Netanyahu: Kosovo to be first Muslim-majority nation to open Jerusalem embassy

Posted September 18, 2020 by davidking1530
Categories: Uncategorized

Times sure are a’ changin’

https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-kosovo-to-be-first-muslim-majority-nation-to-open-jerusalem-embassy/#gs.ggcnlm

Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti sits at a desk as he attends a signing ceremony and meeting with US President Donald Trump and the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic in the Oval Office of the White House on September 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images/AFP)

Netanyahu said Friday that not only would Kosovo recognize Israel but it would open an embassy in Jerusalem, becoming the first Muslim-majority nation to do so.

Earlier Friday, Serbia announced that it would move its embassy to Jerusalem. The moves come as part of US-brokered discussions to normalize economic ties between Belgrade and Pristina.

After two days of meetings with Trump administration officials, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti agreed to cooperate on a range of economic fronts to attract investment and create jobs. The White House announcement provided US President Donald Trump with a diplomatic win ahead of the November presidential election and furthers his administration’s push to improve Israel’s international standing.

Netanyahu hailed the moves and said Israel would establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office said that during a meeting between Trump and Hoti, the president called Netanyahu and congratulated the two leaders on the decision to establish full diplomatic relations.

According to the statement, Hoti also announced that he would open an embassy in Jerusalem.

“Kosovo will be the first Muslim-majority nation to open an embassy in Jerusalem. As I said in recent days the circle of peace is expanding and more nations are expected to join,” Netanyahu said.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci confirmed Prisitna’s intention, saying he welcomed Netanyahu’s announcement “about the genuine intention to recognize Kosovo and establish diplomatic relations.”

” Kosovo will keep its promise to place its diplomatic mission in Jerusalem,” he tweeted.

Trump said Serbia has committed to open a commercial office in Jerusalem this month and move its embassy there in July.

Trump later tweeted “Another great day for peace with Middle East – Muslim-majority Kosovo and Israel have agreed to normalize ties and establish diplomatic relations. Well-done! More Islamic and Arab nations will follow soon!”

Kosovo, notably, is in Europe.

Serbia’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a nod to both Israel and the United States. The Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and moved the US embassy there in May 2018.

The administration has encouraged other countries to do the same but has been widely criticized by the Palestinians and many in Europe because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved. Kosovo, a predominantly Muslim country, has never before recognized Israel nor has Israel recognized Kosovo.

In all, a total of four countries now recognize contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including the US and Guatemala. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, as their would-be capital.

After the announcement, Netanyahu thanked Trump for his role in continuing to further Israel’s diplomatic standing.

“I thank my friend President Vucic of Serbia for his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move their embassy,” Netanyahu said. ” I also want to thank my friend Donald Trump for his contribution to this achievement.”

A statement from Netanyahu’s office hailed Serbia for being the first European nation to agree to move its embassy and said efforts continued to convince other European nations to also do so.

Netanyahu said that following discussions held in recent days among the Foreign Ministry, National Security Council and others, it was decided that Israel will establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo.

The gestures to Israel are part of the Trump administration’s push to improve the Jewish state’s international standing, which has included forceful denunciations of criticism of Israel at the United Nations and in other international venues. Most recently, the administration brokered a deal for Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations. That was followed by the first commercial flight between Israel and the UAE, with neighboring Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to allow such flights to pass through their airspace. Additional Arab states, including Sudan, Bahrain and Oman, have been identified as countries that may soon also normalize relations with Israel.

Kosovo’s Parliament declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after NATO conducted a 78-day airstrike campaign against Serbia to stop a bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Most Western nations have recognized Kosovo’s independence, but Serbia and its allies Russia and China have not. The ongoing deadlock and Serbia’s unwillingness to recognize Kosovo have kept tensions simmering and prevented full stabilization of the Balkan region after the bloody wars in the 1990s.

