Archive for May 3, 2019

Islamic Jihad vows to hit major cities if Israel harms members of terror groups 

May 3, 2019

Source: Islamic Jihad vows to hit major cities if Israel harms members of terror groups | The Times of Israel

Organization’s chief Ziad al-Nakhaleh makes comments after IDF accuses operatives in the terror group of firing a rocket that landed off Israel’s coast

Then-Islamic Jihad Deputy Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhaleh delivering a speech on August 14, 2018. (Screenshot: Palestine Today)

Then-Islamic Jihad Deputy Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhaleh delivering a speech on August 14, 2018. (Screenshot: Palestine Today)

Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhaleh has warned that should Israel harm or kill members of armed Palestinian factions, Islamic Jihad will respond with force and target major cities in the Jewish state.

Nakhaleh, who was named the new Islamic Jihad chief in September 2018, made the comments after the Israel Defense Forces accused operatives in the terror group of firing a rocket that landed off the Israeli coast Monday evening.

Asked by Dar al-Hayat, an Arabic-language news site, whether Islamic Jihad feared Israel carrying out assassinations against its members, Nakhaleh stated: “If you intend by your question to [refer] to the threats in recent days connected to rocket-fire, I clearly state that we will respond with force and attack major cities, if any harm is done to [members of] the resistance or premeditated assassinations are carried out against them, regardless of their organizational roles.”

Islamic Jihad, which is backed by Iran, is considered the second-most powerful terror group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, the coastal enclave’s de facto rulers; it has an arsenal of rockets that can reach deep into Israel.

The IDF said on Tuesday that the group had “intentionally fired” the rocket from northern Gaza in an effort to derail ongoing efforts to maintain a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and other terror groups.

Israel Defense Forces

@IDF

The IDF remains ready and committed to defend Israel against such terror.

The IDF also specifically accused operatives under the command of Bahaa Abu al-Ata, a senior official who is responsible for the group’s military activities in northern Gaza, of firing the rocket.

The IDF identifying Abu al-Ata by name could be seen as a tacit threat; the military also tweeted out his photograph. The IDF has targeted Abu al-Ata in the past, including during the 2014 Gaza war.

Islamic Jihad official Walid al-Qatati, however, denied later on Tuesday that the terror group stood behind the rocket fire.

“The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, has not announced that it shot a rocket toward the occupation,” Qatati told the Islamic Jihad-linked Palestine Today. “This accusation is a fabrication that the occupation wants [to use in order to achieve] specific goals, most important of which is inciting against Islamic Jihad.”

Nakhaleh also said that if members of terror groups were harmed, Islamic Jihad would respond with force and target large Israeli cities “irrespective of whether understandings have been reached or will be reached.”

Last month, Israel and Hamas reached unofficial Egyptian-brokered ceasefire understandings, under which terror groups in the Strip would scale back violence along the Gaza border in exchange for economic and humanitarian concessions by Israel.

While there has not been a complete cessation of violence along the Gaza border since the ceasefire went into effect last month, the situation there has been relatively calm.

 

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamophobia trap

May 3, 2019

Source: The Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamophobia trap – www.israelhayom.com

Claims that the Trump administration’s effort to designate the Brotherhood as a terrorist group is an expression of prejudice are dead wrong.

As far as administration critics are concerned, U.S. President Donald Trump is about to do it again.

His plans to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group has the foreign-policy establishment wringing their hands at what they consider a blunder that will undermine U.S. influence in the Middle East and throughout the Islamic world. Even worse, some other members of the anti-Trump resistance think that this is just one more example of the administration’s rampant Islamophobia that has made religious prejudice official government policy.

But this is actually another example of how Trump’s instinctive distrust of the so-called “experts” has allowed him to do what needs to be done. Like U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the administration’s insistence that the Palestinian Authority stop funding terrorism and the withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Trump’s move against the Brotherhood is long overdue.

Of course, it is tainted in some eyes by the fact that it comes right after a White House meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. The Egyptian leader led a coup that overthrew a Muslim Brotherhood government that had won an election the previous year. Since then, Sisi’s regime has cracked down on the Brotherhood and committed widespread human rights violations in the process.

