Posted tagged ‘Israeli security’

Palestinian protests won’t swell into mass resistance so long as Arab rulers and Iran see no gain

December 9, 2017

Palestinian protests won’t swell into mass resistance so long as Arab rulers and Iran see no gain, DEBKAfile, December 9, 2017

All the same, it would be premature to completely rule out a major escalation being sparked by some unforeseen event. For instance, a cell of Tanzim, the armed wing of Abbas’ Fatah party, may decide to join Hamas, the Iranian-backed Jihad Islami and the extremist Popular Front – all of them with a long record of terrorism – for a spectacular terrorist attack on an Israeli or American target.  For the time being, there is no sign of this building up. The ordinary Palestinian man in the street has a job to go to on Sunday and appears to have settled on a moderate demonstration of protest for Trump’s Jerusalem strategy.

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The Palestinian Hamas finds itself shouting alone for a massive armed uprising, raising only muted echoes in the Arab world and the Palestinian street in protest at the US president’s Jerusalem decision. Most adult Palestinians, when asked, admit they see no point in sending their sons in harm’s way. Yet Israel’s mainstream media astonishingly report with great bombast every Hamas threat as though a world power is threatening World War III.

The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip have it in their power to unleash a barrage of rockets against their Israeli neighbors that would be damaging and lethal enough to trigger a major confrontation with Israel’s Defense Forces. They have done this before, but not so far now. In the exchange of blows Friday night, Dec. 8, Hamas clearly pulled its punches, showing that its rhetoric was just that. Smaller factions were allowed to fire off a few short-range rockets of low accuracy in the direction of Beersheba, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Israeli locations next door to the Gaza Strip. Most exploded on open ground or fell short while still in Gazan air space; one exploded harmlessly on a Sderot street and one was intercepted by an Iron Dome battery. Two Hamas activists were killed in Israeli retaliatory air strikes against three Hamas military facilities in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas leaders understand that their leeway for extreme action is narrower than ever before. They are a lone voice, are woefully short of funds, have no real backers in the Arab world and their popularity in the wider Palestinian community is waning.

By the time the anti-US, anti-Israel Palestinian protests reached their third day, Saturday, the following picture was taking shape:

The Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) decided against taking up Hamas’ call to arms when together they could have ignited a major conflagration. After all, President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital left in ruins the diplomatic campaign he led for years as his signature for unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood.

In the phone conversation he held with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday, shortly after Trump announced his decision on Jerusalem, Abu Mazen briefly considered joining the Hamas call for an extreme response. He pulled back when he realized that Haniyeh’s plan was to use the Jerusalem crisis as his pretext for hanging onto rule in the Gaza Strip. This would have wrecked the “reconciliation” deal in which Egypt invested long months as broker, in the hope of unifying the two Palestinian factions and bringing the Gaza Strip under Palestinian Authority rule. When Abu Mazen saw Haniyeh’s game, he backed away. The anti-Trump rallies in West Bank towns Thursday and Friday were consequently modest, compared with so many convulsions in the past.

Iran too pulled back from putting in its oar for inflaming Palestinian ire, because it has bigger fish to fry – even through Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah pushed hard for Tehran to instruct Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip to escalate the anti-Trump protest. Tehran’s attention is fixed on the turning-point in the Yemen civil war at Saudi Arabia’s back door, generated by the Revolutionary Guards success, in conjunction with Hizballah, to assassinate former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, after he switched sides from the Houthi insurgents to the Saudi-led coalition fighting them. The Houthis were then directed to wipe out the opposition by executing hundreds of officers and commanders loyal to Saleh.

The Palestinians are also small beer in the calculations of most members of the Arab League. Arab foreign ministers convened in Cairo Saturday, Dec. 9, for an “emergency session on Jerusalem.”  But it was summoned by the Palestinian Authority and one other Arab leader, Jordan’s King Abdullah, who has fallen out with most of his colleagues, badly enough for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, for instance, to cut of financial assistance to Amman.

Abu Mazen found Saudi Arabia and other senior Arab League members otherwise engaged. Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman was busy replacing Adel Al-Jubeir as foreign minister with his brother, Prince Khaled bin Salman, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi showed no interest in the session. Abbas quickly saw which way the wind was blowing in the Palestinians Arab hinterland.

In New York too, the emergency UN Secretary Council session on Jerusalem, after hearing the PA’s complaint against President Trump, ended with a joint expression of “disappointment” by the ambassadors of France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK. “We disagree with the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” they said. “The status of Jerusalem must be determined through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians leading to a final status agreement.” After that, the “disappointed” powers returned home.

All the same, it would be premature to completely rule out a major escalation being sparked by some unforeseen event. For instance, a cell of Tanzim, the armed wing of Abbas’ Fatah party, may decide to join Hamas, the Iranian-backed Jihad Islami and the extremist Popular Front – all of them with a long record of terrorism – for a spectacular terrorist attack on an Israeli or American target.  For the time being, there is no sign of this building up. The ordinary Palestinian man in the street has a job to go to on Sunday and appears to have settled on a moderate demonstration of protest for Trump’s Jerusalem strategy.

Abbas lacks important Arab support against Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem

December 7, 2017

Abbas lacks important Arab support against Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, DEBKAfile, December 7, 2017

Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinians during a protest in the West Bank city of Hebron, following US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, on December 7, 2017. Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90

It is no secret in Ramallah or Nablus that King Abdullah of Jordan has fallen out of favor with the majority of Arab rulers, especially the Saudi crown prince and strongman, the UAE emir and the Egyptian president.  DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources reveal that Riyadh has gone so far as to cut off financial assistance to Amman.

