Syrian Aid: What The U.N. And the U.S. Should Have Been Doing All Along

Syrian Aid

(10-01-13)   (02-19-18)

What the U.N. And The U.S. Should Have Been Doing All Along

As most people in the world who have radio’s or television reception knows, there is a very bloody civil war going on in the country of Syria for about two and a half years now. The United Nations tells us that during this war about 100,000 civilians have been killed with at least one million people displaced. Displaced in this case means that these people have been not only uprooted from their homes, these are people who have left the borders of their country hoping for safety in one of their neighboring countries. Wars are never a pretty thing for a land of for the people of the land to have to endure, but, unfortunately sometimes people are forced to defend themselves. Picking up arms toward another person is always a personal demon that each person has to face within their own soul.


In Syria the city of Aleppo was the industrial hub of the country as well as the countries largest city. I have seen online many pictures of this city as it looks today. This city is one that has been one of the major battlegrounds of the fighting between the Presidents military forces and the people trying to defeat him. This city is now in horrible physical condition from large bombing campaigns just like many smaller cities and towns across their country. If you get a chance Google stories and pictures of what is happening in Syria. Like in most any military conflict the loss of physical and human destruction is heart wrenching. When you are looking at pictures of all of these bombed out businesses and homes I have a question for you that I want you to think about. I will use Aleppo as my example for my question. Looking at the destruction how is it possible for the people of the country to produce anything with so much danger constantly all around them?


Let each of us try to put ourselves into the story-line which is the Syria of today. When war is going on around you, even if you consider yourself and your family as non-combatant, what quality of life do you think you are capable of having? Do you think life as you have known it will not change just because you tell all warring sides that you are neutral? Even if you are lucky enough not to have had your place of employment bombed yet, nor had combatants come to your place of employment and kill everyone, do you think you are going to feel safe going into work each day? Do you think that your coworkers are going to take the chance of putting themselves into a crowded situation which makes them a bigger body count for the combatants? When almost all if not all commerce production is stopped because of a war, there is no GDP for the country which in this case is hurting the government side in this conflict. But, if the people have no jobs to go to, thus having no income, plus the fact that there aren’t any needed daily goods in which to buy, the populous itself is now drawn into the reality of this war even if they completely don’t want to be. I am not just speaking of items that are non essentials like wallpaper and couches. With the situation the Syrian people are in, they can’t even get enough food to keep from starving. No one in this war zone can possibly lay their head down for a nap without fear they may be attacked at any moment. That is if they are lucky enough to have a roof over their head in some place that has not been boomed out yet. Please also consider that the people of Syria are now facing their third winter in this civil war with all their basic needs absent.


What I have described above is background information for those who have paid no attention to the events unfolding in Syria and their region of the world. Once again an Islamic country in the Mediterranean region is in flux. The American government usually is put into a position where many expect us to be the world’s policeman. As most of you know the government of Syria is being backed by Russia who is their biggest most powerful ally and they have a major naval base in Syria. Russia has blocked most western attempts to help those fighting against the Syrian President Mr. Al-Assad. The second biggest Syrian ally is Iran who has been helping backup the Syrian military by sending thousands of trained fighters from the Islamic militant group Hezbollah which Iran protects and trains within their own borders and within the nation of Lebanon.


Syria’s president and his family are believers in a sect of Shia Islam  known as Alawites but the majority of the Syrian people are also faithful to the Shia sect of Islam. This is why Iran is helping president Al-Assad, you see, Iran is the largest Shia based country in the world and in Islam the Sunni-Shia differences are massive, violence between these two sects have been simmering, sometimes boiling over into violent conflicts for about 1,400 years now. This is why Iran is helping the government forces and this religious divide is why majority Sunni countries like Saudi-Arabia are helping out the rebel forces that are fighting president Al-Assad’s forces. Russia’s backing of the Syrian government has nothing to do with religion though, their reasons are simply economic and military alliances.


Here in America our politicians have been debating about whether or not to send military help to the Syrian rebels. Lately discussions have been about such things as bombing certain government locations and/or putting a no fly zone in parts of the country to help the rebel groups. Part of the problems with the rebel groups is that it is very fractious with several main bodies and no real central command. There are many confirmed reports that many of the people fighting against the government are from very dangerous Sunni Islamic groups like Al-Qaeda which are groups of the same philosophy  that attacked America on 9-11-2001. So the question comes to light, do we, meaning the U.S. and the west European countries give weapons and training to groups that once that war is over would then use those same weapons against us?


Now, I will express to you what I totally believe that the U.S. and the west European powers as well as the U.N. should have been doing since shortly after this civil war broke out. First, militarily we should be completely hands off. What we as a Christian nation and people, as well as the governing body of the U.N. should have been doing to help the innocent Syrian people who have been trying to flee their country via  going to their neighboring countries trying to stay alive, is that we should have been helping these people from the beginning of this human disaster.


