As anniversaries loom, Palestinian ‘lone wolf’ attacks likely to gain traction



As anniversaries loom, Palestinian ‘lone wolf’ attacks likely to gain traction

Upcoming Land Day and Nakba Day protests set stage for violence engineered by Hamas from Gaza and abroad

Avi Issacharoff
Palestinians wave Hamas flags as they celebrate the prisoner swap deal reached between Israel and Hamas in East Jerusalem. Oct 18, 2011.(Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

Palestinians wave Hamas flags as they celebrate the prisoner swap deal reached between Israel and Hamas in East Jerusalem. Oct 18, 2011.(Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

The data available to Israel’s security establishment regarding the thwarting of so-called Palestinian “lone wolf attacks” is telling.

In 2017 alone, more than 1,300 such attacks —  those without the support or operational backing of any terror group — were prevented. This marked a significant decline as compared to 2016, when more than 2,200 lone-wolf attacks were foiled.

But this year’s figures already show a persistent trend, with some 200 lone wolf attacks attempted in the past two months alone.

And while the data suggests the motivation among young Palestinians to carry out such attacks is on the decline, Friday’s attack demonstrated that it is still very much present, and liable to be lethal.

According to the Shin Bet security service, the interrogation of the car-rammer Ala Qabha along with other findings indicate it was a nationalistically motivated attack.

Israeli soldiers inspect a car at the scene where two Israeli soldiers were killed and another two were injured in a car-ramming terror attack near Mevo Dotan, in the West Bank, March 16, 2018. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

Qabha, who was released from Israeli prison just under a year ago, carried out the attack on the 100-day anniversary of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a day in which several Palestinian terror organizations — led by Hamas — sought to exact a price in blood.

Unfortunately, the coming months have no shortage of such anniversaries, and the motivation among Palestinians to carry out terror attacks will only increase.

At the end of this month, huge protests are being planned for “Land Day” under the theme of “processions of the great return,” which will likely feature Palestinians storming the West Bank security barrier as well as Israel’s border with Gaza.

These protests will be followed by similar events to commemorate Nakba (“Catastrophe”) Day — how Palestinians refer to Israel’s Independence Day — which falls around the same time as the holy month of Ramadan this year.

On top of all of these “festive” occasions, there are additional conditions in place that will surely increase motivation for attacks on the Palestinian side, especially among its youth: the lack of a diplomatic horizon, the dearth of hope, the leadership crisis on the Palestinian side, Israeli settlement construction, and the failure of the internal Palestinian reconciliation process.

Each of these conditions have been seen to amplify Palestinian despair.

Many times, however, this despair leads — as we have seen in recent years — to apathy. Accordingly, most West Bank Palestinians have largely remained in their homes, even during the most tense commemoration days.

On the other hand, this despair also motivates quite a few young Palestinians to want to carry out terror attacks: car-rammings, stabbings, shootings. And while obtaining the improvised weapons used in these attacks is not as easy as it used to be, there are still enough weapons in the West Bank to carry out shootings, without any terrorist organizational backing.

Hamas attempts to step up attacks

Along with these lone wolf attacks, one must add the organized effort — primarily from Hamas — to ignite the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority has maintained its security coordination with Israel and has continued to prevent a considerable amount of attacks.

PA security forces have taken a number of steps in recent years to prevent harm to Israelis, while simultaneously targeting sources of funding from Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, 22, head of the terror cell who shot dead Rabbi Raziel Shevach in the West Bank on January 9 (Twitter)

However, Hamas, along with other terror groups, has continued in their efforts to carry out more organized, “classic” terror attacks.

For this purpose, Hamas has been operating from two bridgeheads.

One from Gaza, where the ironically labeled “West Bank Headquarters” operates the group’s terror infrastructure east of the Green Line. The branch is made up largely of former security prisoners who were deported to Gaza after being freed in the swap for captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.

Ahmed Jarrar, the terrorist who murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevach near the Havat Gilad outpost in the northern West Bank in January, received financial assistance from this very headquarters.

The second branch, the “West Bank Office,” operates with an identical goal and is similarly run by former security prisoners released in the Shalit exchange. However, these past convicts were deported abroad and operate from capitals such as Istanbul.

Together, the two branches and the looming anniversaries create an unstable environment for the next few months in our region, to say the least.