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The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas only found Jordan’s King Abdullah and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan to back him up Thursday, Dec. 7, in the first 24 hours after US President Donald Trump’s announced recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Arab street’s first response was also minor in scale and pitch – less than 100 protesters at most of the rallies. Prepared for an outbreak of “the third Palestinian intifada (uprising)”, foreign correspondents arrived on the scene kitted up in helmets and vests, only to find a fairly low-key event to cover rather than a violent backlash. The Palestinian sources reported 140 injured so far, most of them from inhaling gas and three from rubber bullets.

The Palestinians were called out by their leaders to stage massive protest marches in East Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm, as well as at the Gaza border fence.  Stones were hurled at Israeli troops and tires set on fire for the cameras, but nothing more lethal at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, for instance, than bottles of water. Only in Hebron did real clashes occur between security forces and protesters. They were broken up with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.

Extra Israeli security and military forces have been mobilized for the weekly Muslim Friday prayers at the mosques and Saturday. Will Palestinian protesters then turn out in force, as they have so many times before?

It must be said that, while most Arab and Muslim rulers have gone through the motions of condemning Trump’s pro-Israeli act, few are actively opposing it, which the Palestinian street has not been slow to notice. Their zeal for a violent confrontation with Israeli security forces is therefore less than expected – especially after their leader Abu Mazen had to fall back on the Jordanian king and Turkish president for support, instead of finding a rousing condemnation from the entire Arab leadership.

It is no secret in Ramallah or Nablus that King Abdullah of Jordan has fallen out of favor with the majority of Arab rulers, especially the Saudi crown prince and strongman, the UAE emir and the Egyptian president.  DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources reveal that Riyadh has gone so far as to cut off financial assistance to Amman.

Jordan has always been good friends with Turkey and so Abdullah flew to Ankara Wednesday to find a backer ahead of the Trump announcement. However, the ordinary Palestinian has a low opinion of President Erdogan and his efforts to set up an anti-American, Anti-Israel Islamic Front never found much response in Palestinian towns.

And so Abu Mazen’s panicky visit to Amman to talk with Abdullah is not expected to change the mood on the Palestinian street. At the same time, the situation is inflammable enough to catch fire in a trice. A large-scale Palestinian terrorist attack against Israel is always on the cards, and the potential for Israeli security forces facing a raging mob  to inflict a large number of casualties cannot be ruled out for triggering a major outbreak.

Palestinians: More Missed Opportunities

December 4, 2017

Palestinians: More Missed Opportunities, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, December 4, 2017

Abbas is a failed leader who has missed opportunity after opportunity to shepherd his people toward a better and dignified life. While his words may sound good to some Israelis and many in the international community, we are left with the burning question: Exactly who does he represent and on behalf of whom is he exactly talking? The answer is that Abbas is a single-strategy demagogue whose one goal is to hold onto the power to sell mirages to the world until his last breath.

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The PFLP, like Hamas and other Palestinian groups, makes no secret of its goal to “liberate Palestine, from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea.” All should be commended for their honesty. If anyone has any doubts, their plan means the total destruction of Israel. Thus, as chairman of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas cannot say that he represents the entire organization. He has no leverage with the PFLP, DFLP and the remaining terror groups operating under the umbrella of his PLO.

And now we come to the million dollar question: Does Abbas really represent all of Fatah? The answer is simple and clear: No. Over the past few decades, Fatah has witnessed sharp divisions and disputes, resulting in a number of splinter groups that broke away and are now openly challenging Abbas’s leadership and policies.

While Abbas is making noises about a peace process, his own Fatah faction is inciting violence and calling for the destruction of Israel. While Abbas is talking about his interest in achieving a two-state solution, his partners in the PLO, including the PFLP and DFLP, are openly calling for the destruction of Israel and advocating an armed struggle. While Abbas is claiming that he is the legitimate president of the Palestinians, many Palestinians, including senior officials in his Fatah faction, are legitimately stating he has no mandate from his people to sign any agreement with Israel.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas continues to mouth his “desire” to achieve peace with Israel on the basis of a two-state solution. Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction and PLO partners, however, evidently have a different agenda: to wage war on Israel until the “liberation of all of Palestine.”

In a speech delivered on his behalf by Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, on November 30, Abbas repeated his commitment to a two-state solution based on international law and the 1967 “borders.”

Abbas called on the UN “to force Israel to recognize the State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders as the basis for a two-state solution, and to agree on a demarcation of borders in line with the resolutions of the international community.”

Abbas’s claim to a commitment to the “two-state solution” is a staple of his talks to the international community. It is just not clear who Abbas represents when he talks about the Palestinians’ commitment to a “two-state solution.”

In addition to his title as president of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas also holds the jobs of chairman of the PLO and Fatah, his ruling faction in the West Bank. Do Abbas’s statements regarding peace with Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel represent any of three these bodies? Hardly.

Abbas’s four-year term in office (as president of the Palestinian Authority) expired in January 2009. Since then, he is widely considered by Palestinians as an illegitimate president who does not have the authority to sign any peace agreement with Israel on behalf of a majority of his people. Many Palestinians will legitimately reject any agreement he signs with Israel on the grounds that the 82-year-old Abbas, who is now in his 12th year of his four-year term in office, is not a lawful leader.

Against this backdrop of zero confidence, any agreement Abbas signs with Israel would not be worth the paper it is written on.

Besides, the Palestinian Authority that he heads has no jurisdiction over the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip or millions of Palestinians residing in Arab countries and elsewhere around the world. At the very most, the PA would be able to implement such an agreement only on those parts it controls in the West Bank.