Iran’s currency hits new record low against the dollar | The Times of Israel

Posted September 14, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

The rial has seen its value fall by 30 percent since June amid severe US sanctions By AP 12 September 2020, 4:12 pm 0 People withraw money from an ATM in Tehran’s grand bazaar on November 3, 2018. (ATTA KENARE / AFP) TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s currency on Saturday dropped to its lowest value ever against the dollar, and has seen its value fall by 30 percent since June amid severe US sanctions imposed on Tehran. Money exchange shops traded the Iranian rial 262,000 for a dollar. The rial had traded at 256,000 to $1 on Thursday, and markets were closed Friday, the start of the weekend in Iran. The rial has tumbled from a rate of 200,000 in late June. Iran’s currency was at 32,000 rials to the dollar at the time of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The currency unexpectedly rallied for some time after US President Donald Trump’s decision more than two years ago to withdraw the US from the nuclear deal and reimpose crippling trade sanctions on Iran. The sanctions have caused Iran’s oil exports, the country’s main source of income, to fall sharply. On Friday, the head of Iran’s central bank Abdolnasser Hemmati said the government was trying its best to control the situation in the currency market. Iranian officials for months have warned exporters to bring their foreign earnings home from abroad or face having their export licenses revoked, and the central bank has warned it would publish the names of violators. In June, the central bank reported that Iranian companies export more than $40 billion in non-oil products per year, and officials say some 50% of that remains abroad.

After UAE and Bahrain deals, Trump said aiming for direct Israel-Morocco flights | The Times of Israel

Posted September 14, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized


Rabat and Jerusalem have no formal relations, but Israeli tourists are allowed into the country, which is home to the largest Jewish community in the Arab world

By TOI STAFF12 September 2020, 11:35 pm  5A view of Rabbat, Morocco (YouTube screenshot)

US President Donald Trump is looking toward following up the landmark normalization deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with the introduction of direct flights between Israel and Morocco, Channel 12 news reported Saturday.

Morocco is considered an ally of the United States, and has long maintained informal but close intelligence ties with Israel.

Though the countries have no formal relations, Morocco has hosted Israeli leaders, and Israelis are allowed to visit there. Some 3,000 Jews live in Morocco, a fraction of the number from before the 1948 creation of Israel, but still the largest community in the Arab world.

The unsourced TV report said efforts to reach a breakthrough on Israel-Morocco ties some time ago had failed due to unspecified reasons, but the US was hoping the more limited gesture of direct flights was achievable.

The television report also said Washington was continuing to push for Oman and Sudan to forge diplomatic ties with Israel, as part of an effort to rack up as many accomplishments on the global stage as possible before the November 3 elections.

Morocco’s Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani delivers a speech in Marrakech, Morocco, January 30, 2018. (AP/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

Last month Moroccan Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani said Rabat would not normalize relations with Israel. But days later he appeared to walk those statements back, saying his comments in opposition to warming ties were made in his capacity as leader of the Islamist PJD party, not as prime minister.

El Othmani added that he had just been reiterating a long-held position of his party. He did not comment further on the matter.

In August, quoting unnamed US officials, the Kan public broadcaster said Morocco was seen as a likely candidate to normalize ties as it already has tourism and trade ties with Israel. The report also cited the North African country’s protection of its small Jewish community.

Establishing formal diplomatic ties with Israel could also improve Morocco’s relations with the US. The report said that in exchange for doing so, Rabat was seeking American recognition of its sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara territory.

Morocco occupied large swaths of the Western Sahara in 1975 as Spain withdrew from the area and later annexed the territories in a move not recognized internationally.

