Trump is hanging Israel and Netanyahu out to dry

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Trump is hanging Israel and Netanyahu out to dry

David A. Andelman, executive director of The RedLines Project, is a contributor to CNN, where his columns won the Deadline Club Award for Best Opinion Writing. Author of “A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today,” he was formerly a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News. Follow him on Twitter @DavidAndelman. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.

(CNN)With a single stroke, President Donald Trump has effectively brought a newly resurgent and potent triad—Syria, Russia and Iran—to the very doorstep of their declared enemy, Israel, and given aid and comfort to Israel’s longtime and persistent foe, Hezbollah, in Lebanon.

David Andelman

The ceasefire and agreement with Turkey that Trump vaunted Thursday as “a great day for civilization,” had already been demonstrated to be a potentially epic challenge to one corner of the world—Israel. It was a reality only highlighted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo breaking off from Vice President Pence’s group in Ankara and taking a plane directly to Jerusalem to reassure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday morning.
Suddenly, with not even a token American force remaining to monitor or check military activities of Russia, Iran or the Syrian army main force of President Bashar al-Assad, the entire map of the Middle East was being redrawn, and Israel left with few viable defenders. When the United States had even a minimal military presence in Syria, it was able to act as some restraint on aid that Iran was seeking to channel to this terrorist forcewhich continues to operate out of Lebanon, targeting Israel at every opportunity.
In late August, anti-tank rocket attacks launched from Lebanon into northern Israel by Hezbollah led to the Israeli army responding with attacks on targets in southern Lebanon. Such effective shadow-boxing had been held in check by the apparent ability of Israel to interdict Iranian efforts to supply Hezbollah with arms and munitions through Syria. Now, with Syria reclaiming a large swath of the northeastern stretch of its country that had been held by the Kurds and their American allies, and with Russian forces moving as a backstop into the vacuum left by the US departure, Israeli efforts could become exponentially more complicated.
At the same time, there is ever more leeway now for Syria, Russia and Iran to work their malevolence on a Lebanese government that is striving desperately to carve a middle road in the region. Hezbollah and Iran share a common religion—Shiite Islam—which has only opened up a host of problems for Hezbollah’s principal host, Lebanon, as it tries to remain reasonably neutral in the Middle East and avoid a return to the decades of bloodshed during its civil wars of the 1980s. Hezbollah would like nothing better than a destabilized Lebanon bordering Israel’s northern frontier.
“Americans can’t be trusted at all since they break promise with anyone who depends on them,” said Seyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, in a speech to his followers in Beirut on Wednesday, adding that the Kurds’ “fate awaits anyone who trusts Washington.”
Trump’s new bond with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan—”a tough guy who deserves respect” and “my friend” as Trump described him after Wednesday’s truce talks in Ankara, is also likely to have done little to reassure Israel.
Turkey, which has moved into northern Syria with some impunity has demonstrated that it is no friend of Israel. Erdogan, accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, has called it “a terrorist state.” Until now, it has been possible for Israel largely to ignore Turkey’s impact on the Middle East, and its efforts of rapprochement with both Russia and Iran. But that may no longer be possible. On Tuesday, Erdogan is planning to travel to the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The American withdrawal and Wednesday’s ceasefire can have few positive results for Israel, where Trump’s actions “have stirred discomfort within Netanyahu’s conservative cabinet,” according to Israeli media reports. Amos Harel, military correspondent for the liberal Haaretz daily, said Trump’s moves have “forced Israel to rethink its Middle East strategy.” After his session with Pompeo, Netanyahu was only somewhat more circumspect. “We hope things will turn out for the best,” he told reporters. Indeed, Netanyahu is facing a Wednesday deadline to cobble together a new coalition government after the recent national elections and has still not managed to do so.
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In short, any number of nations in the region are beginning a frantic reassessment of just what this new map of the Middle East promises—beyond the immediate prospects of a new round of chaos and destruction, with the United States on the sidelines. Somehow Washington must find a way to channel to players like Israel and Lebanon military aid and diplomatic reassurance that can help neutralize an increasingly dangerous situation.

