrak earned me a total of two campaign tokens over the course of this game. I’ve found it’s harder to ensure that the first rival to activate slays an Enemy while within two spaces of the other in the later game rounds. So, two out of a potential maximum of four isn’t bad.[/o]
With a short prayer, the Paladin mended the trident-shaped amulet and restored its power. He handed it over to Shoktor to investigate, who grew agitated as it triggered another memory: Shoktor himself had once created the amulet as a gift for Tay the Summoner, his secret love! He’d enchanted it to enhance her summoning skills.
[o]Repairing the Amulet of Triton granted me one campaign token and the card itself – one of the rare sources of a damage bonus for pets.[/o]
In the meantime, Taio had opened the chest and started looting. Apart from coins and a few pieces of jewelry, he discovered a rod which he identified as a magical Rod of Opening. As he was holding it, it started to glow with a faint bluish light indicating the presence of a nearby secret door. Intrigued, he started pacing the room’s outer walls, and after casting a detection spell, revealed something even more fascinating:
Apparently the room was slightly out of phase, existing partially in a different dimension. Warning the rest of the party to remain at a safe distance, he activated the rod and watched as the room shifted and warped, leaving him slightly dizzy. When he recovered, new pathways had opened in three directions and a pair of wargs was pouncing on him!
[o]Since I didn’t want to take any chances, I had spent the 3xp required to trigger Dimensional Replacement in my last turn of the first game round. This quest is worded a bit differently than the others, allowing the token to be placed in any Dungeon room, which I interpreted to mean it didn’t have the standard restrictions. So, I chose to place it in the central room, adjacent to Taio. In retrospect, after re-reading the relevant rules section (the first section on page 7 of the Rules Supplement), it looks like that was an error:
In addition, the player must obey the following rules
I’m used to card texts taking priority over general rules, but this doesn’t seem to be the case here . Well, it can’t be helped now. I would still have been able to resolve the quest quite easily, but it would likely have taken me an additional activation. Anyway, resolving the quest granted me two campaign tokens.[/o]
For the rest of the group, it had looked as if the door to the room had disappeared and the wall started to move and twist, until a new opening suddenly appeared, showing Taio trying to fend off huge canine beasts, while a hydra and a wyvern in adjacent rooms slowly made their way towards him, attracted by the noise.
The rogue was the first to recover his wits and joined the fight, flanking and impaling one of the giant wolves. Then the elf wizard followed his lead, covering Taio’s side and blasted several of the hydra’s heads with spells. Unfortunately, this wasn’t sufficient to take out the hydra. Wide-eyed Jypzy watched as for every head she had destroyed a new pair grew back with alarming speed. The hydra’s vicious counter-attack was too much for the elf. A distressed cry escaped the warrior mage as he watched her go down.
[o]The continuing effect of the Forbidden Love Letter earned me one campaign token at the end of game round two. At the end of round four, I didn’t manage to join the “Lovers” due to Taios being defeated at that point, causing the heart-broken Jypzy to take another wound.[/o]
The half-orc was the slowest to react, but made up for it with a fierce rage, charging the wyvern without regard for his own safety. Even falling into a pit trap that unexpectedly opened under him couldn’t stop his advance for long. Before the dumbfounded wyvern understood what had happened, Kulldrak had already gutted it.
Despite his concern for Jypzy, Taio suppressed his emotions and with a coolness he didn’t feel, ran in a circle around the hydra to disable a trap in the hydra’s lair before finishing off the hydra.
Seeing this, Bartholomew nodded grimly and made a run for the next room, opening the door to reveal a small lizard-like creature asleep in a corner. Without pausing, he rushed back, intending to deal with the remaining warg when he suddenly realized that he was back in the room with the portal they had sealed during their previous visit. But the portal was open! How could that be?
His thoughts were racing when another shock hit him like a bolt of lightning and with a feeling of growing dread he watched the Dark Empress they’d believed dead emerge from the portal. With a wicked grin she cast a spell at him and he felt as if he’d fallen into an icy lake and barely managed to shout a warning as he almost passed out.
A fierce fight ensued, which became even worse when the awakened lizard-creature joined, turning out to be a deadly basilisk!
[o]I knew I had to take some risks if I wanted to earn enough campaign points to call my last game a victory. So far, I’d been making excellent progress, but taking down a Final Enemy can take time, so I placed the Throne Room entrance at my earliest opportunity.
And I still needed that third level II or higher monster for Lady Eleanor’s quest. So, I also placed a level III room with a basilisk, the only remaining standard monster type I hadn’t encountered yet in any of my previous games.
Finally, I opened the entrance to the Throne Room since it seemed like a relatively safe thing to do as the basilisk wouldn’t activate this turn…
This would be something I’d regret in a short while because its nasty gaze ability forced me to discard four cards, prolonging the fight against the Final Enemy.[/o]
Things looked truly dire until an opening presented itself: The Dark Empress was so focused on taking revenge for her previous defeat at the hands of the adventurers that she fell into the pit trap Kulldrak had triggered earlier.
This gave Jypzy the chance to take her down for good this time, bathing her in magical fire until there was nothing left but ashes. With the evil sorceress gone, the basilisk was soon to follow.
[o]Defeating The Dark Empress (again!) granted me another four campaign tokens. During this fight another rule question came up. As the second paragraph on page 8 of the Rules Supplement mentions:
The Final Enemy always attacks a hero at the end of each Monster Activation segment if possible.
As it turned out, the only way to attack the randomly selected target hero required the Dark Empress to move through the space containing the Pit Trap.
So far, so good, but apparently I hadn’t read the Pit Trap’s card text carefully enough, because I believed that any creature entering the space would take 2 automatic damage.
However, as I’m seeing now, what the card actually says is that the automatic damage is only taken when the trap is sprung. Afterwards, its only effect is to hinder movement and prevent creatures in its space to attack.
Unfortunately, this means that Jypzy wouldn’t have been able to take out the Dark Empress with a single attack, leaving her with two remaining life instead. So, it would have taken me at least another activation to defeat her. Ah, well… [/o]
After they’d recovered a bit, Taio studied the portal with a puzzled expression. “I thought no one would be able to break my seal. I doubt the Dark Empress would have been strong enough. And besides, how comes she was alive again? Someone or something extraordinarily powerful must be behind this.” This was followed by an uneasy quietness, everyone exchanging worried glances.
[o]In previous games I had wondered how you’re supposed to successfully resolve Lady Eleanor’s quest. It’s already not that easy to defeat 3 Level II or higher monsters to trigger the quest. And even if you do, you’re very likely already far into the game. And then you need to draft three artifacts, move adjacent to her and remove them from the game again!
Turns it out it’s a lot easier if you already start the game with two artifacts in play
So, this is one example of a quest that is a lot easier to complete in the 3rd or 4th game of a campaign. Resolving the quest earned me three campaign tokens.[/o]
It was Kulldrak who finally broke the silence: “All this brooding won’t do us any good. Let’s finish the job we came here for!” With renewed determination they made their way through the portal to look for Shoktor’s ally. And thankfully he was still there, looking exactly the same as the last time they’d seen him. Perusing the tome they’d received from Lady Eleanor, they carefully followed its instructions and proceeded to free the captured soul and used it to restore the adventurer.
When he came to, his befuddled gaze darted from one adventurer to another until he spotted Shoktor. “Is that you Shoktor? Have you been taken prisoner, too? Who are your companions and where are we?!”
After bringing him up to date, the adventurer introduced himself as Vrakh the Hunter and told them how he had been separated from the other members of his alliance and taken prisoner by the Dark Empress. But it was his final memory that was the most worrying:
It had not been the Empress herself but a demonic entity, half spider, half woman that had strapped him to the ritual device to drain his soul.
[o]Freeing the Enervated Adventurer’s soul from the crystal prison granted me three campaign tokens.
I also added Vrakh the Hunter to my deck, yet another means to draw more cards and allowing me to play a second Battle Tactic or Weapon.[/o]
And just as he was finishing the tale, a strange chittering sound came from the ceiling and the being Vrakh had described descended from the blackness of an otherworldy gate, hanging by a silken thread. All of a sudden, a hissing voice in their heads proclaimed “Look who’s found their way into our web, my children. More souls to feed the Spider Queen!”
Leaving no doubt about her intentions, our brave heroes prepared for a battle to protect their very souls.
It took a concerted action to bring her down while the mere presence of the demon queen poisoned their bodies and minds. When Kulldrak delivered the killing blow, her voice manifested in their heads one last time, uttering a chilling curse.
[o]Defeating The Spider Queen granted me an impressive five campaign tokens. Thankfully, I didn’t contract the Curse of Spider Queen earlier. At this point in the campaign, it didn’t have any effect, anymore. But if it had already been in place at the start of the third game, it might have given me a bit of a challenge.[/o]
The fight had taken its toll and everyone was close to death, but that didn’t stop them from exploring the rest of this dungeon level. Thankfully Bartholomew discovered a Staff of Restoration allowing him to cure some of their poisonous wounds.
So they barely managed to escape from the dungeon. Despite being badly wounded they felt quite proud of their achievement, having discovered and ended the threat of a great evil.
But had the Spider Queen truly been responsible for the fate of the Lost Alliance or was there something else behind all this. Something hidden even deeper in the Slayer’s Dungeon; something they hadn’t encountered yet?
From the shadows an ancient being clad in black armor watched the adventurers as they made their way back to the surface. As its glowing eyes searched for signs of weakness, it whispered to itself “Well, well, finally some worthy opponents. I’m really looking forward to meet you in a duel should you ever dare to return to my dungeon.” With a silent laugh it made its way back to the heart of the dungeon it had created centuries ago...
This concludes the fourth and final part of this campaign.
In this game, I gained a total of 61xp (after 4 rounds), which was also my final score since I placed all rooms and had no monster or (unrevealed) challenge tokens left on the board. I had also beaten all three quests and collected a total of 21 campaign tokens, five more than the goal for a campaign's 4th game.
I drafted a total of 15 cards, which was probably a bit much. Even with the additional card draws I had a few activations where my hand wasn’t ideal and finished the game badly beaten up with a total of 21 wound tokens left on my four heroes. And six times, one of the adventurers had to face defeat.
I feel a bit bad about the rules mistakes I discovered while writing this session report, but back when I’d just finished the game, I definitely considered it a resounding success.
Either way, it's been a satisfying conclusion to the campaign
And in case you couldn’t tell: I consider the adventure packs a great enhancement to the game, and campaign mode the definitive way to play.
I’m really looking forward to give the next adventure pack a try. It’s already been way too long since I finished my first campaign
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the session report!
1a Cave torch to Gildor
1b goblin tunnels to staging area
Resource phase turn 1: Draw Faramir
Planning Stage Turn 1 Place ancient mathom attaching to Goblin Tunnels, and ready dwarven sellsword, When I ready the sellsword it makes threat decrease by 1 due to Nori’s ability when a dwarf is played threat to 29
Quest stage Turn 1`: Nori, Gildor, Sellsword commit to quest = 7 will
Draw goblin town scavengers no progress to remove from quest when revealed total threat = 3 forced to reveal a card Longbeard orc slayer cost of 4 so increases Goblin scavengers threat by 4 for the turn so total threat =7 so no progress
Travel turn 1: Travel to Goblin tunnels
Encounter stage turn 1 : Scavengers engage
Combat stage turn 1 I do not defend scavengers draw branching paths= no shadow the scavengers have 1a , I place the one damage on Gildor. Aragorn attacks scavengers 3a/ 0d resulting in 3 damage killing scavengers
Refresh stage turn 1 : threat to 30 pay 1 resource for sellsword
Exhaust cave torch adding three progress on Goblin tunnels 3/7 then torch has me discard top card which is collapsed mine.
Resource phase turn 2 : Draw sneak attack
Planning Stage Turn 2:
Quest stage Turn 2: Commit Nori, Gildor, and Sellsword = 7 willpower
Draw goblin runners they --surge--- draw Lost in the dark and I choose to take the make no progress on quest option ( cans till progress at location) . . Total threat =1 7w-1t= 6 success finishes goblin tunnels and I draw 3 cards due to ancient mathom triggering when complete the location I draw
Andrath Guardsman,ever vigilant, unexpected courage
Travel stage turn 2
Encounter stage turn 2 : runners enter engaged area
Use ever vigilant and pay a resource to ready dwarven sellsword
Combat stage turn 2: Sellsword blocks goblin runners, draw a card for shadow, I draw eyes in the dark since it is defended there is no affect Runners attack 3a/ 2d resulting in 1 damage to sellsword Aragron attacks Runners 3a/1d resulting in 2 damage killing runners
Refresh stage turn 2: Threat to 31 pay for sellsword
Resource phase turn 3: Draw Grim resolve
Planning Stage Turn 3: Play Unexpected courage on Nori, Ready Fili reducing threat to 30 due to Nori then search for and put into play kili per Fili response step. Shuffle deck
Quest stage Turn 3: Nori, Kili, Fili, Gildor commit = 7 will power, Draw goblins are upon you search deck for goblin runners and put into play engaged with me no surge affect shuffle encounter deck . no threat in staging area so 7 success finishing quest 1b
2a add goblin chieftain to staging area then add a different enemy to staging area choose goblin snipers
2b all enemies engagement cost =0 quest is 4x number of enemies
Travel stage turn 3:
Encounter stage turn 3: All engage due to 2b’s affect
Combat stage turn 3: runners blocked by sellsword. I draw goblin snipers which has no shadow 3a/ 2d 1 damage to sellsword, chieftain is undefended draw branching path whis has . No shadow. 2 damage I assign to Nori but since no progress on quest chietens attack can not remove any , sniper is undefended. FOr shadow I draw draw branching Paths which has no shadow, 2 damage Which I assign to Aragron. Aragorn attacks runnedrs 3a/1d 2 damage and kills runners
PAY 1 for sellsword
Refresh stage turn 3: Doom to 31
Resource phase turn 4: Draw unexpected courage
Planning Stage Turn 4: Ready Andrath guardsman, and with his affect choose sniper to not be able to attack
Quest stage Turn 4: Gildor and pay a resource to use bolfurs ability to put him into quest and aragorn = 7 will and reduces threat to 30 since bofur was played from my hand per Nori. Draw eyes in the dark which raises doom to 31then then I choose to raise it by 1 for each questing character =+3 so raise to 34. No threat in staging area so 7 success and bofur returns to hand ⅞ on quest 2b
Travel stage turn 4:
Encounter stage turn 4 Pay for sellsword
Combat stage turn 4: Chieftain is blocked by sellsword, for shadow I draw scavengers = no shadow 2a/ 2d no damage, remove 2 from quest due toi chieftens ability 2b = ⅝
Aragorn attacks sniper 3d/0d 3 damage kills sniper
Changes quest completion to needing 4 so is completed
3a put chieften aside , add cracked pillar to staging area
3b must reveal an extra encounter card during questing
Refresh stage turn 4 Threat to 35
Resource phase turn 5: Draw feigned voices
Planning Stage Turn 5: Ready faramir Unexpected courage on Kili
Quest stage Turn 5: Pay 1 for bofur reducing threat to 34, , Fili and Kili will= 4 draw collapsed mine total threat = 4 I exhaust Faramir to add 3 so 3 success and return return bofur to hand
Quest stage Turn 6`: pay 1 for Bofur reducing threat to 34, commit Nori,Kili, Aragon = 7 draw lost in the dark choose no progress on quest option then for second draw I get lost in the dark ( lucky) choose no progress on quest 4 threat = 3 succes Bofur back to hand .
