Posted tagged ‘Iran and Israel’

After Trump Inauguration, Netanyahu Wastes No Time Putting Iran Back on Agenda

January 21, 2017

After Trump Inauguration, Netanyahu Wastes No Time Putting Iran Back on Agenda, Jerusalem PostHerb Keinon, January 21, 2017

bibiandtrumpDonald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the Trump tower. (photo credit:KOBI GIDON / GPO)

“This ruthless regime continues to deny you your freedom,” Netanyahu said in the English video, accompanied by Farsi subtitles.  “It prevents thousands of candidates from competing in elections, it steals money from your poor to fund a mass murderer like [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. By calling daily for Israel’s destruction, the regime hopes to instill hostility between us. This is wrong. We are your friend, not your enemy.”

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Just 24 hours after US President Donald Trump spoke in his inaugural address about the need to eradicate radical Islamic terrorism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put a brief video clip on social media aimed at placing the Iranian threat squarely back on the international agenda.

“I plan to speak soon with President Trump about how to counter the threat of the Iranian regime, which calls for Israel’s destruction,” Netanyahu said in the two-and-a-half minute video addressed directly to the Iranian people.

“This ruthless regime continues to deny you your freedom,” Netanyahu said in the English video, accompanied by Farsi subtitles.  “It prevents thousands of candidates from competing in elections, it steals money from your poor to fund a mass murderer like [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. By calling daily for Israel’s destruction, the regime hopes to instill hostility between us. This is wrong. We are your friend, not your enemy.”

This was the first video of this sort Netanyahu has put out in months, after putting out several in the spring and summer that addressed issues such as Palestinian incitement and the settlements. It is also the first time in a while that he has exclusively addressed the Iranian issue, other than in a  couple of sentences in public appearances here and there.

The release of the video now, just 24-hours after Trump took over from Barack Obama, is an obvious effort to get the world’s leaders – first and foremost Trump – to one again focus on the Iranian regime.

Trump has come out squarely against the Iranian nuclear deal.  The sense among sources close to Netanyahu is that when dealing with the new administration, Netanyahu will not only have a more receptive ear regarding the dangers that the Iranians pose, but also find an administration more willing to shine the light on Iran’s part in the spread of radical Islamic terrorism, and more vigilant in ensuring that Tehran lives up to its commitments under the nuclear deal.

“We’ve always distinguished between the Iranian people and the Iranian regime,” Netanyahu said in the video.

“The regime is cruel, the people are not; the regime is aggressive, the people are warm. I yearn for the day when Israelis and Iranians can once against visit each other freely – in Tehran and Isfahan, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,” he said. “The fanatics must not win, their cruelty must not conquer our compassion. Our two peoples can work together for a more peaceful and hopeful future for both of us. We must defeat terror and tyranny, and we must ensure that freedom and friendship win the day.”

Netanyahu referenced the Iranian student protests of 2009, which some say was a golden opportunity for change in Iran which was squandered by a lack of unequivocal moral and material support by Obama in the early days of his presidency.

“I will never forget the images of brave young students , hungry for change, gunned down in the streets of Tehran in 2009,” Netanyahu said. “And I will never forget beautiful Neda Soltan – gasping for her last breath on that sidewalk.”

This was a reference to Iranian student Neda Agha-Soltan, whose shooting-death during the protests was caught on video and went viral.

“You have a proud history, you have a rich culture,” Netanyahu said. “Tragically, you are shackled by a technocratic tyranny. In a free Iran you will once again be able to flourish without limit , but today a cruel regime is trying to keep you down.”

While Netanyahu said he will speak to Trump about Iran soon, no announcement has yet been made about when their first meeting will be held, though there have been recent reports it could be as early as the first week in February. Government officials said that the issue will be determined in the coming days.

Netanyahu congratulated Trump on his inauguration in a tweet Friday afternoon: “Congratulations to my friend President Trump,” he wrote. “I look forward to working closely with you to make the alliance between Israel and America stronger than ever. Shabbat Shalom.”

Iran Steps Up Threats to Israel, U.S.

January 11, 2017

Iran Steps Up Threats to Israel, U.S., Gatestone InstituteMajid Rafizadeh, January 11, 2017

(This can’t be accurate. Obama has told us that Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance. Isn’t it odd that he has not told us that the Islamic Republic has “nothing to do with Islam?” — DM)

“En Sha’a Allah [God willing], there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years. Until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.” — Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, September, 2015.

“If the Supreme Leader’s orders [are] to be executed, with the abilities and the equipment at our disposal, we will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.” — Ahmad Karimpour, a senior adviser to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite unit, the Quds Force.

Iran is also attempting to intimidate Donald Trump from taking a tough stance against Iran. Trump ought to be wary of falling into Iran’s tactical game of fear-mongering. For Iran, US concessions and silence in the face of Iran’s threats mean weakness and fear. On the other hand, when Iran sees that the US is taking a robust stance and that the military option is always on the table, Tehran retreats.