President Trump Delivers Remarks on the Historic Bahrain Israel Peace Deal – YouTube

Posted September 12, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Iran: Bahrain partner to Israel’s ‘crimes’ through ‘shameful’ normalization deal

Posted September 12, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-bahrain-partner-to-israels-crimes-through-shameful-normalization-deal/

Tehran says ‘Declaration of Peace’ between Israel and Shiite-majority Kingdom, ‘sacrificed the Palestinian cause at the altar of American elections’

By TOI STAFFToday, 9:26 am  0Iranians wave Bahraini flags as they chant slogans during a demonstration in Tehran, Iran, May 18, 2012 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran said Saturday that Bahrain is now partner to the “crimes” of Israel, after the announcement of a deal to normalize relations between Jerusalem and Manama.

“The rulers of Bahrain will from now on be partners to the crimes of the Zionist regime as a constant threat to the security of the region and the world of Islam,” the foreign ministry said in a statement following the announcement of the agreement.

Iran accused its arch foe Israel of “decades of violence, slaughter, war, terror and bloodshed in oppressed Palestine and the region.”

Iran said that through this “shameful” deal, Bahrain has “sacrificed the Palestinian cause at the altar of American elections.”

Bahraini protesters hold up placards reading, ‘Jerusalem is the rebels’ compass,’ in support of Palestinians and images of prominent jailed opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman in Diraz, Bahrain, during a Jerusalem Day rally after Friday prayers, July 10, 2015 (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Its “result will undoubtedly be growing anger and the lasting hatred of the oppressed people of Palestine, Muslims and the free nations of the world,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.

The Friday announcement by US President Donald Trump made Bahrain the second Arab country in a month, after the United Arab Emirates, to normalize ties with Israel under US sponsorship.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said earlier this month that the UAE had “betrayed” the Muslim world and that he hoped they would “soon wake up and compensate for what they have done.”

Bahrain is acutely aware of threats posed by Iran — the Kingdom has a majority Shiite population, despite being ruled since 1783 by the Sunni Al Khalifa family.

The ruling elites are firmly allied with Saudi Arabia in its rivalry with Shiite Iran, even as the Bahrain’s Shiites have familial, linguistic and political ties with Tehran going back decades.

A Bahraini protester carries a poster with the image of Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Khomeini that reads beneath it: ‘Jerusalem international day is the vulnerable people’s day’ as others wave Palestinian and national flags during a march in the western Shiite village of Malkiya, Bahrain, on Aug. 2, 2013 (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Iran under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had pushed to take over Bahrain after British protection ended, though Bahrainis in 1970 overwhelmingly supported becoming an independent nation and the UN Security Council unanimously backed that.

Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Bahrain’s rulers have blamed Iran for arming militants on the island and stirring unrest. Iran denies the accusations.

Bahrain’s Shiite majority has accused the government of treating them like second-class citizens. The Shiites joined pro-democracy activists in demanding more political freedoms in 2011, as Arab Spring protests swept across the wider Middle East.

Saudi and Emirati troops ultimately helped violently put down the demonstrations

.

Bahraini anti-government protesters hold a banner with picture of Saudi king Salman, reading in Arabic, ‘We refuse Saudi occupation to Bahrain. Your occupation is under our feet,’ during clashes in Daih, Bahrain, March 14, 2016 .(AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Bahrain, alongside the UAE, downgraded its relations with Iran in 2016 amid rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic.

Tehran-Riyadh relations deteriorated further last year following a series of attacks on tankers in the Gulf, which Washington blamed on Tehran despite Iranian denials.

Saudi Arabia and Iran take opposing sides in regional conflicts from Syria to Yemen.

Iran’s Saturday announcement came after a joint statement released by the White House a day earlier said Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Salman al-Khalifa spoke earlier in the day with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “and agreed to the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain.”

Israel and the UAE announced they were normalizing relations on August 13, and a signing ceremony for their accord is being held at the White House on September 15 — Bahrain will now join that ceremony, with its foreign minister Abdullatif Al Zayani and Netanyahu signing “a historic Declaration of Peace,” the joint statement said.US President Donald Trump holds a bilateral meeting with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The joint statement specified that the parties would continue their efforts to achieve a “just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to enable the Palestinian people to reach their full potential.”