Refresh stage turn 6 ; doom to 35 tap exhaust cave torch and discard goblin tunnels the 3 progress completed cracked pillar which advances quest to 4a goblin chieften to staging area goblin chieftain can only take damage if 8 progress on stage
Exhaust steward of gondor
Resource phase turn 7: draw northern tracker
Planning Stage Turn 7:
Quest stage Turn 7: Nori, Kili, Fili, aragorn, Gildor, sellsword, andrath pay 1 for bofur reduce threat to 34 will = 14 draw goblin runners surge draw .. goblin troop = 10 threat 14-10 = 4 success return bofur to hand aragorn pays 1 to ready, unexpected courage readies Nori and Kili
Travel stage turn 7: Travel to collapsed mine exhaust cave torch discard but was a cavern warg put into staging exhaust steward of gondor
Encounter stage turn 7: runners and warg engage
Combat stage turn 7 : warg blocked by faramir for darkness draw cave troll no darkness, 3a 2d 1 damage to Faramir , runners blocked by kili for shadow reveal scavengers= no shadow 3a 1s kills kili
Aragorn attacks runners 3a/1d 2 damage kills runners
Pay for sellsword
Refresh stage 7: Threat to 35
Resource phase turn 8: draw ancient mathom
Planning Stage Turn 8: play ancient mathom on collapsed mine
Quest stage Turn 8: Nori, bofour. Argaon, and Andrath commit = 7 I draw crumbling ruins exhaust Fili the discard sneak attack which has a cost of 1, Fii has 3 health so no result. 7 threat in staging area result = 7/7 I tap faramir to add 4 whichn then adds 4 success to location which completes abandoned mine and adds 1 to quest ⅝. I draw 3 cards due to ancient mathom and reduce the threat to 34 due to Bofour/Nori Aragorn reacts and pays a resource and Nori uses unexpected courage to ready, I exhaust steward of Gondor I drew celegrians stone and hasty strike x2
Travel stage turn 8: travel to goblin tunnels
Encounter stage turn 8:
Combat stage turn 8: cavern warg engages Fili I draw lightless passage for shadow and then use hasty strike to cancel the shadow. Warg 3a 1d = 2 damage amd kills Fili Aragorn and gildor attack warg 5d 2d = 3 damage kills warg
Refresh stage turn 8: Threat to 35
Resource phase turn 9: Draw Longbeard orc slayer
Planning Stage Turn 9: Ready Longbeard orc slayer
Quest stage Turn 9: Pay 1 for bofour reduce threat to 34, Nori, Aragorn, Gildor, Andrath =10 willpower . I draw lightless passage = 11 threat in staging area . I tap faramir add 5 Willpower = 15- 11 4 success =9/8 on quest
Bofur back to hand exhaust steward, pay for sellsword
Travel stage turn 9: Travel to Lightless passage exhaust torch and discard goblin tunnels add 3 progress to lightless passage
Encounter stage turn 9 :
Combat stage turn 9:
Refresh stage turn 9: Threat to 35
Resource phase turn 10: Draw Gandalf, use sneak attack on Gandalf 4 damage to goblin chieftain Gandalf returns to hand
Planning Stage Turn 10: Celebrias stone to aragorn
Quest stage Turn 10: pay 1 for bofoure reduce threat to 34 All commit to quest except Faramir and Dwarven Longbeard,= 14 willpower draw crumbling ruin, I exhaust longbeard discard dwarven the discard Dwarven sellsword , sellsword cost 1 Longbeard has 3 health no effect. There is 7 threat is staging area = 7 success tap Faramir = +6will power = 20-7 = 13 success 1 completes passage then next 12 no quesr 12 on quest
I use Sneak attack Gandolf dealing 4 damage to chieftain and killing him and resulting in the quest completing
At the United Nations, where once-hardened ex-generals like Barak quaked about the prospect of the world uniting to force Israel to accept a Palestinian state, the situation for the Jewish state’s foes is particularly dismal. It’s true that many UN agencies, like its Human Rights Council, are still cesspools of antisemitism and hypocrisy, focusing almost exclusively on bogus attacks on Israel while ignoring real human-rights catastrophes in countries around the world.
But as is the case elsewhere, the diplomatic isolation that Barak and so many others feared never happened. Indeed, as Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon recently wrote, the world body is no longer the “home court” for those who oppose Israel. The majority of member states joined the United States and Israel in condemning Hamas terrorism in the past year. In a variety of steps, both large and small, Israel’s presence there has become normalized.
At the same time, the Palestinians have become more of an afterthought. It’s probably better for Abbas that even the Palestinians’ usual cheerleaders on the left paid no attention to his recent address at the UN General Assembly, where he spoke of his devotion to democracy and his plans to hold an election. Abbas is so devoted to democracy that he is currently serving the 15th year of a four-year term as president of the PA, to which he was elected in 2005. No one takes his talk of finally holding another vote seriously, since there is no way he would risk being defeated by his more radical Islamist rivals in Hamas, who currently rule Gaza.
The Arab and Muslim worlds may still be hotbeds of antisemitism and may have successfully exported their Jew-hatred to the West in the form of the BDS movement. However, Arab states have effectively dropped the Palestinian cause as a priority and instead are increasingly looking to Israel as an ally against Iran. Though they still pay some lip service to the Palestinian cause, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt have little interest in creating another failed and unstable Arab state for the Palestinians.
To note these facts is not to deny that the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians is not going away and remains a serious problem. But as long as both the PA and Hamas are stuck in the mindset of their century-long war on Zionism, peace will have to wait until the Palestinians are ready to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state.
The fact that the “tsunami” that so many Jews feared has fizzled into the BDS flop that can only intimidate someone like Lovato demonstrates that the conventional wisdom peddled by Israel’s noisy critics shouldn’t be taken seriously. Those who listen to the counsels of despair in 2011 have turned out to be as confused as a second-tier pop star.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Sunday confirmed that he has been advancing non-aggression treaties with several Arab countries in the Gulf, a “historic” démarche he said could end the conflict between Jerusalem and those states.
“Recently I have been promoting, with the backing of the prime minister, a diplomatic initiative to sign ‘non-aggression agreements’ with the Arab Gulf states,” Katz wrote on Twitter.
“It’s a historic move that will end the conflict and enable civilian cooperation until the signing of peace agreements,” he said, in what appeared to be a tacit acknowledgement that no Arab country is currently willing to establish full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved.
Katz further confirmed that he presented his plan to several Arab foreign ministers during his visit to New York last week at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. He also discussed the proposal with the US administration’s outgoing special envoy for the peace process, Jason Greenblatt, Katz said.
“I will continue to work to strengthen Israel’s standing in the region and around the world,” he pledged.
Katz’s tweet included a link to a report aired Saturday night by Channel 12, which first revealed the existence of the potentially groundbreaking initiative.
In fact PMW's reports show that Fatah does all of that and worse on its Facebook page, and PMW has pointed this out to Facebook more than once. Yet Facebook continues to leave the platform open for Fatah's terror promotion.
Fishman further explained that Facebook finds that governments and academics are acting too slow in terms of designating who are "terrorist actors" and therefore designates such themselves: "We [Facebook] designate terrorist actors ourselves. This is pretty unique, but the reason we do this is because although there are a variety of lists of terrorist organizations in the world that are maintained by academics, that are maintained by governments, we find that academics and governments act too slowly. They don't actually maintain comprehensive lists in real time, and the expectation on us by our users and by the community globally is that we are able to respond to these things in near real time."
One can only marvel at the speed with which Facebook claims that it responds to terror promotion when looking at its inaction in the face of PMW’s thorough documentation. Nine months ago Facebook was supplied by PMW with explicit evidence that Fatah’s mission includes terror and violence. Yet in its statement to the Jerusalem Post last week Facebook said: "We have received reports about potentially violating content on this page and, as we do with all such reports, are in the process of reviewing that content to determine whether it violates our policies."
Facebook boasting would be laughable, if its behavior was not life-threatening. Facebook claims to have a policy according to which “there may be no praise, support, or representation of a terrorist organization, a terrorist actor, a terrorist event,” and boasts ‘we are able to respond to these things in near real time.”
In the case of Fatah, Facebook has failed repeatedly to deal with the terror promotion on its platform. Despite being provided with the evidence, Facebook did nothing to remove Fatah’s terror glorifying and promoting posts. While their actions were no more than piece-meal, it appears that even Fatah accepted PMW’s claim that many of their posts contained terror glorification and promotion and decided to take them down.
Facebook removes terror promotion in “real time,” except when the murder of Israelis is being celebrated and promoted. For Israelis a full nine months is necessary and Facebook is still “in the process of reviewing that content,” that clearly celebrates and promotes terror.
While Facebook is bragging about fighting terror, Palestinian terror is being embedded in the hearts and minds of the next generation of potential terrorists, thanks to Facebook.
The Palestinian Authority has removed any mention of past agreements with Israel from their school textbooks, with the exception of the Oslo Accords, which are mentioned in far less detail than in previous editions of the schoolbooks, according to a new report by Yedioth Aharonot.
The new curriculum, which has been progressively implemented throughout the past three years, and the textbooks in particular, are studied between 1st and 12th grades in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem and refugee camps. They, unlike their previous editions, make no mention of the historical Jewish presence in Israel, and speak about every quarter in Jerusalem's Old City – except the Jewish Quarter.
The portions of the textbooks that do mention the Oslo Accords portray Israel in a negative light, claiming that "the Zionist occupation was forced to recognize the PLO after the First Intifada in 1987."
In addition, the old textbooks contained the full contents of the letter written in 1993 by then-PA chairman Yasser Arafat to then-Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, which detailed the values of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
The new textbooks, however, censor the part in which Arafat writes that the declaration of principles "is the beginning of an era of coexistence in peace without violence and any action that may risk the peace."
The few times in which Israel is mentioned throughout the rest of the textbooks are in parentheses, a habit typically taken on to claim the illegitimacy of the state by extremist organizations such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, according to Mako.
Turkey will soon move forward with its long-planned military operation to create what it calls a "safe zone" in northern Syria – and U.S. forces will not support or be involved in it, the White House press secretary announced early Monday morning. The move is an extraordinary reversal of US policy that leaves America's allies wondering whether they can still rely on the Trump administration.
The statement came after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump discussed in a phone call Turkey's plans to establish a "safe zone" east of the Euphrates River in Syria. For four years, the US and mostly Kurdish fighters have fought and defeated Islamic State in northeast Syria.
The White House decision will effectively displace the partner forces the US had been working with. For more than a year and a half, Trump has been seeking to leave Syria. In the midst of the impeachment crisis, he has now made the decision to sacrifice US allies in the war on ISIS as opposed to pressuring Ankara with diplomatic means.
"Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria," the White House press secretary said in a statement.
"The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial 'Caliphate,' will no longer be in the immediate area," it added.
The White House looks at the overall picture in eastern Syria, not as one in which the US fought and sacrificed alongside Kurdish partner forces, but as a simple transactional issue.
In this view, the US has no interests in eastern Syria, except the ISIS fighters. Washington has no interests in creating stability, preventing Iranian influence, defending its partners, preventing ethnic cleansing or the destruction of property, or in managing the crisis. Instead, it decided that its mission was tailored and narrow, and nothing beyond the ISIS issue.
Turkey's Erdogan government will be invading northern Syria to slaughter the Kurds, America's loyal allies against ISIS; release captured ISIS fighters, and doubtless seek to stay permanently in control of the area. The horror is that it will be doing all this with the tacit blessing of the US.
"I am saying this today: We have not got the required support from the world -- particularly from the EU -- to share the burden of the refugees we have been hosting, so we might have to [open the gates] to get the support." — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Takvim, September 5, 2019
"If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive for more than six months. We advise them not to try our patience." — Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, Anadolu Agency, July 21, 2019.
Erdogan's threats are not new... and his claims are flawed.... Ankara has not lived up to its commitments.
"The most important question is why the refugee camps are not open to civil monitoring. Entry to refugee camps is not allowed. The camps are not transparent. There are many allegations as to what is happening in them. We are therefore worried about what they are hiding from us." — Cansu Turan, a social worker with the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV), to Gatestone Institute, August 2016.
"Turkish authorities are detaining and coercing Syrians into signing forms saying they want to return to Syria and then forcibly returning them there." — Human Rights Watch, July 2019.
Israel has “great challenges around us” and it's cooperation with Russia is “critical,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, a day after US President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw troops from Syria and allow a Turkish incursion there against Kurdish forces.
Netanyahu made the comments at a holiday toast with workers in his office, during which he relayed that he just had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Netanyahu phoned Putin to wish him a happy birthday.