Khamenei Demands that IRGC Develop More Advanced, Modern Weapons

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Khamenei Demands that IRGC Develop More Advanced, Modern Weapons

Sunday, 13 October, 2019 – 11:15
FILE PHOTO: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gives a speech to a group of scholars and seminary students of religious sciences in Tehran, Iran September 17, 2019. Official Khamenei website/Handout via REUTERS
Asharq Al-Awsat
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards on Sunday to develop more advanced and modern weapons, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

“The Guards should have advanced and modern weapons … Your weapons should be modern and updated. It should be developed at home. You need to develop and produce your weapons,” Khamenei said.

The Iranian leader’s statement come after months of tension between Washington and Tehran in the wake of sanctions against Iranian oil exports, after US President Donald Trump pulled out in May 2018, from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

On Thursday, Chief Commander of the IRGC General Hossein Salami also said his naval forces were fully prepared to defend Iran in case an armed conflict with “enemies” breaks out.

Speaking at conference on “speedboats” in the northern port of Anzali, he further questioned the enemies’ ability to confront Iran’s naval unit if armed maritime conflict erupts.

According to Reuters, in response to Washington’s “maximum pressure” policy, Iran has gradually reduced its commitments under the nuclear pact and plans further breaches if European parties fail to keep their promises to shield Iran’s economy from US penalties.

It Is The Option And Duty Of The Saudi’s To Answer Iran, Not The U.S. To Do It

It Is The Option And Duty Of The Saudi’s To Answer Iran, Not The U.S. To Do It

 

The U.S. has been selling weapons to the Saudi government for decades now and training their military since at least the mid 1970’s, these things are recorded facts. I just reblogged an article from the New York Times on this same subject matter. If the Saudi’s wish to answer Iran’s acts of war against them it is now up to the Saudi Royal Family to do so. As the NYT said, we are not the Saudi’s mercenaries. The Saudi’s and Iran have been fighting a proxy war in Yemen for several years now and the US has been supplying the Saudi’s with Intel, bombs, missiles, jets and training during this whole time. This war that is going on between these two nations is in fact really an Islamic civil war that has been raging for almost 1,400 years now between the Sunni and the Shia factions of Islam. Russia has been supplying Iran with newer bigger better weapons just as the US has been doing with Saudi Arabia. If we attack Iran are we not risking also starting a direct war with Russia? It is my humble opinion that the best situation for the US military is to stand down unless Iran directly attacks us. At this point in time it is up to the Saudi’s to decide what their next actions will be and getting the US directly involved in another shooting war in another Islamic country should not be ‘on the table’ for the American government or our people, not yet, not at this time.

Through Ignorance World Leaders Wasted Our Blood And Gold

Through Ignorance World Leaders Wasted Our Blood And Gold

 

Yes I did say our, as in (you and I) we are all part of this world conversation we call our lives. There is a section of the world’s population who have no faith system of any kind, what percent, I don’t know that answer but it probably varies from nation to nation wouldn’t you think? What I am going to get at is this, you don’t have to believe in something, for that something to kill you. Here in the States there are a lot of Atheist type folks who through their lack of knowledge degrade Christianity and Judaism every chance they get. Unfortunately we find many of these people in seats of power throughout many nations.

I want to ask you what you thought when your nation (if yours did) put blood and money into these Islamic nations, putting our soldiers in direct open conflict with various Islamic faith factions. I totally agree that after 911 when the experts figured out that Osama was behind it and they learned that he was in Afghanistan being protected by the Taliban whom would not give him up, we should have removed them from the face of the earth. The bigger problem after running those Satanic embers out of power was in how to rebuild this broken nation both physically via helping them build a national infrastructure and a solid national pride in getting all of it’s people a quality education both boys and girls. But, big but, how do you cure the inside of a person when their moral fiber is evil and they refuse to change their beliefs or culture within their own brains?

Our nations leaders should all have known that there is no way to help create a puppet government that can only stand for as long as we prop it up with a lot of our blood and money and honestly expect the nations of fundamental Islam to not retake everything once we leave? O, but isn’t that the same lesson our leaders didn’t learn in Iraq either? There is a fundamental reality about the Islamic faith at it’s core, they do not believe in democracies as the rule of law.