Nonetheless, the accord constitutes another major blow to the Palestinian leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who had condemned the UAE-Israel deal as despicable and a betrayal, and sought in vain to have the Arab League condemn it earlier this week.

The kingdom of Bahrain, a tiny island nation close to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, had been expected by many to be the next country to establish relations with Israel, as it has long made public overtures to the Jewish state. It hosted the first major gathering of the Trump administration’s peace effort, a Peace to Prosperity workshop, in Manama in June 2019. Earlier this month, Bahrain announced that it was opening its airspace to Israeli flights.This combination of pictures created on September 11, 2020 shows a Bahraini man waving a national flag (L) in the capital Manama on March 22, 2011, and an Israeli man holding his country’s national flag on January 24, 2017. (JOSEPH EID and JACK GUEZ / AFP)

In the weeks since the UAE normalization deal was announced on August 13, US and Israeli officials have said other Arab states will follow the Emirates’ lead and normalize ties with Israel, with speculation also focusing on Oman and Sudan.

Trump on Thursday claimed that if he wins another presidential term in November, both Iran and the Palestinians will return to the negotiation table.

“If we win the election, Iran will come and sign a deal with us very rapidly. Within the first, I would say week, but let’s give ourselves a month because their GDP went down [by] 25% [as a result of US-led sanctions], which is like an unheard of number and they’d like to get back to having a successful country again,” Trump said.

“And I think… the Palestinians will get back into the fold,” the president continued, admitting that he was “frankly surprised” that Ramallah has continued to boycott his administration since Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

However, he said his administration’s decision to withhold $750 million dollars in annual aid to the Palestinian Authority “is the best way… to bring [the sides] together.”

Jacob Magid, Raphael Ahren and Agencies contributed to this report.

Paul Simon at Ground Zero- Sounds of Silence – Hebrew Subtitles

Posted September 11, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Trump Nominated For The Nobel Peace Prize Over Israel Peace Deal, Announces Iraq Troop Withdrawal

Posted September 10, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Serbia to move embassy to Jerusalem; mostly Muslim Kosovo to recognize Israel

Posted September 6, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

https://www.timesofisrael.com/serbia-to-move-embassy-to-jerusalem-mostly-muslim-kosovo-to-recognize-israel/
Gestures to Israel come as part of US-brokered agreement between Balkan nations signed at White House; Israel to establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo
US President Donald Trump signs a document as Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti (R) and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (L)  sign an agreement on opening economic relations, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 4, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

US President Donald Trump signs a document as Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti (R) and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (L) sign an agreement on opening economic relations, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 4, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

WASHINGTON  — Serbia announced Friday that it would move its embassy to Jerusalem, while Muslim majority Kosovo is to recognize Israel. The moves come as part of US-brokered discussions to normalize economic ties between Belgrade and Pristina.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the moves and said Israel would establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo.

After two days of meetings with Trump administration officials, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti agreed to cooperate on a range of economic fronts to attract investment and create jobs. The White House announcement provided US President Donald Trump with a diplomatic win ahead of the November presidential election and furthers his administration’s push to improve Israel’s international standing.

“Truly, it is historic,” Trump said, standing alongside the two leaders in the Oval Office. “I look forward to going to both countries in the not too distant future.”

Serbia’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a nod to both Israel and the United States. The Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and moved the US embassy there in May 2018.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in PM Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem. December 1, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The administration has encouraged other countries to do the same but has been widely criticized by the Palestinians and many in Europe because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved. Kosovo, a predominantly Muslim country, has never before recognized Israel nor has Israel recognized Kosovo.

After the announcement Netanyahu thanked Trump for his role in continuing to further Israel’s diplomatic standing.

“I thank my friend President Vucic of Serbia for his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move their embassy,” Netanyahu said. ” I also want to thank my friend Donald Trump for his contribution to this achievement.”