That is concerning to the PA, a self-ruled body that was established in accordance with the 1993 Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PLO.

As for the PLO, of which Abbas is chairman, it is worth noting that it is an umbrella organization made up of various Palestinian factions. With the exception of Fatah, the largest faction (also headed by Abbas), the remaining groups are emphatically opposed to a peace process with Israel. Even worse, the other PLO groups continue to advocate an armed struggle against Israel.

Take, for example, the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a famous PLO terror group that does not believe in Israel’s right to exist and continues to engage in terrorism. The PFLP never misses an opportunity to state its support for violence and rejection of any peace agreement with Israel.

Here is what the PFLP thinks about efforts to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israel:

“The PFLP confirms its categorical rejection of all international and Arab projects and ‘solutions’ that attempt to undermine the rights of Palestinian refugees and principally, their right of return, in the interest of proposals consistent with the Zionist vision if this fundamental issue.”

The PFLP, like Hamas and other Palestinian groups, makes no secret of its goal to “liberate Palestine, from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea.” All should be commended for their honesty. If anyone has any doubts, their plan means the total destruction of Israel.

Another PLO terror group, the Leninist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), for example, is equally dangerous and rejects any peaceful settlement with Israel. This is what the group had to say in a recent statementmarking the 69th anniversary of the “Nakba” (the “catastrophe,” a reference to the establishment of Israel in 1948):

“Let’s make the 69th anniversary of the Nakba a year to liberate our cause from the Oslo compromising ties, a year of national salvation and mobilization of our national forces against the Zionist project on every single inch of Palestine land.”

Some may argue that both the PFLP and DFLP are relatively small groups within the PLO, and that their words are insignificant. However, it is the actions of the terror groups, not only the rhetoric, that matters. With a long history of terrorism against Israel, the PFLP and DFLP will never accept any peace agreement with Israel. How can they accept any agreement when they are already calling for the abrogation of the Oslo Accords?

The PFLP and DFLP are not the only PLO terror groups opposed to any peaceful settlement with Israel. Among the other PLO terror groups are: The Palestinian People’s Party, the Palestine Liberation Front, the Arab Liberation Front and the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front. Their shared ideology: rejection of Israel’s right to exist and commitment to terrorism as a way of “liberating all of Palestine.”

Thus, as chairman of the PLO, Abbas cannot say that he represents the entire organization. He has no leverage with the PFLP, DFLP and the remaining terror groups operating under the umbrella of his PLO. These terror groups would never — ever — sign on to a peace agreement between Abbas and Israel.

That leaves us with Abbas’s dominant Fatah faction. And now we come to the million dollar question: Does Abbas really represent all of Fatah? The answer is simple and clear: No.

Over the past few decades, Fatah has witnessed sharp divisions and disputes, resulting in a number of splinter groups that broke away and are now openly challenging Abbas’s leadership and policies.

Does Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas really represent all of his Fatah faction? No. Over the past few decades, Fatah has witnessed sharp divisions and disputes, resulting in a number of splinter groups that broke away and are now openly challenging Abbas’s leadership and policies. Pictured: Abbas (center) meets with the Central Committee of the Fatah movement July 13, 2014 in Ramallah. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

Tensions within Fatah have intensified markedly in recent years, especially with the revolt spearheaded by Abbas’s arch-rival, Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan, a former Fatah official and security commander ousted by Abbas, is currently based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and enjoys the backing of many Palestinian cadres, especially in the Gaza Strip. Dahlan and his supporters are working hard to remove Abbas from power with the help of the UAE and some Arab countries.

Moreover, Abbas’s two-state solution remarks and his avowals of opposition to terrorism also fail to reflect the views of some of Fatah’s top officials and media. A report presented by Palestinian Media Watch to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East details Fatah’s ongoing incitement and glorification of terror against Israel.

The divisions within Fatah are not limited to the political echelon only; they also extend to the faction’s various armed groups. This means that Abbas also does not represent all the armed groups of the faction that he is supposed to be heading under Fatah.

Here, for example, is what one of Fatah’s armed groups, Aqsa Martyrs Brigades — Battalion of Martyr Nidal Al-Amoudi thinks about Abbas’s two-state solution and peace with Israel: “We promise our people to pursue the path of armed struggle and the pure rifle until the liberation of all Palestine and its holy sites.” That statement by Abbas’s terror group was issued in the Gaza Strip on December 2. The occasion: Launching a “training” camp for Fatah terrorists named after Yasser Arafat.

Let us get things clear: While Abbas is making noises about a peace process, his own Fatah faction is inciting violence and calling for the destruction of Israel. While Abbas is talking about his interest in achieving a two-state solution, his partners in the PLO, including the PFLP and DFLP, are openly calling for the destruction of Israel and advocating an armed struggle. While Abbas is claiming that he is the legitimate president of the Palestinians, many Palestinians, including senior officials in his Fatah faction, are legitimately stating he has no mandate from his people to sign any agreement with Israel.