The whole world is in a position to have it’s ground stained with the blood of their own children. There are many major brewing and open conflict areas on the globe, all are dangerous, but no conflict can ever be as dangerous as one that is about what a group’s Faith teaches, especially if that Faith teaches global enslavement by force. I would like to say to the world, please wake up, but I have no faith that we will. Folks the world of Islam is very much at war with you and they will kill you whether you believe in them or not, they would prefer we all be foolish, it makes us all easier to kill. Only Islamic believers can put an end to Islamic violence that is generated by Islamic believers who believe that they are following the teachings of G-d via the Quran and the Hadith. I believe that there is little chance of this ever happening as I believe that way to many folks within the different clans are complicit with this evil.

 

Israel: Iran forced its Judoka to throw semifinal to avoid facing Sagi Muki (Israeli)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel says Iran forced its judoka to throw semifinal to avoid facing Sagi Muki

Local judo chief Moshe Fonti says Saeid Mollaei intended to compete to the end even if it meant squaring off against Israeli, but then Iranian agents arrived at his family home

Saeid Mollaei in 2018 (YouTube screenshot)

Saeid Mollaei in 2018 (YouTube screenshot)

The chairman of the Israel Judo Association said Thursday that Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei was coerced into throwing his semifinal battle against Belgium’s Matthias Casse a day earlier at the World Judo Championship in Tokyo in order to avoid facing Israel’s Sagi Muki in the final.

In the past Iran has forbidden its athletes to compete against Israelis. In May, the International Judo Federation said it had reached an agreement with Iran to end the boycott, though the head of Iran’s national Olympic committee later denied it.

Mollaei has been accused of faking injuries and intentionally losing fights in the past to avoid facing Muki.

IJO head Moshe Fonti, speaking to Army Radio, said that an hour before Wednesday’s semifinals, the Israeli team heard that Mollaei, ranked No. 1 in the world, “intended to continue the contest, even if he had to face Sagi Muki at the final. We heard he’d asked the head of the Iranian judo association to ensure his family was kept safe.”

At the semifinals Mollaei was paired with Casse and Muki faced Egyptian Mohamed Abdelaal. After Muki defeated Abdelaal (the Egyptian’s refusal to shake Muki’s hand caused further controversy), it became clear that if Mollaei defeated the Belgian he would face off against the Israeli for the gold.

“From what we understand, within a short time Iranian intelligence officials came both to his home in Iran and to the judo arena and warned him,” Fonti said.

“I don’t know what happened there, but eventually he lost both battles,” Fonti said, referring to the fight against Casse and the subsequent fight for the bronze against Luka Maisuradze of Georgia. “He didn’t make it to the final with Sagi and he didn’t make it to the podium.”

Israeli judo commentator Miri Nevo said it was clear that Mollaei carried out what she called “a calibrated defeat,” to ensure he lost in the semifinal. She sniped that if the Iranians were so patriotic and hostile to Israel, they should “try to beat us” in sports.

Gold medalist Israel’s Sagi Muki on the podium of the men’s under 81kg category during the 2019 Judo World Championships at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on August 28, 2019. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

Muki eventually defeated Casse and was named world champion, the first male Israeli athlete to reach the top. Mollaei, who had been reigning world champion after winning last year’s games, ended the contest in fifth place. If he had taken fourth or above he would have had to stand on the podium as Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah” was played in honor of Muki.

Fonti did not blame Mollaei for his actions, saying that though he “had promised the head of the International Judo Federation he would compete… there were people at his family’s home in Iran. You can’t judge an athlete in such a situation.”

Muki on Wednesday said Mollaei was an “excellent” sportsman, while Israel’s team coach Oren Smadja said he was “a terrific guy.”

The notion that Mollaei had thrown his fight with Casse to avoid facing Muki was prevalent in outlets covering the contest.

Website Inside the Games noted that Mollaei, having “looked unstoppable in the preliminaries,” suddenly claimed to have suffered a head injury ahead of his fight with Casse and came to the fight “wearing a huge bandage on his head.” He “barely attempted a throw during the bout, before being thrown for ippon by Calle’s first real attack.”

Belgium’s Matthias Casse (in blue) celebrates winning the semifinal fight against a bandaged Saeid Mollaei of Iran in the men’s under 81kg category during the 2019 Judo World Championships at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on August 28, 2019. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

French site RMC Sport said Mollaei “threw the semifinal heat after seeing [Muki’s] qualification for the final.”