State Department’s new undersecretary was in a Gaza tunnel when boss was fired



State Department’s new undersecretary was in a Gaza tunnel when boss was fired

Sidelined by Tillerson, whose firing caught her in a terror tunnel during a trip to Israel, Heather Nauert now finds herself nearly atop Foggy Bottom

Then-State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington on August 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Then-State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington on August 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — When the ax fell on US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, his spokeswoman was half a world away, a distance he and his inner circle preferred and enforced.

Now, it’s Tillerson who’s on his way out after his unceremonious firing by President Donald Trump, and Heather Nauert whose star is ascendant.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Nauert are among the few women in the Trump administration with high-profile voices on foreign policy. Only three State Department officials — all men — now outrank Nauert, a former Fox News anchor who declined comment for this story.

Nauert’s meteoric rise comes even though just a week ago she seemed not long for the job. Then Tillerson lost his.

US Foreign Secretary Rex Tillerson speaks during a joint press conference with Jordanian foreign minister in Amman on February 14, 2018.(AFP PHOTO / Khalil MAZRAAWI)

She was denied the kind of close access to the boss that all recent successful State Department press secretaries enjoyed. So Nauert tried to defend Trump’s top diplomat and explain his activities to reporters from around the world without being able to travel on any of Tillerson’s international trips or attend most of his Washington meetings.

Frustrated at being sidelined, Nauert almost quit several times. She had been telling associates she was ready to move on.

The moment that Trump canned Tillerson by tweet, Nauert was in a Hamas-built tunnel on the border near the Gaza Strip, on a tour organized by the Israeli military to show US officials the smuggling routes used by militants. Caught by surprise by the move back in Washington, Nauert and the rest of the delegation cut the tour short and returned to Jerusalem to deal with the crisis. Soon, Trump also fired the undersecretary of state who publicly defended Tillerson.

Palestinian terrorists from the Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, squat in a tunnel, used for ferrying rockets and mortars back and forth in preparation for the next conflict with Israel, as they take part in military training in the south of the Gaza Strip, on March 3, 2015. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

The president named Nauert to that suddenly vacant position, near the top of the hierarchy of American diplomacy.

Nauert told associates she was taken aback and recommended a colleague for the job. But when White House officials told her they wanted her, she accepted.

The new role gives Nauert responsibilities far beyond the regular news conferences she held in the briefing room. She is overseeing the public diplomacy in Washington and all of the roughly 275 overseas US embassies, consulates and other posts. She is in charge of the Global Engagement Center that fights extremist messaging from the Islamic State group and others. She can take a seat, if she wants, on the Broadcasting Board of Governors that steers government broadcast networks such as Voice of America.

Less than a year ago, Nauert wasn’t even in government.

Nauert, who was born in Illinois, was a breaking news anchor on Trump’s favorite television show, “Fox & Friends,” when she was tapped to be the face and voice of the administration’s foreign policy. With a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she had come to Fox from ABC News, where she was a general assignment reporter. She hadn’t specialized in foreign policy or international relations.

It was almost clear from the start that Nauert wasn’t Tillerson’s first choice.

She resisted the ex-oilman’s efforts to limit press access, reduce briefings and limit journalists allowed to travel with him. Tillerson had preferred Genevieve Wood at the conservative Heritage Foundation, according to several individuals familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss Tillerson’s personnel decisions.

When Nauert arrived at the State Department in April 2017, she found relations between Tillerson and the diplomatic press corps in crisis. No longer were there daily briefings that had been a State Department feature for decades. Journalists accustomed to traveling with Republican and Democratic secretaries for decades found they were blocked from Tillerson’s plane. Department spokespeople had no regular access to Tillerson or his top advisers.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington, August 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Shut out from the top, Nauert developed relationships with career diplomats. Barred from traveling with Tillerson, she embarked on her own overseas trips, visiting Bangladesh and Myanmar last year to see the plight of Rohingya Muslims, and then Israel, after a planned stop in Syria was scrapped. Limited to two briefings a week, she began hosting a program called “The Readout” on State Department social media outlets in which she interviewed senior officials about topics of the day.

All the while, she stayed in the good graces of the White House, even as Tillerson was increasingly on the outs. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described Nauert as “a team player” and “a strong asset for the administration.”