As long as Iran’s Supreme Leader is alive and as long as the ruling clerics preserve the political establishment, Iran will maintain the core pillars of its foreign policies and revolutionary principles: these are anchored in anti-Israeli, anti-American and anti-Semitic politics. Iranian politicians across the political spectrum totally agree on these fundamentals.

Iran’s threats against Israel and the US are becoming bolder and louder. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is now repeatedly threatening Israel’s annihilation relatively soon.

According to Iran’s Press TV, Khamenei recently stated:

“The Zionist regime — as we have already said — will cease to exist in the next 25 years if there is a collective and united struggle by the Palestinians and the Muslims against the Zionists.”

In addition, Iranian officials are warning President-elect Donald Trump that if he makes any wrong move, it would lead to a World War, wiping Israel from the face of earth and destroying the smaller Gulf states.

Iranian leaders are adopting their classic tactics and strategy of threatening in advance — and frequently — probably to obtain concessions, push the next US administration to pursue policies of appeasement, and, more importantly, to drive the US to abandon Israel.

In addition, through anti-Israeli and incendiary statements, Khamenei and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are inciting Palestinians and the Muslim world to use violence against the Israeli nation. As a result, Khamenei heightens even further his anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiments. Many who follow his beliefs consider it their Islamic duty to fulfill his policies, religious doctrines and prophesies.

Ahmad Karimpour, a senior adviser to the Revolutionary Guards’ elite unit, the Quds Force, previously said that Iran is ready to follow Khamenei’s orders once the leader gives the green light. According to the semi-official Fars News Agency, Karimpour said, “If the Supreme Leader’s orders [are] to be executed, with the abilities and the equipment at our disposal, we will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.”

In order to project himself as the leader of the Muslim world (both Shia and Sunni) and to mobilize opposition to Israel and the US, Khamenei reaffirmed the Islamic Republic’s support for groups that stand against Israel and America:

“Despite being engaged in certain regional issues, the Islamic Republic has always announced explicitly that Palestine is the number one issue in the Muslim world and has fulfilled its obligations in this regard.”

Iran’s leader then went on to lash out at the United States as “the most arrogant [power] and the Great Satan.”

Khamenei is correct that his generals and he have previously threatened Israel’s destruction.

In July 2016, the deputy commander of the (IRGC) warned that Iran possesses tens of thousands of missiles outside Iran to hit Israel. According to Iran’s state-owned news agency Tasnim, General Hossein Salami pointed out:

“Hezbollah has 100,000 missiles ready to hit Israel to liberate the occupied Palestinian territories if the Zionist regime repeats its past mistakes… today, the grounds for the annihilation and collapse of the Zionist regime are (present) more than ever.”

In addition, Khamenei has already published a 9-point plan on how to destroy Israel. In September 2015, he called on violence and jihad against Israel, until it is completely destroyed:

“En Sha’a Allah [God willing], there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years. Until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.”

Beside exploiting people’s grievances and inciting violence against Israel, Khamenei primarily relies on Hezbollah, Hamas and the IRGC to pursue his anti-Israel agenda.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, previously disclosed that Iran is lifeline of Hezbollah. In a speech broadcast by the Shiite party’s Al-Manar TV station, he said:

“We do not have any business projects or investments via banks… We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have no money in Lebanese banks, neither in the past nor now. We do not transfer our money through the Lebanese banking system…. We totally reject this [U.S.] law until the Day of Judgment. … Even if the law is applied, we as a party and an organizational and jihadi movement, will not be hurt or affected”.

Nasrallah also insisted that, “as long as Iran has money, we have money… Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it.”

Notably, there are no differences across Iran’s political spectrum when it comes to opposing and threatening Israel. Moderates, reformist, principalists [in Farsi, Osolgarayan: ultra revolutionary and conservatives] and hardliners all pursue the core anti-Israel pillar of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy.

The so-called moderate Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, said previously:

“The Zionist regime (Israel) is a regional base for America and the global arrogance … Disunity and discord among Muslim and terrorist groups in the region … have diverted us from the important issue of Palestine… We stand with the dispossessed Palestinian nation.”

Iranian leaders believe that arming groups and people who oppose Israel is critical. Khamenei tweeted that “I announced and it will absolutely happen that, just like #Gaza, the #WestBank must also be armed…”

Iran is also attempting to intimidate Trump from taking a tough stance against Iran. Trump ought to be wary of falling into Iran’s tactical game of fear-mongering. For Iran, US concessions and silence in the face of Iran’s threats mean weakness and fear. The fact is that whenever the US surrenders to Iran’s threats, Iranian leaders become louder and bolder in their threats. On the other hand, when Iran sees that the US is taking a robust stance and that military option is always on the table, Tehran retreats.