It also reported that “in the morning, in the warm-up room, witnesses described Saied Mollaei as extremely agitated, on the verge of tears, citing the danger to his family.”

There were reports that prior to losing his fight against Casse, Mollaei had threatened during earlier stages of the competition to quit if he was paired up with Muki.

Cases of Iranian intentionally losing matches to avoid facing Israelis have been reported in the past. Last year an Iranian wrestler was banned for six months for deliberately throwing a match to avoid facing an Israeli opponent.

Saudi: Holocaust Memorial Stirs Controversy in Morocco

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Holocaust Memorial Stirs Controversy in Morocco

Wednesday, 28 August, 2019 – 11:00
A view of a site which PixelHelper says was a holocaust memorial demolished by the authorities. Photo published by PixelHelper on its social media account
Rabat – Latifa Larousni

Moroccan authorities have demolished a holocaust memorial that has been under construction since September 2018 in Ait Faska, near Marrakesh.

The Interior Ministry denied rumors that local authorities had granted construction permits for the site which was planned to include a museum and several facilities, as well as the monument.

The ministry explained that the reports of a holocaust memorial being built in the area are “baseless.”

“Provincial authorities have not granted any authorization for the establishment of such a project,” added the ministry in a statement.

PixelHelper, a German non-profit organization, had been preparing to launch its first project in North Africa in the village of Ait Faska. But Oliver Bienkowski, founder of PixelHelper, posted videos on his Facebook page showing authorities intervening to demolish his project, Moroccan newspapers and websites reported.

Bienkowski announced that he has been working on the Ait Faska project since September 2018, adding that it aimed to honor people who died during the holocaust.

He expressed hope in remarks to i24 website that the memorial will strengthen the bonds of friendship between Muslim countries and Jews.

Moroccan rights activists condemned the German organization’s plan, calling it an unprecedented and dangerous move.

Human rights activist Abdel Hamid Amin said in remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat that all Moroccans who condemn normalization of relations with Israel reject such a project.

“The holocaust happened in Germany and other countries,” he said.

“Morocco hasn’t witnessed any violent conflict between Muslims and Jews,” he told the newspaper, saying the project had a hidden political agenda to push Morocco towards normalization of ties with Israel.

Hamas senses Israeli weakness

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Deadly Friday attack shows W. Bank heating up, as Hamas senses Israeli weakness

Netanyahu government is perceived to be trying to pay off Hamas in return for calm in Gaza, and that’s emboldening the terrorists in the West Bank too

Avi Issacharoff
Illustrative: Palestinians hold Hamas flags and chant slogans during a celebration organized by Hamas in the West Bank city of Nablus, on Friday, August 29, 2014 (AP/Nasser Ishtayeh)

Illustrative: Palestinians hold Hamas flags and chant slogans during a celebration organized by Hamas in the West Bank city of Nablus, on Friday, August 29, 2014 (AP/Nasser Ishtayeh)

The terrorist attack at a spring near Dolev on Friday, in which Rina Shnerb was killed and her father and brother were injured, was far from a bolt from the blue given the current atmosphere among Palestinians in the West Bank. And there are growing concerns that things could get far worse.

As so often in the past, the initial reaction from some in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government focused on the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, blamed as the inciter of terrorism. Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, for instance, called for the dismantling of the PA and Israeli annexation of the West Bank, neglecting to mention that the PA has been working in coordination with the IDF to try to thwart terror attacks.

The ferment among West Bank Palestinians, the growing calls for violence and the escalation in terrorism are being stirred from Gaza by its ruling terror group, Hamas, in its ongoing face-off with Netanyahu. What Netanyahu’s bitter critic and former defense minister Avigdor Liberman described Friday as the prime minister’s “surrender” to the terrorists — his agreement to allow Qatar to distribute funds in Gaza to needy families (and in the past to Hamas employees), the easing of certain restrictions at border crossings, the improved electricity supply — amid intermittent rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, is seen on the Palestinian side as proof of weakness. Weakness to be exploited.