Syria’s neighbors badly need help from the outside world in the facilitation of a million plus people into their countries. What we need to be doing and should have been doing is to send these desolate human beings, our brothers and sisters of humanity, the basic staples they need for survival. What aid we should be offering and delivering is things like food, tents, clothes, and blankets, not weapons. The only time we should use any military force in this civil war would be if the Syrian government force attack these refugee camps and then only if the presiding country whose borders were breached asks for us to help.

Israel’s secret airstrike campaign in Sinai to help Egypt



Israel carrying out secret airstrike campaign in Sinai to help Egypt — report

Unmarked IAF drones, fighter jets, and gunships are conducting attacks against jihadist insurgents at the behest of Sissi, The New York Times reports

A picture taken from the Rafah border of the southern Gaza Strip with Egypt shows smoke billowing in Egypt's North Sinai on July 8, 2017. (AFP/Said Khatib)

A picture taken from the Rafah border of the southern Gaza Strip with Egypt shows smoke billowing in Egypt’s North Sinai on July 8, 2017. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Israeli drones, fighter jets, and helicopter gunships have carried out more than 100 airstrikes against Islamist terrorists in the Sinai, in a bid to help Egypt deal with the jihadist insurgency in the peninsula, the New York Times reported Saturday.

Israel was forced to take action, with the blessing of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, as Egypt struggled to deal with the violent uprising that has killed hundreds of Egyptian security forces and civilians, the report said.

While security coordination between Jerusalem and Cairo is known to be close, the ties are still unpopular in Egypt, despite nearly three decades of peace. In order to keep the cooperation quiet, the Israeli aircraft are often unmarked and sometimes use indirect routes in a bid to cover up the origin of the strikes, the report said.

The report said Sissi had kept the Israeli strikes secret, only letting a small group of military and intelligence officials in on the cooperation, and has kept northern Sinai a closed military area, barring reporters from the region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in New York on September 19, 2017 (Avi Ohayun)

Israeli and Egyptian officials refused to confirm or comment on the report, which the paper said was based on interviews with seven current or former British and American officials involved in Middle East policy, all speaking on condition of anonymity.

The report quoted American officials as saying that Israel’s air campaign has played a decisive role in enabling the Egyptian armed forces to gain an upper hand against the jihadists.

According to the US sources, Israel began its airstrikes following the capture of a north Sinai town by the Islamists and the downing of a Russian charter jet over Sinai in October 2014 that killed 224 people. They said Israel has had a string of successes in killing the terrorist leaders.

In the wake of the Israeli strikes, the Islamists slowed their advance and switched their attention to softer targets like attacking mosques and churches, the report said.

However, Israel has complained to the US that Egypt is not upholding its end of the agreement, and that Cairo was supposed to follow up on the airstrikes by sending ground forces into the region.


Russian delegation ‘sought to stop Israeli strikes in Syria, Lebanon’



Russian delegation ‘sought to stop Israeli strikes in Syria, Lebanon’

Arabic daily says high-level team visiting from Moscow came to Jerusalem to discourage action against Iran and Hezbollah

Russian Federation Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, February 1, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Russian Federation Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, February 1, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

A delegation of senior Russian security officials visiting Israel this weekreportedly sought to dissuade Jerusalem from striking Iranian and Hezbollah weapons facilities in Syria and Lebanon.

According to the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat, quoted by Israel’s Channel 10 news, the purpose of Wednesday’s visit, headed by Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, was Moscow’s desire to discourage Israeli intervention across the border, Channel 10 news reported.

The Russian delegation, which also included deputy ministers, army generals and intelligence officers, held talks with Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat as well as heads of Israel’s National Security Council and top military, defense and intelligence officials.

Patrushev himself met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel has been negotiating with the United States and Russia, the main brokers in Syria, to keep Iran-backed Shiite militias and the Hezbollah terrorist group away from the border.

Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and others have all said that Israel’s policy is to target shipments of advanced weaponry, including accurate long-range missiles, that are heading to or in the possession of Hezbollah. Foreign media reports have attributed dozens of airstrikes on Iranian-linked targets in Syria to Israel.

Last week’s visit by the Russian officials came on the heels of Netanyahu’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss Iranian military entrenchment in the region.

A satellite image showing the results of an alleged Israeli airstrike on a reported Iranian base being set up outside Damascus, from December 4, 2017. (ImageSat International ISI)

Netanyahu said his meeting with Putin focused on Iran, with the prime minister saying if Tehran continues to try and deepen its influence in Syria, Israel would work to “stop it.”