Abbas is a failed leader who has missed opportunity after opportunity to shepherd his people toward a better and dignified life. While his words may sound good to some Israelis and many in the international community, we are left with the burning question: Exactly who does he represent and on behalf of whom is he exactly talking? The answer is that Abbas is a single-strategy demagogue whose one goal is to hold onto the power to sell mirages to the world until his last breath.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

Trump’s strategic vision

December 3, 2017

Trump’s strategic vision, Israel National News, Ted Belman, December 2, 2017

Former Minister of Defense for Israel, Moshe Yaalon, just wrote a major opinion piece titled United States Policy in the Middle East: The Need for a Grand Strategy, which was published by the Institute for National Security Studies. In it, he claimed:

“The first year of the Trump administration has been characterized by the lack of clear policy guidelines vis-à-vis the Middle East. The great hopes that many countries in the region hung on the change of administration and a new proactive president in the White House have slowly been eclipsed by a sense of confusion, given United States behavior that shows little consistency and no clear strategic objectives.”

Yaalon, who has been out of office now for two years doesn’t know what is going on. On the contrary, the Trump administration does have a grand strategy, grander than imagined.

Many countries in the region, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have never been more hopeful about what they understand to be his strategic objectives and his plans for achieving them.

Remember Trump has consistently refused to telegraph his foreign policy moves while at the same time has consistently repeated that he intends to push back against Iran expansionism.

Saudi Arabia

When President Trump was campaigning, he kept saying that he wanted to defeat ISIS and its ideology. He was ridiculed for thinking he could eradicate the ideology.  It didn’t take him long to make good on his word.

His administration got to work immediately with the Sunni states, but principally with Mohamed ben Salman (MBS) of Saudi Arabia.  Al Sisi of Egypt was already on board as evidenced by a speech he made two years ago in which he said:

“I am addressing the religious scholars and clerics. We must take a long, hard look at the situation we are in. It is inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction all over the world. It is inconceivable that this ideology… I am referring not to ‘religion,’ but to ‘ideology’– the body of ideas and texts that we have sanctified in the course of centuries, to the point that challenging them has become very difficult.

“It has reached the point that [this ideology] is hostile to the entire world. Is it conceivable that 1.6 billion [Muslims] would kill the world’s population of seven billion, so that they could live [on their own]  [..]. You cannot see things clearly when you are locked [in this ideology]. You must emerge from it and look from outside, in order to get closer to a truly enlightened ideology. You must oppose it with resolve. Let me say it again: We need to revolutionize our religion.”

Four months after his inauguration, Pres Trump made his historic trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in which he addressed 50 Arab and Muslim leaders:
“Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology – located right here, in this central part of the Islamic world. This groundbreaking new center represents a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combatting radicalization”

“But above all we must be united in pursuing the one goal that transcends every other consideration. That goal is to meet history’s great test — to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism.

“Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence, and innocent of hatred.”

His message was clear and had already been agreed upon.

“Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.“This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase – and we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations.”

The last sentence suggests that the fighting will be done by the Sunnis with American backing rather than the other way around.

“But this (prosperous) future can only be achieved through defeating terrorism and the ideology that drives it.”

The Arab world understands this and is all for it. With the price of oil being what it is and likely to stay low, the Saudis will be bankrupt in a 5 years as they are eating into their surplus of $750 billion at an alarming rate. By jointly agreeing to spend $400 billion to achieve prosperity, they are putting their money where their mouth is. They are committed and so is the US.

As further evidence of their commitment, MBS announced the Vision 2030.

Essentially this is an economic vision that requires Saudi Arabia to open up to the world to create an environment conducive to foreign investment. Thus, it must westernize.

“Our Vision is a strong, thriving, and stable Saudi Arabia that provides opportunity for all. Our Vision is a tolerant country with Islam as its constitution and moderation as its method. We will welcome qualified individuals from all over the world and will respect those who have come to join our journey and our success.”

They also can’t take on Iran without Israel.

Egypt is in a worse position. She needs Israel’s help in building her economy and in defeating the terrorists in Sinai and Libya.

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar in June 2017. The severing of relations included withdrawing ambassadors, and imposing trade and travel bans.

The crisis is an escalation of the Qatar–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict. The Saudi-led coalition cited Qatar’s support for terrorism and open alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as the main reasons for their actions. Saudi Arabia and other countries have criticized Al Jazeeraand Qatar’s relations with Iran.
Qatar is a big supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Hamas, whereas Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the others have banned the MB as a terrorist organization and are coming down hard on Hamas.

In October 2017, Saudi Arabia announced plans to build a $500 Billion city to be called Neom in the north west corner of Saudi Arabia. It will reach into Jordan and Egypt.

Bloomberg reported:

“It would be a microcosm of Saudi Arabia 2.0 while its new 32-year-old leader reconfigures the rest of the economy to make it fit for the modern world in a way that past rulers have failed to do. Other massive cities in the desert have been announced with much fanfare, then have floundered short of expectations, like the $10 billion office park on the outskirts of Riyadh sitting largely unoccupied and unfinished.

“The city “constitutes an attempt to create an economic zone that is more efficient and streamlined than the overall economy that will take time to reform,” said James Dorsey, a Middle East specialist at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. “The question is whether one can isolate a megacity from the inefficiencies of the country’s economy.””

As you can see, it is a huge gamble, born no doubt out of the huge need to to transform Saudi Arabia.

Jordan

Jordan too is a supporter of the MB, who have their headquarters in the country. While King Abdullah has enjoyed a good reputation among Congressmen and Members of Knesset, his reputation has been greatly tarnished in the last two years, so much so that the White House and the Netanyahu government are ready to ditch him.

What may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for them is the fact that Jordan’s king very own security agencies, which he controls with an iron-fist, have been caught red-handed stealing US and British weapons and selling them to ISIS.

Here are some recent articles which tell the tale.

Another Jordanian-made knife in the back of Israel.