Mourners carry the body of 17-year-old Israeli Rina Shnerb, who was killed by a bomb in a terror attack while visiting a spring near Dolev in the West Bank, during her funeral in the city of Lod on August 23, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP); inset: Rina Shnerb (Courtesy)

Israel is understood to be capitulating to Hamas demands, more than in the past, precisely when the level of violence is rising — with the rocket attacks, attempts by armed infiltrators to breach the Gaza border fence, violent demonstrations at the border and more. The Israeli government, including Minister Smotrich of course, is seen to be following a policy of seeking to pay off Hamas in return for relative calm. This is being internalized in the West Bank too, which means not only that more terrorism seems likely, but that the West Bank is generally in greater ferment, with Fatah activists also perceiving an Israeli capitulation.

The rising tension also comes after six months during which the PA — fuming that Israel was holding back part of the tax funds it collects on behalf of Ramallah, to compensate for the PA’s payments to the families of dead terrorists and to jailed terrorists and security prisoners — refused to accept any of the tax payments at all. That meant some 160,000 employees were receiving only half their salaries. This week, the PA announced that it had accepted a partial payment, of just over half a billion dollars, after reaching an agreement with Israel on the issue, in order to avert the collapse of the PA.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, meets Hamas deputy chief, Saleh al-Arouri, second right, and the Hamas delegation, in Tehran, Iran, July 22, 2019. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

The reduced salaries are only one factor behind the rising tensions in the West Bank. There is also the diplomatic crisis between the US and Israel on one side, and the Palestinians on the other. Even as Israel celebrates the pro-Israel declarations of the Trump administration and the growth of settlements, such moves prompt rising antipathy, and calls for violence, on the Palestinian side, including within Abbas’s Fatah faction. There are indications that we could be near to an eruption of terrorism and/or widespread protests akin to the start of the second intifada in 2000 or the so-called “stabbing intifada” in the fall of 2015.

Needless to say, Hamas is doing its utmost to exploit the bitterness in the West Bank. The Gaza leadership (even as it negotiates indirectly with Israel), and the leadership overseas headed by Saleh al-Arouri, are working relentlessly to orchestrate terror attacks in the West Bank. Most are being thwarted. But, as we saw on Friday, not all.

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IDF said to arrest 3 Palestinians during hunt for terrorists behind bomb attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

IDF said to arrest 3 Palestinians during hunt for terrorists behind bomb attack

Israeli troops reportedly confiscate cameras, raid homes in West Bank villages near site of bombing that killed Israeli teen Rina Shnerb

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank on August 23, 2019, following a deadly terror bombing near the Dolev settlement. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank on August 23, 2019, following a deadly terror bombing near the Dolev settlement. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli security forces reportedly arrested three Palestinian men in the West Bank early Saturday as they searched for the terrorists behind a bombing attack that killed an Israeli teenager.

According to Palestinian media reports, Israeli soldiers arrested two of the men during raids in the village of Ein Arik. The third man was said to be a resident of the nearby village of Ein Qiniya.

It was not clear what their connection to the bombing near the Dolev settlement was.

Troops also reportedly seized a number of surveillance cameras in Ein Arik.

المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

@PalinfoAr

لحظة اعتقال قوات الاحتلال الأسير المحرر والطالب في جامعة بيرزيت إصرار معروف من منزله في قرية عين قينيا شمال غرب رام الله .

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The two villages are located near Ein Bubin, a natural spring where an explosive device detonated Friday as three members of the Shnerb family from the central Israeli town of Lod were visiting.

The teenage daughter, Rina, 17, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her father, Eitan, a rabbi in Lod, and her brother Dvir, 19, were taken by military helicopter to a Jerusalem hospital in serious condition.

Rina Shnerb, 17, who was killed in a terror attack in the West Bank on August 23, 2019 (courtesy)

The army said an improvised explosive device was used in the attack. Police sappers determined that the bomb had been planted earlier at the spring and was triggered remotely when the family approached it.

Following the bombing, security forces launched a large-scale manhunt in the area, with the IDF chief saying he believed they would apprehend the killers “quickly.”

“We are in the midst of a manhunt that is being led by troops from the Israel Defense Forces, Shin Bet security service and Israel Police. We are focusing our large operational intelligence effort to finding the perpetrators of this severe and deadly terror attack,” IDF chief Aviv Kohavi said at the site of the bombing on Friday afternoon.

Rabbi Eitan Shnerb speaks to reporters from his hospital bed after being wounded in a terror attack that also killed his daughter Rina and wounded his son Dvir on August 23, 2019 (Screencapture/Ynet)

IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said the military did not yet know the identities of the culprits or if they belonged to an established terror group or were acting alone.