“The question is: Does Iran entrench itself in Syria, or will this process be stopped. If it doesn’t stop by itself, we will stop it,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters during a telephone briefing.

“We also spoke about Lebanon, which is becoming a factory for precision-guided missiles that threaten Israel. These missiles pose a grave threat to Israel, and we will not accept this threat,” he added.

Netanyahu said that the weapons factories are currently “in the process of being built” by Iran. Israel is determined to do whatever is necessary to prevent those two developments, Netanyahu said.

Last month, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations said there are 3,000 soldiers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps currently fighting in Syria, and accused Tehran of seeking to turn the country “into the largest military base in the world.”

Danny Danon told the Security Council that Iran controls 82,000 fighters in Syria, including 9,000 members of Hezbollah, 10,000 Shiite militiamen from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and another 60,000 Syrians.

Danon urged member states not to “allow Iran to continue funding worldwide terror, pursue its dangerous internal arms buildup, and grow its military presence abroad.”


US Puts Hamas Chief Haniyeh On Terror Blacklist



US puts Hamas chief Haniyeh on terror blacklist

Treasury Department’s sanctions freeze any US-based assets terror leader may have and ban any US person or company from doing business with him

In this file photo taken on January 23, 2018 Hamas' leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech in Gaza City on January 23, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

In this file photo taken on January 23, 2018 Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech in Gaza City on January 23, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The United States on Wednesday put the head of Palestinian terror group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, on its terror blacklist and slapped sanctions on him. The 55-year-old Haniyeh was named head of Hamas in May 2017.

“Haniyeh has close links with Hamas’s military wing and has been a proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians,” the State Department said in a statement. “He has reportedly been involved in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. Hamas has been responsible for an estimated 17 American lives killed in terrorist attacks.”

Haniyeh is now on the US Treasury sanctions blacklist, which freezes any US-based assets he may have and bans any US person or company from doing business with him.

Hamas, which is sworn to destroy Israel and has controlled the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, has been on the US terror blacklist since 1997.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) and Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar wave during a rally marking the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Islamist terror movement, in Gaza City, on December 14, 2017. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

The US government also slapped sanctions on Harakat al-Sabireen — a small Gazan terror group that splintered away from the Islamic Jihad and, like Hamas, is close to Iran — and two other groups active in Egypt: Liwa al-Thawra and HASM.

“These designations target key terrorist groups and leaders — including two sponsored and directed by Iran — who are threatening the stability of the Middle East, undermining the peace process, and attacking our allies Egypt and Israel,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

“Today’s actions are an important step in denying them the resources they need to plan and carry out their terrorist activities.”

The US decision to put Haniyeh on its terror blacklist will not affect Hamas’s activities, the movement said Wednesday. “It is a failed attempt to pressure the resistance,” said a statement from the group. “This decision will not deter us from continuing the resistance option to expel the occupation.”

Israel’s Intelligence Minister Israel Katz welcomed the decision.

“I wish to congratulate the US on the rightous [sic] decision to designate Ismail Haniyeh as a global terrorist,” Katz tweeted. “This man is one of the main reasons the citizens of the Gaza strip are suffering since the terror organization Hamas took power of the Strip in 2007.”

Haniyeh replaced Khaled Mashaal, who now lives in Doha in exile, atop the Hamas movement. Unlike Mashaal, Haniyeh will remain in the Gaza Strip.

Also known as Abu Abed, Haniyeh was born in Gaza’s Shati refugee camp in January 1963 to parents who fled when Israel was created in 1948.

Hamas has frequently highlighted his modest background as a counterpoint to officials within Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, who have been accused of being corrupt and too easily compliant with Israel or the United States.

After US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December, Haniyeh voiced rage over the decision, saying it “crosses every red line,” and called for a new intifada, or uprising.

“This Zionist policy supported by the US cannot be confronted unless we ignite a new intifada,” he said.


Only Believers Of Islam Can Stop Islamic Terrorism: Nothing Else Can



The news today out of Kabul Afghanistan is both sad and sickening. The Islamic murder group who calls themselves the Taliban had one of their members drive an ambulance into a highly populated facility that was loaded with explosives and blew himself up. The saddest part is that this child of Satan has killed at least 95 innocent people along with himself. Just in this past week in Afghanistan there was an attack on a hotel that left 22 people dead, this attack was claimed by another Islamic murder group that call themselves ISIS. There was even an attack on an NGO group called Save The Children, I am not sure of the death toll in that attack nor which Demonic group took ‘credit’ for it.