That has led figures like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to demand the release of its leaders from Egyptian prisons and to call for normalizing relations with the group.

Some of the experts also think the Brotherhood is more of an Islamist political party than a terrorist group. They see it as a loose-knit association not unified in support of terror, and which can, in the right context, become a force for stability in some nations. Along with leftist figures like Omar, they also see the designation as a blunt instrument that seeks to brand a broad-based movement with millions of supporters as terrorists in a way that is inherently intolerant of Muslims.

However, the truth about the Brotherhood is that it is the granddaddy of all Islamist terror groups. Founded in 1928, it has always seen itself as being a social movement within the Muslim world, and when necessary, it presents itself as a political party. But at its core is an Islamist worldview that sees its purpose as an effort to reject liberal, democratic and more moderate strains of Islam, and to enforce a strict vision of the faith that is rooted in jihad and intolerance for modernity, seeking to impose Muslim religious law (Sharia) everywhere it can. While it sometimes eschews violence to advance its goals, its commitment to jihad has made it the main force behind the creation of terror groups like Hamas. It links Islamists throughout the world to practitioners of violence in a way that makes that a distinction without a difference.

While Sisi’s abysmal human-rights record makes him an unsavory character, events in Egypt during the last decade illustrate the true nature of the Brotherhood.

After former U.S. President Barack Obama acquiesced to the deposition of long-time Egyptian authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak, the United States also gave its approval to elections that brought the Brotherhood to power in Egypt. Though it had represented itself to gullible foreign diplomats and the international press as representing moderate Islam, its rule provoked widespread opposition from Egyptians, who realized that the Brotherhood had no intention of ever allowing itself to be voted out and was on its way to establishing its totalitarian Islamist vision. When the military moved against it, tens of millions of Egyptians went into the streets to support the coup. While Sisi and his government are far from exemplary, it is a vast improvement on the Brotherhood, which has now resorted to terrorism.

The Brotherhood’s core beliefs have never been a secret. Its long-term goal is universal Sharia law and the overthrow of the West, as well as of Israel. It spawned groups like Hamas and influenced the creation of Al-Qaida. More to the point, its chief ideologue, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is an exiled Egyptian cleric who currently helps run the Qatar Foundation, which spreads Islamist teachings in support of terror around the globe. The Brotherhood is the glue that unites Sunni Muslim terror groups in terms of ideas and action.

While Hamas and like-minded groups are the tip of the spear, the effort to maintain a distinction between the terrorists and the rest of the Brotherhood remains entirely artificial. The Brotherhood’s social-action and political wings operate in such a manner as to support the same violent goals as the terrorists.

The Brotherhood has also sought to establish the same false distinctions in its operations in the United States. Brotherhood supporters set up the Holy Land Foundation to fundraise and organize for Hamas in the 1990s. Before the Treasury Department shut it down, that Foundation founded the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). That group today masquerades as a respectable civil-rights group dedicated to protecting Muslims. Trump’s designation of the Brotherhood will limit the ability of extremists to operate in the United States and elsewhere in the West.

Claims that this move is an expression of Islamophobia are not merely wrong; they are also slander of law-abiding American Muslims. The extremists of CAIR and others with links to the Brotherhood have hijacked the leadership of American Muslim groups. While many millions across the Middle East do back the Brotherhood and its terrorist goals, the notion that an effort to limit the ability of radicals to operate freely harms all Muslims is false.

Trump’s designation of the Brotherhood is common-sense security policy that aims at protecting all Americans, no matter their faith or background. Efforts to cloak support for this Islamist group in the language of civil rights or of realpolitik don’t stand up to scrutiny. The president should follow through on his vow, both for the sake of American interests and security, as well as those who hope for a better future for a Muslim world freed from Islamist tyranny and terror.

This article is reprinted with permission from JNS.org.