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Finally, at least as long as Iran’s Supreme Leader is alive, and as long as the ruling clerics preserve the political establishment, the Islamic Republic of Iran will maintain the core pillars of its foreign policies and revolutionary principles: these are anchored in anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Semitic politics. Iranian politicians across the political spectrum totally agree on these fundamentals.

UNSC resolution promotes Mid East war

December 24, 2016

UNSC resolution promotes Mid East war, DEBKAfile, December 24, 2016

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The United States did not abandon Israel by its abstention from vetoing the UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements that was passed Friday, Dec. 23, 2016.

The one who abandoned Israel was US President Barack Obama – and not for the first time. During his eight years in office, Obama let Israel down at least three times on issues that jeopardized its security:

One of the first consequences of his 2011 “Arab Spring” initiative was the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak as Egyptian president and his direct promotion of the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of power in Cairo.

Four years later, Obama turned his back on Israel to award Iran favored status. Iran was allowed to retain the infrastructure of its military nuclear program as well as continuing to develop ballistic missiles, with the help of an infusion of $250 billion in US and European sanctions relief.

The horror of the carnage in Syria overshadowed the fact that President Obama allowed Tehran to pump Revolutionary Guards forces into the country through Iraq in order to fight for the brutal Assad regime. The president made no effort to halt the influx of pro-Iranian Shiite groups, including the Lebanese Hizballah, into Syria, as though it was perfectly natural and his policies had nothing to do with bringing Israel’s arch-foes to its back door.

In 2015, too, when Obama tried to wash his hands of the Middle East at large, he opened the war for the Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi to walk in and commandeer large swathes of Iraq and Syria virtually unopposed.

From those vantage points, the jihadists sent out a tentacle to Egyptian Sinai – close to another Israeli border.

Of late, the Obama has claimed he was not aware of ISIS’ potential for expansion, implying that US intelligence was at fault.

All the same, Obama never tired of emphasizing that he had done more than any US president before him to support Israel’s security, mainly in the form of advanced US weapons systems supplied for its defense. Because of the close military and intelligence ties between the two countries, no voice was raised to contradict him.

It is now time to point to the hypocrisy of the incumbent president’s posture: Had he invested less in granting benefits and free rein to the Jewish state’s closest enemies, Israel would perhaps have been less dependent on American hardware.

In the latest UN Security Council resolution, Israel is reprimanded on the score that “all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of peace on the basis of the two-state solution.”

Before anyone else, Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry are in a position to attest to the falseness of this equation.

On Nov. 25, 2009, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would impose a 10-month freeze on construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a concession to ease the US peace initiative. Israel gave way further on its demand for direct negotiations, when Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas dug his heels in against meeting Israeli officials face to face. John Kerry was forced to engage in shuttle diplomacy.
Even after those concessions for peace, the Obama initiative fell flat when it came up against Palestinian resistance.

The departing US president seems determined to use his last weeks in office to teach the Israeli prime minister a painful lesson he won’t forget in a hurry after his White House exit on Jan. 20.

But he is getting it wrong one more time. The UN SC resolution will soon be reduced to a piece of paper. The Palestinians will wave it gladly in the face of the international community, but Israel won’t remove a single settlement or stop building new housing estates in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister’s Office made it clear that Israel is not bound by the resolution and rejects it.
The only concrete result will be to make peace more elusive than ever

The notion that Donald Trump will come riding to Israel’s rescue as soon as he moves into the Oval Office is foolish. He was elected to rebuild America as a global power. That would necessarily include restoring US influence in the Middle East, but how he proposes to accomplish this is not generally known.

If he decides to call on Israel for support and assistance, it stands to reason that he will introduce radical changes in Obama’s steps – especially the nuclear deal with Iran and the peace process with the Palestinians.

Not all those changes can be achieved peacefully. They may well entail the use of military force by the United States and Israel. In this sense, Security Council Resolution 2334 may turn out to be the real obstacle to peace, tending rather to promote belligerence in the Middle East, because the Palestinians and other hardliners and rejectionists will use the resolution as their justification for bashing Israel and more acts of terror.

Israel’s First Project with Trump

December 9, 2016

Israel’s First Project with Trump, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, December 9, 2016

firstproject

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

[R]ecently Hezbollah commander Hassan Nasrallah bragged, “We’re open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets are from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

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Israeli officials are thrilled with the national security team that US President-elect Donald Trump is assembling. And they are right to be.

The question now is how Israel should respond to the opportunity it presents us with.

The one issue that brings together all of the top officials Trump has named so far to his national security team is Iran.

Gen. (ret.) John Kelly, whom Trump appointed Wednesday to serve as his secretary of homeland security, warned about Iran’s infiltration of the US from Mexico and about Iran’s growing presence in Central and South America when he served as commander of the US’s Southern Command.