According to the CIA Fact Book the U.S. government has spent over 2 Trillion American tax payer dollars in Afghanistan since 2001, my question is, for what? Have the American soldiers along with other Allied soldiers killed thousands of Taliban fighters plus some from other groups fighters, yes. Have many hundreds of ‘Western’ soldiers been killed and wounded, yes. Have at least a few thousand innocent civilians been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, yes. Yet for many years, including right up till now, the government of Afghanistan and the U.S. Government has been trying to have talks with the Taliban to create a ‘shared government’. A government where leaders of the Taliban will join with the civilian Government to mesh into one and form as one. The U.S. Government has been trying to broker this deal for at least ten years now, folks, the whole concept is insane. These attempts are no more than an attempt at ‘saving face’ for the U.S. Government via giving them a ‘way out’ of this quagmire. The Taliban, if they really had an interest in ‘sharing’ governance of Afghanistan they could have done this years ago. The current Leaders of the Civilian government know very well that if the Taliban is welcomed in they will quickly turn on the civilians and murder them all. Another question I have to bring up is about that 2 trillion dollars, where did it all go? Two trillion dollars could have totally and completely rebuilt the entire infrastructure of the U.S., so, where has all of that money gone? To me it seems that the majority has gone toward military actions, planes, tanks, bombs, soldiers and the such. I have heard reports several times that about 90% of the civilians in Afghanistan don’t even have one change of clothes, why folks? If we wanted to win the hearts of the civilians of the country we should have invested a whole lot of that money in their infrastructure, making sure they all had electricity, clean water, sanitation, a reliable food chain and jobs.


Whether the location is Afghanistan, Sudan, Nigeria, Libya or the Gaza Strip it is my belief that there is only one way that the world will ever be rid of ‘Islamic Terrorism’ and that is if the believers of Islam shut it down themselves. I know it has been the case for about 1,400 years that the Islamic faith has had a lot of infighting between their two main factions, the Sunni’s and the Shiite’s and that during this 1,400 years there have probably been as many or more Muslim and Persian people killed as there have been of Westerners killed. One would think that at some point this madness would stop but there appears to be no end of the innocent bloodshed being stopped. It is my belief that there is only one way that there can ever be an end to this madness and that is if the believers of Islam themselves decide that they have had enough. The ‘innocent’ family members, if they are indeed innocent must turn in their own family members and their own Iman if they are preaching hate and violence. Groups like President Abbas of the PLO and the leaders of Hamas must stop giving prize money to the families of ‘Martyr’s’ who kill other people. This theology is morally sick, the people of Islam themselves must shut it down because the Western World can not do it on their own. Until the rest of the world sees that the extreme mass majority of the Islamic believers are doing exactly this, how can the rest of the world believe that the extreme mass majority of Islamic believers are not complicit in this evil?




(Theology) Everything Can Be A God



In your mind, in your opinion, is Jesus Christ ‘a God’? Outside of Christianity the prevailing answer to that question, is no, He is not. For the first three to four hundred years after the death of Jesus even the Churches heavily debated that question. Within the other two Palestine major religions, Judaism and Islam, Jesus is usually referred to as a ‘misguided’ Prophet. Even though Jesus was born and raised as a Jew His own people, then and now, do not believe that He was/is the Christ, the Messiah, the Promised One. For the purpose of trying to make a point in this commentary today I am going to ask you a question that will seem quite odd to most of you, please bare with me as you will understand more clearly as the article continues. The question is, if I carve a piece of wood to make it look like a human and then I decide to call this piece of wood Jesus Christ, is it really Jesus Christ? Hopefully all of you would say, well of course not, wouldn’t you? If I see a beautiful waterfall or a beautiful rock formation and I say look, this is Jesus Christ, does it make either of them really be Jesus Christ? I sure hope you said no. If I decided to start-up a new Church and I tell everyone that I am Jesus Christ, even if I believed it my self, would that make it be so?


Throughout the Bible there are a few different names for God and when you get into not just the different English translations but into various language translations such as Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, German and so on, you will find many names for God the Father and for God the Son. For the English speakers who wish to get uppity you need to understand that in the original Hebrew and Greek there was no letter ‘J’. That means there is no such word as Jehovah or Jesus in the original Scriptures . In the Hebrew the name for ‘the Father’ is Yahweh and the name for ‘the Son’ is Yeshiva. Only after these names were ‘washed’ through several other languages did we come up with the English names of Jehovah and Jesus.


If you are a person who is a believer in Buddhism and you are holding a carving of ‘the Buddha’ in your hand and you say that this is Buddha my God, does it make it so? If you are a believer of Hinduism and you are holding one of the many different Hindu Gods in your hand and you say this is a Hindu God, does it make it so? If you are a Christian and you bow down to and worship some statue, is that statue really God? If not, then why are you bowing down to it? If you use a non-English name for Jesus, say Russian, it is Иисус. 