 

Off Topic:  At White House, Poway synagogue rabbi thanks Trump, ‘a mensch par excellence’ 

May 3, 2019

Source: At White House, Poway synagogue rabbi thanks Trump, ‘a mensch par excellence’ | The Times of Israel

US president hosts injured victims of California Chabad shooting, calls to fight anti-Semitism ‘with all our strength’

President Donald Trump looks on as Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, survivor of the Poway, Calif synagogue shooting, speaks during a National Day of Prayer event in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 2, 2019. (AP/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump looks on as Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, survivor of the Poway, Calif synagogue shooting, speaks during a National Day of Prayer event in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 2, 2019. (AP/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON  —  Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, one of the victims of a weekend gun rampage at a California synagogue, praised US President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday as a “mensch par excellence,” using a Yiddish phrase for a person of integrity.

Goldstein, the rabbi of the Chabad of Poway synagogue, near San Diego, was among four worshipers hit on Saturday — one of them fatally — as a gunman burst into a service and opened fire.

“Mr. President, when you called me I was at home weeping. You were the first person who began my healing. You heal people in the worst of times and I am so grateful to that,” Goldstein told Trump at a national prayer service at the White House.

“My dear rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, taught me the way we react to darkness with light,” Goldstein said, referring to the late Chabad leader.

President Donald Trump looks on as Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, survivor of the Poway, Calif synagogue shooting, speaks during a National Day of Prayer event in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 2, 2019. (YouTube screenshot)

Goldstein recalled facing “evil and the worst darkness of all time” as the shooter, identified as 19-year-old John Earnest, opened fire in the Poway synagogue during prayers on the last day of Passover.

He said that at that moment “I made a decision that no matter what happens to me, I am going to save as many people as possible.”

Addressing the gathering, Goldstein, who lost his right index finger in the assault, said: “I should have been dead by now. I was in the line of fire, bullets flying all the way.”

“My life has changed forever, but it changed so I can make change and so I can help others learn how to be strong, might and tall,” he added.

Earnest has pleaded not guilty to murder and hate crimes charges over the attack. The Poway shooting came exactly six months after a white supremacist shot dead 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, known as the worst attack against Jewish people in the modern history of the United States.

Trump called for an all-out fight against anti-Semitism.

“We will fight with all our strength and everything that we have in our bodies to defeat anti-Semitism, to end the attacks on the Jewish people and to conquer all forms of persecution, intolerance and hate,” Trump said.

“As we unite on this day of prayer, we renew our resolve to protect communities of faith and ensure that all people and all of our people can live, pray and worship in peace,” Trump said.

Goldstein said Trump “helped bring Lori Kaye great honor,” referring to the woman murdered in the shooting.

Trump and Goldstein had spoken by telephone after Saturday’s shooting.

US President Donald Trump (left), off-duty Border Patrol agent Jonathan Morales (center) and US Army veteran Oscar Stewart in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 2, 2019. (White House video screenshot)

“There is nobody that expressed the horror and the beauty of what you represent better than you did,” Trump said of Goldstein, whom he called a “warm and incredible man.”

Congregant and US Army veteran Oscar Stewart and off-duty Border Patrol agent Jonathan Morales, who chased the alleged gunman away, also attended the ceremony.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

 

Hezbollah chief: IDF forces that enter Lebanon will be ‘destroyed on live TV’ 

May 3, 2019

Source: Hezbollah chief: IDF forces that enter Lebanon will be ‘destroyed on live TV’ | The Times of Israel

In latest taunt, Nasrallah says Israel deterred by his terror group’s military prowess, blames US and Israel for Middle East’s poverty

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks on June 29, 2018. (YouTube screenshot)
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks on June 29, 2018. (YouTube screenshot)
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed Thursday his Iran-backed terror group would “annihilate and destroy” the Israeli military if the latter entered Lebanon in a future war.

“Israel wants a war? Let it go to war. The Israeli units and brigades that dare to enter southern Lebanon will be annihilated and destroyed on live television before the whole world,” he said, according to multiple media reports in Israel and Lebanon.

