Posted tagged ‘Hamas’

Illuminating Gaza

June 18, 2017

Illuminating Gaza, The Jewish PressVic Rosenthal, June 18, 2017

An Arab family eats a Ramadan dinner by candlelight in the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, during a power outage on June 12, 2017.

I’m calling it the Watts for Weapons program. I’m sure they’ll go along with it. Only someone who prefers killing Jews to keeping his own people alive could possibly turn it down.

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{Originally posted to the author’s website, Abu Yehuda}

Gaza’s electricity shortage has recently become critical. Gaza gets its power from Israel and Egypt, and has a small power station of its own. But due to a decision of the Palestinian Authority to further reduce the amount it pays Israel  for electricity, the 3-4 hours a day during which Gaza is illuminated will be reduced by another 45 minutes or so – unless money is found somewhere.

Hamas is threatening that there will be an “explosion” unless something is done. It is a big problem for the population, because food is not being refrigerated, sewage is not being processed, water is not being pumped, and hospitals are unable to operate. And the weather is getting hotter.

Israel presently supplies Hamas with about 125 megawatt-hours (MWh) per day, and Egypt provides a smaller amount. Gaza’s own power station is presently not operating due to lack of fuel. It’s estimated that a 24-hour supply of electricity would require 400-500 MWh per day.

Negotiations are under way (Wednesday) for Western and Arab countries to pick up some of the slack. After all, think of the children. And nobody wants an “explosion.”

But there is a solution that nobody seems to have proposed yet. Let’s begin by asking a question: why doesn’t Hamas have money for electricity? After all, it levies heavy taxes on goods coming into the strip (both legally via the crossings from Israel and illegally via tunnels from Egypt) and on almost every other form of economic activity. It got money from Qatar until recently, and has now started receiving aid from Iran again. International donors pledged large sums for reconstruction after the 2014 war, although there was very little rebuilding done. Where did the money go?

The answer is simple: some of it enriched Hamas insiders, but most of it was used to dig tunnels, to manufacture rockets and for other weapons and military infrastructure. Hamas officials were ready to see their children (well, the children of other Gaza residents) hungry and wading in sewage if it advanced their project to destroy Israel.

In effect money was converted into weapons. And that provides a way to solve the problem: we can convert it back.

For example, what if Israel agreed to provide Hamas with 2 MWh for every stockpiled Qassam rocket turned over to us? They have thousands of these, which could keep the lights on for weeks. Not to mention longer-range rockets, which would be worth more. And tunnels – I’m sure we would be happy to give them a whole day’s worth of electricity for the precise location of a terror tunnel. Just give us the coordinates and we’ll do the rest! Anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons are valuable, too. A nice shoulder-fired SAM is probably worth 10 MWh. Even rifles and mortar shells could help keep the juice flowing.

You get the idea. From Israel’s point of view, it would be far cheaper than the tamir rockets used by Iron Dome to shoot down the Qassams ($50k -$100k each!), and the amount of effort needed to find the tunnels. Hamas would get its electricity – and we would get some peace and quiet for a change.

I’m calling it the Watts for Weapons program. I’m sure they’ll go along with it. Only someone who prefers killing Jews to keeping his own people alive could possibly turn it down.

Russia’s Terrorist Double Game

June 17, 2017

Russia’s Terrorist Double Game, Investigative Project on Terrorism, June 16, 2017

A Muslim Russian national from Kyrgyzstan detonated an explosive device in St. Petersburg’s subway system in April, killing 14 people and injuring many others. The attack signaled a growing Islamist threat facing Russia, following several high profile terrorist attacks in recent years. More people have been killed in Russia from terrorism than any other European state since 1970. Yet Russia maintains a glaring double standard when it comes to terrorist violence and now sponsors some of the deadliest terrorist groups in history.

For the Russian government, terrorists aren’t “terrorists” if they avoid targeting Russian citizens or interests. In this light, Russian officials consistently avoid classifying groups like Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist organizations. The latest example came directly from Russia’s ambassador to Israel, Alexander Shein, in an interview last Friday with Israel’s Russian-language Channel 9 and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Shein admitted that while both groups were “radical organizations, which sometimes adhere to extremist political views,” Russian law only designates organizations as terrorists when they “intentionally conduct acts of terror in Russian territory, or against Russian interests abroad – installations, embassies, offices, or citizens.”

Despite the lack of a universal definition, “terrorism” generally refers to a non-state actor’s deliberate threat or use of violence for primarily political, religious, or ideological purposes. According to many conceptions, terrorism tends to intentionally target civilians, but also to create a broader psychological reaction beyond those killed or injured. By these well-established criteria, Hizballah and Hamas, organized militant groups that purposefully kill civilians to establish Islamist states in their image, are the quintessential terrorist organizations.

For the Russian government, a jihadist blowing up a St. Petersburg metro constitutes terrorism. But a Hamas suicide bomber targeting Israeli public transportation or Hizballah militants indiscriminately firing rockets into civilian areas is not terrorism. With such a view, it is no surprise that Russia is actively engaging in a double game when it comes to supporting terrorist organizations.

Since launching its 2015 military intervention in Syria’s civil war, Russia has positioned itself as a major benefactor to the Iranian-led Shi’ite axis operating in Syria. Russia provides military training and air support to Hizballah fighters on the ground. Russia reportedly supplies the terrorist group with heavy weaponry and enables the flow of sophisticated armaments from Iran to its terrorist proxy.