Channel 12 quoted unnamed officials as saying that the size and complexity of the the device indicated that one of the major terror groups was behind the attack.

Troops were working to find the terrorists behind the attack as quickly as possible, under the general understanding that the more time they have to flee, the more difficult the search effort becomes.

Israeli soldiers set up a roadblock as part of a search effort to find terrorists who set off a bomb near the Israeli settlement of Dolev in the West Bank on August 23, 2019, killing an Israeli teenage girl and seriously injuring two other people. (Israel Defense Forces)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, said he was receiving constant updates on the search effort and would meet soon with the commanders of the country’s security forces.

“Security forces are in pursuit of the vile terrorists. We will reach them. Our long arm will pay them their dues,” Netanyahu said.

Speaking with reporters Friday from his hospital bed, Eitan Shnerb said he was in good condition, but had a piece of shrapnel in his stomach and a broken hip.

Dvir’s condition on improved to moderate on Saturday morning and he was conscious after undergoing surgery the day before, according to Channel 13 news.

Israeli military officials have warned in recent weeks of an increase in terrorist activities and violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the lead-up to next month’s Israeli elections.

Last Friday, a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into two Israeli teenage siblings, critically injuring one of them, outside the Elazar settlement in the central West Bank, just south of Jerusalem.

The car rolled over after the terror attack, and when the assailant tried to emerge from it, he was shot dead by an off duty police officer who was driving behind him.

Earlier this month, an Israeli religious seminary student, Dvir Sorek, was found stabbed to death outside the settlement of Migdal Oz. Israeli security forces tracked down the suspected killers in approximately 48 hours, arresting Palestinian cousins, Nasir Asafra, 24, and Qassem Asafra, 30, from the village of Beit Kahil in the southern West Bank.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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Israel Accuses ‘Islamic Jihad’ of Sabotaging Understandings with Hamas

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Israel Accuses ‘Islamic Jihad’ of Sabotaging Understandings with Hamas

Saturday, 24 August, 2019 – 09:45
A woman raises a Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli soldiers on the Gaza border with Israel on Friday, August 23, 2019 (Reuters)
Tel Aviv – Asharq Al-Awsat
Israel has allowed Qatari funds to be transferred to the Gaza Strip amid reports that it has also agreed for using part of the money to pay the salaries of Hamas employees.

Meanwhile, an Israeli army spokesman issued a statement slamming the “Islamic Jihad” and accusing it of sabotaging ceasefire agreements with Hamas, and threatening to impose sanctions on it.

The statement was issued in an attempt to counter widespread criticism in Israel over its understandings with Hamas, which “hasn’t stopped its rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip,” critics say.

Israeli far-right parties are openly demanding a war that would end Hamas’ rule.

Israel has lately come under rocket and mortar attacks, responding with heavy shelling on sites in the Gaza Strip. Yet it continued to implement its understandings with Hamas to ease the Israeli siege on the impoverished enclave.

In response, far-right leaders slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with some describing him as “coward” and “weak,” and accusing him of remaining silent on the rocket attacks.

Netanyahu is widely seen as wanting to avoid an escalation in the Gaza Strip before the September 17 general elections.

Israeli Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz, a member of Israel’s cabinet, said Netanyahu is working “firmly but in a wise and deliberate manner,” adding that “Israel’s response to the incidents in the south was strict.”

He stressed that “Israel is preparing for a large-scale military operation in Gaza in case it finds no other solution.”

But Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who also serves as a cabinet member, said that “keeping up with Hamas” does serve Israel.

He noted that there is no suitable solution to confront the missile attacks other than reoccupying the Strip and overthrowing Hamas’ rule.

Smotrich and other right-wing leaders called for resuming the assassinations of Palestinian officials in Gaza and abroad.

Ministers close to Netanyahu have leaked news saying that Hamas isn’t responsible for the rocket attacks.

They said Hamas has sent this message to Israel through Qatar and Egypt, pointing the finger at Islamic Jihad, accusing it of disapproving the understandings between Hamas and Israel.

“We do not plan to accept terror attacks and rocket fire against our citizens,” the Israeli army’s Arabic-language spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, said in a statement.