What I am getting at is we humans have many names for what we call God and in many religions they have many Deity’s (Gods). I know that many of my ancestors came from Norway so I am quite sure that in the early times of my ‘family tree’ I had relatives who bowed down to the Viking Gods. So with that in thought if Odin was their main God and they made a carving and said this is Odin and bowed down to it, was it really Odin? The Ancient Egyptians worshiped the ‘Gods of the underworld’, folks were they really Gods? We are told in Old Testament and New that mankind has bowed down to dumb rocks and pieces of wood and most of them were nothing but dumb rocks and pieces of wood that could do nothing, but some of them were Demons. If you are worshiping ‘Gods’ of the ‘underworld’ you need to get a grip on reality.


Within the Old Testament one of the earliest names for God is ‘Elohim’, by my understanding I have been told from a couple of trusted sources that in the ancient Arabic language for Elohim is the name Allah. So technically then the name Allah is one of the names for God, just not an English name. Now the climax of this article, just because you or I decide to use the name Allah for God, does that automatically mean that because we call something ‘God’ or ‘Allah’ does that make that object really be God? Even Jesus said that because Satan and His Angels used to be Angels of Light that they can portray themselves as Angels of Light to this day. Jesus told us that Satan and His Angels are such good liars/deceivers that they will be able to even deceive some of the Saints.


I know that I have many readers who are believers in the Islamic faith and I also know that many get very upset if anyone says that they are not worshiping the one true God, Allah. Folks, this is quite understandable, Christians don’t like to be told that we aren’t really worshiping God, just as folks who believe in other religions feel the same way. What I am saying to our Islamic brothers and sisters isn’t that the name Allah isn’t a name for God, what I am saying is that the Deity that they are worshiping isn’t really God (Allah), that they have been deceived. The believers of Islam do not believe that the ‘people of the Book’ (Jews and Christians) are worshiping the one true God but when those same table are turned and we or anyone else says the same to them you end up with the ‘Islamic Terrorism’ that the world sees today. In the name of God, Jehovah, Jesus, Yahweh, Elohim, Allah, Buddha or any Hindu God, no one spills the blood of anyone. To do so is simply murder, no one is allowed to be an aggressor toward another. If ‘our God’ and His Scriptures are telling its followers to commit violence, then that Deity is not God, that Deity is a Devil! The reason the title says ‘everything can be a God’ is simple, if you or I worship it, no matter what ‘it’ is, diamonds, gold, money, whatever, we have made this item our ‘God’.


The U.S. Military Being In Syria Is An Illegal Act Of War


This commentary today is simply my belief’s on the issue of the U.S. still having troops, combat or otherwise within the borders of the sovereign State of Syria. When our mission there was to destroy the illegal Caliphate of ISIS we had a defined reason and mission for being inside the borders of Syria. Since ISIS is now just another run of the mill terror group without a ‘State’ foothold our ‘mission’ there is done. The reason I say that we have no right to be there is because the legitimate government of Syria under its President Mr. Assad has said several times that we are not welcome there and that he wants us out of their country, now.


Just because we don’t like the Leader of a country this is not a legal reason for our government leaders to conduct military operations in that country. The last I heard the U.S. is conducting military operations in about 30 countries, why isn’t this enough for the military hawks in our government? As long as the government of these 30 or so countries have asked us in, asked us for help against honest to goodness terrorists, then we have a right to be there, if we so choose to help them. But, in a case like Syria where the government does not want us there and has said that they will attack any of our troops that are on their soil, we have no legal right to be there!


What could possibly be the reasoning behind our government keeping troops in Syria? Is our military and our government trying to start a direct war with Syria? Yet a bigger question would be, is our government trying to start not just a direct war with Syria but a proxy war with Iran and with Russia? If this is the case folks there is no doubt that we will end up being in a direct shooting war with Syria, Iran and Russia, is this really what we the people of the U.S.want? I really don’t think so. About the only member of President Trumps Cabinet that I have been backing so far is our Secretary of State Rex Tillerson but about two days ago he made the statement that we (the U.S.) need to be in Syria ‘long term’. I am not such a fan of his now folks.


Here in the United States if a country, any country, came inside our borders and started shooting and bombing any of our citizens we would declare War on that country. This would be the case even if our direct neighbors like Canada or Mexico attacked any group of our people whether they be Hispanic, Indian, Oriental, Black or White, we would actively repel them, neighbors or not. Why does our government feel that they have any right to be in Syria without the blessings of the Syrian government? Folks, we don’t have any right to be there, none! I do not like the Leadership of Syria nor the Supreme Leader of Iran nor his flunkies but they are a reality that we have no legal right to depose. It is a shame that we have the relations that we now have with President Putin and Russia and it appears that as long as President Putin is in charge there we will not be able to have the friendship between our Nations that I wish we had. No matter what you or I like or think, by the laws of our Country it is illegal for us to have any troops inside the borders of Syria. Without a Congress approved declaration of War it is also illegal for the U.S. Military to fire any missiles into the sovereign Nation of Syria. We need to get out right now before we blow this up into a World War.