Russia historically has faced diverse terrorist threats from its North Caucasus region, a conflict that has increasingly adopted a more global Islamist orientation. In December 2013, Islamist terrorists conducted two suicide bombings within two days, targeting public transportation in the city of Volgograd. Another suicide bombing had taken place in the same city two months earlier. Since the mid 1990’s, Russian forces have fought North Caucasian militants in two bloody wars and other sustained battles in the region. Despite strong crackdowns in recent years, Russian security services allegedly encouraged many local extremists to leave the North Caucasus and join terrorist organizations in Syria, disregarding its own laws deterring individuals from fighting with terrorist groups that oppose Russian interests. Since 2011, an estimated 2,400 Russians have travelled to Syria to fight with various militant groups, including the Islamic State and al-Qaida’s affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. Now, Russia is particularly vulnerable to the threat from returning foreign fighters.

In Afghanistan, Russia has been increasingly supporting the Taliban under the pretext of combatting the Islamic State’s affiliate in that country. Like Syria, Russia is allying with one terrorist organization to fight another one. In both contexts, these policies may be intended to reduce the domestic terrorist threat to Russia and enhance Russia’s influence. But working with terrorist entities that hold long-standing grievances with the Russian state in order to fight other short-term terrorist threats, will likely backfire.

The Islamist terrorist threat to Russian national security is unlikely to wane anytime soon. Russia’s population is in decline, but Muslims living in Russia maintain relatively high birthrates. Some projections suggest that Muslims – which currently represent about 16 percent of Russian citizens – will account for one fifth of the country’s population by 2020. Support for various types of Islamist groups abroad does not bode well for long-term Russian counterterrorism efforts at home. Russia’s marginalized and predominately Sunni Muslim population may become even more susceptible to radical Islamist ideologies as Russia continues to support Shi’ite terrorist organizations in Syria.

Russia’s explicit military, financial, and diplomatic assistance to some of the most brutal powerful terrorist groups make it one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism today. All acts of Islamist terrorist violence needs to be condemned and supressed uniformly, not in Russia’s selective way.

Will Trump make a peace breakthrough in 2018?

June 15, 2017

Will Trump make a peace breakthrough in 2018? DEBKAfile, June 15, 2017

(Lots of speculation about future events, but an interesting piece nevertheless. — DM)

US President Donald Trump’s goal of generating a rapid improvement of Israel’s ties with the Arab world, including the Palestinians in 2018, is not just up to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, but depends largely on how the Trump administration handles the continuing conflict between Qatar and its powerful Arab opponents, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Up until the end of this week, Trump had turned down the efforts of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis to resolve the Gulf conflict by diplomacy. Instead of heeding them, the president took the advice of the Saudi defense minister, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, who visited Washington this week. Tillerson and Mattis tried to arrange a conference between Saudi Arabia and Qatar so as to gradually ease the tensions, but Trump torpedoed the initiative by adopting Riyadh’s tough line.

A complex situation has arisen in the last few days regarding the US diplomacy for bringing Israel and the Palestinians aboard a peace process. The signs of movement on this score fluctuate between crises and some progress:

1. The Gaza electricity row falls under the first heading. Some circles contend that the crisis is artificial, since the Palestinian enclave is receiving as much power now as before. What is different is the new, intensified pressure by Egypt on the one hand and the Palestinian Authority on the other in the hope of toppling Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip or squeezing its leaders into toeing their lines. Neither Egyptian President Abel Fatteh El-Sisi nor the Palestinian Authority chairman has made headway. Hamas stubbornly refuses Cairo’s demand to sever ties with Qatar, while launching a counteroffensive to draw Israel into the dispute by making an empty threat of an “explosion.”

Israel responded with a counter-threat on Thursday, June 15: a proposal to transfer one hour’s worth of power from West Bank Palestinian towns to boost the supply to Gaza.

This maneuver kept the entire electricity issue in the court from it was tossed, Ramallah.

2. A shower of Israeli concessions is landing on the Palestinians judging by almost daily reports. Some are true and others false. But in sum, they are designed to impress President Trump with the Netanyahu government’s good will towards his peace initiative and readiness to take steps in its support. In fact, the prime minister is preparing the ground for the forthcoming arrival of Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s envoy on the Israel-Palestinian issue.

3. US Secretary of State Tillerson this week informed the Senate that the Palestinian Authority had agreed to  halt its payments to the families of Palestinian terrorists who were killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis. Palestinian officials no doubt let this be understood to demonstrate their willingness to go along with Trump’s peace initiative, without, however, have any real intention of following through.

4. Media reports and the findings of Arab research institutes add up to the following predictions on the fate of the negotiations generated by the Trump administration between Israel and the Arab world:

A. Some time during 2018, a showcase summit will be staged for Trump, Netanyahu and leading Arab rulers like Saudi King Salman, Egyptian President El-Sisi and the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

They will publish a joint declaration signaling the phased normalization of relations with Israel by such preliminary steps as the exchange of economic and business delegations, the opening of trade offices and of Arab skies to Israeli commecial flights. None of these researchers is clear about the Palestinian role in this event.

B. Meanwhile, Israel will make concessions towards improving the lives of ordinary Palestinians, such as removing checkpoints, issuing building permits for Palestinian towns and more jobs in Israel.

C. Israel and the Palestinian Authority will expand their security cooperation. The Palestinians will be persuaded to cease their incitement against the Jewish State and stop payouts to the families of convicted Palestinian terrorists and other security offenders.

D. Direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will ensue, without preconditions on either side, and expand. with Arab governments sitting in.

E. At the end of a period of some years, this process will mature into a discussion of the core issues of the dispute, Palestinian statehood, future borders, settlements, Jerusalem and refugees.

In other words, the year 2018 will see the building of normal relations between Israel and Arab countries to be followed at a later date by the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. President Trump has clearly seized on relations with Riyadh, Cairo and Abu Dhabi as a lever for pushing Israel and the Palestinians into peace talks.

The idea is simple. Israel’s improved ties with the Arab world will resonate positively on Israeli-Palestinian relations. That appears to be Trump’s formula for peace. But there is a catch. It depends heavily on the US President maintaining good relations with the Arab world in the long term.

Military crisis in Qatar may spark Gaza outbreak

June 13, 2017

Military crisis in Qatar may spark Gaza outbreak, DEBKAfile, June 13, 2017

A military crisis centering on Qatar would be a catalyst for an outbreak of violence from the Gaza Strip. And indeed, after the failed Sanwar mission to Cairo and the reduction of electric power to the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen warned that an “explosion” was imminent.

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The electricity cutback in the Gaza Strip, engineered by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to flex muscle against Hamas rule, was just one piece on the checkerboard created by the crackdown Egypt, Saudi Arabia Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have imposed on Qatar for supporting terrorist groups like the Palestinian extremist Hamas. Therefore, Hamas leader Yahya Sanwar had little to expect from his mission to Cairo last weekend to persuade the El-Sisi government to ease its restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

He arrived at the head of a large mission, in which the group’s military arm, Ezz e-Din El-Qassam was heavily represented. Their appeals to Maj.-Gen Khaled Fawzy, director of Egyptian General Intelligence, met with a list of tough conditions. When the Palestinian delegation balked, Cairo acted to tighten its blockade on the Palestinian enclave.

The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip found themselves in the same boat as their old friend, Qatar, in the week that their internal rival, Mahmoud Abba, docked payment for the electricity Israeli supplies the Gaza Strip. The power supply was cut by 40 percent.

From 2015, the emir of Qatar remained the only Arab ruler backing the Palestinian extremist Hamas with occasional cash donations to Gaza City and permission for its top officials to set up shop in Doha.

This flow of aid was abruptly cut off by the land, sea and air blockade Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt clamped down on Qatar last week over its support for terrorist groups and ties with Tehran. Sheikh Tamim bin-Hamad Al-Khalifa defied the ultimatum they presented him, and so Qatar’s banks and international assets have been losing dollars, its currency has plummeted and there is no money to spare for the Gaza Strip.

Qatar and Hamas are being pushed into the same corner.

The small Gulf island, which is the world’s largest supplier of natural gas, was been told by the four leading Arab governments to expel Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas officials from its soil, after years of providing them with hospitality plus pensions generous enough for them to live a life of ease and plenty, while also running their terrorist networks across the region and beyond.

Qatar was also told to discontinue its propaganda campaigns against Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and shut down its main platform, the Al Jazeera TV channel; and hundreds of Egyptian and Saudi dissidents granted political asylum deported forthwith.

With nowhere else to go, these dissidents could potentially head for sanctuary in the Gaza Strip, making it a “little Qatar,” which is why Cairo further tightened the Palestinian enclave’s isolation by blocking all routes of access.

The Hamas delegation was likewise confronted in Cairo with tough demands by the Egyptian intelligence chief:

1. To turn in the Muslim Brotherhood fugitives they were sheltering in the Gaza Strip.

2.  Not just to sever cooperation between the Hamas military arm and the Islamic State networks in the Sinai Peninsula, but to surrender to Egypt all the intelligence they possessed about the jihadists and their activities.

3.  To discontinue weapons smuggling operations through Sinai.

After balking at the Egyptian demands, Yahya Sanwar was forced to leave Cairo empty-handed with regard to eased restrictions and humanitarian aid – only to find on his return home that the Egyptians had raised their biggest gun against the Gaza Strip: They had cut off power.

A humanitarian catastrophe now hangs over the two million inhabitants of the tiny Mediterranean enclave. Hospitals are cutting back operations, refrigerators are switched off, clean water supplies are dwindling because desalination plants are without power, raw sewage is dumped into the sea and sanitary conditions deteriorating.

Cairo asked the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Israeli government not to relent, but to keep the pressure on the Hamas regime high. Ramallah must continue to hold back payment to cover Israel’s electricity bills, which suits Mahmoud Abbas’ campaign for bringing Hamas to heel.

But for Israel, there is a dilemma. Nonetheless, the Netanyahu government is extremely wary of breaking away from the anti-terror line taken by Arab governments, because this could put paid to the delicate ties established with them – especially in the military domain – through long and laborious effort.

In Jerusalem, it is therefore ardently hoped that the Qatar crisis is quickly resolved and Hamas and Cairo can reach terms exponentially for easing the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

For the time being, there is no sign of this happening. On the contrary, there are indications of the crisis moving onto a military plane. Sources in the Middle East are not ruling out possible military action by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE against Qatar.

Read more about this looming potential in the coming DEBKA Weekly issue (for subscribers) out next Friday, June 16. 