Gen. (ret.) James Mattis, Trump’s pick to serve as defense secretary, and Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn, whom he has tapped to serve as his national security adviser, were both fired by outgoing President Barack Obama for their opposition to his nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

During his video address before the Saban Forum last weekend, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he looks forward to discussing Obama’s nuclear Iran nuclear deal with Trump after his inauguration next month. Given that Netanyahu views the Iranian regime’s nuclear program – which the nuclear deal guaranteed would be operational in 14 years at most – as the most serious strategic threat facing Israel, it makes sense that he wishes to discuss the issue first.

But Netanyahu may be better advised to first address the conventional threat Iran poses to Israel, the US and the rest of the region in the aftermath of the nuclear deal.

There are two reasons to start with Iran’s conventional threat, rather than its nuclear program.

First, Trump’s generals are reportedly more concerned about the strategic threat posed by Iran’s regional rise than by its nuclear program – at least in the immediate term.

Israel has a critical interest in aligning its priorities with those of the incoming Trump administration.

The new administration presents Israel with the first chance it has had in 50 years to reshape its alliance with the US on firmer footing than it has stood on to date. The more Israel is able to develop joint strategies with the US for dealing with common threats, the firmer its alliance with the US and the stronger its regional posture will become.

The second reason it makes sense for Israel to begin its strategic discussions with the Trump administration by addressing Iran’s growing regional posture is because Iran’s hegemonic rise is a strategic threat to Israel. And at present, Israel lacks a strategy for dealing with it.

Our leaders today still describe Hezbollah with the same terms they used to describe it a decade ago during the Second Lebanon War. They discuss Hezbollah’s massive missile and rocket arsenal.

With 150,000 projectiles pointed at Israel, in a way it makes sense that Israel does this.

Just this week Israel reinforced the sense that Hezbollah is more or less the same organization it was 10 years ago when – according to Syrian and Hezbollah reports – on Tuesday Israel bombed Syrian military installations outside Damascus.

Following the alleged bombing, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told EU ambassadors that Israel is committed to preventing Hezbollah from transferring advanced weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from Syria to Lebanon.

The underlying message is that having those weapons in Syria is not viewed as a direct threat to Israel.

Statements like Liberman’s also send the message that other than the prospect of weapons of mass destruction or precision missiles being stockpiled in Lebanon, Israel isn’t particularly concerned about what is happening in Lebanon.

These statements are unhelpful because they obfuscate the fact that Hezbollah is not the guerrilla organization it was a decade ago.

Hezbollah has changed in four basic ways since the last war.

First, Hezbollah is no longer coy about the fact that it is an Iranian, rather than Lebanese, organization.

Since Iran’s Revolutionary Guards founded Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1983, the Iranians and Hezbollah terrorists alike have insisted that Hezbollah is an independent organization that simply enjoys warm relations with Iran.

But today, with Hezbollah forming the backbone of Iran’s operations in Syria, and increasingly prominent in Afghanistan and Iraq, neither side cares if the true nature of their relationship is recognized.

For instance, recently Hezbollah commander Hassan Nasrallah bragged, “We’re open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets are from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

What our enemies’ new openness tells us is that Israel must cease discussing Hezbollah and Iran as separate entities. Israel’s next war in Lebanon will not be with Hezbollah, or even with Lebanon. It will be with Iran.

This is not a semantic distinction. It is a strategic one. Making it will have a positive impact on how both Israel and the rest of the world understand the regional strategic reality facing Israel, the US and the rest of the nations of the Middle East.

The second way that Hezbollah is different today is that it is no longer a guerrilla force. It is a regular army with a guerrilla arm and a regional presence. Its arsenal is as deep as Iran’s arsenal.

And at present at least, it operates under the protection of the Russian Air Force and air defense systems.

Hezbollah has deployed at least a thousand fighters to Iraq where they are fighting alongside Iranian forces and Shi’ite militia, which Hezbollah trains. Recent photographs of a Hezbollah column around Mosul showed that in addition to its advanced missiles, Hezbollah also fields an armored corps. Its armored platforms include M1A1 Abrams tanks and M-113 armored personnel carriers.

The footage from Iraq, along with footage from the military parade Hezbollah held last month in Syria, where its forces also showed off their M-113s, makes clear that Hezbollah’s US platform- based maneuver force is not an aberration.

The significance of Hezbollah’s vastly expanded capabilities is clear. Nasrallah’s claims in recent years that in the next war his forces will stage a ground invasion of the Galilee and seek to seize Israeli border towns was not idle talk. Even worse, the open collaboration between Russia and Iran-Hezbollah in Syria, and their recent victories in Aleppo, mean that there is no reason for Israel to assume that Hezbollah will only attack from Lebanon. There is a growing likelihood that Hezbollah will make its move from Syrian territory.