IDF Destroys Another Hamas Attack Tunnel




IDF destroys Hamas attack tunnel that penetrated Israel and Egypt

Israeli jets strike in southern Gaza; army denies Palestinian claims the cross-border passage — the third destroyed by Israel in three months — was used for smuggling

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday said it had destroyed a border-crossing Hamas attack tunnel, the third in recent months, that penetrated hundreds of meters into both Israeli and Egyptian territory from the Gaza Strip, in an airstrike in southern Gaza on Saturday night.

“We completed the destruction of a third terror tunnel,” spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters early Sunday morning, denying claims made by Hamas that it was a smuggling tunnel.

The tunnel, which was constructed differently from most tunnels in Gaza, began in the city of Rafah and crossed into Israel under the Kerem Shalom Crossing, through which hundreds of trucks ordinarily cross into the coastal enclave with goods from Israel each day, he said.

“We understand this tunnel belongs to Hamas,” Conricus added, saying the military believed the terror group saw it as a “significant asset.”

That assessment came from the fact that the tunnel ran underneath the Gaza crossing, which was kept closed on Sunday, as well as below the gas and diesel pipelines into the Strip and a nearby IDF post, he said.

An attack tunnel that was bombed by Israeli jets on January 13, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

“This is a severe breach of Israel’s sovereignty, a serious threat to Israeli civilians and a threat to the humanitarian efforts that Israel allows for the people in the Gaza Strip,” the military said in a statement.

The army spokesperson credited the discovery and destruction of the tunnel to a combination of “cutting-edge” technology and intelligence.

It was the third tunnel entering Israeli territory destroyed by the IDF in under three months. On October 30, the army blew up an attack tunnel that belonged to the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, in the process killing 12 members of the organization, along with two Hamas operatives. On December 10, the military demolished a second tunnel, this one controlled by Hamas.

However, in both of those cases, the tunnels were destroyed from inside Israeli territory, unlike the one on Saturday night, which was hit from inside Gaza by Israeli jets, Conricus said.

“If you do something once, it’s a chance; if you do something twice, it’s a coincidence; if you do something three times, there’s a method,” he said, hinting at further tunnel demolitions to come.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot made the destruction of Palestinian terror groups’ attack tunnel a top priority for the military, following the 2014 Gaza war, which saw extensive use of tunnels by the Hamas terrorist group.

Over the past year, the army has been constructing an underground barrier around the Gaza Strip that is meant to block attempts to dig into Israel.

Military officials have noted that more tunnels will likely be destroyed in coming months as the barrier nears completion.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, left, visits an attack tunnel dug by a Palestinian terrorist group from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel during a visit to the area on December 20, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

Conricus’s comments marked the first time an army official has publicly acknowledged that the military has the capability to successfully strike tunnels from the air, though others have alluded to it in the past.

Last week, the IDF also struck what many assumed to be a tunnel in the Gaza Strip, following a series of mortar attacks.

In its statement at the time, the army referred to the target of the attack on January 4 as “significant terror infrastructure.”

According to official Palestinian media, that “infrastructure” was farmland in the southern Gaza Strip, prompting many to assume that it was, in fact, a tunnel beneath the field, though not necessarily one that crossed into Israeli territory.

The message to the leaders of Gaza and its citizens is clear — invest in the sanctity of life and not in [digging your own] catacombs

On Twitter, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the IDF’s “professional and accurate” Saturday night airstrike.

“The destruction of the attack tunnel network is a key feature of our policy of consistently striking Hamas’s strategic capabilities,” Liberman wrote Sunday morning. “The message to the leaders of Gaza and its citizens is clear — invest in the sanctity of life and not in [digging your own] catacombs.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, before taking off for an official visit to India, threatened Hamas with “even greater force” following the Saturday night strike.

“This evening the IDF attacked Hamas’s central terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip,” he said. “There are those who have said the IDF just targeted sand dunes — this is incorrect. Hamas must understand that we will not tolerate the continuation of these attacks and will respond with even greater force.”

The army denied the claim made by Hamas late Saturday night that the Israeli jets had targeted a smuggling tunnel between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

“We know it’s a terror tunnel because it passes under different strategic assets,” Conricus said, referring to its proximity to the fuel pipelines into Gaza, the Kerem Shalom Crossing and a military installation nearby.

The army spokesperson also denied earlier reports in Hebrew media that the jets had targeted a shipment of long-range missiles into Gaza.