Sarah Sanders speaks during the daily briefing at the White House, on March 12, 2018, in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO)

And she didn’t shy from taking on foreign foes.

“The idea that Russia is calling for a so-called humanitarian corridor, I want to be clear, is a joke,” Nauert said at one recent briefing where she took Moscow to task for its actions in Syria, where it has used military power to support President Bashar Assad’s government.

Such comments have earned her the wrath of Kremlin officials and state-run media. Faced with pointed questioning by reporters from Russian news outlets at her briefings, Nauert often has lashed out, accusing them of working for their government.

“You’re from Russian TV, too. OK. So hey, enough said then. I’ll move on,” Nauert told a reporter last month after Russian President Vladimir Putin presented an animated film clip showing a missile headed toward the US

The comment sparked an intercontinental war-of-spokeswomen.

“If the StateDept dares to shun our journalists alongside with calling them Russian journalists one more time, we will carry our promise. We will create special seats for so called ‘US journalists,’” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova tweeted.

It didn’t end there.

First, the Russian Embassy in Washington congratulated Nauert “and, of course, all female employees” of the State Department on International Women’s Day. Nauert responded with gratitude and a dig, saying Moscow should use the day to “live up to its international commitments & stop bombing innocent men, women & children in #Syria.”


Hamas Praises The Murder Of Two Israeli Soldiers



Palestinian terror groups praise car-ramming attack that kills two soldiers

Factions say terror attack a response to ‘Zionist crimes’ and US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Israeli security forces and forensics are seen at the site where a Palestinian rammed a car into a group of Israeli soldiers near Mevo Dotan in the north of the West Bank on March 16, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ)

Israeli security forces and forensics are seen at the site where a Palestinian rammed a car into a group of Israeli soldiers near Mevo Dotan in the north of the West Bank on March 16, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ)

Several Palestinian terror groups and activists on Friday praised the “heroic” car-ramming attack in which two IDF solders were killed near Jenin, saying it was an “appropriate” response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

While no group claimed direct responsibility for the terror attack, it came after Palestinian groups had called for Friday to be a “day of rage,” in response to Trump’s December decision.

The Hamas terror group was the first to “welcome” the attack.

“This heroic and courageous operation underscores our people’s insistence on pursuing the path of resistance,” read a terse statement published by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Abdel Latif al-Qanua, a Hamas spokesperson, said that the “heroic operation underlines the vitality and continuity of the intifada, and our people’s rejection of the US decision on Jerusalem.”

Another Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that the attack was a “message” to those who have been calling on his terror group to lay down its weapons.

Israeli security forces and forensics experts inspect the destroyed vehicle that was used by a Palestinian terrorist in a car ramming attack on Israeli soldiers near West Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan on March 16, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

“This is a message to the effect that the weapons of the resistance are the uppermost,” he added. “It is also a message to the effect that there is no future for those who conduct security cooperation,” he said, referring to the cooperation between the Palestinian Authority forces in the West Bank and the IDF.

During ongoing reconciliation talks between Hamas and PA President Mahmoud Abas’ Fatah group, a key demand has been for Hamas to hand it’s weapons over to the control of the PA, a move Hamas has firmly rejected.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group said the attack was a response to  “Zionist terrorism.” The group called on Palestinians to carry out more attacks to “foil the Zionist-American plot to obliterate the Palestinian cause.”

Talal Abu Zarifeh, a senior representative of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of several PLO terror factions, said that the car-ramming attack was a “natural response to Israeli crimes” and a sign that the uprising was continuing.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, another PLO terror group, said that the attack had “trampled Trump’s decision on Jerusalem – 100 days since he announced it.” The attack proves that the Palestinians are alert and prepared to thwart this decision and any other scheme targeting our cause and existence,” the group added.

On Twitter, some Palestinians launched a hashtag called “The Jenin Operation,” where they heaped praise on the attacker, identified as Ala Qabha, 26.

يسلم البطن الي جابك
جنين ارفعي راسك بأبطالك


Some Palestinians also said they believed the attack came to avenge the killing of Ahmed Jarrar, the Hamas terrorist who killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach in the northern West Bank earlier this year. Jarrar, a resident of Jenin, was killed by IDF troops in early February.

The Palestinian Authority had not commented on the attack.

The IDF confirmed that the incident was a terror attack. It said the troops were hit while standing near a military guard post Friday afternoon. One of the victims was pronounced dead at the scene. A second died a short time later, after attempts to save his life failed.