The third major change from 2006 is that like Iran, Hezbollah today is much richer than it was before Obama concluded the nuclear deal with the ayatollahs last year. The deal, which canceled economic and trade sanctions on Iran, has given the mullahs a massive infusion of cash.

Shortly after the sanctions were canceled, the Iranians announced that they were increasing their military budget by 90%. Since Hezbollah officially received $200 million per year before sanctions were canceled, the budget increase means that Hezbollah is now receiving some $400m. per year from Iran.

The final insight that Israel needs to base its strategic planning on is that a month and a half ago, Hezbollah-Iran swallowed Lebanon.

In late October, after a two-and-a-half-year fight, Saad Hariri and his Future Movement caved to Iran and Hezbollah and agreed to support their puppet Michel Aoun in his bid for the Lebanese presidency.

True, Hariri was also elected to serve as prime minister. But his position is now devoid of power.

Hariri cannot raise a finger without Nasrallah’s permission.

Aoun’s election doesn’t merely signal that Hariri caved. It signals that Saudi Arabia – which used the fight over Lebanon’s presidency as a way to block Iran’s completion of its takeover of the country – has lost the influence game to Iran.

Taken together with Saudi ally Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s announcement last week that he supports Syrian President Bashar Assad’s remaining in power, Aoun’s presidency shows that the Sunnis have accepted that Iran is now the dominant power in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

This brings us back to Hezbollah’s tank corps and the reconstruction of the US-Israel alliance.

After the photos of the US-made armored vehicles in Hezbollah’s military columns were posted online, both Hezbollah and the Lebanese Armed Forces insisted that the weapons didn’t come from the LAF.

But there is no reason to believe them.

In 2006, the LAF provided Hezbollah with targeting information for its missiles and intelligence support. Today it must be assumed that in the next war, the LAF, and its entire arsenal will be placed at Hezbollah-Iran’s disposal. In 2016 alone, the US provided the LAF with $216m. in military assistance.

From Israel’s perspective, the most strategically significant aspect of Hezbollah-Iran’s uncontested dominance over all aspects of the Lebanese state is that while they control the country, they are not responsible for it.

Israeli commanders and politicians often insist that the IDF has deterred Hezbollah from attacking Israel. Israel’s deterrence, they claim, is based on the credibility of our pledge to bomb the civilian buildings now housing Hezbollah rockets and missiles in the opening moments of the next conflict.

These claims are untrue, though. Since Hezbollah- Iran are not responsible for Lebanon despite the fact that they control it through their puppet government, Iranian and Hezbollah leaders won’t be held accountable if Israel razes south Lebanon in the next war. They will open the next war not to secure Lebanon, but to harm Israel. If Lebanon burns to the ground, it will be no sweat off their back.

The reason a war hasn’t begun has nothing to do with the credibility of Israel’s threats. It has to do with Iran’s assessment of its interests. So long as the fighting goes on in Syria, it is hard to see Iran ordering Hezbollah to attack Israel. But as soon as it feels comfortable committing Hezbollah forces to a war with Israel, Iran will order it to open fire.

This then brings us back to the incoming Trump administration, and its assessment of the Iranian threat.

Trump’s national security appointments tell us that the 45th president intends to deal with the threat that Iran poses to the US and its interests.

Israel must take advantage of this strategic opening to deal with the most dangerous conventional threat we face.

In our leaders’ conversations with Trump’s team they must make clear that the Iranian conventional threat stretches from Afghanistan to Israel and on to Latin America and Michigan. Whereas Israel will not fight Iran in Iraq and Afghanistan, or in the Americas, it doesn’t expect the US to fight Iran in Lebanon. But at the same time, as both allies begin to roll back the Iranian threat, they should be operating from a joint strategic vision that secures the world from Iran’s conventional threat.

And once that it accomplished, the US and Israel can work together to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran opens The City of Games for Revolutionary Children, where children pretend to attack U.S. and Israel

December 8, 2016

Iran opens The City of Games for Revolutionary Children, where children pretend to attack U.S. and Israel, Jihad Watch,

“The children follow various paths simulating fighting the enemy, and at some places, the children learn about simple [combat] methods such as firing plastic artillery shells at a simulated enemy as well as aiming and firing a rifle with plastic bullets at [an effigy] of Netanyahu and at U.S. and Israeli flags.”

How do you think these children will fare against those who are being trained to be sensitive to microaggressions and flee to safe spaces at the slightest sign of challenge?