A military crisis centering on Qatar would be a catalyst for an outbreak of violence from the Gaza Strip. And indeed, after the failed Sanwar mission to Cairo and the reduction of electric power to the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen warned that an “explosion” was imminent.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Iran’s ‘Preferred Proxy,’ Arming in Gaza

June 5, 2017

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Iran’s ‘Preferred Proxy,’ Arming in Gaza, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, June 5, 2017

Iran provides PIJ with both “military and financial support,” ITIC noted in its report.

“PIJ is the preferred organization for Iran, due to the problematic nature of the relationship between Iran and Hamas,” ITIC Director Col. (ret.) Reuven Erlich, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Although Iran continues to fund Hamas’s military wing, relations between Shi’ite Tehran and the Sunni Islamist rulers of Gaza have been unstable since 2012, when the two found themselves on opposite sides of the sectarian war raging in Syria.

PIJ has around 5,000 members in its armed wing, the Quds Brigades. The organization has its own Gazan rocket production industry, and PIJ possesses the second largest arsenal of projectiles in Gaza, thanks to Iranian manufacturing knowledge. The organization has been working on improvements to its rocket launch systems. It also digs combat tunnels.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second largest terrorist army in Gaza, recently issued a video threat about its willingness to end the three-year truce in place with Israel.

“If the Israeli enemy continues its normal game and plays with the lives of the Palestinian people, we will break the cease-fire,” PIJ leader Ramadan Shallah says in the video, according to an Algemeiner report.

The footage is laced with images of gunmen in camouflage, rising out of the ground, moving through tunnels, and watching areas of southern Israel near the Gaza border. It is interspersed with scenes from a rocket factory, and a close up shot appears of a senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer, who is placed in crosshairs, before a bullet is loaded into a rifle.

“Don’t try to test the resistance,” says the video’s last message.

PIJ remains Iran’s favored proxy in the Strip as relations between Tehran and Hamas continue to fluctuate.

The Gaza-based Al-Ansar charity, a Palestinian branch of the Iranian Martyrs Foundation, announced May 21 that it would provide financial grants to “families of martyrs” whose relatives were killed between 2002 and 2014.

A parallel Iranian funding channel is in place for families of “martyrs” killed in the 2014 conflict with Israel.

The Al-Ansar charity is “affiliated with PIJ,” according to a report released by the Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC).

Iran provides PIJ with both “military and financial support,” ITIC noted in its report.

“PIJ is the preferred organization for Iran, due to the problematic nature of the relationship between Iran and Hamas,” ITIC Director Col. (ret.) Reuven Erlich, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Although Iran continues to fund Hamas’s military wing, relations between Shi’ite Tehran and the Sunni Islamist rulers of Gaza have been unstable since 2012, when the two found themselves on opposite sides of the sectarian war raging in Syria.

Thus, Iran does not currently fund Hamas’s non-violent operations, including the salaries for tens of thousands of Hamas government employees.

In recent days, a Hamas senior official even took the trouble to flatly deny Arabic media reports that Iran had resumed full-scale funding for his regime, describing the claims as “fake news.”

PIJ, which plays no governmental role, has no such issues with Iran, and it continues to enjoy a high level of Iranian financial support.

A snapshot of that support can be seen in the estimated $8.7 million that was transferred from the Iranian Martyrs Foundation to Gaza over the last three years. Not all the money went to families of those killed in conflict with Israel. “We can assume that some of that money also went towards financing groups like PIJ,” Erlich said.

The Al-Ansar charity is used by the Iranian Martyrs Foundation “as a pipeline to funnel funds into the Gaza Strip, in indirect support of terrorism. The money also serves to increase Iran’s influence among the Palestinian people, and sends a message to the Sunni Arab world, that it is Iran which is supporting the Palestinians in their struggle against Israel,” the ITIC report said.

The Al-Ansar charity is fed with cash by a branch of the Iranian Martyrs Foundation in Lebanon. A second branch of the foundation in Lebanon supports Hizballah.

In 2007, the U.S. Department of Treasury designated the Iranian Martyrs Foundation and its branches in Lebanon as sponsors of terrorism. Israel banned the Al-Ansar charity in 2003, but it reestablished itself in Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal in 2005.

The reelection of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to a second term is unlikely to dent Iranian funding for terror groups like PIJ, as Supreme Leader Khamanei, who is committed to arming and financing jihadists intent on fighting Israel, continues to exercise control over foreign affairs and military policies.

PIJ has around 5,000 members in its armed wing, the Quds Brigades. The organization has its own Gazan rocket production industry, and PIJ possesses the second largest arsenal of projectiles in Gaza, thanks to Iranian manufacturing knowledge. The organization has been working on improvements to its rocket launch systems. It also digs combat tunnels.

PIJ is a quarter of the size of Hamas’s 20,000 armed operatives, but that did not stop it from having numerous past run-ins and power struggles with Hamas.

Since the end of the 2014 conflict with Israel, however, Hamas has improved its ability to coordinate and control the other armed factions operating in its territory.

It remains unclear whether the latest PIJ threat to violate the ceasefire represents a warning of a possible split with Hamas’s leadership.

“What matters most is the ideological distinction between the PIJ and Hamas,” said Ely Karmon, a senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya.

“While Hamas, [which is] the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, has a strategic cooperation with Iran, PIJ has a religious affinity with the Khomeinist doctrine and regime, since their [former] leaders Fathi Shaqaqi and ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Odah, from the inception of their group, acknowledged the importance of the Iranian revolution and its influence,” Karmon told the IPT.

“Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the Hamas leader,  wrote nothing on religious matters (and did not write about any other issues either),” Karmon noted. “Shaqaqi wrote 5 books in which he praised the Iranian revolution.”

“In this sense, the PIJ is the real proxy of Iran, and not Hamas,” he added.

PIJ leaders integrated themselves into the Iranian-Hizballah camp when Israel expelled them to Lebanon in 1988, Karmon noted. Then, PIJ leader Fathi Shaqaqi was assassinated in Malta in 1995, representing a dramatic blow to the organization.

It took his successor, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, who is still the current leader, five years following Shaqaqi’s assassination to build up the group’s infrastructure, with the aid of “major Iranian financial and military support,” Karmon said.

“Ironically, Shallah, who spent five years at Durham University [in Britain] writing a thesis on Islamic banking in Jordan, was called to lead the PIJ from the U.S., where he taught at the University of South Florida,” Karmon added.

When Hamas released a document that represented an update to its policies last month, feigning a softer stance and a willingness to accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, PIJ’s response was unequivocal.

“As partners with our Hamas brothers in the struggle for liberation, we feel concerned over the document,” said Islamic Jihad’s deputy leader, Ziad Al-Nakhala.

“We are opposed to Hamas’s acceptance of a state within the 1967 borders and we think this is a concession which damages our aims,” Al-Nakhala said, in comments posted on PIJ’s website.

Accepting a state on the 1967 borders would “lead to deadlock and can only produce half-solutions,” Al-Nakhala added.

Ultimately, the dispute between PIJ and Hamas is one over tactics, not strategy. In light of its acute isolation, Hamas is seeking to rebrand itself somewhat, without any intention of giving up its long-term goal of destroying Israel.

PIJ, enjoying firm Iranian backing, and lacking all of Hamas’s dilemmas of sovereignty, rejects the very idea of a rebranding. It insists on openly advertising its jihadist, Iranian-influenced ideology. Hoisted on Iran’s shoulders, PIJ prepares for the next round of fighting with Israel.

Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.

UK Government to Hold Pro-Terrorism Expo in London?

May 30, 2017

UK Government to Hold Pro-Terrorism Expo in London? Gatestone InstituteDenis MacEoin, May 30, 2017

(Will Formerly Great Britain soon hold a celebration in honor of the Islamic State in Manchester? Failure to do so would be Islamophobic. A concert would, of course, be appropriate. — DM)

“‘Friends of Al-Aqsa’ is one of the more extremist Islamist organizations at work in Britain today. It supports the Muslim Brotherhood-linked charity ‘Interpal’ (proscribed by the US Treasury) and advertises it on its website. It collaborates with the Khomenist Iranian-funded faux human rights organization known as the Islamic Human Rights Commission in organizing events such as Al Quds day at which public support is expressed for the Iranian proxy militia Hizbollah.” — UK Media Watch.

Under these definitions, Hamas is exposed as a terrorist organization both by its repeated use of indiscriminate killing and the contents of its two Charters from 1988 and 2017.

“There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except through jihad…” — Hamas Charters of 1988 and 2017, Articles 18 and 21.

Hamas is not the only extremist organization to which Friends of Al-Aqsa has lent its support.

Mere weeks after the terrorist attacks in Britain — on May 22 in Manchester and earlier in Westminster — there is planned in London, on July 8-9, a major event which its organizers describe as:

Palestine Expo: the biggest social, cultural and entertainment event on Palestine to ever take place in Europe. In a year of immense significance for Palestine, we are pleased to announce, Palestine Expo 2017

The “biggest ever in Europe”: heady stuff. In a major coup, the exposition will take place, not in a scruffy hall on the outskirts of the city, but in the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, near the Houses of Parliament, in the shadow of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. The prestigious centre is owned by the UK Government and its operation is conducted by an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government. It has 2,000 square metres of exhibition space, four main auditoria, seven conference rooms and many smaller rooms, and specialises in events for more than 1,000 delegates. Palexpo[1] will occupy five of its six levels.

Events listed include:

Inspirational Speakers
Interactive Zones
Knowledge village
Food Court
Live Entertainment
Academic Workshop (“will be run by a group of academics from leading UK universities”)
Student Hub
Gallery
Shopping Quarter

On the surface, it might appear that this is merely a cultural event designed to give the British public a taste of Palestinian cooking, music, art, in particular, history (starting in 1948!). A closer examination, however, reveals something less pleasant. Underneath the surface, this exposition is dedicated to a presentation of Palestinian victimhood and “resistance” (read terrorism), the same “resistance” as in Israel, and on similar false pretexts.

In Israel, the false pretext is that Jews — who have lived in Canaan and Judea for 3,000 years, as is substantiated by enough documentary and archaeological evidence to sink a supertanker — are supposedly occupying “Palestinian land”. In Europe, the false pretext is “revenge for colonialism”, which has historically existed under the Muslims, in their conquests of Iran, the Byzantine Empire, North Africa and the Middle East, northern Cyprus, Spain and most of Eastern Europe. This expansion has continued in the present day to Lebanon, northern Cyprus, Indonesia, the Philippines and is working its way through Europe, Canada and Australia. The Europeans are evidently gullible enough, it seems, to swallow all pretexts without bothering to check any facts.

The Queen Elizabeth II Centre is the venue for the upcoming “Palestine Expo 2017”, organized by the anti-Semitic pro-Hamas activist group, “Friends of Al-Aqsa”. (Image source: Jdforrester/Wikimedia Commons)

Who has organized this massive upcoming London event? One might have expected it to be the Palestinian Mission of the UK (often treated erroneously as an embassy, as it claims to represent the “State of Palestine”, which does not exist). However, although the Mission will probably be a participant in the exposition, a direct link for it cannot be found. The same is true for the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority.