The scene of a car-ramming attack in the West Bank on March 16, 2018 (Magen David Adom)

One of the injured soldiers suffered severe head trauma and was fighting for his life. A second soldier was in serious condition.

The driver, Qabha, 26, of the village of Barta’a in the northern West Bank, was injured and taken to hospital, where he will be questioned, the army said. A second Palestinian man was treated by the Palestinian Red Crescent medical service. It was not immediately clear how he was involved.


Haaretz reported that Qabha was released from Israeli prison in April of last year after completing a 17-month sentence, though there were no immediate details on his crime. According to Hadashot news he was incarcerated for security-related activities.

Palestinian media reported that military forces searched the Qabha family’s home in Barta’a and questioned family members following the attack. Qabha’s brother was arrested, and the Israeli work permits of several family members were revoked.

Meanwhile Qabha’s family claimed the incident was an accident and not an attack, with one relative telling Haaretz that the young man was a painter, and had been on his way home from Jenin after buying supplies. “He’s not politically affiliated and doesn’t belong to any organization,” he said.



The Matches Are Lit, The World Is Burning

The Matches Are Lit, The World Is Burning


What is it that we westerners do not get about what the rest of the world is experiencing around us? Do we really think that our children will live in a world that is safer than the world we grew up in? If you would, please lend me your ear for a few moments. Hopefully the things you read will help to broaden your understanding as to why I chose the title that I have for this conversation with you.


Do you remember the so-called “Arab Spring” of a few years ago? O what a beautiful thing this could have been for this region of the world plus the vibrations it could have caused around the world, this shaking off of dictators. But the people of the region have learned it seems that a military strong man is the only way to keep other religion based dictators from taking their place. Back during the first Gulf War than American President George H.W. Bush knew the importance of keeping the dictator in Iraq in power. It seems that his son George W when he took power of the Office had not learned at his dads feet, or, was it ego that made him make up a story so he could attack Iraq and remove Saddam? There are many American people who I have come across who believe that “we the people” are paying fat pensions to at least three international war criminals (President, V.P., Secretary of Defense). Criminal or not because of their actions the whole world is crawling with the Asps they helped unleash on all of humanity.


In this real world that hopefully the politicians will soon join us in, it does not matter if you are a republican, democrat, independent (like me), or none of the above. Hopefully soon partisan party politics can be shelved and they and the national media outlets can become more concerned about current imminent physical threats to our people. This threat is to all of our non-strict Muslim cultures, to their property, their religions, and their very lives. There are tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of fellow brothers and sisters who because of being misguided who simply want you to get off of the face of the earth, “their earth”. A life where only loyal followers of Allah will be allowed to live a non-slave life, if you are allowed to live at all, doesn’t that sound exciting? America our location on the globe no longer gives us an immunity from other continents griefs. When it comes to ideologies land or water give us very little protection any longer.


By mans laws here in the States any person can choose to be of any faith they wish, or of no faith system at all. Mans laws write in a few laws governing people’s physical safety though that should be a no brainer, besides what actual religion would condone attacking or killing other people? Then these laws of civil society for all must be enforced if a humane society itself is going to be able to exist, or it will be erased.


Within the religion of Islam are two main sects, the Sunni, and the Shiite. These two sects have existed on this planet for almost 1,400 years now, and it seems that they have hated each other right from their earliest roots 1,400 years ago. For the few year’s a large Sunni militia called ISIS by western media has murdered and plundered their way into power covering hundreds of miles of land belonging to two adjoining Shiite nations, Syria and Iraq. ISIS is like several other high-profile Sunni groups like Boko Haram, and al-Qaeda in that they want to bring strict Islamic law to the middle-east, then the world. Their difference by what we hear in the West is that ISIS is the most violent and most strict toward adherence to Islamic fundamentalist theology, Sunni theology.


By what I have heard and read from the media throughout the years is that within Islam the Sunni are about 80% and the Shiite the other 20% of the Islamic faith. So when you take into account the hatred between these two groups is it any wonder why the Mullahs in Iran want the ability to nuke other nations?They can say it is a defensive weapon though knowing very well that it is a preemptive strike weapon also. Then it comes down to a trust factor, or a stupidity factor, how much you are willing to trust their “Supreme Ruler”  and others just like him with the lives of everyone on earth?