“I met with him a few weeks ago about issues that are important for the security of the State of Israel, and this conversation as well was important to Israel's security,” he said. Though he did not provide details, the Netanyahu-Putin conversation is believed to have dealt with the changing dynamics in Syria resulting from the White House's dramatic announcement on Sunday.
“We have great challenges around us, but we enjoy important cooperation and coordination with Russia, something that is critical for us, and which we will continue to deal with,” he said.
The Trump administration's move, which opens the way for a Turkish strike on Kurdish fighters long aligned with Washington, runs counter to the positions of even some of Trump's top allies in his own party.
Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator who is generally a vocal Trump supporter, wrote in a series of Twitter posts that he was trying to set up a call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and would introduce a Senate resolution opposing the withdrawal decision and calling for it to be reversed.
"It's never in our national security interest to abandon an ally who's helped us fight ISIS," Graham said in an interview with Fox News Channel, using an acronym for Islamic State.
"This impulsive decision by the president has undone all the gains we've made, thrown the region into further chaos."
Former US Ambassador the United Nations, Nikki Haley also responded on Twitter, saying, "We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake."
Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted that "If reports about US retreat in #Syria are accurate, the Trump administration has made a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria."
US-backed Kurdish-led forces in Syria said American troops began withdrawing Monday from northeast Syria ahead of a Turkish invasion that the Kurds say will overturn five years of achievements in the battle against the Islamic State terror group.
The Syrian Kurdish fighters also accused Washington of failing to abide by its commitments to its key allies in the fight against IS. It’s a major shift in US policy.
The American withdrawal came just hours after the White House said US forces in northeastern Syria will move aside and clear the way for an expected Turkish assault — essentially abandoning Kurdish fighters who fought alongside American forces in the years-long battle to defeat IS.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened for months to launch the military operation across the border. He views the Syria Kurdish forces as a threat to his country as Ankara has struggled with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey was “determined to ensure our country’s existence and security by clearing terrorists from this region.”
“From the start of the Syria war, we have supported that country’s territorial integrity and will continue to do so from now on,” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter. “We will contribute to bring serenity, peace and stability to Syria.”
The United Nations said Monday it was “preparing for the worst” in northeast Syria after the United States said it would step aside to allow for Turkish military operations in the area.
“We don’t know what is going to happen… we are preparing for the worst,” UN regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Panos Moumtzis, said in Geneva, stressing that there were “a lot of unanswered questions” about the consequences of the operation.
Moumtzis added that the UN was “in contact with all sides” on the ground.
But he made clear his office did not have advance warning about the US decision that effectively abandons the Kurds, who were Washington’s main ally in the long battle against the so-called Islamic State group.
Moumtzis said the UN’s priorities were to ensure that any prospective Turkish offensive not result in new displacements, that humanitarian access remain unhindered and that no restrictions be put in place on freedom of movement.
The UN has a contingency plan to address additional civilian suffering, but “hopes that will not be used,” Moumtzis said.
No joke: Iran FM Zarif — whose military exercises control or influence in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon & Yemen — called on Turkey to respect the "sovereignty and territorial integrity" of other countries.https://t.co/i65vK1NpEV
In a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a massive air defense system to defend against Iranian attacks, especially cruise missiles like those used in attacks on a Saudi Arabian oil facility last month, according to KAN.
Last month, cruise missiles and explosive drones were used in an attack on two plants at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, including the world’s biggest petroleum processing facility.
The United States, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and Germany have publicly blamed the attack on Iran, which denies involvement in the strike.
The attacks on the two facilities cut Saudi Arabia’s crude oil supply by around 5.7 million barrels per day, or about 50% of its output.
The plan proposed by Netanyahu will cost billions of shekels. Some of the funds for the project won’t be allocated officially until after a government is formed, assuming that there aren’t third elections.
The funds for the project will either come from cuts within the security establishment or from funds cut from social services. According to KAN, it’s more likely that the funds will be taken from social services.
The Iranian military says it has produced a new conversion kit to upgrade artillery rockets to surface-to-surface missiles, technology that Israel has accused Tehran of attempting to deliver to the Hezbollah terror group.
The Iranians unveiled the new guidance system upgrade, called Labeik, at an event Thursday at which a number of new military technologies were showcased, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly.
Jane’s reported that Labeik appeared similar to the guidance systems on the Fateh-110 series of rockets, many of which are believed to be in the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon. According to the report, the new system also looks to be compatible with Zelzal heavy artillery rockets.
Video footage of the new conversion system aired on Iranian television shows a short body featuring four inverted fins that can be fitted between the rocket and its payload.
According to Iran’s Fars News, the “anti-armor ‘Labeik 1’ missiles… enjoy precision-striking power.”
“There is nothing new in the conversion itself, they have been doing it for years, and they already showed conversion kits for the Fatah 110 family of missiles,” Uzi Rubin, one of the pioneers of Israel’s earliest attempts at missile defense, told The Times of Israel.
“What’s new here are the aerodynamics of the winglets — very unique, unseen in Iran to date and unseen in any other country. Going to indigenous design rather than copying others indicates self-confidence. The purpose of the new and unique aerodynamics is probably to increase the maneuverability of the converted rockets.”
Growing global antisemitism and the dangers of Iran make it more important than ever that the US maintain close ties to Israel, leading Republican Representative Ann Wagner of Missouri said during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, in which she spoke against BDS and promoted joint Palestinian-Israeli business ventures over the Green Line.
“Israel is deeply invested in achieving peace in the Middle East, and so is the United States of America,” said Wagner, who is a member of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee. “And we will all stand collectively with Israel as they work toward the achievement of this goal.”
At “a time of heightened antisemitism that we are seeing across the globe, it is more important than ever that we maintain a strong connection to this very key ally of ours in Israel,” said Wagner. Such a stance is also significant given that Iran is threatening Israel, including through its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas.
Part of a small congressional delegation that traveled to Israel in August, Wagner was on a trip sponsored by the US Israel Education Association (USIEA). The trip focused on security issues and the work of the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, co-led by Avi Zimmerman of the Ariel settlement and Ashraf Jabari of Hebron.
According to the chamber, it has a membership of some 250 Israeli and 250 Palestinian business people. Jabari was among a small number of Palestinian entrepreneurs who attended the US-led economic workshop in Manama, Bahrain, in June.
Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz has ordered his office to draw up plans to stop the Turkish government's efforts to undermine Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and protect Jordan's special status as guardian of Muslim holy sites in the city.
Katz intends to present the plan to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu soon, so he can authorize its implementation. Due to the sensitivity of the plan, whose implementation will almost certainly lead to a direct confrontation with Ankara, it is also expected to be raised for discussion by the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet. According to ministry officials, as the plan pertains to security matters, there is nothing preventing it from being implemented by a transition government.
The issue of Turkey's influence on members of Jerusalem's Arab population has weighed on security and diplomatic officials' minds for years. As Israel Hayom has previously reported, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been buying influence over sites and prominent figures in east Jerusalem for years. Nevertheless, Jerusalem has not made any effort to challenge these efforts up until now.
The Foreign Ministry's plan would see the Muslim Brotherhood, which has close ties to Erdoğan's Justice and Development party, deemed an illegal association in Israel. Further ministry recommendations for thwarting Ankara's efforts include restricting the activities of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, or TIKA, in Israel. The organization, whose stated objective is "preventing the Judaization of Jerusalem," spends some $12 million annually on activities aimed at undermining Israeli sovereignty in east Jerusalem. It should be noted that these activities are personally managed by Erdoğan.
The plan's architects propose obligating TIKA to coordinate its activities with Israel in advance and preventing the association from act unequivocally in Jerusalem. In addition, they propose Jerusalem not renew the head of TIKA in Jerusalem's, a move that would strip the organization head of his diplomatic status in Israel and render his presence in Israel illegal.
Additional steps would include restricting communications between members of the Islamic Waqf.
This is why a new plan from Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz should be seen more as a declaration of intent and less as an operational plan. For the plan to take effect, defense and security officials who have been dealing with the issue for several years already must supply the top political echelon with evidence. Anyone who wants, for example, to limit the activity of TIKA, a well-endowed Turkish government agency, in Jerusalem will have to first prove that its activity goes beyond the bounds of civil/community service and slides into violence and incitement. Thus far, no evidence of that has been found, although attempts have been made to do so.
The steps the Foreign Ministry wants to take against the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood organization could also turn out to be complicated. It's doubtful whether Israel can point to direct activity by the Muslim Brotherhood. On the other hand, it is definitely possible to identify violent activity by groups or individuals with ideological links to the Brotherhood or its international headquarters in London. Steps have been taken against the Muslim Brotherhood in the past, and we can assume that more will be done in the future. Only recently, two female rioters were barred from the Temple Mount for a period of six months.
It looks like the best way to fight Erdoğan, who is hostile to Israel and trying to buy influence in Jerusalem, is to continue to expose Turkey's ties to Hamas. For years, Turkey has served as a haven for Hamas terrorists and commanders. For years, terrorist attacks or attempted terrorist attacks on both sides of the Green Line have been initiated and directed from Turkish territory. Erdoğan has repeatedly made it clear that as far as he is concerned, Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but the facts on the ground prove differently. Dozens of Hamas cells handled from Turkey have been exposed over the past few years, and the Shin Bet recently reported, "Turkey contributes to the military empowerment of Hamas, through methods that include the SADAT company, which was founded on the orders of Adnan Basha, a close advisor to government officials in Turkey."
This is where Israel has to operate, both operationally and in terms of public diplomacy and traditional diplomacy. The Turkish nonprofits active in Jerusalem are tough to check unless legislative changes can be made that alter the definition of "hostile" activity in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.
Israel’s envoy to Cyprus on Monday expressed backing for the Mediterranean island state after Turkey moved a gas drilling rig into Cypriot waters last week.
“Friends should stick with each other,” Ambassador Sammy Revel tweeted.
He added that Israel is “following closely and with concern” the Turkish move.
Revel’s comments come after Cyprus lashed out at Turkey’s new attempt to drill for gas in Cypriot waters where European energy companies are already licensed to conduct a search, calling it a “severe escalation” and vowing to fight the move.
Israel and Turkey, once close allies, have had increasingly strained relations since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan became the country’s leader. Erdogan is a staunch supporter of the Palestinians and launches frequent verbal attacks on the Jewish state.
Israel also voiced support for Cyprus in July over Turkish operations in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Israel, Cyprus and Greece have forged an energy-based partnership that has steadily grown following the discovery of gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean. The United States began joining the talks earlier this year.
Members of Germany's Jewish community are speaking out against the World Jewish Congress's decision to honor Chancellor Angela Merkel with its prestigious Herzl Award.
Every year, the organization bestows the award to figures who act to promote Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl's "ideas for the creation of a safer and more tolerant world for Jews."
Along with Merkel, former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has also been selected for the award, which the two women are set to receive in separate ceremonies.
However, the announcement of WJC's plan to honor Merkel with the award has been met with piercing criticism from members of Germany's Jewish community, who note the change in Merkel's stance toward Israel in recent years, her support for the 2015 nuclear deal, and the increasing sense among the country's Jews that Berlin is not doing an adequate job of contending with the growing threat to Jews as a result of the anti-Semitic views of Arab and Muslim migrants to the country.
Among the points of contention raised by the local Jewish community: Germany's continued pattern of voting against Israel in UN and other international bodies; Berlin's continued funding for organizations that support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement; its refusal to ban Hezbollah activities in the country; and Germany's increased financial support for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, without conditioning those funds on the cessation of incitement against Israel. There also those who cite Merkel's vocal opposition to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's official capital and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The Israel Defense Forces have set up a special engineering corps company to discover and prevent terror tunnels dug across Israel’s northern border from Lebanon.
The new company is intended to deal with the long-term threat from tunneling attempts by Hezbollah, Israeli news website Mako reported on Sunday. It will use cutting edge technology to do so, most of it tested on Hamas tunnels dug from Gaza, but adapted to the northern terrain, which is quite different.
The main tactic employed by the company is the use of new technology, and as a result is heavily invested in research and development.
One department deals with developing technologies to detect tunnels and tunnel digging activity, while another examines the practical engineering means of interdicting and destroying them.
The head of the company, Captain Moshe Asraf, said it was established according to the “lessons” learned during last year’s Operation Northern Shield, during which he served as a commander in the engineering corps.
Dozens of Palestinians rioted on Sunday night following the pilgrimage of some 1,000 Jews, under Israeli security escort, to the Tomb of Joseph in Shechem/Nablus to pray. The rioters threw firebombs and burning tires at security personnel.
Israeli security forces responded with riot dispersal methods.
There were no Israeli reports of casualties during the incident, however the PA’s Wafa news agency reported that seven rioters were wounded after “Israeli forces escorted a convoy of buses packed with over a thousand fanatic Jewish settlers to the site, located in the Palestinian-controlled area, sparking confrontations with Palestinian residents.”
Wafa stated that the injured Palestinians had been “protesting” the “raid” and “attempting to block settlers’ access to the site”
“Among the settlers who raided the site were Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen, leader of the council of settlers in the occupied West Bank Yossi Dagan, and Knesset member Moshe Arbel,” Wafa reported.
Abbas' remarks, which were less acerbic in tone than those he made in previous addresses to the General Assembly, reflected a concern over the ineffectiveness of his policies and the sidelining of the Palestinian issue from the international, regional, and Israeli agenda.
It is also nevertheless evident from Abbas' remarks that he does not intend to bend as far as his fundamental positions on the conflict are concerned. This was given clear expression in Abbas' stated enthusiastic commitment to continue to pay salaries to Palestinian terrorists and their families, despite the fact that Israel has deducted this amount from the tax revenues it transfers to Ramallah. While there is nothing new about this declaration, Abbas' decision to repeat it in a major international forum is indicative of the PA chairman's commitment to the expectations of the Palestinian street, as he perceives and shapes it.
In practice, despite the cuts in the transferred funds and the Palestinian decision to avoid accepting a further installment of payments Israel is willing to transfer, the PA continues to pay these terrorist salaries as usual. According to the PA budget implementation report for 2019, the Palestinian Authority transferred 276 million shekels (around $79 million) in payments – i.e., salaries – and another 75 million shekels (around $22 million) in "social" payments to families, family expenses, medical insurance coverage, and legal expenses, among other things. In total, the PA Prisoner Affairs Ministry spent some 364 million shekels ($105 million) on these terrorist payments.