The organizers of the event are, in fact, a relatively small British organization, Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA), founded in 1997 by a British optician, Ismail Patel, closely involved in several Islamic organizations such as the British Muslim Initiative (BMI). The BMI is a front group for Hamas, and has been for many years “the most active organization in the U.K Muslim Brotherhood”. Patel was a spokesman for the BMI. And the BMI was the chief organizer of London’s 2008 IslamExpo, which Britain’s Minister of Communities and Local Government at the time, Hazel Blears, strongly criticized:

“It was clear that because of the views of some of the organisers, and because of the nature of some of the exhibitors, this was an event that no Minister should attend. Organisers like Anas al-Tikriti, who believes in boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day. Or speakers like Azzam Tamimi, who has sought to justify suicide bombing. Or exhibitors like the Government of Iran.”

Friends of Al-Aqsa is, itself, an anti-Semitic pro-Hamas activist group. It helped establish in London the anti-Israel al-Quds Day events, in which extremists march to support the terror group Hizbullah and the theocratic Iranian regime that calls for England, Israel and America to be wiped from the pages of time.

Patel himself is an outspoken upholder of these values. In 2009, he addressed a Stop the Gaza Massacre demonstration in support of Hamas:

“Hamas is no terrorist organization. The reason they hate Hamas is because they refuse to be subjugated, occupied by the Israeli state, and we salute Hamas for standing up to Israel […] to the state of Israel: you no longer represent the Jewish people.”

Hamas has, in fact, been condemned as a terrorist group by the US, the UK, the EU countries, Egypt, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. Terrorism itself has been difficult to define legally, mostly because the countries that use it do not wish to define it; nevertheless, several countries have matching definitions. The British 2006 Terrorism Act provides a basic list of activities that constitute terrorism:

(1) In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where-

(a) the action falls within subsection (2),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause.
(2) Action falls within this subsection if it-

(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

Section 1(3) to (5) goes on to expand on the effect and extent of this definition.

The Canadian Department of Justice definition reads in similar terms. Another definition also attributed to Canada reads:

“A terrorist is a man who murders indiscriminately, distinguishing neither between civilian and innocent and guilty nor soldier and civilian.”

Under these definitions, Hamas is exposed as a terrorist organization both by its repeated use of indiscriminate killing and the contents of its two Charters from 1988: (“la hall li’l-qadiyya al-Filastiniyya illa bi’l-jihad — There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except through jihad.” Article 13) and 2017:

“Hamas confirms that no peace in Palestine should be agreed on, based on injustice to the Palestinians or their land. Any arrangements based on that will not lead to peace, and the resistance and Jihad will remain as a legal right, a project and an honor for all our nation’s people.” — Article 21. (Emphasis added.)

Hamas is not the only extremist organization to which Friends of Al-Aqsa has lent its support. The outlawed Northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which has close Hamas affiliations, is led by Shaykh Raed Salah. Salah has aided organizations that fund Hamas, and claims that Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks (and that 4,000 Jews stayed away from work at the World Trade Center that day). Salah has also called Osama Bin Laden a martyr, and has said that honor killings of young women are acceptable.

According to Tamar Pileggi:

“In late 2015, Israel banned the radical Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, accusing it of maintaining links to terror groups and of stoking a wave of violence that saw dozens of deaths in a spate of stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks.”

Before that, in 2011, FOA along with other extremist groups brought Salah to the UK, despite a travel ban. When Salah was arrested and to be deported, Patel spoke out in support for him. But Salah had well before that delivered bloodcurdling sermons calling on Palestinians to become martyrs while attacking Israeli soldiers.

According to UK Media Watch:

“Friends of Al Aqsa” is one of the more extremist (sic) Islamist organizations at work in Britain today. It supports the Muslim Brotherhood-linked charity “Interpal” (proscribed by the US Treasury) and advertises it on its website. It collaborates with the Khomenist Iranian-funded faux human rights organization known as the Islamic Human Rights Commission in organizing events such as Al Quds day at which public support is expressed for the Iranian proxy militia Hizbollah.

For the Jewish community of the UK, Friends of Al-Aqsa and Patel represent a real threat. The group has published anti-Semitic authors. One, the journalist Khalid Amayreh, claimed that Jews control America, and that the Iraq war “was conceived in and planned by Israel through the mostly Jewish neocons in Washington”. Another was the Jewish British self-declared Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, who runs the anti-Israel organization Deir Yassin Remembered. Friends of Al-Aqsa has also published material by Gilad Atzmon, who has accused the Jews of Germany of waging war against Hitler and has said of the Holocaust:

“The Holocaust became the new Western religion. Unfortunately, it [the Holocaust] is the most sinister religion known to man. It is a license to kill, to flatten, no nuke, to wipe, to rape, to loot and to ethnically cleanse. It made vengeance and revenge into a Western value.”

Of the speakers listed for Palexpo, several are well-known for their pro-Hamas, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views. Ilan Pappé of Exeter University is a highly radical and much-criticized historian who has called for the elimination of Israel and its replacement by a single Arab state.