A statement from Netanyahu’s office hailed Serbia for being the first European nation to agree to move its embassy and said efforts continued to convince other European nations to also do so.

Netanyahu said that following discussions held in recent days among the Foreign Ministry, National Security Council and others, it was decided that Israel will establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo.

The gestures to Israel are part of the Trump administration’s push to improve the Jewish state’s international standing, which has included forceful denunciations of criticism of Israel at the United Nations and in other international venues. Most recently, the administration brokered a deal for Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations. That was followed by the first commercial flight between Israel and the UAE, with neighboring Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to allow such flights to pass through their airspace. Additional Arab states, including Sudan, Bahrain and Oman, have been identified as countries that may soon also normalize relations with Israel.

UAE delegates wave to the departing El Al planeat the end of the Israel-UAE normalization talks, with the US, in Abu Dhabi, September 1, 2020 (El Al spokesperson’s office)

Kosovo’s Parliament declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after NATO conducted a 78-day airstrike campaign against Serbia to stop a bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Most Western nations have recognized Kosovo’s independence, but Serbia and its allies Russia and China have not. The ongoing deadlock and Serbia’s unwillingness to recognize Kosovo have kept tensions simmering and prevented full stabilization of the Balkan region after the bloody wars in the 1990s.

“We cannot accept any document which includes Kosovo’s independence, and that’s full stop,” Vucic told reporters after meetings Thursday at the White House.

Serbia and Kosovo have already OK’d air, rail and transit agreements, including one that would clear the way for the first flight between Pristina and Belgrade in 21 years. The new agreement comprises many more areas of economic cooperation. Business leaders in both nations have been frustrated and have been talking among themselves about ways to foster investment outside of the ongoing political talks brokered by the European Union.

On Monday, Vucic and Hoti are scheduled to go to Brussels to hold talks under the auspices of the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and special envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak.

The EU has mediated the talks between the two former wartime foes for more than a decade, and the parallel US effort, although focused on economic development, has not been fully embraced by some EU officials.

The White House summit was originally scheduled for June, but it was canceled after Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, who was to lead the Kosovo delegation, was indicted for war crimes by an international court.

UAE deal shows Arab-Israel conflict starting to come apart before our eyes

Posted September 4, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

https://www.timesofisrael.com/uae-deal-shows-arab-israel-conflict-starting-to-come-apart-before-our-eyes/

Israel finds itself in a place of honor in the moderate Sunni camp against the extremist Shiites; there are even signs of a certain shift in Hamas

Avi Issacharoff
Palestinian fishermen, mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, prepare their fishnets along a beach off the Mediterranean Sea in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on September 2, 2020. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Palestinian fishermen, mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, prepare their fishnets along a beach off the Mediterranean Sea in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on September 2, 2020. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

The historic agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel is a direct continuation of the profound changes in the Middle East that have been quietly taking place in recent years. The Israeli-Arab conflict is starting to come apart before our very eyes, and Israel finds itself in a place of honor in the moderate Sunni camp against the extremist Shiites.

Located between these two groups are several sub-groups, including the Palestinian Authority and the Muslim Brotherhood (Qatar, Turkey, Hamas). The PA is sometimes backed by the moderate Sunni camp, especially by the countries bordering Israel (Jordan and Egypt), although sometimes they, too, lose interest.

As for the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, Turkey still maintains diplomatic relations with Israel; Qatar is officially mediating between Israel and Hamas – with its representative, Mohamed al-Emadi, meeting openly with Israeli security agency and IDF personnel; and even Hamas may no longer be quite what it used to be.

The most prominent symbol of this apparent, tentative Hamas shift — from terrorist group to governing authority that sometimes takes up the “mantle of terror” — is its all-powerful leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar.