For those of you who don’t already know it the word Islam by definition means submission, as in absolute submission to the will of Allah. I have another question for everyone, what kind of religion is it that tells its followers to kill everyone who will not obey? Why would anyone ever listen to a “prophet” who orders either worldwide conversion, or worldwide extermination? Here in the States we have as a nation been blessed, lucky, and just plain good at shutting down larger terror cells who wished to kill us and our families. But folks there are supposed to be at least 18 million Islamic believers inside our borders with us. If only 1% of this population is a true believer of Islamic teachings that equals 180,000 soldiers implanted waiting on their orders to kill as many infidels (non-believers) as they possibly can. America, when they strike, not if, what are you going to do? Are you going to fall apart and burn into ashes? Only time will tell, or, a person could simply read the play book on-line if you are not allowed a paper copy, it’s called the Bible! For those who don’t understand it, the end times are spelled out very well in its last book, the book of Revelation. The human race has a simple choice of living and possibly dying for the winner or, living for a short time but in slavery to the biggest loser in the history of all eternity.


The matches are lit, for now several large Islamic hate groups are fighting each other all over the Middle-East in an attempt to kill each other. If all of those efforts to kill each other were being directed at western targets as they soon will be, what then? If the two main Islamic factions were to quit fighting among themselves they would then join forces in their hatred for everything and everyone that is not Islamic. Every nation, every people on earth, you, your culture, your religion, your country, you are currently being measured for bagging. America (and every other nation on earth), folks, life is about to change more rapidly toward the negative than any sane person could ever want. The question is simple, are we going to fold as a culture, and as a Nation, when more horrible things start happening on our soil? By these horrible things I do mean markets and grocery stores being blown up, bridges blowing up, churches being shot up and our school children being massacred live on CNN? This is the reality that the whole world is facing, we as a people must all decide how we are going to react to this reality when it comes busting into our own homes, because folks, it is coming, soon!



Israel is 11th happiest nation in the world; US slides to 18th



Israel is 11th happiest nation in the world; US slides to 18th

Jewish state maintains its high ranking on list of 156 countries for fifth successive year, but gets less praise for attitude to migrants; Finland tops list, PA is at 104

People watch the annual Air Force flyover on Israel's 69th Independence Day in Jerusalem on May 2, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

People watch the annual Air Force flyover on Israel’s 69th Independence Day in Jerusalem on May 2, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel has retained its spot as the 11th happiest country in the world for the fifth year running, according to the United Nations’ annual “World Happiness Report,” published Wednesday.

The “Palestinian Territories” came in 104th place, Lebanon in 88th, Jordan in 90th and Syria in 150th in the listing of 156 countries.

The report, which also for the first time evaluated 117 countries by the happiness and well-being of their immigrants, notes that Jews who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union have much better lives than before they immigrated, even though they still have problems. It ranks Israel 12th on its list for “happiness for the foreign born.”

However, it also places Israel, which turns 70 in May, among the countries that are less tolerant of migrants, and that do not accept migrants openly.

Israel’s overall No. 11 position was helped by its health system; the report placed the Jewish state in sixth position for improvement in life expectancy, after Japan, Iceland, Italy, Switzerland and Canada.

World Happiness Index 2018 (World Happiness Report)

In the US, by contrast, life expectancy was 4.3 lower than the average of these top five countries, and that gap “likely widened further in 2016 in view of the absolute decline in US life expectancy.”

On tolerance towards newcomers, the document found that while the least accepting countries were those in Europe that have been directly affected by the recent migrant crisis, four were in the Middle East and North Africa — among them Israel, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. The others were in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand and Mongolia.

Surveying 156 countries on the basis of factors such as citizens’ freedom, gross domestic product, expenditure on health and lack of corruption, the annual survey placed Scandinavian countries at the top. Fans of skiing, saunas and Santa Claus would not be surprised to hear Finland is the happiest place to live.

A child looks at a large snowman in Santa Claus Village, around 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of Rovaniemi in Finland on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/James Brooks)

Europe’s Nordic nations, none particularly diverse, have dominated the index since it first was produced in 2012. In reaching No. 1, Finland nudged neighboring Norway into second place.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia. The United States fell to 18th place from 14th last year, and the UK was at 19.