These numbers reveal that the PA's payments to terrorists in 2019 were similar in scope to those made the previous year. The significance of this is that despite increasing pressure, the Palestinians are sticking to their guns, as it were, and as a result, the chances of the PA becoming a partner for peace under Abbas' leadership continue to be slim to none.
The crisis between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over Israeli deductions of payments made to security prisoners and families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis remains unresolved, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday.
Speaking at the weekly meeting of his cabinet in Ramallah, Shtayyeh announced that the PA has received NIS 1.5 billion from Israel in accordance with the deal reached between the two sides last week.
“The problem with Israel [over the funds withheld by Israel] has not been resolved until this moment,” Shtayyeh said. “There is no government in Israel that is capable of making a political decision on this matter.”
Despite Israel’s decision to deduct the payments from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, the PA government continues to fulfill its duties toward the prisoners and the families of the “martyrs,” Shtayyeh said, and the PA government will remain committed to paying salaries to the families of the prisoners and “martyrs.”
PA President Mahmoud Abbas also said that the PA’s position regarding payments to the security prisoners and families of “martyrs” remains unchanged.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that he would discuss plans for new parliamentary elections with all factions, including longtime rivals Hamas.
Meeting with senior Palestinian leaders in the PA’s administrative capital of Ramallah in the West Bank, Abbas renewed a pledge to hold the polls — the first since 2006 — but without giving a timeframe.
He announced that they had formed committees to “communicate with the election commission and factions such as Hamas and all factions, as well as with the Israeli authorities.”
He said any elections should take place in “the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas and Fatah have been at loggerheads since 2007, when the terror group seized Gaza and threw out Abbas’s forces, which retained control of the internationally recognized Palestinian government, based in the West Bank.
No parliamentary elections have been held since 2006, with the two sides trading blame.
In other words, Islamic Jihad's promise is one of unending toxicity: to go on poisoning the hearts and minds of generation after generation of Palestinians – as well as to continue investing millions of dollars in building tunnels and amassing weapons to ensure that the fight against Israel continues forever.
"The policy of resistance and jihad is the genuine policy to liberate all Palestine, and the Palestinian people will not abandon this path. We will not accept any agreement that contradicts the project of jihad and liberation. Under no circumstances will we give up one inch of the land of Palestine." -- Senior Hamas official Salah Bardaweel.
For [Hamas and Islamic Jihad] , a ceasefire means further amassing weapons and preparing their people for war without worrying about Israeli military action. When will the international community pull its head out of the sand in which it has so long been buried and understand that with organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad running the show, the Gaza Strip will remain the humanitarian disaster that is so bitterly blamed on Israel?
Lebanese authorities have arrested a Syrian national accused of having made phone calls to neighboring Israel, the army said Friday.
An army statement said the suspect, who was not identified, was referred to court for “contacting Israeli phone numbers and communicating with Israelis present in the occupied Palestinian territories.” It did not elaborate.
Lebanon is home to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who fled the war raging in their country.
In August, tensions spiked between Lebanon and Israel after two drones packed with explosives were sent into the Beirut bastion of the Shiite movement Hezbollah.
Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Lebanese army accused Israel of being behind the drone launch.
Lebanon’s government and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah both described the apparently botched operation as an act of aggression.
A few days after the August 25 drone incident in Beirut, the army opened fire on Israeli drones flying over southern Lebanon.
At the same time, over the past few weeks, there have been increasing calls from senior religious figures in Iran and the leadership of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for the destruction of the State of Israel. This is similar to statements issued by the Supreme Leader in 2016 that Israel would cease to exist in another 25 years. It is possible that this round of criticism against Israel serves a smokescreen while negotiations are taking place between Iran and the United States to enable Iran’s return to the nuclear deal.
In any case, by November 7, 2019, a further reduction is expected in Iran’s commitment to the nuclear agreement (including the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent and even higher). There is a window of opportunity for diplomacy and European efforts to try what has failed until now – to promise economic compensation to Iran for the American sanctions or alternatively to bring Washington back to the negotiating table. Iran’s oppositional regional policy (against Israel and Saudi Arabia, in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria) will apparently make it harder for Europe and the United States to advance the negotiations with Iran. However, in the past, Europe has shown that it is prepared to ignore repeated violations of human rights in Iran, such as its role in terror activities (including within European territory!), to fulfill the nuclear agreement, which eventually leads to investment and economic cooperation with Iran. Iran is well aware of Europe’s modus operandi and uses it and U.S. weakness to achieve maximum profit to renew negotiations regarding the nuclear agreement.
“Today, the Nuclear Deal Is in the Intensive Care Unit” In this regard, Abbas Aragchi, deputy foreign minister and one of the patrons of the nuclear deal, stated at a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the opening of the German embassy in Tehran that, “today the nuclear deal is in the intensive care unit.” He added that to save it, cooperation was necessary between the P5+1 states. This could “bring down the walls of American sanctions and one-sided policies, which have become its weapon against independent countries.” According to him, Iran, along with the European countries, China, and Russia, are attempting to reach a balanced agreement through negotiations, but because of America’s one-sided policies, this balance has been violated and lost.5
Iran has confirmed the arrest last week in Tehran of a Russian journalist, saying the case was a matter of a visa violation.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters that Yulia Yuzik’s case is under “quick review” by authorities and wasn’t related to matters concerning the “counter-espionage” department. Her ex-husband said last week she had been arrested for allegedly spying for Israel.
The Russian Embassy in Tehran said on Friday that Yuzik flew into Tehran the previous Sunday and that Iranian officials seized her passport at the airport for unknown reasons. She was arrested from her hotel room on Wednesday.
The Russian foreign ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador to Moscow to explain Yuzik’s arrest.
Prior to her arrest, Yuzik posted photographs from her trip on Instagram, saying she loved being in Iran.
Houthi Military Expert Lieutenant-General Abed Al-Thour: UAE Like a Cave Full of Bats; We Can Destroy It; UAE Soldiers Will Have No Place to Return to pic.twitter.com/Xm1qkIU7vD
Houthi Political Bureau Member Muhammad Al-Bakhiti: If Saudi Arabia Doesn't Stop Its Aggression, We Might Launch an Offensive Campaign to Reach Riyadh, Topple the Saudi Regime pic.twitter.com/tFFGhqiywX
BUT ISRAEL has some issues on the horizon that, if they would come together at the wrong time, would be a perfect storm. Among these is the increasing hostility of Turkey. Ankara has become more nationalist and religious-nationalist, a toxic mix. It is flexing its muscles, taking over swaths of northern Syria and seeking to keep on track to totally remove the Americans from the region. That would be a setback for the US – and setbacks for the US also impact Israel. Turkey is buying the S-400, not in itself a problem for Israel. Ostensibly, both Ankara and Jerusalem have an interesting relationship with Moscow today, borne of Russia’s increased role in the region, particularly in Syria.
Russia’s role in Turkey is strategic and also related to energy and Syria. This can impact Israel in a complex way. Turkey’s current government is seeking to take up the mantle of being the main opposition to Israel in the region. It bashes Israel over Jerusalem, and its media run hyperbolic stories about Israeli abuses. Turkey is close to the Muslim Brotherhood today and wants to see Hamas have a more prominent role in Ramallah. Yet Israel can deal with Turkey’s anger. The question is whether it can deal with the emerging Turkey-Iran relationship.
Iran has been a challenge for Israel due to a variety of reasons, but lately it is capitalizing on the weakness of its adversaries. That means it is increasingly playing a role in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. That means it is transferring precision missile technology to Hezbollah.
Iran’s IRGC says that it can destroy Israel. It launched an attack on Saudi Arabia on September 14 that has ramifications for Israel. That Riyadh did not respond shows that Israel’s supposed common interests with the Gulf are more problematic than in reality. Saudi Arabia won’t confront Iran. So who will confront Iran? The US? No. The US has signaled it will not. And the next US administration may be more pro-Iran than this one. That could give Tehran what it wants in Syria, which means a kind of “land bridge” that ends near the Golan and threatens Israel.
What Israel faces today is potentially two strong adversaries in Turkey and Iran, although they are quite different in how they confront Israel. Turkey uses soft power; Iran uses hard power. But Israel, appearing strong, now faces these challenges in some ways alone. It is not like the 1950s, when Israel was truly alone. Israel has made major inroads in India, China and elsewhere. But the immediate challenges are still there. It is dangerous to be too confident and arrogant today, and it is essential that Jerusalem seek to analyze and deal with these challenges in the long-term because short term planning won’t work. Iran thinks in the long term – and its role in the region is a long-term role.
Against that backdrop, the 22nd Knesset was sworn in on Thursday in Jerusalem. Many are wondering if, like the 21st Knesset, it will also last for less than two months and perhaps become the shortest-lived legislature in Israel’s history.
As the Post’s Lahav Harkov pointed out on Wednesday, there are only eight new members of this Knesset, as well as another nine who are returning from past stints as legislators, which means that 103 members of the 22nd Knesset will be sworn in for the second time this year.
A proud institution, the Knesset is in danger of becoming a laughing stock. But it’s no joke. Israel needs a stable government and a stable Knesset. Every attempt must be made to prevent the newly sworn-in Knesset from becoming the shortest Knesset in Israeli history.
All parties should take the responsibility upon themselves as if they alone are charged with insuring that a third election is not called for. The country has survived some nine months of paralysis, but it’s only a matter of time before the string starts to unravel out of control and the situation begins to do irreparable damage to Israel and its population.
At Thursday’s ceremony, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein led the MKs with “I pledge allegiance to the State of Israel and to faithfully fulfill my mission in the Knesset.” And the newly sworn-in lawmakers responded: “I pledge.”
Let’s hope they take that allegiance and mission seriously and prevent a third election.
European Union Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process Susanna Terstal, writing in the Jerusalem Post on Sep. 21, evidently believes that incessant repetition of the phrase "two-state solution" adds some element of legitimacy and feasibility to the idea. But the two-state solution has never been agreed-upon between Israel and the Palestinians, and does not figure in any of the agreements between them. It is nothing more than an expression of wishful thinking within the UN and the EU.
To the contrary, the Oslo Accords, to which the EU itself is a signatory, clearly leaves the issue of the permanent status of the territories to be decided in negotiations. Thus, whether the outcome will be one, two or three states, or a federation or confederation, remains on the negotiating table. By incessantly plying a two-state solution, the EU is in fact prejudging an agreed negotiating issue.
Suggestions by Israeli leaders to "apply sovereignty" led EU representatives to complain that unilateral modification of the Oslo Accords "undermines the entire agreement" and "dismantles Oslo." One wonders why the EU did not view the recent declarations by the Palestinian leadership canceling the territorial division between areas A, B and C in a similar light. Did this not undermine the accords?
The EU representative also expressed support for a "Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines." Yet the issue of borders is an agreed-upon permanent-status negotiating issue, and her presumption of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines clearly contradicts and prejudges both the Oslo Accords and UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967.
The EU cannot in good faith claim that it does not take sides in the conflict. The EU has not only taken sides, but clearly demonstrates a distinct political bias against Israel in virtually all its positions, policies, statements and dealings regarding the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation process.
The National Museum of Iran opened on Wednesday an exhibition of around 300 cuneiform clay tablets returned from the United States after a drawn-out legal saga.
The tablets were found at the ruins of Persepolis, capital of the Persian Achaemenid Empire (6th – 4th c. BC) in the south of Iran. Cyrus the Great, who ruled during the Achaemenid Empire, is said to have liberated the Jews from Babylonian captivity in 539 BCE, allowing them to return home and build the Second Temple.
The works on display belonged to a group of 1,783 clay tablets or tablet fragments returned to Iran by the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.
In the 1930s, the university had received on loan around 30,000 tablets or tablet fragments found at Persepolis for research purposes, Iranian media reported.
A large portion of the tablets were returned in three batches between 1948 and 2004 before their restitution was blocked by legal action initiated by American survivors of an attack in Israel in 1997 carried out by the Palestinian Hamas terror group.
Blaming Tehran for supporting the armed group, the plaintiffs demanded the seizure of the tablets and their sale put toward the $71.5 million that Iran was ordered to pay in the case.
The proceedings only ended in February 2018 when a US Supreme Court decision banned the seizure of the works.
In March 2018, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, 58, updated then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo on what the Mossad had found inside Iran's secret nuclear archives that it had stolen from the heart of Tehran in January 2018. Sources close to Cohen told the Jerusalem Post that the information the Mossad seized is "still being used right now" to glean high-quality and valuable intelligence. A map of nuclear sites captured in the operation has yet to be made public. These revelations "even go beyond Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's revelation of the Abadeh nuclear site" earlier this month. Cohen says Pompeo praised the Mossad for redefining "daring and boldness."
Dozens of agents were involved in surveillance missions and the heist itself. Neutralizing any electronic surveillance that could expose them, they spent six hours and 29 minutes nabbing Iran's secret nuclear files, which were kept in 32 safes. They used special torches to slice into these safes. They loaded the vast files onto trucks and used Iranian smugglers to get across the border.
Cohen's view is that relations with Sunni countries in the Gulf are "not as much about personal trust, but about overlapping national interests" - especially when it comes to Iran. For example, while Cohen would be against sharing sensitive Israeli technologies with the Saudis to combat the drone threat from Iran, he would seek to help states in the Gulf combat Iran together in other ways.
Regarding the Palestinians, sources close to Cohen indicate that he does not believe anything will move on the peace process until PA President Mahmoud Abbas leaves office.