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“Iran’s Mashhad Municipality Opens Military-Religious Amusement Park – To Reinforce Revolutionary Values For Children,” MEMRI, December 1, 2016 (thanks to Pamela Geller):

On September 24, 2016, the Iranian news agency Raja News, which is close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), published an interview with Child and the Future Cultural Center director Hamid Sadeghi about an event held during the second half of September that is a military-religious amusement park, called The City of Games for Revolutionary Children. Sadeghi, who operates under the aegis of the Mashhad municipality and also runs the Sharbehesht.ir website, said that his center had set up and inaugurated the City of Games park, and that it is open free of charge to children aged eight through 13. It should be noted that this is the second City of Games event held by the Mashhad municipality; the first was last summer (see MEMRI Special Dispatches – No. 6098, Revolutionary, Anti-West Indoctrination Of Children By Municipality Of Mashhad, Iran, July 08, 2015)….

“Cultural Center director Hamid Sadeghi: “The City of Games for Revolutionary Children [park was opened] at Mashhad’s Kooh Sangi Park by the Child and the Future Cultural Center organization. It will be open September 18 to September 28, and children aged eight to 13 will be admitted free. At the City of Games, we are trying to convey to the children messages about fighting, the Holy Defense [i.e. Iran-Iraq War] and current global issues, through games, amusements, and group activities.

“After registering, the children enter the City of Games compound and split up into groups of eight to 10. They don uniforms and go through 12 [activity] stations.

“One of [our] cultural experts guides the children at the City of Games. First they are brought into the stations of the Ghadir [Shi’ite holiday honoring Imam ‘Ali’s succession to the Prophet Muhammad] and of the Lovers of Ahl Al-Bayt [the family of the Prophet Muhammad descended from ‘Ali], and [the guide] explains to them about the Mahdi [the Shi’ite messiah]. Then they reach the station of the Rule of the Jurisprudent [Velayat-e Faqih], and then the station of the Revolution, where the guide explains about the Islamic Revolution and how the Iranian nation vanquished the [Shah’s] dictatorship. An explanation is also provided about the directives of the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini and [Supreme] Leader Khamenei. Each group of children is assigned a commander who must be obeyed.

“Next, the children enter the first station of the Holy Defense, which houses the dome of the Tomb of Imam Reza [the eighth imam]. Like the fighters during the eight years of the Holy Defense, the children take leave of the Imam Reza and set out for the [battle]fronts.

“The children follow various paths simulating fighting the enemy, and at some places, the children learn about simple [combat] methods such as firing plastic artillery shells at a simulated enemy as well as aiming and firing a rifle with plastic bullets at [an effigy] of Netanyahu and at U.S. and Israeli flags. Here the guide tells the children a story about some of the operations that were carried out during the eight years of the Holy Defense.

“[After] the children are victorious in the war, they enter the station of the defense of the Shrine of Zaynab [the granddaughter of Muhammad and the daughter of ‘Ali, who according to Shi’ite tradition is buried in Damascus] and learn about defending the holy places, about the fighting in Syria against ISIS, and about anti-ISIS thought. At this stage, the children are tasked with finding bullets, each of which have a single letter written on it, and then play a game to complete sentences according to the guide’s instructions. That is, the guide asks a question and the children have to find letters and make words and sentences out of them to answer his question.

“After that, the children have a contest throwing balls at effigies of ISIS and the Saudi royal family, and finish the station [activity] in triumph. Next they enter an area simulating the Shrine of Zaynab, and watch a video on the defense of the shrine. Finally, they receive a cultural souvenir gift, and then they enter the final stage.

“At the final station, the children learn that the most important element[s] for attaining victory are wisdom and intelligence for fighting the enemy.

“At this station, the children are blindfolded and asked to throw a ball at an Israeli flag in the form of a puzzle and knock it down, and then to assemble a puzzle of an Iranian flag….

Arrests Breaks Up PIJ Recruitment Scheme

November 30, 2016

Arrests Breaks Up PIJ Recruitment Scheme, Investigative Project on Terrorism. Yaakov Lappin, November 30, 2016

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Israeli security forces led by the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency have uncovered a recruitment drive by Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives located in Pakistan, the Investigative Project on Terrorism has learned.

The operatives hail from Gaza and tried to recruit fellow students in Pakistan to create a West Bank cell, according to Israeli security sources.

The investigation illustrates the ease with which terror organizations, particularly Islamic Jihad and Hamas, recruit Palestinian students overseas, often taking advantage of extensive contact networks, the sources said.

The case is unusual for exposing Palestinian Islamic Jihad activity so far from the Palestinian territories and from Israel.

According to the Shin Bet’s investigation, 22-year-old Baha’a Abu Marhiah, a resident of the West Bank city of Hebron, is a Palestinian student who was recruited by two Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives. Marhiah was studying for a law degree at a university in Lahore, Pakistan.

Two Islamic Jihad operatives from Northern Gaza’s Shati Refugee Camp were studying for doctorates at the same university.

Israeli security forces named them as Sharif Halabi, 34, a religious scholar and teacher, and Ramzi Shakshak, 32, who lectures at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.

Halabi, who told students in Pakistan about “martyrs” in Gaza and incited them against Israel, gained Abu Marhiah’s trust and convinced him to join Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the investigation found.