The taunts are typical of the Lebanese terror group leader, whose organization faced its last war with Israel in 2006.

In a speech on April 22, Nasrallah claimed Israel’s ground forces were unprepared for a ground offensive in Lebanon and the Jewish state could no longer win battles solely from the air.

“The Israelis say the home front is not ready. Any theoretical Israeli war needs a ground operation to achieve its desired goal. The era in which the air force decides the battle is over.”

Supporters of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group listen to a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah via a video link in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, March 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

His latest comments on Thursday were at an event commemorating three years since the death of Mustafa Badreddine, Hezbollah’s former military chief who, according to reports in Arab media and statements by the IDF chief at the time, was killed by his own men, possibly on orders from Iran and Nasrallah himself.

After issuing his threat to a purportedly war-hungry Israel on Thursday, Nasrallah then assured his audience that Israel did not, in fact, want war, since it was deterred by Hezbollah’s military prowess.

“Our ground combat capabilities are strong,” he said, “and Israel takes that into account. It’s scared of getting entangled in Gaza, even though Gaza is exposed on all sides, so would it dare to enter Lebanon?”

He also blamed Israel and the United States for the poverty afflicting the Middle East.

“Our entire region is subject to American and Israeli plots and hegemony; the poverty and unemployment are caused by them,” he was quoted as saying.

Israeli ground troops march toward the front during the Second Lebanon War on August 2, 2006. (Pierre Terdjman/Flash90)

“All the oil and money flow to the US and Israel… They’re exploiting us,” he added.

Last month, the new head of the IDF’s Ground Forces Command said Hezbollah was still planning to carry out a surprise invasion of northern Israel, despite the recent Israeli operation to uncover and destroy an extensive network of cross-border attack tunnels dug by the militia.

Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, a former chief of the IDF’s Northern Command, was tapped to lead the Ground Forces Command in February amid increased criticism from some quarters in the Defense Ministry charging that Israeli troops were not prepared for war. His comments came less than four months after the IDF concluded its anti-tunnel operation along the Lebanese border.

“Hezbollah still has plans to invade the Galilee,” he told the Ynet news site in an interview. “Of course, we won’t allow that to happen. We will thwart these plans.”

Back in December, Israel accused Hezbollah of digging cross-border tunnels into its territory from southern Lebanon and launched an operation to destroy the tunnels.

Israeli troops search for attack tunnels dug into Israel from southern Lebanon that the Israeli military believes Hezbollah planned to use in future wars, in January 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

According to the army, Hezbollah had planned to use the tunnels to kidnap or kill civilians or soldiers, and to seize a slice of Israeli territory in the event of any hostilities.

The IDF did not give a total figure for the tunnels found, though it announced in January that six were destroyed during the course of the operation.

Strick also voiced support for declaring war on Lebanon as a whole in Israel’s next fight against Hezbollah.

“In the next war, it would be a mistake for us to distinguish between the state of Lebanon and Hezbollah, since Hezbollah is a political actor and part of the government,” Strick said.

In such a conflict, “if it were up to me, I would recommend declaring war on Lebanon and Hezbollah,” he said. “I have no doubt what the outcome will be… It will be a decisive victory.”

Then-head of IDF Northern Command Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, center, visits soldiers searching for Hezbollah attack tunnels on the Israeli-Lebanese border on December 4, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

In March, recently retired army chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot said that Israel had come close to all-out conflict with Hezbollah during his tenure.

Israel last fought a war with Hezbollah over a decade ago, but tensions along the northern border have remained high. Israel has carried out airstrikes in Syria for years to prevent weapons transfers through Syrian territory to the Iran-backed terror group.

“The Hezbollah threat is a serious threat,” Eisenkot told a conference. “It is a strong organization that has gained experience in running large operations and wants to prepare an attack plan to conquer the Galilee and bring 5,000 fighters underground” into Israel.

The threat of war with Hezbollah had increased during the last three years, he said.

 

A Nation Stands Still 

May 3, 2019

 

 

Evidence Emerges of Iran Aiding Maduro Government 

May 3, 2019