There is no chance of a “peace party” returning to Jerusalem unless Israelis see that Palestinians have unequivocally denounced the past, that the celebrations of those who’ve died killing Israelis are rejected. That is impossible to envision in the near-term: neither Fatah, nor Hamas, nor the Israelis, nor Washington want the Palestinian people voting. All fear the worst—the wrong side winning. Perhaps most perversely, the Israelis are invested in a security status quo with Fatah that likely negates the chance of any Palestinian change, and surely makes Hamas more popular on the West Bank than its tyranny in Gaza has earned. But it’s possible that if there were a free vote among Palestinians the hostility towards Israelis—the fundamental rejection of the legitimacy of a Jewish state—could be the common denominator among Palestinians who otherwise loathe Fatah’s and Hamas’ dictatorships. Palestinians again voting could lead to intense violence, among Palestinians and against Israelis. Nonetheless, Palestinian popular sovereignty is likely the only way out of this cul-de-sac. We have two peoples wanting the same land with national and especially religious narratives that negate the other’s. For even non-practicing Muslims, Moses is a great prophet, trying to lead his people toward the one, true calling—Islam. A Jewish homeland wasn’t in Allah’s message. Yet the unrelenting secularism of Westerners reduces the most compelling stories we have to differences about water rights, East Jerusalem, and security checkpoints.
The basic character of a people and faith can change, but that usually happens after a truly devastating military defeat or a long evolution. The Palestinians haven’t actually seen a society-crushing catastrophe; they have endured foreign, non-Muslim overlords, with all of the indignities, and incompetent, avaricious, ambitious, insouciant, deluded and sometimes brutal native rulers (they, however, get a middling score in hideousness in the modern Middle East).
Since 2002, the Israelis appear to have a consensus: Palestinians cannot be trusted. On the other side, Palestinians seem more conflicted about the Jews, more divided religiously and culturally, more prone to internecine violence today than they were when the Israelis directly ruled all of the West Bank and Gaza.
The continuing decline of America in the Middle East will unavoidably remove certain delusions about what might be possible between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The torpor of the peace process under Obama and Trump is likely the new American standard. If they haven’t already, Palestinians will give up on the idea of Washington’s intercession, of American democracy coercing Israeli democracy into making concessions to unelected Palestinian officials. For the Palestinian people that will, at least, change the rhetoric and excuses of the ruling elite.
America’s retreat may tempt the Israelis to act more hubristically towards the Palestinians, to take land in the West Bank that has no plausible security value. But the most effective check on ugly Israeli actions has always been the internal debate, the tension between the executive, legislative, and judicial authorities in Israel’s messy democracy.
For decades out, it’s hard to see anything better than an unpleasant modus vivendi between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Given that it is the Middle East, however, that isn’t an awful state. Americans always want to believe that honesty is the best policy, that without honesty solutions aren’t possible. We are certainly tardy in applying that principle to the Israeli–Palestinian clash.
UAV Warfare Another hint of the effectiveness of Patriot defense are Houthi/Iranian alliance efforts both to suppress it and evade it. To elucidate this point, we need to refer to another aspect of the Houthi/Iranian war machine in Yemen: UAV warfare. UAVs are one of the main pillars of Iranian military doctrine. Together with other weapon shipments, Iran has been providing the Houthis with numerous types of UAVs, both of the larger types used for armed reconnaissance such as the Shahad 129 (roughly equivalent to Israel’s Hermes 450) and smaller “suicide” UAVs (such as the Ababil, used by Hezbollah in 2006 for attacks deep within Israel, which for the sake of Iranian deniability has been renamed Kasef 2). The Houthi arsenal is augmented by the acquisition of mail order UAVs such as the Chinese “Skywalker” available online from Ali Baba. More remarkable, the Iranians have provided the Houthis with knowhow, production machinery and expertise to set up a UAV industry of their own in their stronghold of Sad’ha in northern Yemen. The Houthi UAV industry is now producing unique designs of long-range machines, some equipped with jet engines, obviously designed in Iran. Beyond the classic UAV roles of reconnaissance and light bombardment, the Houthi/Iranian alliance is using them for direct “suicide” attacks on Patriot batteries. Three incidents of direct attacks on Patriot batteries have been claimed: Two attacks were within Yemen, probably targeting UAE batteries in Mocha and Marib, and one attack on a Patriot battery defending the Saudi border city of Najran, with unknown results.
Even more significantly, the Houthi/Iranian alliance exploits the Patriot’s system limitations in engaging low and slow threats in order to penetrate beneath the Saudi air/missile defense shield. In fact, UAVs are now being used by the Houthi’s as ersatz land attack cruise missiles. With immunity against air and missile defense, and with much better accuracy than ordinary ballistic missiles, UAVs now seem to be the preferred weapons for imaginative and audacious strikes deep within Saudi territory. For example, the civilian airport of the Saudi town of Abha, about 120 km. from the Yemeni border, was attacked by Houthi suicide UAVs no less than three times during the month of June 2019, wounding 28 passengers and airport workers. In August 2019, the Houthis managed to strike the Shaybah oilfield deep within Saudi Arabia, almost 1200 Km from the Houthi stronghold in Sad’ha. The attack was carried out by no less than 10 UAVs and sparked a fire in gas storage tanks. Such a complex attack needs precise coordination and excellent navigation, which demonstrates the proficiency achieved by Iran’s UAV operators. While those strikes did not cause excessive damage – perhaps intentionally so – they were propaganda coups for the Houthis, providing them with solid achievements in the cognitive battlefield.
The fourth lesson for Israel is the growing military role of UAVs both for missile defense suppression and for evasion. UAVs were first used by Hezbollah for reconnaissance over Israel even prior to the 2006 Lebanon war. At the closing stage of that war, four suicide UAVs were launched by Hezbollah against Israeli targets (One suffered a failure and fell near the border, two were intercepted by Israeli jet fighters, and the fourth vanished). In the 2014 Gaza war Hamas tried to attack Tel Aviv with its own UAVs (Two, perhaps three UAVs were shot down by Patriot air defense batteries). This experience is not indicative of the future. The Yemen war demonstrates how UAVs will be employed in future wars in significant numbers to erode Israel’s missile defense capabilities by attacking the Iron Dome, David Sling and Arrow batteries. Hostile UAVs, in conjunction with precision rockets, may well be tasked to damage Israel’s critical infrastructures such as desalination plants. Consequently, Israel needs to integrate air defense capabilities into its missile defense systems, and to provide its critical infrastructures with their own point defenses.
The current civil wars in the Middle East – especially in Syria and in Yemen – resemble the Spanish civil war of the 1930s inasmuch as they are exploited by outside powers to test new doctrines, weapons and tactics in realistic battle conditions. What the Axis powers (and to a lesser extent the USSR) did in Spain during the 1930s is being done today by Iran in Yemen.
It would be advisable for Israel’s Ministry of Defense and the IDF to closely study the civil war in Yemen, particularly its rocket and drone warfare aspects. The weapons and tactics in use in Yemen today will be employed against Israel tomorrow.
Israel wants to “share the land and find a way to live together” with the Palestinians, President Reuven Rivlin told Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, one of the highest-ranking Vatican diplomats, when they met at the President’s Residence on Thursday night.
Sandri, who is the Prefect of the Congregations for the Oriental Catholic Churches, came with a delegation that included several Franciscan priests, as well as the Papal Nuncio and the Custos of the Holy Land.
He is in the region to mark the 800th anniversary of the Pilgrimage of Peace to the Middle East by St. Francis of Assisi and his dialogue with the Sultan of Egypt.
Rivlin, who has met with Pope Francis and is aware of the efforts being made by the Vatican to bring about a cessation of hostilities in the Middle East in general and between Israel and the Palestinians in particular, told Sandri that he knows how hard the Vatican is working to find a solution to this century-old tragedy.
Knowing that Sandri is also going to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Rivlin asked him to convey his regards, and noted that Abbas had sent New Year greetings to the people of Israel.
Emphasizing the need to build understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, Rivlin was of the opinion that a valuable asset in this regard was the restoration of the baptismal site at Qasr el-Yahud on the Jordan River near Jericho, where Jesus first met John the Baptist.
The restoration project was approved by Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian leadership, said Rivlin, who was personally involved in the process.
Although the details of the “Deal” are as yet obscure, it would appear the Jordan is slated to play a major role in it—grudgingly or otherwise. Accordingly, the feasibility of the “Deal”—indeed its acceptability—will be dramatically impacted by the nature of the regime east of the Jordan River and its prospective stability (or lack thereof).
After all, although some may hope otherwise, there seems little prospect that any successor regime in Amman will be more favorably disposed toward Israel than the current one.
This takes us back to the crucial strategic importance for Israel of the highlands of Judea-Samaria and the Jordan Valley. As I have been at pains to point out on numerous occasions, not only are these highlands the only topographical barrier between Jordan and the heavily populated coast plain, but any forces—regular or renegade—deployed on them will have complete topographical command and control of virtually all Israel’s airfields (military and civilian, including Ben Gurion, the only international airport), its major ports and naval bases, is principal traffic axes (rail and road), vital infrastructure installations/systems (electrical power, desalination plants and water conveyance), centers of civilian government and military command and 80% of the civilian population and commercial activity.
All of these will be in range of cheap, readily available weapons that have already been used against Israel from areas evacuated by it and transferred to Arab control.
Thus, the rationale of any plan that entails Israeli evacuation of this vital territory will hinge critically on the nature of the regime-type in Jordan, which abuts it from the East.
For whatever other grave detriments their might be in such a plan, it will matter greatly if Jordan is ruled by a government that strives to reign in forces hostile to Israel, or one that is indifferent to their aggressive intent—or worse, is complicit with it.
After all, should the Trump plan entail significant territorial concessions, Israel may well find itself in a situation in which it will have to contend with a huge expanse of hostile territory, stretching from the fringes of Greater Tel Aviv to the border of Iraq—and perhaps beyond.
Accordingly, Israel’s security establishment should indeed draw up plans to deal with prospective alternatives in Jordan—not only how to cope with them once they arise, but to prevent them from arising at all.
Another Arab Spring-like protest movement now seems to be arising, seeking to topple the present Iraqi government. As Israelis, we should support the Iraqi people in their quest for true freedom and democracy.
Mendi Safadi, heads of the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, has noted that if we want to prevent the creation of another Syria, we should call upon the community of nations to intervene as soon as possible to uphold the rights of the protesters, prevent additional bloodshed, and stop the radical Islamists, Iran, and the former Baathists from overtaking the protest movement.
“Today, this Arab Spring has begun to take over Iraq against a government that is corrupt and loyal to Iran,” Safadi said. “These protesters are against the Iranians taking over Iraq. Talks with activists on the ground and the leaders of the protest movement reveal that the people are repulsed by the government, who betrayed their nation by becoming a proxy of Iran. The Iranian takeover of Iraq has gotten the people to revolt, to take to the streets and to demand that Iraq be returned to its rightful owners. They seek freedom and basic human rights that every citizen of this world deserves.”
According to a report from the Internal Commission of Iraq, “The Iraqi government takes instructions from Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani. Over 700 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard shot live fire at Iraqi demonstrators. There were demonstrators who were killed including men, women and children. The Iranians even went as far as burning a 2-year-old child in a car with her father. The Iraqi people are calling upon the international community to intervene urgently in order to save the Iraqi people, who have suffered under Iran and political Islam. We demand that all pro-Iranian parties be banished from Iraq and to take away all of Iran’s influence in the country. We seek to hold the regime accountable and to change from a parliamentary system to a republican form of government. We seek that the rights of women be respected, as the number of women in the country is very high. The Iraqi people will stop protesting only once our demands are met.”
Protesters in Iraq prepared Friday for bloody clashes with security forces in Iraq after three days of protests that saw the government order live fire against the demonstrators. The protesters are angry. They have tried to block roads to the airport in Baghdad and break into the “Green Zone” where foreign embassies are located. They are shocked that officials have ordered live fire used against them.
The protests began on October 1 in the wake of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi sidelining a popular Counter-Terrorism service commander named Abdul Wahab Al-Saadi. But the real reason for the protests are much larger. They are angry over corruption and wage stagnation and lack of opportunities.
The Prime Minister has closed down internet and sought to isolate cities in Iraq. He gave a speech on Thursday evening and has indicated he could meet the protesters. But there are no clear leaders of the protests. The demonstrators gained some solace when the Shi’ite religious leader Ayatollah Ali Sistani appeared to express sympathy on Friday. Many believed that after prayers on Friday there would be bloody clashes unless the government retrains its tactics. It is not entirely clear which police have been ordered to fire on the protesters, because protesters say they cannot identify them by uniform. Some said it was not the Federal Police but other interior ministry forces. Others claims it was members of Shi’ite militias loyal to Iran, including the Saraya Khorosani unit. But much of this is rumors and has not been confirmed. What is clear is that security forces can be heard in dozens of videos using gunfire. Up to fifty demonstrators may have been killed and thousands injured, including members of the police.
The UN has called on Iraq to have a transparent investigation about the shooting of the demonstrators. “We call on the Iraqi government to allow people to freely exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”
Iranian media and local sources in Iraq have reported on the protests sweeping the country with increasing concern that the protesters oppose Iranian influence. This concern has now reached the highest levels of Iran’s regime where the narrative that has been concocted is to blame “foreign” hands for the unrest. Under this logic tens of thousands of young men, leaderless and braving the gunfire of security forces, have been sacrificing themselves by the dozens all because of some complex conspiracy.
Iraq’s government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has shut down internet, social media and even made phone calls difficult in areas across Iraq, all to stop the protests. Yet the protests continue. To discredit them an Iranian cleric on Friday claimed the US and Israel are behind the protests. Supposedly it was to “disrupt a major annual Shi’ite Muslim pilgrimage planned to be held in Iraq later this month,” Reuters reported. “The enemy is now determined against the Islamic nation, America and Zionism are targeting the Arabaeen pilgrimage in Iraq, causing trouble,” claimed Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani.
His full Friday sermon, published at Tasnim News in Farsi claims that “America and Zionism are the enemies of God.” He mentions the Houthi rebels in Yemen who “have shown themselves against the miserable Saudi rulers,” and notes that Saudi Arabia’s reputation has been weakened. This is a reference to the September 14 drone and missile attack on Saudi Arabia. He also mentions the US “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran and says that it has not been successful. “Endurance is the way of the martyrs.” It is in this context he says that the “enemies” are targeting the religious pilgrimages to the holy sites in Karbala, where Shi’ites make pilgrimage. He calls on people to take refuge in the shrine of Imam Hussein.