Relatively homogenous, Finland has about 300,000 foreigners and residents with foreign roots, out of its 5.5 million people. Its largest immigrant groups come from other European nations, but there also are communities from Afghanistan, China, Iraq and Somalia.

John Helliwell, a co-editor of the World Happiness Report and professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia, noted all the top-10 nations scored highest in overall happiness and the happiness of immigrants. He said a society’s happiness seems contagious.

“The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born,” Helliwell said. “Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose.”

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute, said the five Nordic countries that reliably rank high in the index “are doing something right in terms of creating good conditions for good lives,” something newcomers have noticed.

He said the happiness revealed in the survey derives from healthy amounts of both personal freedom and social security that outweigh residents having to pay “some of the highest taxes in the world.”

“Briefly put, (Nordic countries) are good at converting wealth into well-being,” Wiking said. The finding on the happiness of immigrants “shows the conditions that we live under matter greatly to our quality of life, that happiness is not only a matter of choice.”

The United States was 11th in the first index and has never been in the Top 10. To explain its fall to 18th, the report’s authors cited several factors.

“The US is in the midst of a complex and worsening public health crisis, involving epidemics of obesity, opioid addiction, and major depressive disorder that are all remarkable by global standards,” the report said.

It added that the “sociopolitical system” in the United States produces more income inequality — a major contributing factor to unhappiness — than other countries with comparatively high incomes.

The United States also has seen declining “trust, generosity and social support, and those are some of the factors that explain why some countries are happier than others,” Wiking said.

On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed to Israel’s consistently high scores on the global Happiness Index as evidence that Israelis, particularly young Israelis, were aware of his contributions to the country.

Speaking to Fox News talk-radio host Mark Levin during an official trip to the US, Netanyahu — embroiled in a series of corruption investigations — said, “And people say, well, ‘How can that be? Must be a fluke,’ but [Israel’s ranking] keeps going up and they say, ‘How can it be? It’s a country in this horrible neighborhood, you’ve got terrorism, you’ve got radical Islam, you’ve got challenges,’ but it comes up ahead of most countries in the world,” said Netanyahu.

“They say, ‘Yeah, but that’s the old timers, they are already fixed, their lives are okay, but that’s the old people, what about the young people? You know where they [the youth] come up [on the index]? Number five! Which means they have a real confidence in the future, and that’s because I think they appreciate and… I know that’s what drives me and animates me: How to ensure that the Jewish state has a permanent future of security and prosperity… and peace if we can get it. The people of Israel I think do identify that.

“So the answer is I think they do understand. All of them? No. Most of them, yes.”


Royal Burial in Ancient Canaan May Shed Light on Biblical City



View of the excavations of the ancient city of Megiddo (Unesco World Heritage List, 2005), Israel. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)

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Royal Burial in Ancient Canaan May Shed Light on Biblical City

An undisturbed elite tomb discovered in ancient Armageddon has the promise of unlocking secrets.

An untouched 3,600-year-old burial chamber in the ancient Canaanite city-state of Megiddo has stunned archaeologists. Not only is there an array of wealth in the tomb, but there is also a huge potential that the finding may provide insight into the royal dynasty that ruled this powerful center before its conquest by Egypt in the early 15th century B.C. The ancient city of Megiddo — located 19 miles south of Haifa in what is today northern Israel — dominated a strategic pass on major international military and trade routes for nearly five millennia. It has been the site of scientific investigation for 115 years. The most recent international expedition, under the direction of Israel Finkelstein and Mario Martin of Tel Aviv University and Matthew Adams of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeology, has been conducting archaeological excavations there since 1994. The most recent finding started as a mystery when archaeologists began to notice cracks in the surface of an excavation area. They ended up finding a burial chamber with the undisturbed remains of three individuals, all wearing jewelry. The rich adornment of the tomb’s inhabitants appears to indicate a complex and highly stratified society, in which wealthy and powerful people were elevated above most of Megiddo’s society. Archaeologists realized that in addition to the three individual burials, other human remains had been interred at an earlier point. Currently, a broad DNA test is being carried out on the individuals unearthed at Megiddo. The results could reveal for the first time whether the “common” inhabitants of the Canaanite city-state were of the same background as the elite.