Israel-Jordan peace agreement: The emperor has no clothes 

They see King Abdullah as an obstacle to peace rather than a guarantor of peace. They also believe that civil war is coming to Jordan unless they make a move to prevent it. While they may not say so publicly, some Israeli journalists do.

The US made their first move this week by announcing:

“Now, according to Stars and Stripes, Congress has added $143 million to the Pentagon budget, to upgrade the strategic Muwaffaq Salti Air Base, close to Jordan’s border with Syria and Iraq. The base has played a key role in the US military in its war with ISIS, and requires urgent upgrades, according to the Air Force, being overwhelmed as it is by the increased numbers and scope of operations.”

This is just the first step in moving the base in Qatar with its 11,000 US airmen to the base in Jordan.

General Charles Wald, USAIR, told Fox News US doesn’t need Qatar air base if Qatar won’t support our fight against terrorism .

This has been done to forestall a civil war in Jordan. The King has lost control of Jordan and the US is calling the shots. Watch for the drama to unfold.

The Arab/Israeli Conflict.

The right in Israel are very unhappy that Trump won’t move the Embassy to Jerusalem, won’t let Israel build though out Judea and Samaria, won’t let her expand the boundaries of Jerusalem and won’t let her demolish illegally build Arab structures. They are also unhappy that Trump keeps working on a plan, a process, for achieving “peace”.

But as the Economist pointed out in a recent article, Whatever the administration produces, Saudi Arabia is likely to support it.

“For Prince Muhammad, it seems, Palestinian aspirations to statehood are less important than countering Iran.”

“Prince Muhammad may calculate that a viable peace process would give him political cover to make the alliance more overt.”

And one might conclude that that is what the purpose of the process is.

Lebanon

Prime Minister Saad Harari resigned his post in Lebanon and then travelled to Saudi Arabia where he made a speech denouncing Hezbollah. On returning to Lebanon, he withdrew his resignation. But all is not lost.

BESA reports, “Hariri is believed to be demanding that Hezbollah halt its support to Houthi rebels in Yemen and withdraw from Syria, where its fighters supported the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. “ and argues that this goal may yet be achieved.

Iraq Kurdistan

The US reprimanded them for holding the referendum against its wishes and allowed Iraq to take back Kirkuk. Do not fear for the independence of Kurdistan. Their day will come. America has a strategic plan which mandates dealing with Jordan first.

The US wants to cement the alliance of Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt before pushing back on Iran.

Syria Kurdistan

According to the Washington Post, no friend of Pres Trump, The U.S. must prepare for Iran’s next move in Syria

“A task force of senior former U.S. diplomatic and military officials has come up with suggestions for how Trump could prevent Iran from taking over what’s left of liberated Syria and fulfill his own promise to contain Iranian influence in the region”.

“First, the United States needs to declare a clear Syria policy that removes suspicions that the United States is going to pull up stakes now that the Islamic State caliphate has fallen. The policy should make clear that a U.S. military presence will remain on the ground and in the air, to ensure that the Islamic State doesn’t reemerge and Assad doesn’t retake the entire country, and to provide security for reconstruction.

“Second, the Trump administration must increase its assistance to Sunni communities lucky enough to live outside Assad’s rule and help U.S.-supported local groups hold valuable territory in Syria’s southeast. This territory can provide local communities economic benefits now and political leverage down the line.

“Third, the United States should work with regional allies to stop Iran from moving weapons and troops into Syria. That would require interdicting shipments by sea and ensuring that U.S.-supported forces control key border towns in Syria and Iraq. Such moves could check Iranian aggression without triggering armed conflict with Tehran.”

“Accordingly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis pledged last week that U.S. forces would remain to prevent the emergence of “ISIS 2.0” and until the political process gets off the ground, but he stopped short of saying America would keep Iran’s aggression at bay.”

As Caroline Glick rightly points out, in Portents of Quagmires in Syria, recently published:

“If Trump keeps US forces in Syrian Kurdistan, and if he refuses to help pay for Syrian reconstruction so long as Assad remains in power and Iranian and Hezbollah forces remain on the ground and if the US ends its civilian and military assistance to Lebanon, the US and its allies will be strengthened, and Russia and its allies will be weakened.

“If the Americans do not interfere as Syrian “freedom fighters” defend against Iranian or Russian “aggression,” it won’t matter what terms the Iranians give Putin for gas, or oil or nuclear deals. He will seek a way out of Syria.“

And she concludes:

“If the Americans do not save them, the situation on the ground augers quagmire, not triumph, for their axis and for their separate regimes.”

So rather than United States behavior showing “little consistency and no clear strategic objectives” as Yaalon writes, I would argue that Trump, does indeed, have a strategic vision. That vision involves the US fostering an open alliance of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel so that they can do the heavy lifting in pushing back Iran and its allies and ultimately to prevent Iran from getting the bomb.

Syria attacks Beit Jinn opposite IDF Hermon positions – reprisal for reported Israeli airstrike on Iranian base near Damascus

December 2, 2017

Syria attacks Beit Jinn opposite IDF Hermon positions – reprisal for reported Israeli airstrike on Iranian base near Damascus, DEBKAfile, December 2, 2017

Two significant military events were reported early Saturday, Dec. 2, by Arab and Russian sources – neither of them officially confirmed. The first was an Israeli airborne missile attack on the Syrian army’s 1st Division’s ammunition dump near Al-Kiswah 14km southwest of Damascus and 50km from the Golan. The target was identified as an Iranian military base which the BBC reported on Nov. 10 to be under construction in the Syrian military compound at Al-Kiswah. DEBKAfile’s military sources refuted the BBC report.