In Iraq the senior Shi’ite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, lamented the deaths of dozens of protesters and called for an end to the deaths, casualties and destruction. He called on the government to listen to the people’s demands about corruption and other issues.
A Russian journalist has been arrested in Iran on suspicion of spying on the Islamic Republic on behalf of Israel, according to family members and Russian media reports.
Yulia Yuzik was first declared missing earlier this week by family members who said she was arrested in Tehran days ago. Her ex-husband Boris Voytsekhovskiy posted on Facebook that Yuzik was facing charges of cooperating with Israeli intelligence services, and that her trial is scheduled for Saturday.
According to Voytsekhovskiy, Yuzik’s charges carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
It wasn’t clear when Yuzik was arrested; her last post on social media was a series of Instagram pictures taken in Kashan, a city in northern part of Isfahan province.
Voytsekhovskiy told Russian media outlets that Yuzik used to work as a correspondent in Tehran several years ago, and she returned to the Iranian capital last week at the invitation of an unknown party.
An anti-Hamas bill has been severely watered down by Congressman Eliot Engel. It’s a turn of events that should trouble every supporter of Israel.
The New York Post revealed this week that Engel (D-NY), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, agreed to change the bill after heavy pressure from Qatar and the Palestinian Authority (PA)
The Post quoted “a personal acquaintance of Engel’s” as saying, “Eliot told me directly that he was getting a lot of pressure from the Qataris” about the bill. At the same time, Engel or his representatives held seven meetings this past spring with lobbyists for the PA, apparently to discuss the bill.
The Qataris didn’t like the fact that the bill mentioned Qatar’s massive financial support for Hamas. The PA didn’t like the fact that it would have penalized regimes—like the PA—that assist Hamas in various ways.
So the bill, which was authored by Rep. Brian Mast (R-Florida), was changed. The language about Qatar was removed, and loopholes were added so that aid to Hamas which is considered “humanitarian” would not be blocked.
We put “humanitarian” in quotation marks because we all remember how “humanitarian” concrete, which supposedly would be used to build homes, instead was used to build tunnels to kidnap and murder Israelis.
At this point in the story, you would imagine that those Jewish leaders who claim to be Engel’s buddies would have intervened to restore the original language of the Mast bill.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan last week dismissed speculation that his country was moving toward the establishing of open diplomatic relations with Israel. Speaking at the Asian Society in New York City last Thursday, as reported by the Middle East Eye website, Khan reiterated Pakistan’s traditional stance on the issue:
“Pakistan has a very straightforward position,” the Pakistani prime minister and former cricket star said. “It was our founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was very clear that there has to be just settlement, a homeland for Palestinians, before Pakistan can recognize Israel.”
His remarks, according to Middle East Eye, were met with enthusiastic applause. They came amid widespread recent speculation at a possible diplomatic breakthrough between Jerusalem and Islamabad. Prominent Pakistani journalist Kamran Khan launched the rumors with a tweet on August 25, asking “Why can’t we openly debate pros cons of opening direct and overt channels of communication with the State of Israel?”
What is the background to the recent speculation, and is there a realistic chance of a breakthrough, or do Imran Khan’s remarks settle the matter in the negative?
THERE IS a school of thought in Pakistan that favors the abandonment, or at least the questioning, of Islamabad’s long rejection of formal ties with the Jewish state. Why now?
A 45-year-old technology administrator at the police headquarters in central Paris went on a knife rampage inside the building on Thursday, killing three police officers and an administrative worker before he was shot dead by an officer, French officials said.
French broadcaster BFM TV said the attacker had converted to Islam 18 months ago.
Officials did not say anything about the motive for the attack and said they were still trying to discover if there was a terrorism link.
The man launched the attack in his office then moved to other parts of the large 19th-century building across the street from the Notre Dame Cathedral.
An officer stopped the attack when he shot the assailant in the compound's courtyard, said a police official. The official was not authorized to talk publicly about the case and requested anonymity.
The IDF and Israel Police thwarted an attempt to smuggle weapons from Lebanon into Israel in September, according to an IDF spokesperson.
An IDF field observer from the 869th battalion spotted two suspects acting suspiciously on the Lebanese side of the border with Israel near the border fence. IDF soldiers went to the scene to check the issue.
Bags found in the area contained about 40 pistols and magazines which were meant to be smuggled from Lebanon into Israel. The background of the incident is being looked into.
One suspect was arrested on the Israeli side of the border and was transferred for questioning by security forces.
"I saw a suspect approaching the fence and immediately realized that this was an unusual incident," said Pvt. Adi ben Naim, the field observer who identified the suspects. "I alerted the troops and directed them to the location. It was only after the incident that I realized that a very large weapon-smuggling attempt was thwarted. My job as a field observer is to identify what takes place in the field and alert my commanders; which is exactly what I did in this incident.
Thanks to the vigilance of Adi, an 18-year-old combat intelligence soldier, a smuggling attempt of 40 guns from Lebanon into Israel was thwarted.
The Israel Defense Forces marked “Mean Girls Day” this week by tweeting a meme of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah.
The meme, posted on Thursday, October 3, was an altered version of a “never before seen” photo published by the Iranian government showing the supreme leader, Nasrallah and Qassem Soleimani — the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force.
The IDF photoshopped the Iranians into a “Mean Girls” scene alongside Lindsay Lohan, with the caption: “There’s no one meaner than the mean girls of the Middle East…”
The IDF added #DontSitWithThem and #MeanGirlsDay to their post.
October 3 was a date that was mentioned in passing by Lohan’s character to her crush in Mean Girls, and has since become a pop cultural phenomenon marked annually by movie fans.
The “Don’t sit with them” refers to a line in the movie when Rachel McAdams’s character Regina George is turned away from popular clique’s table at lunch because she’s wearing sweatpants.
The Arab citizens of Israel need rapid development of their areas. They dream of having high-tech zones and industrial centers; they seek enhanced police work to battle the crime that is raging in the streets of Arab cities; and they resent the vicious incitement against them that was led for years by the prime minister and the ruling party. Will the future government, which for now is still nowhere to be seen, be able to fulfill all of these demands and build bridges between the establishment and one-fifth of Israel’s population?
During the recent political campaign, the Likud party accused Gantz numerous times of “planning to create a government with [Joint List MKs] Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh,” but the leaders of the bloc had ruled it out many times. When Blue and White MK Ram Ben-Barak, ex-deputy director of the Mossad, turned to the Arabs this summer, he said that Blue and White needed them “to change the government.” But what will happen the day after such a change is accomplished?
Amjad Iraqi, a contributing editor at +972 magazine, said to The Media Line that what is missing from the tactical decision of the Joint List is thought about the day after. “This decision is quite some gamble that could also backfire, especially if a unity government will be formed eventually between Likud and the Blue and White bloc. I do understand the logic —Ayman Odeh decided to prioritize getting rid of Netanyahu, and most of the public endorsed him because they want to change at least some part of the equation. But how do we know that the Blue and White bloc, whose leaders had their share of critical and negative remarks about Arabs, will be able to live up to its promises?” said Iraqi.
El-Sana believes that if the Joint List is unable to maximize its gains this time around, the alternative for the next time will be voting for existing Jewish parties or for a joint Arab-Jewish party, a project that el-Sana tried to run this time together with the former Knesset speaker, Avrum Burg. There are also many question marks about the participation of the Balad party, which is increasingly seen by many in the Arab public as a destabilizing element that fails to serve its people. “If they were to participate in the elections today by themselves, they would go down. They have three seats in the Joint List, but they are worth only 1.5 seats, or even less” says Darawshe. On the opposite side, Iraqi believes that Balad gives legitimacy to the Joint List, serving as a link between them and the wider Palestinian cause. “Balad still represents a significant portion of voters. They need the Joint List, and the Joint List needs them,” he concludes.
For now, Arab voters seem to be quite satisfied with the result. They proved to be resilient against incitement and intimidation, increased their representation at the Knesset, and now will wait just like everyone else to see how the current political reality TV unfolds.
The leaders of the Joint List will now have to prove to their voters that they can make some real gains with the increased power that they received this time. Considering the shaky structure of the bloc, which includes four different parties with contradicting ideologies, this will not be easy. If no government is formed and Israel goes to a third round of elections, the bloc will have to campaign extremely hard to maintain its success. For now, it is unlikely that the Joint List will top its current result—13 seats. The quiet revolution in the Arab sector, however, will continue, sweeping Arab Israeli citizens away from segregation and isolation, toward integration and equality.
Thousands of Arab Israelis held protests Friday at the conclusion of prayers, a day after a general strike over a wave of deadly violence within the minority community.
Protesters blocked roads, including sections of the major highways in the north of the country. Demonstrators carried signs with slogans such as “our children’s blood is not cheap” and chanted slogans about what they say is police inaction on the issue.
Ayman Odeh, the head of the Knesset’s predominantly Arab Joint List faction, called on the Jewish community to join the protests, saying that a society without weapons should be the ideal for everyone.
“I also urge the Jewish public to join the protests. A society without firearms is a civil and social aim for us all,” Odeh tweeted.
Some Israelis — many, in fact — will celebrate the holiday of Sukkot this year holding their four species bound with holders produced in the Gaza Strip.
Ahead of the Jewish holiday, the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has approved the import of tens of thousands of four species holders, used for the traditional customs of the holiday.
The four species – the etrog, a citron fruit; the lulav, a frond of a date palm; the hadas, a myrtle bough; and the aravah, a willow branch – are the species the Jewish people are commanded to bind together during the holiday.
The holders are made out of dried palm leaves, woven into a shape that allows the four species to be held together comfortably during the holiday prayers. The abundance of palm trees in Gaza, as well as cheap labor, makes the enclave a prime location for the production of the holders.
Despite the growing tension between Hamas, the terror group that controls Gaza and Israel, COGAT was able to facilitate the import successfully, passing it through the Kerem Shalom Crossing under heavy security inspection.
Halfway between the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Nablus, the road gives way to an exit unlike any other along Israel’s Highway 60. At first glance, this route — lined with palm trees and polished sidewalks that lead up to lavish stone villas — looks like a well-funded Jewish settlement. But a closer look reveals that unlike other typical settlements, there is no security gate at the entrance to the community and its houses are not lined up in rows along the hilltops.
The expensive homes scattered on slopes among olive trees, reminiscent of the famous Hollywood Boulevard, are actually a window into the Palestinian diaspora. The majority of their dwellers are dual American-Palestinian nationals who live in the United States for most of the year and treat the village of Turmus Ayya as their summer home.
Turmus Ayyans are not only based in the United States. These Palestinian villagers are spread throughout the world, with members of the community living in Spain, Panama, Cuba and Brazil. According to the village’s municipal office, there are some 11,000 Turmus Ayyans in total; 4,000 are permanent residents, while 7,000 made their home abroad.
Unlike the majority of Palestinians living in the diaspora, Turmus Ayyans are not refugees of the 1948 war. Rather, they are economic immigrants who chose to leave this West Bank village in pursuit of better financial opportunities. Residents told Haaretz that the first villager to immigrate was Odeh Abdel Qader, who left for the United States in 1909 and worked in Manhattan's Little Syria (where the Financial District is situated today). Local Wadi Abu Awad recalls Qader’s return to the village: "He was the guy who came from America," he says. Throughout the 20th century, Qader’s legacy became an inspiration for other Turmus Ayyans who wished to chase the American Dream.
A picture making the rounds on social media shows the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, with his six sons, standing healthy in tailored suits, and beneath it, a picture of Gaza youths who have had a leg amputated after rioting at the Gaza fence.
Another example is a recording by a Gazan father whose son was wounded at the border confrontations.
"I was told I needed to provide his medicine out of my own pocket. If he were the son of one of the Hamas higher-ups, the whole world would have given aid."
"Where am I supposed to get money for medicine? They told my boy to get on the bus and protest, and then they threw him out to die."
Iran has not drawn back to a less threatening military posture in the region following the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Arabia, the top U.S. admiral in the Middle East told Reuters, suggesting persistent concern despite a lull in violence.
"I don't believe that they're drawing back at all," Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, commander of the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, said in an interview.
The United States, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and Germany have publicly blamed the attack on Iran, which denies involvement in the strike on the world's biggest crude oil-processing facility. The Iran-aligned Houthi militant group in Yemen has claimed responsibility.
Malloy did not comment on any U.S. intelligence guiding his assessment. But he acknowledged that he monitored Iranian activities closely, when asked if he had seen any concerning movements of Iranian missiles in recent weeks.
Malloy said he regularly tracks Iranian cruise and ballistic missile movements -- "whether they're moving to storage, away from storage." He also monitors whether Iran's minelaying capabilities head to distribution sites or away from them.
"I get a briefing of movements on a daily basis and then assessments as to what that could mean," he said.
Relations between the United States and Iran have deteriorated sharply since President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord last year and reimposed sanctions on its oil exports.
For months, Iranian officials issued veiled threats, saying that if Tehran were blocked from exporting oil, other countries would not be able to do so either.
However, Iran has denied any role in a series of attacks that have followed, including against tankers in the Gulf using limpet mines earlier this year.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog said Friday Iran had taken “a step in the right direction” towards dealing with questions on its nuclear program but cautioned that the issues have not been “completely addressed.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) did not detail what the questions related to but said it was “discussing substance” with the Iranians.
There has been “engagement” from Tehran in recent weeks on questions relating to its nuclear safeguards declarations to the agency, IAEA acting head Cornel Feruta told journalists in Vienna.
“[That] engagement doesn’t mean that the issues are completely addressed but it’s a step in the right direction,” he added.
Feruta said the queries did not touch directly on the faltering 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers but rather on Iran’s separate safeguards agreement with the agency.
Diplomatic sources in Vienna say the agency has been waiting for information from the Iranians relating to samples taken earlier this year from a warehouse near the capital Tehran.
Iran and the United States have one month to get to the negotiating table, France's foreign minister warned, suggesting Tehran's plan to increase its nuclear activities in November would spark renewed tension in the region.