Read the full story at National Geographic


Hamas Fails In An Attempt To Assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister



Palestinian Authority Blames Hamas for Failed Assassination Attempt against PM

Tuesday, 13 March, 2018 – 10:00
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza City. (Reuters file photo)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The Palestinian Authority (PA) blamed on Tuesday Hamas for a failed assassination attempt in Gaza against Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

The official, on a rare visit to Gaza, survived a bombing that targeted his convoy.

Three of the vehicles in Hamdallah’s convoy were damaged, their windows blown out. One had signs of blood on the door.

He survived unharmed and delivered a speech at the inauguration of a waste treatment plant in the Gaza Strip, live TV footage showed. He confirmed in the address that three cars were damaged.

He declared that the attack will “not deter us from seeking to end the bitter split. We will still come to Gaza.”

The PA said it held the Gaza’s dominant Hamas group responsible for the attack, stopping short of directly accusing it of carrying out the assault, but suggesting it had failed to provide adequate security.

“The Palestinian Presidency holds Hamas responsible for the cowardly targeting of the Prime Minister’s convoy in Gaza,” the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Hamas has since condemned the attack.

Gaza’s Hamas-run interior ministry said the explosion hit as the prime minister’s convoy passed near the northern town of Beit Hanoun. No one was injured and security services had begun an investigation, ministry spokesman Eyad Al-Bozom said.

The prime minister is based in the occupied West Bank and traveled overland, via Israel, to the Gaza Strip. Police said the explosion came shortly after Hamdallah’s convoy passed by, and one witness said it appeared two cars at the end of motorcade sustained damage.

Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s PA are still divided over how to implement an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal, signed in late 2017.

“The attack against the government of consensus is an attack against the unity of the Palestinian people,” said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Abbas.

The rival Palestinian factions have been trying to reconcile since 2007 when Hamas seized control of Gaza from Fatah forces and have suffered several setbacks in their efforts since. The takeover left the Palestinians with two rival governments, Hamas in Gaza and the Western-backed PA governing autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

In November, Hamas handed over control of Gaza’s border crossings to the PA. It was the first tangible concession in years of Egyptian-brokered reconciliation talks. But negotiations have bogged down since then.

Hamdallah’s visit comes amid a time of crisis in Gaza. On Tuesday, the White House is hosting a special meeting to discuss Gaza’s devastated economy.

Hamas denies it built tunnel under UN schools in Gaza



Hamas denies it built tunnel under UN schools in Gaza

Hamas has a network of tunnels, two of which have just been discovered under schools, that have been used in the past as firing positions, shelter from Israeli attack, storage for weapons and at times to enter Israel and capture soldiers.

Hamas has a network of tunnels, two of which have just been discovered under schools, that have been used in the past as firing positions, shelter from Israeli attack, storage for weapons and at times to enter Israel and capture soldiers.

Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has denied that it or any other militant group built a tunnel under two UN schools in Gaza after its discovery drew a strong UN protest.

Over the years, Gaza’s Hamas rulers have built a labyrinth of tunnels, some passing under the border into Israel which they used to launch attacks during their last conflict in 2014.

On June 1, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) found “part of a tunnel that passes under two adjacent agency schools in the Maghazi camp” during construction work, spokesman Christopher Gunness said on Friday.

Hamas late Friday “strongly condemned” the UNRWA statement, saying it would be exploited by Israel to “justify its crimes”.

Hamas had clarified the issue “with all factions and resistance forces, who clearly stated they had no actions related to the resistance in the said location,” the movement said, adding that it respected UNRWA’s work.

Gunness said that the tunnel “has no entry or exit points on the premises nor is it connected to the schools or other buildings in any way”.

“UNRWA condemns the existence of such tunnels in the strongest possible terms. It is unacceptable that students and staff are placed at risk in such a way,” he said.

Gunness said the agency had “robustly intervened and protested to Hamas in Gaza”.

He said UNRWA will seal the tunnel, which was discovered while the schools were empty during the summer holiday.

Attack tunnels were a key weapon for Hamas during the 2014 Gaza war.

Hamas also built a vast network of tunnels under Gaza’s border with Egypt to smuggle goods and allegedly weapons.

The Israeli army found and destroyed several tunnels during the 2014 war.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the Gaza Strip since the group wrested control of the territory from the rival Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in 2007.