Other sources reported that the Israeli target early Saturday was a Hizballah position near the Syrian 1st Division’s 91st Brigade base in the same area. Syrian military sources and Arab social media released videos showing Syrian air defense intercepting some of the Israeli missiles while others hit the target. Some sources claimed they were launched from Lebanese air space. A short time later, the Syrian army announced that units of its 7th armored division and the 42nd brigade of its 4th division had just launched an offensive on the Beit Jinn pocket on Mount Hermon a little more than 4km away from IDF positions on the mount. A Druze village is located inside this enclave. The Syrian military statement omitted to mention the fact that Hizballah forces are spearheading this attack.

‘The Right to Maim’: Intersectionality and blood libels

November 24, 2017

‘The Right to Maim’: Intersectionality and blood libels, Israel National News, Dr. Richard L. Cravatts, November 22, 2017

Professor Puar is a feminist and gender studies specialist, and one may wonder why she has invested so much of her academic energy in vilifying Israel. But her obsession with Israel and its various perceived modes of oppression and brutality toward a weak, innocent victim group is consistent with many academics in the humanities and social sciences who increasingly find a linkage as they seek to affirm the rights of the victimized and name the villains responsible for this oppression. The more that seemingly unrelated instances of oppression can be conflated, it is thought, the greater the ability to confront these oppressors and neutralize the negative effect they have on society at large. 

This trend is called “intersectionality,” and it has meant that someone who is a gender studies professor, or queer theorist, or American studies expert can, with no actual knowledge or expertise about the Middle East, readily pontificate on the many social pathologies of Israel, based on its perceived role as a racist, colonial oppressor of an innocent indigenous population of Arab victims. For Professor Puar and her fellow academic travelers, to know one victim group is to know any victim group—with Israel being a tempting and habitual target of their opprobrium.

Supporters of the Palestinian cause have come to accept the fact that Israel will not be defeated through the use of traditional tools of warfare. Instead, the Jewish state’s enemies, abetted by the academic and media elites in the West, have begun to use different, but equally dangerous, tactics to delegitimize and eventually destroy Israel in a cognitive war. By dressing up old hatreds against Jews, as Puar has done in this new book, combined with a purported goal of seeking social justice for the oppressed, and repackaging ugly biases as seemingly pure scholarship, she and Israel’s other ideological foes have found an effective, but odious, way to ensure that the Jew of nations, Israel, is still accused of fostering social chaos and bringing harm and death to non-Jews.

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Jews have been accused of harming and murdering non-Jews since the twelfth century in England, when Jewish convert to Catholicism, Theobald of Cambridge, mendaciously announced that European Jews ritually slaughtered Christian children each year and drank their blood during Passover season.

That medieval blood libel, largely abandoned in the contemporary West, does, however, still appear as part of Arab world’s vilification of Jews—now transmogrified into a slander against Israel, the Jew of nations. But in the regular chorus of defamation against Israel by a world infected with Palestinianism, a new, more odious trend has shown itself: the blood libel has been revivified; however, to position Israel (and by extension Jews) as demonic agents in the community of nations, the primitive fantasies of the blood libel are now masked with a veneer of academic scholarship.

No more salient example of that type of mendacious academic output can be found than in a new book by Rutgers professor Jasbir K. Puar published by Duke University Press, The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability. The thesis of Puar’s book is formed by her examination of “Israeli tactical calculations of settler colonial rule,” which, she asserts, is “that of creating injury and maintaining Palestinian populations as perpetually debilitated, and yet alive, in order to control them.”

In other words, Puar’s core notion is that Israeli military tactics—as an extension of its political policies—involve the deliberate “stunting, “maiming,” physical disabling, and scientific experimenting with Palestinian lives, an outrageous and grotesque resurrection of the classic anti-Semitic trope that Jews purposely, and sadistically, harm and kill non-Jews.

Puar, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, boasts that she regularly writes on a hodgepodge of currently fashionable academic fields of study, including “gay and lesbian tourism, queer theory, theories of intersectionality, affect, homonationalism, and pinkwashing,” the latter being the perverse theory that Israel trumpets its broad support of LGBT rights in its society to furtively obscure its long-standing mistreatment of the Palestinians.

Morally coherent people would normally look at Israel’s progressive policies towards gays and commend the Jewish state for treating members of the LGBT community humanely and in a manner they are not treated in most of the Muslim world, but not Puar and her fellow pinkwashing theorists. Nothing Israel does, in their minds, is done with good intentions, only motivated by dark impulses meant to deceive, including, according to Puar, the inclination to maim, not kill, Palestinians.

“The Israeli Defense Forces (idf) have [sic] shown a demonstrable pattern over decades of sparing life, of shooting to maim rather than to kill. This is ostensibly a humanitarian practice,” she admits, although it results in “leaving many civilians ‘permanently disabled’ in an occupied territory of destroyed hospitals, rationed medical supplies, and scarce resources.” So, while Puar reluctantly admits that Israel purposely limits the lethality of its self-defense through restraint and tactical control, she still accuses it of using violence and injury as a tactical tool of a settler state to maintain control of a vulnerable indigenous population. It is both sadistic and exploitative, she contends, because it maintains a purportedly unjust and illegal occupation and the oppression of a victim people.

“I am arguing that debilitation and the production of disability are in fact biopolitical ends unto themselves,” she explains, “ . . . what I call ‘the right to maim’: a right expressive of sovereign power that is linked to, but not the same as, ‘the right to kill.’”

“Maiming,” she contends,  “. . . is a sanctioned tactic of settler colonial rule, without ever bothering to offer an explanation of why it is strategically more productive for Israel to permanently injure, as opposed to eliminate, a population which is perpetually an existential threat.