The head of Israel’s National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat (2nd-R), wearing a protective mask, makes his way to board the plane as he prepares to leave Abu Dhabi on September 1, 2020, at the end of an unprecedented visit on normalizing Israel-UAE relations. (NIR ELIAS / POOL / AFP)

Sinwar, who took over in Gaza when Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh left the Strip, is in no hurry right now to further escalate hostilities with Israel. He is a classic example of the cliché, “The things that you see from here you don’t see from there.” This is confirmed by the mini-escalation we have witnessed on the Gaza-Israel front in recent weeks — the balloon bombs, the dribble of rockets towards Israel. These were not simply an expression of anti-Jewish sentiment. They were intended to achieve very specific aims: Maintain Qatari funding to the Strip, renew several stalled infrastructure projects within Gaza (electricity lines; an industrial zone), and obtain help battling COVID-19.

An Emirati official stands near an El Al plane that carried a US-Israeli delegation to the UAE following a normalization accord, upon its arrival at the Abu Dhabi airport, in the first-ever direct flight from Israel to the UAE, on August 31, 2020. (KARIM SAHIB / AFP)

Sinwar, who likes to show off his mastery of Hebrew and his understanding of Israeli politics, viewed the escalation on the northern border with Hezbollah as a potential opportunity to gain some achievements down south. However, the massive explosion in Beirut’s port, which at the very least delayed Hezbollah’s planned revenge against Israel for the killing of one of its fighters, left Israel with only the southern border to worry about. And then the virus complicated matters further for Gaza’s rulers.

Up until recently Gaza was about the safest place in the world as regards COVID-19. But lately there has been a real outbreak, albeit in numbers that Israel’s coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu would love to contend with. Sinwar realized the enormity of the problem and pushed for a quick ceasefire. As soon as Qatar renewed its promise to provide a reported $27 million in monthly funding, plus a few million here and there for fuel and various projects, Sinwar deescalated hostilities with Israel, and focused on locking down Gaza’s two million people to stop the COVID contagion.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar (4th L) takes part in a rally as Palestinians call for a “Day of Rage” to protest Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank, in Gaza City on July 1, 2020. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

If there is something the populace cannot tolerate at this point it is another war — not when they have already reached rock bottom financially and a pandemic has arrived. And that relative sensitivity to the residents of Gaza is noteworthy. Hamas is emphatically his top priority, but Sinwar attaches importance to public sentiment — in striking contradiction to his northern neighbor Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, who could not care less about the non-Shiite population of Lebanon.

And so Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again agreed to a ceasefire that includes cash transfers to hard-up families in Gaza and paychecks to Hamas clerks, bolstering Hamas as ruler of Gaza. Again, just to make it clear: The government of Israel is helping Hamas retain power. Why? Because Israel clearly understands that the alternative — war and the disintegration of Hamas — is worse. In other words, Israel is willing to pay protection money — or at least have Qatar pay — to help Gaza with COVID-19 in exchange for a quiet border.

A Palestinian policeman waves on a truck s it enters through the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip on September 1, 2020, after a Qatari-mediated deal with Israel. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Where did it start?

Word on the Gazan street is that the COVID outbreak began with a mother from Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the center of the Strip who wanted to take her baby for medical treatment at the Al-Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem. She arrived at the Erez Crossing (according to the rumor) and had to turn back as she lacked the necessary paperwork. When she returned to Hamas’s Four-Four crossing, she was asked if she had been to the Israeli side and she said no.

Four days later she set out once again, this time with the proper permits, and reached Al-Makassed hospital. Except that once there, it was discovered that she had contracted COVID-19. The doctors updated the PA’s Ministry of Health in Ramallah, who updated their counterparts in Gaza. A medical team was sent to the family’s home in Al-Maghazi to test her family members. Her father-in-law, who owns a small supermarket, turned out to be infected. From there it was just a short jump to a wider outbreak. By last Wednesday morning, 480 people were infected in one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

“Initially, they declared a 48-hour lockdown,” A., a resident of Gaza, told me. “After a break for supplies, they then declared a 72-hour lockdown. And then another 48 hours. You can leave to buy groceries or medicine and there are donkey-driven carts selling fruits and vegetables. But there are very few drivers on the roads and almost no one on the streets. All public places are closed. Hamas is also stopping traffic between areas and the entire Strip has been divided into zones with no traffic allowed between them,” said A.