Halabi allegedly told Abu Marhiah to keep in touch after returning to Hebron, and to await further instructions on how to conduct attacks, according to the Shin Bet. Today, Halabi and Shakshak are back in Gaza.

But Marhiah was arrested Sept. 22 in a joint Shin Bet, Israel Defense Forces, and police operation following his return.

In recent days, an IDF military court charged Abu Marhiah with carrying out a service for a banned organization, and holding contact with an enemy entity.

After Hamas, Islamic Jihad is the second largest terrorist organization in Gaza, with approximately 5,000 armed combatants split up into regional brigades and a domestically produced rocket arsenal which incorporates Iranian know-how.

Any expansion of Islamic Jihad from Gaza into the West Bank would also represent an Iranian push into the area.

Prior to 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield, Islamic Jihad maintained a high profile in the West Bank and launched a series of suicide bombing and shooting attacks against Israelis. Jenin and Hebron were considered strong areas for the organization. The terrorist group is now working strenuously to reinvigorate itself in the area.

Iran remains the principal financial backer of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Unlike Hamas, it has remained utterly loyal to Tehran and enjoyed sustained, continuous support from it.

While Hamas has distanced itself from Iran’s Shi’ite sectarian intervention in the region’s raging wars, particularly in Syria, Islamic Jihad has not.

In recent months, Iran has expanded efforts to create a zone of influence in the West Bank, according to Israeli defense assessments.

This included attempts by its proxies, Islamic Jihad and Hizballah, to set up terror cells there.

Israel identified and stopped efforts by Hizballah’s Unit 133, which seeks to set up terror cells among Palestinians and activate them, earlier this year.

Meanwhile Shin Bet periodically checks efforts by Islamic Jihad in Gaza to recruit West Bank attackers. Despite the successes, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) central command assessed last year that Islamic Jihad was gaining strength in the West Bank.

The small, yet highly focused organization will continue acting as the principal flag bearer for Iran in the Palestinian arena.

Iran, Hamas and the Dance of Death

November 23, 2016

Iran, Hamas and the Dance of Death, Gatestone InstituteKhaled Abu Toameh, November 23, 2016

It now appears that the Obama Administration’s failed policies in the Middle East have increased the Iranians’ appetite, such that they are convinced that they can expand their influence to the Palestinians as well.

Iran has one goal only: to eliminate the “Zionist entity” and undermine moderate and progressive Arabs and Muslims.

“Relations between Iran and Hamas are currently undergoing revitalization, and are moving in the right direction,” announced Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official. He went on to explain that “moving in the right direction” means that Iran would “continue to support the resistance” against Israel.

Hamas and Iran have no meaningful ideological or strategic differences. Both share a common desire to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire. Iran expects results: Hamas is to use the financial and military support to resume attacks on Israel and “liberate all of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

As far as Iran is concerned, there is nothing better than having two proxy terror organizations on Israel’s borders — Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south.

The biggest losers, once again, will be President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Israel’s presence in the West Bank has thus far thwarted Iran’s repeated attempts to establish bases of power there.

The Iranians and Hamas are exploiting the final days of the Obama Administration to restore their relations and pave the way for Tehran to step up its meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians in particular and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general.

Emboldened by the nuclear deal framework with the world powers, Iran has already taken the liberty of interfering in the internal affairs of other Arabs, particularly the Iraqis, Lebanese, Syrians, Yemenites and some Gulf countries.

It now appears that the Obama Administration’s failed policies in the Middle East have increased the Iranians’ appetite, such that they are convinced that they can expand their influence to the Palestinians as well.

Thanks to the civil war in Syria, relations between Hamas and Iran have been strained over the past few years. Hamas’s refusal to support the regime of Bashar Assad — Iran’s chief ally in the region — has led the Iranians to suspend financial and military aid to the Islamist movement in the Gaza Strip. However, recent signs indicate that Iran and Hamas are en route to a kind of Danse Macabre — a move that will undoubtedly allow Tehran to become a major player in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

1162-2Iran used to funnel money to Hamas because the terrorist group shares Iran’s desire to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire. Relations between Iran and Hamas foundered a few years back, when Hamas leaders refused to support the Iranian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad. Pictured above: Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (left) confers with Iranian “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei, in 2010. (Image source: Office of the Supreme Leader)

This, of course, bodes badly for any future peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Iran has one goal only: to eliminate the “Zionist entity” and undermine moderate and progressive Arabs and Muslims.

The new US administration would do well to take very seriously Iran’s comeback to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because of its implications not only concerning prospects for peace, but also because it means that this will lead to an upsurge in violence and terror attacks against Israel.

Proof of Iran’s renewed effort to infiltrate the Palestinian arena was provided this week by statements made by a senior Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, who is in charge of the Islamist movement’s “external affairs.” Asked about Hamas’s relations with Iran, Hamdan was quoted as saying that he had good reason to be optimistic.