French President Emmanuel Macron attempted but failed to broker talks between US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York last week.
"We consider that these initiatives, which didn't succeed, are still on the table and it is up to Iran and the United States to seize [them] in a relatively short amount of time because Iran has announced new measures to reduce its commitments to the Vienna accord in November," Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament's foreign affairs committee.
Iran is breaching the restrictions of its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers in response to US sanctions imposed since Washington pulled out of the agreement in May of last year.
It has said its next roll-back would be at the start of November, and diplomats fear that this next breach could force European powers, which are trying to salvage the accord, to respond.
Iran said on Friday that France's call for it to release a detained French-Iranian scholar was an interference in its internal affairs and would not help resolve the issue, the official news agency IRNA reported.
France's Foreign Ministry on Thursday demanded Iran release dual national Fariba Adelkhah, a senior research fellow at Sciences Po university in Paris, who was detained on unspecified charges earlier this year.
"(Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas) Mousavi said the French Foreign Ministry's interference in the case of an Iranian citizen was irrelevant..., and added: 'This will not only fail to help resolve the issue, but rather make the legal process more complicated'," IRNA reported.
Rights activists have accused Iran of arresting a number of dual nationals to try to win concessions from other countries - a charge that the Islamic republic has regularly dismissed.
Adelkhah's arrest came at a time when France and other European powers were caught up in an international standoff over Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal, which the United States abandoned last year.
More than 20 ships carrying around one million tonnes of grain are stuck outside Iranian ports as US sanctions create payment problems and hamper the country’s efforts to import vital commodities, sources directly involved in the trade said.
Trading companies such as Bunge (BG.N) and China’s COFCO International have been hit by payment delays and additional costs of up to $15,000 a day as the renewed US restrictions stifle the processing of transactions, trade sources said.
According to Reuters, food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are exempt from sanctions Washington re-imposed after US President Donald Trump said he was walking away from a 2015 international deal over Iran’s nuclear program.
But the US measures targeting everything from oil sales to shipping and financial activities have deterred several foreign banks from doing any Iranian business, including humanitarian deals such as food shipments.
The few remaining lenders still processing Iranian business face multiple hurdles to facilitate payments as financing channels freeze up.
The conflict between Iran and the U.S. that has created tensions throughout much of the Middle East is now also being felt in Lebanon, where Washington has slapped sanctions on the Iran-backed Hezbollah and warned they could soon expand to its allies, further deepening the tiny Arab country’s economic crisis.
The Trump administration has intensified sanctions on the Lebanese militant group and institutions linked to it to unprecedented levels, targeting lawmakers for the first time as well as a local bank that Washington claims has ties to the group.
Two U.S. officials visited Beirut in September and warned the sanctions will increase to deprive Hezbollah of its sources of income. The push is further adding to Lebanon’s severe financial and economic crisis, with Lebanese officials warning the country’s economy and banking sector can’t take the pressure.
“We have taken more actions recently against Hezbollah than in the history of our counterterrorism program,” Sigal P. Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury, said in the United Arab Emirates last month.
Mandelker said Washington is confident the Lebanese government and the central bank will “do the right thing here in making sure that Hezbollah can no longer have access to funds at the bank.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign ministry blasted a prominent German official on Wednesday after the commissioner tasked with combating antisemitism told The Jerusalem Post that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration should withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on Tehran for its nefarious conduct.
The Iranian regime-controlled PressTV wrote that "in an online statement on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemned the remarks by Uwe Becker, commissioner of the Hessian federal state government for Jewish life and the fight against anti-Semitism.”
PressTV added that “Becker on Monday called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to put Israel's security above ‘possible economic interests’ that comes with the deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”
Becker, the commissioner of the Hessian federal state government for Jewish life and the fight against antisemitism, told the Post on Monday that “the current escalation with Israel should be reason enough for Germany to advocate the.... Iran nuclear agreement, which has been undermined by Iran... [as] dead, and for the necessary sanctions against Tehran to become effective again in their entirety.”
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Samer Arbid, the alleged leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist cell responsible for murdering 17-year-old Rina Shnerb near Dolev in August, worked for a European-funded NGO linked to BDS, NGO Monitor reported on Wednesday.
Arbid, 44, considered one of the PFLP’s top officials in Ramallah, was previously arrested for preparing PFLP explosive devices during the Second Intifada.
IDF and Border Police forces arrested him on Sunday for allegedly preparing and detonating the improvised explosive device that killed Shnerb and wounded her father Eitan and brother Dvir.
On Monday, Haaretz reported that the Justice Ministry opened an investigation into “potential wrongdoing” by officers of the Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) after Arbid was in critical condition in at Hadassah-University Medical Center on Mount Scopus following his interrogation, which involved torture. It was subsequently reported that the agents were authorized to conduct a “violent interrogation” but went “too far.”
Media sources reported on Tuesday that the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and several Joint List MKs sent a letter to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit demanding a criminal investigation be opened regarding Arbid’s interrogation.
According to the NGO Monitor, Arbid was listed as an accountant for Addameer (Arabic for conscience) Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a Palestinian NGO that provides legal representation to Palestinians detained in Israel. The Ramallah-based organization’s mandate includes “ending torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment inflicted upon Palestinian prisoners” and “guaranteeing fair, impartial and public trials.” The organization was listed as a PFLP-affiliated institution on Fatah’s website in September 2015.
According to Israeli security officials, on August 23, 2019, Samer Arbid commanded a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror cell that carried out a bombing against Israeli civilians, murdering 17-year old Rina Shnerb, and injuring her father and brother. According to the Israel Security Agency (Shabak), Arbid prepared and detonated the explosive device.
Ties to PFLP-linked NGOs Arbid worked for Addameer – a Palestinian NGO closely linked to the PFLP, 1 which listed him as the organization’s accountant for several years.
In addition to his work for Addameer, Arbid appears to have worked for another NGO with ties to the PFLP, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). According to Samidoun, yet another PFLP-linked NGO, Arbid was the “financial director of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in the West Bank” in 2016. Prior Arrests - In an Addameer-produced video from April 2013, Arbid describes his numerous arrests. He states that he was arrested at the beginning of 2003 and sentenced to two and a half years in prison, and served an additional year in administrative detention. - According to Samidoun, Arbid was placed in administrative detention from March 2007 to August 2008. - Similarly, Samidoun reported that Arbid was arrested on September 23, 2013 and placed in administrative detention. - According to Samidoun, Arbid “was ordered to an additional three months’ administrative detention” on March 12, 2016.
A senior member of the terror cell suspected of being responsible for the West Bank bombing that killed teenager Rina Shnerb in August was arrested by Israeli security forces early on Thursday, Palestinian media reported.
According to the reports, security forces arrested Walid Muhammed Hanatsheh at his home in the village of al-Tireh outside of Ramallah during overnight arrest raids across the West Bank, which saw 13 Palestinians arrested by IDF troops and Border Police officers.
Wafa News reported that the raids took place in several villages in the Ramallah area including Kobar, Deir Abu Mashaal, Jifna and al-Tireh. During Hanatsheh’s arrest, a Palestinian TV cameraman was injured after troops fired a rubber bullet toward rioters.
Hanatsheh, who acts as finance and administration manager for the health work committees (HWC), has been a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine since the Second Intifada, and has been arrested by Israel several times for his membership in the terrorist group.
The terror cell leader, Samer Arbid, was employed (despite his past history of involvement in terror activity) as an accountant by the Palestinian NGO ‘Addameer’ which is known for its links to the PFLP – a designated terror organisation in the US, the EU, Canada and Israel.
Five days after Rina Shnerb was murdered the BBC News website published a video report which included an interview with the director of ‘Addameer’, Sahar Francis.
Partisan report on detained Palestinian ‘children’ from BBC’s Gender and Identity correspondent
That heavily promoted report was made available on the BBC News website for fourteen consecutive days.
In other words the producers of that report, along with additional BBC journalists, apparently saw nothing at all problematic in the amplification of the unchallenged narrative of a political NGO that is linked to a terrorist organisation that the BBC knows has murdered Israeli civilians in the past and which, we now learn, employed the leader of the PFLP terror cell apparently responsible for the brutal murder of a seventeen-year-old out hiking with her family.
After failing in 1948 to stop the U.S. from supporting the creation of a Jewish state, writes Samuel Tadros, the Middle East experts of the State Department put forth the theory that America could not achieve its strategic goals in the region without first solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. This soon became “dogma” in Foggy Bottom, at think tanks, and in academia. Even President Trump, for all his unorthodoxies, is not immune to the allure peacemaking.
In reality, no one [in the Middle East] actually cared about the Palestinians, at least not the region’s rulers. [Their] priorities were everywhere besides Palestine: toppling the monarchs for some, searching for hegemony for others, or, for most, simply protecting their rule from revolutionary upheaval. The Palestinians, if they were considered at all, served simply as a bargaining chip; a cause to rally supporters and attack opponents.
Despite this, Washington’s Middle East experts were not deterred. The centrality of the issue was never to be questioned, but the method to solve it changed.
[Today], stepping back from the details and daily changes on the ground, [it is necessary to confront] an inconvenient proposition: maybe there is no solution to the conflict. After all, it is uniquely American to think that every problem must have a solution. Maybe the reality is that there are two peoples who claim the same piece of land and that no amount of effort or innovative solutions can solve this simple fact.
For the past several weeks, the death of Israa Ghrayeb, a twenty-one-year-old Palestinian woman, has garnered much attention on Arabic-language social media and also in the Arab press. Ghrayeb was apparently beaten to death by family members for appearing in public—at a café—with her fiancé. To Hussain Abdul-Hussain, her death is a stark reminder of the ways in which Arab intellectuals have used the ideas of the Egyptian-American literature professor Edward Said, along with the those of the many postcolonial theorists who followed in his footsteps, to avoid critical examination of honor killings and other social ills:
“Orientalism” [was the term Said gave to] the collection of stereotypes through which the West is purported to understand the Middle East. For anti-colonialists . . . those stereotypes are proof that the colonial powers failed to understand the people they colonized. Honor killing is one of the stereotypes unjustly attributed to Muslims and Arabs, so the argument goes. But it is no stereotype. . . . It is a reality.
Though women are the main victims, honor killing falls under the Islamist concept of “promotion of virtue and prevention of vice.” For many Arabs and Muslims, this involves the restoration of some long-ago, supposedly perfect society that exists only in their imagination. But [this mythic ideal] is used to justify killing adulterers (of both sexes) or homosexuals or men who are perceived as effeminate, such as the Iraqi teenager whose murder by stabbing was recorded by his killer. . . . In Lebanon, a non-Druze man who married a Druze woman had his penis cut off by relatives of the bride.
Honor killing . . . is a flaw in Muslim society and it can be rectified only if that society is prepared to look inward at itself rather than blaming outsiders. . . . [B]ashing colonialism and Orientalism won’t solve the [Arab world’s] problems. On the contrary, it will only conceal them. . . . [T]o eradicate an abomination such as honor killing, Arabs and Muslims must first acknowledge its existence and take ownership of it.
Top PA religious figures prohibit Palestinian women from submitting complaints over spouses to Israeli police
PA Ministry of Justice is working on improving legislation on family matters, including "ensuring punishment of those who commit crimes from a motive of honor"
The Israeli Arab party The Joint List has announced that it will boycott today's swearing-in ceremony of the Israeli Parliament in protest of what it calls the government's failure to address the rising levels of violence in Arab towns. Yet while Israeli Arab politicians are complaining that not enough is being done to tackle the growing problem of violence in Israeli Arab communities, the PA is telling Palestinian women not to go to the Israeli police with complaints over their husbands
An anti-Israel group called the Association for Supporting Resistance and Confronting Normalization claimed that Jordanians who work in Eilat and other Israeli cities are often recruited as informants by the Israeli security services. The group accused the Jordanian government of "complying with all the demands of the Zionists on the pretext of cooperation for the sake of peace." The claim that Jordanians who go to work in Israel or help clean the beach are recruited as spies is aimed at painting them as traitors, a charge that is likely to put their lives at risk.
Instead of thanking Israel for allowing Jordanians to come and work in Eilat, the "anti-normalization" activists are inciting the workers to boycott Israel. These activists, of course, are not offering the Jordanian workers jobs and salaries.
In March 2019, Israel agreed to increase by 33% the number of Jordanian day laborers employed at hotels in Eilat from 1,500 to 2,000. The permits for the Jordanians are designed to allow them to work in the hotel industry of Eilat, close to the border with Jordan. The move is part of an agreement signed between Israel and Jordan to advance ties between the two countries through economic and social cooperation initiatives.
As far as the "anti-normalization" activists are concerned, inciting their people against Israel and the Jordanian workers is more important than any economic and social initiatives. These activists hate Israel to a point where they prefer to see 2,000 workers lose their jobs than continue working and earning good salaries in Eilat.
If greeting a Jew on his or her holiday, cleaning the beach with an Israeli, or working in Israel are considered by many Arabs a "crime," what will be the fate of any Arab who makes peace with Israel?
Those who are calling for boycotts of Israel -- and are threatening and inciting their people against any Arab who dares to host a Jew or send him or her greetings -- are also emphatically opposed to peace with Israel. For them, making peace with the "Zionist entity" is considered an act of treason. They are worried that an Arab who greets a Jew may one day make peace with Israel. They are worried that an Arab state that hosts Israeli athletes may one day make peace with Israel. They are worried that Arabs who go to work in Israel may fall in love with Israelis and stop thinking of ways to kill them or destroy Israel.
The United States gave a cold shoulder last week to the major bi-annual meeting for donor aid to the Palestinian Authority, known as the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), which has operated for the last 25 years.
“We limited our participation to working-level observers only,” US special envoy Jason Greenblatt told The Jerusalem Post this week as he described the downgrade.
It is the latest Trump administration action against traditional venues that help provide financial assistance to Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority.
As part of its peace plan known as the “Deal of the Century,” the administration plans to create new funding venues for the Palestinians, the blueprint for which was unveiled at a Bahrain conference in June. But action on the plan is dependent on success with the political part of the peace process, which has yet to be published.