A mask-clad Palestinian stallholder arranges produce on a street in Gaza City on September 3, 2020, amidst a COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic-imposed lockdown. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

“For instance, it is forbidden to drive from Khan Younis to [nearby] El-Kerara, or between Deir al-Balah and the [refugee] camps in the center. Gaza City has been divided into sections — Tuffah, Daraj, Shati, etc. — and each is isolated from the others. This outbreak came at a very bad time as far as the people of Gaza are concerned, because it coincided with the escalation with Israel which resulted in 16-hour electric outages, bombings, and a ban on fishing. People’s fear of the disease only increased with the threat of war.

“The agreement between Qatar, Hamas, and Israel may have calmed people’s concerns a little, but only a little,” A. went on. “Everything is still so unstable. There is a sense that the disease is under control, but God forbid that it gets out of hand.”

The Battle of Latakia

Posted September 2, 2020 by Joseph Wouk
Categories: Uncategorized

From Wikipedia

The Battle of Latakia (Arabic: معركة اللاذقية‎; Hebrew: קרב לטקיה‎) was a small but revolutionary naval action of the Yom Kippur War, fought on 7 October 1973 between Israel and Syria. It was the first naval battle in history to see combat between surface-to-surface missile-equipped missile boats and the use of electronic deception.[1] Background At the outset of hostilities, the Israeli Navy set out to destroy the naval capabilities of the Syrians, who were equipped with Soviet Komar-class and Osa-class missile boats. The Syrian missile boats were equipped with Soviet manufactured P-15 Termit (NATO reporting name: SS-N-2 Styx) anti-ship missiles with twice the range of the Israeli Gabriel anti-ship missiles.[2] Battle The four Israeli Navy Sa’ar 3-class and one Sa’ar 4-class missile boats headed towards the Syrian port of Latakia in two parallel columns. In the western column were the missile boats Miznak (Blast), Ga’ash (Storm), and Hanit (Lance); the eastern column was composed of the missile boats Mivtach (Reliance) and Reshef (Spark). At 22:28 hours the Israelis encountered the Syrian K-123 torpedo boat which was sunk with 76mm cannon fire from Mivtach and Hanit. As they headed toward the shore, the Israeli ships engaged a 560-ton Syrian T43-class minesweeper and also sank it, this time using four Gabriel anti-ship missiles. At 23:30 the Israelis made contact with two Syrian Komar-class and one Osa-class missile boats. The Syrian missile boats fired their Styx missiles at long range, but as the missiles approached, the Israelis employed electronic countermeasures and launched chaff rockets to successfully decoy the missiles. When the Israeli ships closed the range, they fired five Gabriel missiles, sinking one Komar and the Osa immediately and damaging the second Komar. The surviving Syrian Komar tried to escape, but it ran aground in shallow water and was destroyed by 76mm cannon fire at 00:26 hours. During this naval clash other Syrian missile boats launched missiles from within the port limits of Latakia (actually launched while the missile boats were moored between merchant ships in port). However, these missiles malfunctioned or lost guidance and two foreign (one Greek and one Japanese) merchant vessels anchored along the piers were hit. Both vessels were struck in the engine rooms. The Syrian Navy remained bottled up in its home ports for the rest of the war. While the Battle of Latakia was the first naval battle in history between missile boats, it was not the first incident in which a missile boat sank another ship using missiles. That had happened when two Egyptian Navy Komar-class missile boats sank the British-built Israeli destroyer Eilat on 21 October 1967, shortly after the Six-Day War, using four P-15 Termit surface-to-surface missiles.[3]