Israel doesn’t want to rule over the Palestinians



Netanyahu says he told Trump Israel doesn’t want to rule over the Palestinians

Prime minister tells US president Israel still needs to protect itself, says possible ‘price’ Israel may have to pay for Jerusalem recognition not discussed

US President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House, March 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House, March 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON — Less than one-fourth of his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Monday was devoted to the Palestinian issue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters hours after the leaders sat down at the White House.

“The issue of the Palestinians came up in the terms I described —  the security question,” Netanyahu said. “Not more than quarter of the time [we discussed] the Palestinians.”

The Israeli premier added that the Trump administration has not showed him its much-anticipated peace plan, which officials have said they are finalizing and plan to unveil in the near future. They have given no specific timetable.

Netanyahu, for his part, would not say whether he supported the emergence of a Palestinian state as part of that plan.

“I haven’t named it, but I’ve defined it: The Palestinians should have the power of government, except the power to threaten us,” he said.

Asked by The Times of Israel if he told Trump that he supported, at least in principle, the establishment of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu merely said he told the president didn’t want Israel to rule over Palestinians.

“I said that we have no desire to govern the Palestinians, but we have every desire to protect ourselves,” he said. “The main thing is that the security control west of the Jordan River remains in our hands, and we cannot see anyone else assuming that responsibility.”

“You can go into interpretations, but I don’t care about interpretations,”  he went on. “But sloganeering doesn’t accomplish anything. What does that mean? What kind of state are you talking about? Is it Costa Rica or is it Hamastan? Is it Switzerland or is it Iran? Is it demilitarized? Who demilitarizes it? Who guarantees that demilitarization? I’ve said it, there’s only one power that can do it—and that’s Israel. Does that comport with what the world calls a state? I don’t know. But it comports with the solution that I need.”

Responding to a follow-up question over whether he told Trump that it’s essential for Israel to separate from the Palestinians for the sake of preserving its status as a Jewish-majority democracy, Netanyahu said, “I said we don’t want to govern them—and we don’t. I’m not interested in governing them in Nablus or Ramallah.”

Netanyahu was also asked whether Trump ever explained to him what he meant by his past statements that Israel would “pay” for his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there. “It didn’t come up,” he said. “Not in this construct.”

Asked if it ever had come up, Netanyahu said he could not recall.

“It certainly didn’t come up today,” he offered.

Despite President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is also his point man on the peace process, recently having had his security clearance downgraded, the Israeli leader said this matter did not come up in their discussions, in which Kushner himself participated. “We did not talk about Kushner,” Netanyahu said.

Cagey regarding Iran — which Netanyahu called “the central issue” — and the specific issue of fixing or nixing the 2015 nuclear deal, Netanyahu said “there are 60 days for the president’s decision” on taking action regarding the accord. “He was very interested in my advice and insights.”

He was referring to the deadline Trump imposed on lawmakers to unilaterally make changes to the 2015 nuclear accord — which Netanyahu vehemently opposes. If those changes are not made, Trump has threatened that he would abrogate the accord.


House bill would write into law promised $38b defense aid for Israel




House bill would write into law decade’s promised $38b defense aid for Israel

Bipartisan draft legislation seeks to prevent any president from reneging on 2016 assistance agreement

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla. speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla. speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan bill timed for AIPAC’s annual conference would codify into law the memorandum of understanding signed in 2016 by Israel and the United States guaranteeing Israel $38 billion in defense assistance over 10 years.

The bill introduced Friday is sponsored by two Middle East policy leaders in the US House of Representatives — Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the chairwoman of the Middle East subcommittee, and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., its ranking Democrat. Their senior positions in their respective House caucuses means the bill has a high chance of passage.

Delegates to the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference starting Sunday will lobby for the bill on Tuesday.

The thinking behind the bill is to prevent any president from reneging on the agreement.

Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (photo credit: AP/Harry Hamburg)

Separately, but also timed for the AIPAC conference, all 100 senators signed a letter urging the Department of Homeland Security to expedite Israel’s full membership in the Global Entry program, which facilitates passage through customs for citizens of member countries. Israel has had limited membership since 2012.

“Israel’s full membership in the Global Entry program would be a win-win-win, as it will provide a more seamless traveling experience for travelers, contribute greatly to our economy and strengthen the bond between these two great democracies,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader in the Senate.

Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and James Inhofe, R-Okla, initiated the letter.