John Pilger is an Australian journalist and film-maker, one of whose documentaries has been described as “a veritable encyclopedia of every anti-Israel canard in existence today”. He has suggested that terrorist group Hezbollah represented “humanity at its noblest”; approvingly cited the arguments of the above-mentioned anti-Semite and Holocaust denier Gilad Atzmon; has suggested that “influential” Jews around the world are culpable in “Israeli crimes” and has likened Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews. According to Pilger , “the Zionist state remains the cause of more regional grievance and sheer terror than all the Muslim states combined.”

Pilger has also asserted that “killing children seems like sport for the IDF [Israel Defence Forces]”. His distortions are breathtaking. He has defended Hamas strenuously. Here, for example, he accuses his most hated countries, American and Israel, of distorting the truth:

“The majority [of Gazans] voted for the ‘wrong’ party, Hamas, which the U.S. and Israel, with their inimitable penchant for pot-calling-the-kettle-black, describe as terrorist.”

He added the astonishing comment that, “Indeed, the vote for Hamas was actually a vote for peace” — about an organization whose Charter declares that, as mentioned, “The only solution to the Palestinian question is through jihad”.

Ben White is one of the UK’s most extreme anti-Israel speakers and writers. In his eyes, Israel can do no right; the Palestinians, including Hamas, no wrong. He “writes extensively about what he terms ‘Palestine/Israel’ to the point of near obsession and was a regular contributor to [the Guardian’s] ‘Comment is Free’ and the virulently anti-Israel ‘Electronic Intifada'”. Here is a list of quotations from his writings. He is a supporter of the anti-Jewish one-state solution and an ardent promoter of the fiction that Israel is an “apartheid state”. He regularly downplays Hamas and Palestinian terrorism, and instead places all blame for violence on Israel.

Among other speakers with reputations for extremist views are Miko Peled, who regards the Israeli army as terrorists (despite international recognition of it as “the most moral army in the world”). His anti-Semitism became clear when, commenting on a US-Israel aid deal, he said:

“Then theyr [sic] surprised Jews have reputation 4being sleazy thieves. #apartheidisrael doesn’t need or deserve these $$.”

Peled has compared Israel to Nazi Germany and called for a Palestinian state to replace Israel.

Tariq Ramadan is a famous Egyptian-Swiss Muslim scholar, philosopher and writer closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood (he is the grandson of the Brotherhood’s founder, Hasan al-Banna’). He is famous for duplicity and use of doublespeak.[2] He has donated money to the terrorist group Hamas, which is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and he has been denied a visa to the United States for his links to Hamas. He “was barred under a section of the Patriot Act, which bars entry to foreigners who have used a ‘position of prominence … to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.'” He “has often been accused of being an Islamist, anti-Semitic, and sexist. He has drawn severe criticism from numerous Western public figures, ranging from scholars and journalists to political, religious, and community leaders”.

The other speakers listed fall into similar categories as supporters of trying to destroy Israel through economic means, Palestinian “resistance” to Israel, and anti-Semitism.

Currently, Friends of Al-Aqsa and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign are planning to sue Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW) for libel, forcing the rights group to instruct lawyers to act in their defence. From the evidence presented here, JHRW could scarcely have a better case. Its appeal to the management of the Queen Elizabeth II Centre for the cancellation of a terror-linked event is entirely in line with British concerns about radical and terrorist ideologies, anti-Semitism, and international terrorism. Friends of Al-Aqsa, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, their supporters, and the various organizations to which they are linked, have never changed their beliefs regarding Israel, the Jewish people, or the West.

Dr Denis MacEoin PhD (Cambridge 1979) is a scholar of Islam and Persia, a former lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies and currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.


[1] Not to be confused with Geneva’s Palexpo: Palais des Expositions et des Congrès

[2] See Caroline Fourest, Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, New York, London, 2008 and Paul Berman Flight of the Intellectuals, NY and London, 2011, Chapter One. See also Christopher Hitchens here.

Palestinians: The Threats Trump Needs to Hear

May 16, 2017

Palestinians: The Threats Trump Needs to Hear, Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil, May 16, 2016

(With all due respect to the author, in the unlikely event that President Trump is not already aware of most of the matters about which he “needs to hear,” Ambassador Friedman, PM Netanyahu et al, are and will enlighten him. Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is hardly a “partner for peace” and Hamas — which is very likely to displace the PA, is even less so. Surely, President Trump knows that; he is many things, but retarded is not among them. — DM)

The warning by Hamas and Islamic Jihad is directed not only against Trump and his new administration, but also against Abbas and any Arab leader who dares to “collude” with the U.S.

A new policy document recently published by Hamas says that the Islamic terror movement accepts a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, but without recognizing Israel’s right to exist. Translation: Hamas seeks a Palestinian state that would be used as a launching pad to destroy Israel.

The electoral showing demonstrates with excruciating clarity that Hamas could easily take over any Palestinian state that the U.S. and the Europeans help create in the West Bank.

Abbas is a weak leader with precious little legitimacy among Palestinians. He would never survive any kind of real peace deal with Israel — a reality that, ironically, he has done his very best to create.

As U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to hold his second meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem next week, two Palestinian terror groups have announced that the new U.S. administration is planning to “liquidate the Palestinian cause.” The warning by Hamas and Islamic Jihad is directed not only against Trump and his new administration, but also against Abbas and any Arab leader who dares to “collude” with the U.S.

The two Palestinian terror groups, which control the Gaza Strip and its two million residents, also renewed their pledge to pursue the armed fight against Israel; they said they would not give up one inch of Palestine, from the (Mediterranean) sea to the (Jordan) river.