“Relations between Iran and Hamas are currently undergoing revitalization, and are moving in the right direction,” Hamdan announced. He went on to explain that “moving in the right direction” means that Iran would “continue to support the resistance” against Israel:

“Relations between Iran and Hamas extend over a period of 25 years. Undoubtedly, any flaw in this relationship has a negative impact. But this relationship is capable of renewing itself. This is a relationship that is based on supporting the resistance and the Palestinian cause.”

In reality, Hamas and Iran have no meaningful ideological or strategic differences. Both share a common desire to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire. The two entities are also committed to an “armed struggle” against Israel, and are vehemently opposed to any compromise with it.

The crisis between the two sides over the civil war in Syria is no more than a minor, tactical dispute. When it comes to the real agenda, such as destroying Israel and launching terror attacks, Iran and Hamas continue to be in total alignment.

Another sign of the apparent rapprochement between Iran and Hamas came in the form of reports that the Islamist movement has appointed a new leader in the Gaza Strip with close ties to Tehran. According to the reports, Emad El Alami, who previously served as Hamas’s first emissary to Tehran, has been entrusted with temporarily replacing Ismail Haniyeh as the ruler of the Gaza Strip. Haniyeh has in recent months relocated from the Gaza Strip to Qatar. At this stage, it remains unclear when and if Haniyeh will return to the Gaza Strip. Some Palestinians have surmised that Haniyeh may replace the Doha-based Khaled Mashaal as head of the Hamas “Political Bureau.” If this happens, then El Alami, who is regarded by many Palestinians as Iran’s agent, will become the permanent de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip.

El Alami’s rise to power will undoubtedly further facilitate Iran’s ambition to become a significant player in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the gates of the Gaza Strip. This means that Hamas can expect more cash and weapons to enter Gaza in the coming weeks and months. Such an influx would significantly increase the likelihood of another war between Hamas and Israel. Iran’s millions will not be used by Hamas for building schools and hospitals, or providing desperately needed jobs for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Nor will the Iranian-supplied weapons be stored in Hamas warehouses and tunnels, or used in military parades.

Iran expects results: Hamas is to use the financial and military support to resume attacks on Israel and “liberate all of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

When Hamas leaders talk about Iranian support for the Palestinian “resistance,” they mean suicide bombings, rocket attacks and other forms of terrorism. They are saying with unmistakable clarity that they seek a resumption of Iranian support for the “resistance” — not for the tens of thousands of unemployed and impoverished Palestinians living under the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. The well-being of the Palestinians living under its rule is the last thing on Hamas’s mind.

The Iranians, for their part, appear to be extremely eager to resume their role as enablers and funders of any group that vows to eliminate Israel. As far as Iran is concerned, there is nothing better than having two proxy terror organizations on Israel’s borders — Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south.

Iran is already backing other terror groups in the Gaza Strip, such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al-Sabireen. But these are tiny groups compared to Hamas, which has tens of thousands of gunmen and a strong military group, Ezaddin Al Kassam. And there is nothing to prevent Iran from extending its control to the Gaza Strip through Hamas, especially in the wake of the Obama Administration’s policy of appeasing not only the Iranians, but also the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the coming months, Hamas is scheduled to hold secret elections to elect a replacement for Khaled Mashaal. Mashaal’s departure from the scene is also set to facilitate Iran’s effort to infiltrate the Gaza Strip. The three candidates who are seen as potential successors to Mashaal — Ismail Haniyeh, Musa Abu Marzouk and Yehya Al Sinwar — have all pledged to improve their movement’s ties with Iran.

The biggest losers, once again, will be President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank.

PA officials continue to express deep concern over Iran’s meddling in Palestinian affairs, especially its financial and military support for terror groups in the Gaza Strip and even some parts of the West Bank. Yet Israel’s presence in the West Bank has thus far thwarted Iran’s repeated attempts to establish bases of power there. Abbas has no choice but to work with Israel if he wishes to prevent Iran and its supporters from overthrowing his regime, and perhaps dragging him to the center of Ramallah and hanging him as a traitor.

Abbas and his senior aides are nonetheless plenty worried about Iran’s increased efforts to infiltrate the Palestinian arena. At a lecture in Bahrain last week, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat sounded an alarm bell when he said:

“Iran has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. Iran must respect the particularity of our country. We hope that Iran will focus on placing Palestine back on the map and not intervene through this or that group.”

But this warning is likely to fall on deaf ears in the waning Obama Administration, which obviously no longer shares the widespread concern among Arabs and Palestinians that Iran remains a major threat to stability and security in the region, including Israel. Perhaps the new US administration will see Iran and its machinations a bit more clearly. The alternative is allowing Iran and its proxy terror groups further to drench the region in blood.