The US was previously one of the largest donors to the Palestinians and the PA, providing upward of half-a-billion dollars a year through the United Nations and other venues, but it has slowly halted that funding over the last two years.
The high-level 15 member AHLC meeting, held in the spring in Brussels and in the fall in New York, is one of the bedrock pillars of international funding for the Palestinians. It has remained a neutral venue where Israelis, Palestinians and the United States interact, even when all other communication is frozen.
In the past, the meetings chaired by Norway have been attended by high-level officials such as Greenblatt, or secretaries of state such as John Kerry. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini often attends, and was one of the dignitaries who gathered in New York for the meeting on September 26.
Israeli democracy is in a state of emergency, and a government must be formed as soon as possible, President Reuven Rivlin said at the 22nd Knesset’s inaugural meeting, which was overshadowed by the political uncertainty on Thursday.
Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein addressed the long period of political uncertainty, which saw the 21st Knesset be inaugurated and dissolved in a period of less than two months, less than six months ago. They both said the solution is a unity government.
“We are facing a time of crisis for the House of Jacob, an emergency for Israel’s security and for Israeli society, an emergency for Israeli democracy,” Rivlin said. “Forming a government is not only the wish of the people. More than ever, in times like these, it is an economic and security need the likes of which we have not known for many years.”
Rivlin said a broad governing coalition would allow Israelis “to put the disagreements between us to one side and work on finding areas of agreement...to give us all an opportunity to breathe a little, to heal.”
The President listed a number of “real life” areas that the government must address, from combatting the Iranian threat to making day-care cheaper to tacking rising crime in Arab communities.
Blue and White’s co-candidate for prime minister in last month’s election, MK Yair Lapid, announced on Thursday that he would no longer be a candidate for prime minister in the next government.
The announcement came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused him of being the obstacle to the formation of a national unity government. Netanyahu said Lapid was trying to stop Gantz from joining a coalition government that he is currently trying to form because he would not give up his goal of rotating in the Prime Minister’s Office with Gantz.
“For the sake of a unity government, I’m forgoing the rotation,” Lapid told the Blue and White Party. “There won’t be a rotation with three people. That’s not serious. Running a country is a serious matter. It’s far more important to me that there’s unity in the country. That there won’t be another election. That this country begins a healing process. Mends the wounds. Changes the national priorities.”
Lapid warned that Netanyahu is trying everything to drag Israel to its third election within a year.
“One man with three indictments stands between us and a national unity government,” he said. “That’s what the country needs.
This country needs a national unity government led by Blue and White, with Likud, with Liberman, with Labor. That’s what we said throughout the campaign. In that government there will be a rotation. Gantz will be prime minister for the first two years. There’s no other option.”
Lapid ruled out a coalition in which Gantz rotates as prime minister with Netanyahu but did not rule out a rotation with another Likud leader.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman to join the government he is forming, in a meeting Thursday morning at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu told his former aide and ally and current political nemesis that he should join as soon as possible in order to contribute to the formation of a unity government.
But Netanyahu’s spokesman said there did not end up being a breakthrough in the meeting.
Liberman released a statement after the meeting saying that he urged Netanyahu to have Likud, Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu meet to decide the next government's guidelines on policy and only then deal with distributing portfolios and who should go first in a rotation in the Prime Minister's Office.
"I am making a major effort to form a broad unity government," Netanyahu told the Likud faction. "This is what the voters decided, and this is what is right. This should be taken for granted."
Following the meeting with Liberman, Netanyahu went to update the heads of the right-wing and religious parties in his political bloc.
The IDF Prosecution filed an indictment in the Judea Military Court on Thursday against five Palestinians in connection with the murder of IDF Corporal Dvir Sorek on August 8.
The five Palestinians, all of who are affiliated with Hamas according to the indictment, are: Qasem al-atzafra, Nazir al-atzafra, Ahmad al-atzafra, Yusef Zahur and Mahmoud Atuna.
Previously, the IDF announced that it sent messages to the defendants' families announcing its intention to demolish their houses. Some of the defendants have already objected and the High Court of Justice will hear the issue on October 31.
The stabbing attack occurred against Sorek near Migdal Oz on August 8.
U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt told Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview: "I can't imagine a world in which a peace agreement is signed where issues like the Palestinian Authority's 'Pay to Slay' program remains - a program that rewards terrorists who murder or attack Israelis. It's a basic concept that you cannot encourage people to kill and expect a peace deal that works."
"I can't imagine the Israeli government ever signing such an agreement. It would make no sense and it's completely antithetical to the concept of peace. To deal with that abhorrent program, the USA has cut all funding to the PA and we continuously raise awareness of this issue to other donor countries. I cannot understand how donor countries continue to donate funds knowing that some of their taxpayers' money is used to fund terrorism and the murder of Israelis."
The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Religious Endowments and Religious Affairs published a report on the holy sites, which included 24 Jewish 'incursions' of the al-Aqsa mosque and 52 cases of denial of prayer for prayer at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Patriarchs Cave.
The Ministry of Endowments accused Israel of continuing the 'siege' and intervention at the Ibrahimi Mosque (the Cave of the Patriarchs) and closed it completely to Muslim worshipers during Rosh Hashanah.
According to the report, the Israeli authorities were not only content with preventing Muslims from entering the place, but they allowed settlers to get on the roof of the Cave of the Patriarchs and IDF soldiers attacked and humiliated Muslim workers.
It was also alleged that the "occupation forces" demolished the Al-Uma Mosque in Jabal Jawhar Hevron, which was in final stages of construction, and the level of incitement at the Al-Aqsa Mosque increased as Jewish holidays and the calls of the Temple Mount trustees came closer.
Every year, the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Hajj and Umra hosts for free 1,000 people from the families of Palestinian martyrs to perform the hajj in Mecca.
After Anas Radwan, son of Hamas leader Ismail Radwan, went on the pilgrimage, activists argued on social media that he did not have the right to do so.
To calm public anger, Hamas formed a committee to investigate the incident, which concluded that Anas was not supposed to join the pilgrims. He was fined 5,000 dinars ($7,000), to be distributed among those who were denied travel to Mecca.
The Palestinian street is not accustomed to Hamas disclosing the details of any punitive measures against its leaders and members.
Gas giant Delek Group Ltd.’s announcement that it had updated an agreement for the export of liquefied natural gas from the Leviathan and Tamar offshore reservoirs to Egypt sent share prices soaring on Wednesday.
In February 2018, Delek Drilling and Texas-based Noble Energy – partners in the Leviathan and Tamar LNG projects – signed a $15b. decade-long deal to supply 64 billion cu.m. of natural gas to Egypt’s Dolphinus Holdings Ltd.
The new agreement provides for a 35% increase in the total gas supply that will now reach 85 billion cu. m.
“The agreement is a further proof of the important economic cooperation between the two countries and the tremendous positive impact that these relations have on the Egyptian economy and the Israeli economy, as well as the great potential for additional cooperation in the mutual interest of the parties,” Yossi Abu, CEO of Delek Drilling, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The deal with Egypt followed a September 2016 agreement worth $10b. between Jordan’s National Electric Power Company Ltd. and the Leviathan project partners to supply a gross quantity of 45 billion cu.m. of natural gas to Israel’s eastern neighbor over 15 years.
Police and gunmen exchanged fire in a southern Iraqi city on Thursday killing one person, after 11 others were killed overnight as nationwide anti-government protests escalated into one of the worst security challenges in years.
At least 19 people have been killed since the protests erupted three days ago, seemingly independent of any organized political party and taking the security forces by surprise.
Police said protesters carrying guns had fired at them in the town of Rifae on Thursday morning, near the southern city of Nassiriya where seven people died overnight. Fifty people were wounded in Rifae, including five policemen, they said, adding to hundreds already injured across the country.
Clashes in another southern city, Amara, killed four people overnight.
A curfew, lifted early in the morning in southern cities, was reimposed immediately in Nassiriya and later in Amara.
In Baghdad, the authorities attempted to head off protests by imposing a curfew from 5 a.m. Troops patrolled main roads and public spaces, but by morning sporadic demonstrations had begun, and troops opened fire with live rounds to disperse them.
“Despite the curfew we are going out to protest to call for our rights. We want to change the regime. They have arrested our people. They have done things to our people they did not even do to Islamic State,” a youth told Reuters TV after gunshots could be heard nearby.
“They have beat them up and humiliated them while firing live gunfire. What did we do? Are we suicide bombers? We are here to call for our rights and all these people.”
Iran's deployment of its own forces and proxy militias recruited from other countries has been decisive in the Assad regime's reversal of territorial losses to the Syrian opposition.
As a result, Iran now has wide latitude to pursue its own geopolitical agenda on Syrian territory, including the introduction of sophisticated weapons systems that will enable Iran to open a new front against Israel and threaten freedom of navigation in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Syria Study Group believes the U.S. can still influence the outcome of the Syrian war in a manner that protects U.S. interests.
The U.S. has meaningful tools of leverage to prevent the reemergence of ISIS and counter other terrorist groups, stop Iran from turning Syria into a forward operating base, provide relief to displaced Syrians and Syria's hard-pressed neighbors, and advance a political outcome that stops Syrian territory from serving as a net exporter of terrorism and instability.
The key near-term goal should be to prevent further entrenchment of Iran and its partners and proxies while raising the cost to Iran for its actions in Syria.
To this end, the U.S. should continue its support of Israeli air strikes; enforce sanctions aimed at undermining Iran's ability to fund its proxies and partners in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq; and maintain the U.S. military presence at the al-Tanf military base.
The U.S. should insist that any political settlement require the withdrawal of Iranian forces and proxies from Syria.
Has French President Emmanuel Macron forgotten that he is helping and appeasing a state leading in human rights violations? In 2018, according to Javaid Rehman, the UN expert on human rights in Iran, at least 273 people were executed in Iran, and 6,000 over ten years, according to Iran Human Rights.
In addition, the use of cruel and inhuman punishment is also on the rise in Iran; according to Amnesty International, the use of various forms of torture such as amputation and flogging has been increasing at an alarming rate.
Macron also fails to recognize that the nuclear deal never contained or adequately addressed Iran's multifaceted threats, which include but are not limited to: The arming and financing of terror and militia groups in the region; intervening in the internal affairs of regional countries; pursing a sectarian agenda by pitting Shiites and Sunnis against each other; carrying out cyber attacks against other nations; and committing human rights violations inside Iran and abroad through its proxies.
We have been digging tunnels since 1984 when we first began making missiles.” These were the words of Revolutionary Guards general Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force. He was interviewed by the Iranian regime’s Documentary TV a few hours after the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)- US representative office, revealed the existence of numerous tunnel formations across Iran that were used to stock long-range missiles.
Hajizadeh had played a vital role in the September 14, 2019 drone and cruise-missile attack against Saudi Arabia’s ARAMCO facilities deep inside Saudi territory, according to information revealed on September 30 by the NCRI’s US representative office in Washington DC.
Even though Hajizadeh is not a member of the regime’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), according to the NCRI’s information, provided by the People’s Mojahedin (PMOI, Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK), he was present in the SNSC’s session on July 31, 2019, when the decision to prepare an attack on Saudi oilfields was made.
After the decision was approved by the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, Hajizadeh was instructed to begin the implementation of the plan.
More than ten points of construction/stockpiling of missiles with ranges of up to 2000 km were revealed for the first time by the NCRI’s US representative office. Satellite photos of all the locations were made available to the public.
“We have to protect our arsenal in an adequate way. The idea goes back to 1984, just when we began thinking of missiles. Before the first such material was imported into the country, we had already begun digging the tunnels to hide them,” Hajizadeh affirmed in his interview, broadcast a few hours after the revelations made by the Iranian Resistance.
Woman at Entrance to Hospital in Shiraz, Iran: We Are Hungry, Need Medicine; To Hell with Our Leaders; Khamenei's Time Is up, He Should Go Meet His Maker pic.twitter.com/UcT8SSuZI9
A proven political strategy to divert popular resentment from the corrupt, repressive government and toward an outside foe might not remain effective forever, a new report by this Islamic country’s ministry of the interior warns.
Israel remains a potent rhetorical magnet for focusing Pakistanis’ anger despite its physical distance and negligible measurable impact on Pakistani lives, acknowledged the report, but the authors caution that overplaying the Israel card may carry unwanted consequences during a time of increased access to alternative sources of information that can both attenuate the desired anti-Israel and anti-Jewish effect of the rhetoric and reflect some of the anger back at Pakistan’s own leadership. The risk of this development has reached a likelihood unknown thirty years ago, according to the report, and appears to increase with each passing year, such that by the middle of this century, it estimates, Pakistan may be forced to forgo anti-Zionism as a primary domestic pacification strategy.
“Whereas during the latter half of the previous century the very mention of Israel, Zionists, or Palestine served as a reliable lightning rod for popular anger, it no longer riles the populace as it once did,” the report warned. “An outright majority of Pakistanis still view an assertive Jewish presence on historically Muslim-ruled land as a source of existential shame, but indications have emerged that they no longer rank that shame at the top of their troubles, a development that points to an emerging challenge for the leadership in deflecting attention from its cronyism, nepotism, incompetence, corruption, support for terrorists, warped domestic priorities, and other issues best left shrouded in distraction.”
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If you could digitise whole, real-world locations, you’d automatically improve the planning for big infrastructure projects that require buildings, bridges tunnels and the like. Some $94 trillion in infrastructure investment is required by 2040 globally to sustain global growth predictions, yet infrastructure is one of the least digitised sectors in the global economy. SenSat is […]
* What Iran's Friends Are Doing in Gaza In other words, Islamic Jihad's promise is one of unending toxicity: to go on poisoning the hearts and minds of generation after generation of Palestinians - as well as to continue investing millions of dollars in building tunnels and amassing weapons to ensure that the fight against Israel continues forever.
Fortress of Nightmares returns to Fort Adams this month for its fifteenth season with new adventures and attractions. Fortress of Nightmares is the largest and last of the season fundraiser for the year that benefits the Fort Adams Trust. The haunted attraction features: “Tunnels of Terror, Mayhem in 3D, Paranormal 360 and ‘Spirits Rising,” that […]