Trump and his administration would do well to heed the warning issued by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, especially in the wake of Abbas’s recent statements concerning a two-state solution and peace with Israel. Abbas controls only parts of the West Bank, and how he intends to establish a Palestinian state when he cannot even set foot in the Gaza Strip is anyone’s guess. Recently, Hamas announced that if and when the 82-year-old Abbas shows up in the Gaza Strip, he will be hanged in a public square on charges of “high treason.”

The warning by the Palestinian terror groups was made during a joint rally in the Gaza Strip on May 14. Leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad vowed to “preserve the Palestinian rifle and Palestinian rights in the face of any schemes and attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar stated that Palestinian “principles are part of our [Islamic] religion, and we cannot make any concessions on them. We will not give up one inch of our land and holy sites. We will continue to work until the liberation of each inch of Palestine.”

Zahar also warned Abbas against signing any agreement with Israel that includes relinquishing Palestinian rights. “Anyone who gives up our rights and holy sites will betray Allah and his Prophet Mohammed,” Zahar cautioned.

Notably, Zahar’s statement to “liberate every inch of Palestine” comes amid false claims in the Western media to the effect that Hamas has abandoned its dream of eliminating Israel.

The claims are based on a new policy document recently published by Hamas; it says that the Islamic terror movement accepts a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, but without recognizing Israel’s right to exist. Translation: Hamas seeks a Palestinian state that would be used as a launching pad to destroy Israel.

Zahar and other Hamas leaders have taken advantage of every available platform to clarify that their acceptance of a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines does not mean abandoning their plan to eliminate Israel.

They have also explained, at length, that the new policy document does not replace Hamas’s original charter, which explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel.

Hamas’s honesty with respect to its true intentions stands in utter contrast to the deceit with which the policy document is being treated by others.

For instance, some Western media outlets and Palestinian affairs “experts” and “analysts” deceptively describe the document as a sign of moderation and pragmatism on the part of Hamas.

While Hamas leaders proudly proclaim that there is no real change in their ideology and charter, some Westerners seem to have a sort of hearing disability when it comes to the truth of the terror movement.

Another Hamas leader, Ahmed Bahr, said at the rally that his movement remains strongly opposed to security coordination between Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and Israel in the West Bank.

Bahr described the security coordination and the crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank as a new Palestinian “Nakba” (Catastrophe) — the term used by Palestinians and Arabs to describe the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Referring to Trump’s upcoming visit to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and reports that the U.S. administration was seeking to revive stalled peace talks between the PA and Israel, the top Hamas official said that Palestinians remain committed to the “resistance to liberate Palestine despite the conspiracies that are being concocted against them.”

For Hamas and its allies, Trump’s peace efforts are nothing less than a plot designed to force Palestinians to make unacceptable concessions to Israel. They will accept nothing but the elimination of Israel and its replacement with an Islamic state governed by Islamic sharia law.

Islamic Jihad leaders, for their part, said that Trump’s upcoming visit to the Middle East was aimed at “forming a new alliance to preserve” Israel’s interests. They believe that the purported alliance will consist of Israel, Abbas’s PA and some Arab countries.

In the view of Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed al-Hindi, the Trump-engineered alliance would “create a new Nakba” for the Palestinians. “Palestine is the land of all Palestinians and part of our history,” he declared. He too warned Abbas against any agreement that includes concessions to Israel.

Ignoring such threats issued by Palestinian terror groups is done only at one’s extreme peril. These are not marginal factions with a limited following among Palestinians. Rather, the ideology of Hamas and Islamic Jihad is widespread among the Palestinians and lives in the hearts and minds of many of them. These terror groups are popular not only in the Gaza Strip, but also among large sectors of Palestinians in the West Bank.

Just last week we received yet another reminder of Hamas’s increased popularity in the West Bank when its supporters won — for the third straight year — the student council elections at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah. Hamas’s victory in the university election has once again left Abbas and his loyalists bewildered.

The electoral showing is anything but confusing: it demonstrates with excruciating clarity that Hamas could easily take over any Palestinian state that the U.S. and the Europeans help create in the West Bank.

No one is more aware of this than Abbas — in a situation that accounts for why he has spent the past decade blocking parliamentary and presidential elections. Above all, Abbas wishes to avoid his mistake of 2006, when Hamas won the parliamentary election.

For a start, Trump might ask Abbas precisely how he plans to cope with the threats by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian groups to destroy Israel and thwart any “treacherous” peace agreement with Israel. Under the current circumstances, when Palestinians are radicalized against Israel on a daily basis and Hamas’s popularity is skyrocketing, the talk about a two-state solution and peace sounds downright delusional.

Abbas is a weak leader with precious little legitimacy among Palestinians. He would never survive any kind of real peace deal with Israel — a reality that, ironically, he has done his very best to create.

Trump and his advisors might put aside the sweet talk of Abbas and his spokesmen, and listen instead for the unsettling truths voiced by other Palestinians such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Alternatively, the West can continue to fantasize about a new Middle East in which Arabs and Muslims accept Israel’s right to exist — while in reality many of them are totally consumed by their attempts to raze it to the ground.

At his scheduled meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem next week, U.S. President Donald Trump might put aside the sweet talk of Abbas, and listen instead for the unsettling truths voiced by other Palestinians such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Pictured: Trump and Abbas give a joint statement on May 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Image source: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)