In a 2016 speech Puar delivered at Vassar College, which presaged the content of her book, she presented this same noxious theme, that Israel is intent on “Targeting youth, not for death but for stunting” as a “tactic that seeks to render impotent any future resistance.” “Maiming masquerades as let live when in fact it acts as will not let die,” she said, and that this technique, as part of a sadistic, imperialistic militancy on the part of Israel, “is used to achieve . . . tactical aims of settler colonialism.”

Of course, no acknowledgement from Puar is ever forthcoming as to the reasons “why the most intensive practice of the biopolitics of debilitation,” the use of force against the civilian Palestinian population, exists in the first place; that is, that Israel’s so-called brutal occupation and its military incursions are necessitated by Arab aggression and terrorism, and the use of force, the maiming of the Palestinians, are not random occurrences based on the whims of a sadistic Israeli military, but a reaction to and the result of unrelenting terroristic attacks in which psychopathic jihadists have attempted to murder Jews with knives, trucks, bombs, rockets, and rifles since the Israel’s founding.

Of course, for Puar and leftist academics who look at Israel as an illegitimate settler colonial regime, Palestinians attempting to murder Israelis are never thought of as terrorists; instead, they are part of a justified “resistance” to oppression and occupation. Unsurprisingly, Puar is also on the Advisory Board of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, a leading coordinator of Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement on campuses. And more alarming than her open support of the BDS movement is Puar’s explicit support for terrorism against Israeli citizens as a corollary aspect of the BDS movement. BDS “is such a minor piece of how Palestine is going to be liberated, [and] we need BDS as part of organized resistance and armed resistance in Palestine as well [emphasis added]” she has said. “There is no other way the situation is going to change.”

When pro-Palestinian activists and critics of Israel, such as Professor Puar, repeat the claim that Palestinians somehow have an internationally-recognized legal “right” to resist so-called occupation through violent means, they are both legitimizing that terror and helping to ensure that its lethal use by Israel’s enemies will continue unabated. Those who lend their moral support to terrorism, and who continually see the existence of “grievance-based violence” as a justifiable tool of the oppressed, have made themselves apologists for radical Islam and terrorism, not to mention questioning Israel’s legal right to protect its citizens from being slaughtered.

Puar also accuses Israel of randomly, and recklessly, targeting medical facilities and other infrastructure as a deadly way “to provide the bare minimum for survival, but minimal enough to attempt to defeat or strip resistance” where “. . . the target here is not just life itself but resistance itself.”  But Puar’s view that Israel’s military operations are characterized by disproportionality and a disregard for human life—even of its mortal foes—was, in fact, totally contradicted by a report prepared by The High-Level International Military Group on the Gaza Conflict in 2014, which found that “during Operation Protective Edge . . . Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard.”

Professor Puar is a feminist and gender studies specialist, and one may wonder why she has invested so much of her academic energy in vilifying Israel. But her obsession with Israel and its various perceived modes of oppression and brutality toward a weak, innocent victim group is consistent with many academics in the humanities and social sciences who increasingly find a linkage as they seek to affirm the rights of the victimized and name the villains responsible for this oppression. The more that seemingly unrelated instances of oppression can be conflated, it is thought, the greater the ability to confront these oppressors and neutralize the negative effect they have on society at large.

This trend is called “intersectionality,” and it has meant that someone who is a gender studies professor, or queer theorist, or American studies expert can, with no actual knowledge or expertise about the Middle East, readily pontificate on the many social pathologies of Israel, based on its perceived role as a racist, colonial oppressor of an innocent indigenous population of Arab victims. For Professor Puar and her fellow academic travelers, to know one victim group is to know any victim group—with Israel being a tempting and habitual target of their opprobrium.

Thus, for instance, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have often linked racism and police violence “from Ferguson to Palestine,” as their placards have announced, making Israel somehow complicit in American racism and police brutality and creating a moral equivalency between Palestinian and black American victims of oppression. In The Right to Maim, Puar discusses the supposed linkage between Black Lives Matter and the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, seeing in both struggles a common theme of weak victim groups being oppressed by the forces of racism and colonialism, respectively.

“‘Hands up, don’t shoot!’ is not a catchy slogan that emerges from or announces able-bodied populations,” Puar suggests, assuming that black victims of police shootings are always innocent and their deaths are the result of police brutality as opposed to the consequences of criminal behavior. “Rather,” she continues, “this common Black Lives Matter chant is a revolutionary call for redressing the debilitating logics of racial capitalism. It is a compact sketch of the frozen black body, rendered immobile by systemic racism and the punishment doled out for not transcending it.”

And just as the black male is a perennial victim of “racial capitalism” and “systematic racism,” the Palestinian terrorist is also a victim, never a perpetrator. The Black Lives Matter story, for Puar, is analogous to and also “ . . . is the story of a Palestinian resister shot dead for wielding a knife (if that) against an idf [sic] solider who has the full backing of the world’s military might. ‘I can’t breathe!’ captures the suffocation of chokeholds on movement in Gaza and the West Bank as it does the violent forces of restraint meted out through police brutality. ‘Hands up, don’t shoot!’ and ‘I can’t breathe!’ are, in fact, disability justice rally cries.”