According to Conricus, the tunnel was dug in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, some 900 meters from Israel, and extended 180 meters into Israeli territory.

On the other end, it also extended hundreds of meters into Egypt, which could have allowed fighters in Gaza to attack Israeli positions from the Sinai Peninsula, he said.

Asked if the tunnel could have functioned as both a smuggling and attack tunnel, the army spokesperson responded, “It could have, but we deal with the infrastructure.”

As the tunnel entered Egyptian territory, the army was in contact with Cairo about its destruction, Conricus said, but would not elaborate on the extent of the cooperation.

The tunnel’s design was out of the ordinary, not matching the size of some larger tunnels and lacking the domed roof of smaller attack tunnels.

The strike came shortly after the military announced it would not be opening the Kerem Shalom Crossing into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, following a “situational assessment.”

UN trucks carrying building materials for projects funded by UNRWA arrive in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after crossing the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing on December 10, 2013. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

It is the second time Kerem Shalom has been closed in under a month.

Israel shut down the crossing on December 14 following multiple rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, along with Erez Crossing, through which people enter and exit the Strip. Erez reopened a day later, and Kerem Shalom was reopened on December 17.

On Friday, approximately 1,000 Palestinians took part in violent demonstrations in four locations along the security fence surrounding Gaza, rolling burning tires and throwing rocks at the barrier and the soldiers on the other side, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

In response, “troops fired live rounds selectively toward three main instigators, who posed a threat to IDF soldiers and the security fence,” the army said.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said dozens of Palestinians were injured by live fire, rubber bullets and tear gas during the riots.

On Saturday, the Defense Ministry’s chief liaison to the Palestinians warned residents of the Gaza Strip that the Hamas terror organization was using them in its quest for violence against Israel.

“Hamas terrorists send young people to riot at the [Gaza border]… while hiding behind them and claiming that these riots are spontaneous and peaceful,” Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), said on Facebook.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.


Frustration boils into calls for revenge at funeral of slain Rabbi



Frustration boils into calls for revenge at funeral of slain Rabbi

Mourners for Raziel Shevach at Havat Gilad outpost heckle Naftali Bennett in middle of his eulogy, urge aggressive action against Palestinians

Friends and family attend the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, in the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad on January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Friends and family attend the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, in the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad on January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

HAVAT GILAD, West Bank — Irate and mournful, hundreds of mourners attended the Wednesday funeral of a rabbi who was slain by terrorists in a drive-by shooting attack in the northern West Bank, eulogizing the father of six and calling for revenge.

A large group of mourners shouted down Education Minister Naftali Bennett as he concluded his eulogy for Raziel Shevach at the Havat Gilad outpost, where the victim lived.

As dozens of hecklers chanted “revenge,” Bennett attempted to calm the crowd by saying that “the only revenge is to keep building.”

Not appeased, the chants only grew louder, with one yelling that the minister, the head of the Jewish Home party, was “all talk.”

“Your name should be blotted out,” one mourner yelled out, using a Hebrew phrase usually reserved for especially villainous figures.

The funeral took place at the illegal outpost south of Nablus, a tiny grouping of caravans housing some 40 families, in a hastily prepared cemetery, with Shevach becoming the first person to be buried there.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Raziel Shevach will be the first person laid to rest in the Havat Gilad outpost. There’s no cemetery here so construction workers are hustling up to the last minute before the funeral to clear the area in time for burial. This whole area was bushes and weeds 24 hrs ago

“Raziel asked that if something were ever to happen to him that he would be buried at Havat Gilad,” his wife Yael said in a statement earlier Wednesday.

Shevach, 35, was killed Tuesday night in a drive-by shooting attack as he drove on a main highway south of Nablus. The army launched a large-scale search for his killer, but no arrests have been announced.

Like nearly every one of the eulogizers, Bennett called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to increase construction in the West Bank and legalize the outpost in response to Shevach’s murder.

“You, the residents of Havat Gilad are the real heroes,” the minister said earlier in his eulogy. “Our enemies’ terror stems from the hope that if they kill one more Jew or throw one more rock, that we will break in the end,” he asserted. “But we extinguish that hope by building families and establishing new communities on our land.”

Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, a settler leader, told mourners it was time for Netanyahu to revise his settlement polices so that “not every meter of building will be a debate.”

“Mr. Prime Minister, come here and look at this family in the eyes and you’ll see what you have to do,” Levanon told the hundreds in attendance.

Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan was much more forceful. “Rabbi Raziel did not die from cancer, he died because he was a Jew living in Israel,” he said, holding back tears.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

“I call, from here, on the members of the government. We have the best army in the world. We demand that the army bring the murderers their day of vengeance. We must restore our national honor,” Dagan added emphatically.