“Hamas, as the ruler of the Strip, must enforce its authority over Islamic Jihad and prevent these terror attacks and plots,” Adraee said.

He stressed that the Islamic Jihad is responsible for any failure to implement the conditions of the ceasefire agreements and that it will “suffer the consequences” for these activities.

Israel said bracing for likely Omar, Tlaib visit to flash point Temple Mount

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel said bracing for likely Omar, Tlaib visit to flash point Temple Mount

During secret meeting of National Security Council, senior officials agree to allow congresswomen onto holy site, but not accompanied by PA officials

In this photo from February 5, 2019, Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, left, is joined by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, at US President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In this photo from February 5, 2019, Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, left, is joined by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, at US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Israeli officials are preparing for the likelihood that US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib may seek to visit the flashpoint Temple Mount in Jerusalem during their visit to the country next week, Channel 13 reported Wednesday.

A “secret meeting” was recently held on the subject in Israel’s National Security Council led by Deputy National Security Adviser Reuven Azar, according to Channel 13.

There, the network reported that Azar said there was a high probability that Omar and Tlaib, who are both Muslim, will seek to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine at the holy site.

The participants at the meeting agreed that if the congresswomen choose to do so, it is vital that the Israel Police not permit their visit to be accompanied by officials of the Palestinian Authority, which would serve as symbolic backing by the US lawmakers for Palestinian claims of sovereignty at the site, the holiest place in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam.

Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and now claims all of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their capital in a future state.

in 2017 the US, under the Trump administration, shifted years of policy, and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy to the city. However, the US said the move did not constitute and endorsement of specific borders.

Muslim worshipers perform the Eid al-Adha morning prayers at the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Israeli officials were unanimous in their view that the two lawmakers, who have expressed support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, should be allowed to visit Israel and the Temple Mount, as preventing the visits could hurt relations with the United States, Channel 13 said.

As recently as Sunday, tensions at the flash point site boiled over into all-out riots after Muslim worshipers objected Israel’s allowing of some 1,700 Jewish visitors on the site during the Tish’a B’av fast day, which fell this year during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.

At least 61 Muslim worshipers were injured in the clashes, according to the Red Crescent. At least four Israeli officers were also lightly to moderately wounded, police said.

Last month Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said that she would visit Israel and the West Bank with Tlaib, a Palestinian-American congresswoman from Michigan. Omar and Tlaib are the first female Muslim congresswoman.

Last Saturday, Axios reported that US President Donald Trump criticized the Israeli decision to allow Omar and Tlaib to visit the country.

Trump said that if Omar and Tlaib wanted to boycott Israel, “then Israel should boycott them,” Axios said, quoting a source with direct knowledge.

However, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham denied Trump ever gave any kind of directive to the Israelis. “The Israeli government can do what they want. It’s fake news,” Grisham told Axios on Saturday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) with Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, at the president’s guest house, in Washington, DC, February 14, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Last month Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said Israel would not prevent the lawmakers from coming to Israel.

“Out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,” Dermer told The Times of Israel in a statement.

Under a controversial law that Israel enacted in 2017, the state can prohibit any foreigner from entering the country who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.”

Since then, the Interior and Strategic Affairs ministries have used the statute to deny visas to a handful of students, activists and artists upon their arrival to Israel.

The Foreign Ministry, however, can recommend the law be waived for visiting politicians or government officials out of diplomatic concerns.

Israeli security forces walk past the Dome of the Rock as they arrive at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019, as clashes broke out during the overlapping Jewish and Muslim holidays of Eid al-Adha and the Tisha B’av fast (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Omar last month introduced a resolution, co-sponsored by Tlaib, ostensibly aimed at pushing back against laws seeking to clamp down on boycotts of Israel. The resolution, which does not explicitly mention Israel or the Palestinians, affirms the right of Americans to participate in boycotts as an expression of free speech under the First Amendment, citing boycott movements against Nazi Germany, the USSR and apartheid South Africa.

It currently has three sponsors — Omar, Tlaib and Democratic Georgia Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the US civil rights movement.

Omar, Tlaib and other BDS supporters say that in urging businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel, they are using nonviolent means to oppose unjust policies toward Palestinians. Israel counters that the movement masks its motivation to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.

Omar has said she supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Tlaib, however, has advocated for a single-state outcome.

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