Shevach’s brother Bar’el spoke at length of his brother’s “holiness,” praising him at length for his devotion to Judaism as well as his decision to become a volunteer medic. “You were so dedicated to making this world a better place,” he said.

Between sobs at the end of his eulogy, Bar’el called on God “to kick the Gentiles out of our land. Don’t put up checkpoints; kick them out.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett attends the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, in the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad on January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Havat Gilad was established in 2002 in memory of Gilad Zar, security coordinator of the Shomron Regional Council, who was shot dead in an attack a year earlier.

Construction workers labored from Tuesday evening up to minutes before the funeral to clear an area near the outpost’s entrance in time for the burial.

Earlier Wednesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that he had ordered his office to examine the possibility of legalizing the outpost.


Israel has stopped hijacked planes crashing into European cities



Netanyahu hints Israel has stopped hijacked planes crashing into European cities

PM tells NATO ambassadors that Israeli intel has thwarted ‘several dozen major terrorist attacks,’ some involving civil aviation

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a joint press conference with NATO ambassadors to Israel at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, January 9, 2018 (Hadas Parushl/Flash90)

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a joint press conference with NATO ambassadors to Israel at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, January 9, 2018 (Hadas Parushl/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday indicated that Israel has prevented hijacked airplanes from crashing into European cities.

“We have, through our intelligence services, provided information that has stopped several dozen major terrorist attacks, many of them in European countries,” he told foreign diplomats in Jerusalem.

“Some of these could have been mass attacks, of the worst kind that you have experienced on the soil of Europe and even worse, because they involve civil aviation. Israel has prevented that, and thereby helped save many European lives,” Netanyahu said, apparently referring to plane hijackings.

He did not provide specific details about the attacks Israel helped prevent. The Prime Minister’s Office declined to elaborate.

At a meeting of Israel-based ambassadors to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Netanyahu said Jerusalem contributes to the security of every single member of the Western defense alliance, in that it fights both Sunni and Shiite strands of radical Islam.

Injured people are evacuated from the scene of a terrorist attack on a mosque in Bir al-Abd in the northern Sinai Peninsula of Egypt on November 24, 2017. (AP Photo)

Besides fighting Islamic State terrorism aimed at European cities, Israel is also preventing the group from creating a second stronghold in Egypt, he said.

“ISIS is being destroyed in Iraq and Syria, but it is trying to establish an alternative territorial base in the Sinai. Israel is contributing to preventing that in myriad ways,” Netanyahu said. “In general, I would say that Israel is the most powerful indigenous force in the Middle East that fights radical Islam.”

Israel further helps NATO by fighting Iran, the dominant Shiite power, the prime minister went on. The Jewish state does not only seek to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons, it is also “absolutely committed to preventing Iran from establishing a military base in Syria. And we back our words with action,” he added, likely hinting at various airstrikes on weapon convoys and factories allegedly carried out by Israel.

Furthermore, Iran plans to import 100,000 Shiite fighters to Syria as part of its quest to dominate and eventually “conquer” the Middle East, he charged.

Israeli satellite images show results of an airstrike attributed to the IDF on a Syrian military weapons development base on September 7, 2017. (ImageSat International)

If Tehran were successful in its efforts, radical Sunni and Shiite forces would clash in Syria, sending millions of refugees to European shores, the prime minister warned.

“Where will the spillover [of a Sunni-Shiite clash in Syria] happen? In Europe. Where will the human flow go? To Europe. Who’s preventing that right now? Israel? Right now, Israel alone. But I maintain that it’s a common interest that we have,” he told the NATO ambassadors during the public part of the event.

Israel and NATO have cooperated on security matters for decades but recently upgraded their ties significantly. Last year, Israel opened its first office at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Israeli officials have repeatedly said that the Jewish state opposes the presence of Iran and its proxies, notably Hezbollah, in southern Syria and Lebanon.

Israel has been negotiating with the United States and Russia, the main brokers in Syria, to keep Iran-backed Shiite militias and the Hezbollah terrorist group away from the border.

Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and others have all said that Israel’s policy is to target shipments of advanced weaponry, including accurate long-range missiles, that are heading to or in the possession of Hezbollah.

In late December, Assad’s troops, accompanied by Iranian-backed fighters, recaptured the Syrian Golan from rebels, allowing President Bashar Assad to reassert control over a small portion of the area adjacent to the Israeli border. Still, much of the area along the border, around the city of Quneitra, remains under rebel control.

Last week, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said the most serious immediate threat to Israel was posed by Hezbollah, followed by other jihadist groups supported by Tehran positioned on the Syrian border.

Describing Iran as a “multidimensional threat,” the army chief said the most worrying aspect is the Islamic Republic’s desire to obtain nuclear capabilities, followed by its efforts to achieve hegemony in the region.