Supporters of the Palestinian cause have come to accept the fact that Israel will not be defeated through the use of traditional tools of warfare. Instead, the Jewish state’s enemies, abetted by the academic and media elites in the West, have begun to use different, but equally dangerous, tactics to delegitimize and eventually destroy Israel in a cognitive war. By dressing up old hatreds against Jews, as Puar has done in this new book, combined with a purported goal of seeking social justice for the oppressed, and repackaging ugly biases as seemingly pure scholarship, she and Israel’s other ideological foes have found an effective, but odious, way to ensure that the Jew of nations, Israel, is still accused of fostering social chaos and bringing harm and death to non-Jews.

It is a vicious and ugly trope in the centuries-old history of the world’s oldest hatred: that Jews still harbor murderous, sadistic, and inhuman impulses against non-Jews and wish to injure or murder them—in the current day with the Palestinian Arabs as long-suffering victims of the Jew of nations, Israel.

Richard L. Cravatts, President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.

How Ten Dem (Dumb) Members of Congress Encourage the Use of Child Terrorists

November 23, 2017

How Ten Dem (Dumb) Members of Congress Encourage the Use of Child Terrorists, Gatestone InstituteAlan M. Dershowitz, November 23, 2017

Now ten members of the “progressive caucus” of the Democratic Party are trying to give these terrorist leaders another reason for using even younger terrorists to kill even more innocent civilians.

The bill fails to acknowledge that some of the most barbaric terrorist attacks against Jewish Israelis have been committed by Palestinian teens who have been recruited by terrorist leaders.

Israel has a right — according to international law — to protect its citizens from constant terror attacks, even those committed by young Palestinians. Indeed, it has an obligation to do so.

Palestinian terrorist leaders often use teenagers to commit acts of terror because they know that the Israeli legal system treats child terrorists more leniently than adult terrorists. Now ten members of the “progressive caucus” of the Democratic Party are trying to give these terrorist leaders another reason for using even younger terrorists to kill even more innocent civilians.

On November 14, Representative Betty McCollum introduced legislation c co-sponsored by nine other “progressive” members of Congress — calling on the State Department to “prevent United States tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.” In a statement about the proposed legislation McCollum said:

“This legislation highlights Israel’s system of military detention of Palestinian children and ensures that no American assistance to Israel supports human rights violations…Peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children. Congress must not turn a blind eye the unjust and ongoing mistreatment of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.”

It is well established that recruiting and using young Palestinians to wage terror on Israeli civilians is part of the modus operandi of Palestinian terrorist leaders. For decades, members of the radical Palestinian political and religious leadership have been stirring up young people to wage war against the Jews and their nation state. This was seen in the gruesome Intifada that began in 2000, in which Palestinian teenagers committed dozens of attacks against Jewish Israelis on buses, in cafes and at nightclubs. More recently—in what has become known as the ‘lone-wolf’ intifada — children as young as 13 have stabbed Israelis with scissors, screwdrivers and knives with the aim of inflicting maximum harm.

Legislation proposed by members of the “progressive caucus” — entitled “Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act” — does not explicitly state what constitutes a child within the context of its proposed cut in U.S. to Israel. While noting that children between the ages of 12-17 are held and prosecuted by Israeli military courts, the bill fails to acknowledge that some of the most barbaric terrorist attacks against Jewish Israelis have been committed by Palestinian teens who have been recruited by terrorist leaders. Consider the terrorists attack that took place over this past summer in Halamish (an hour outside Jerusalem) where a Palestinian in his late teens — from a nearby PA-controlled village — chose a Jewish house at random;, and fatally stabbed three members of a family as they ate Shabbat dinner. The Palestinian “child” murderer also wounded several other family members, while one mother hid her young children in an upstairs room until the terrorist left. This scene of carnage is reminiscent of a similar attack that occurred only six years earlier when two Palestinian teens armed with knives broke into the Fogel family home in Itamar as they slept on Friday night; the teens butchered the mother, father and three of their children — including a three-month-old baby as she slept in her crib.

As a result of such terrorist attacks by Palestinian teenagers, Israel has had to introduce legislation to deal with minors who commit grave attacks. In August 2016, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) passed a bill allowing imprisonment of terrorists as young as 12. The bill also allows for leniency. The courts can not only postpone the convicted minor’s transfer date from a closed holding facility to prison, but can also shorten or cancel the prison sentence altogether, if warranted by the circumstances.

When introducing the law in the Knesset, MK Anat Berko said:

“This law was born of necessity. We have been experiencing a wave of terror for quite some time. A society is allowed to protect itself. To those who are murdered with a knife in the heart it does not matter if the child is 12 or 15. We’ve witnessed numerous cases where 11-year-old children were suicide bombers. Perhaps this law will also do something to protect these children from being used to slaughter people.”

In a desperate effort to justify her proposed legislation Congresswoman McCollum argued that, “peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children.” McCollum’s hypocrisy in this context is palpable. She claims to be an advocate for “the rights of children.” Yet the Congresswoman refuses to acknowledge or condemn the Palestinian leadership for perpetrating acts of child abuse by recruiting children to commit terror attacks on Jewish women and children. She expressed no outrage when members of the Palestinian leadership have been caught posting material on social media inciting and encouraging young Palestinians to go out onto the streets and stab Israelis. McCollum failed to protest when Hamas set up training camps — under the mantra “Vanguards of Liberation” — aimed at training children as young as 15 to use weapons against Israel, or when children in Gaza were crushed to death when the terror tunnels they were recruited to build by the Hamas leadership, collapsed on their bodies.

So I ask: what do these members of Congress think Israel should do? If children as young as 13 or 14 were roaming the streets of New York, Los Angeles or Boston stabbing elderly women as they shopped at the supermarket or waited at a bus stop, would they protest the apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators? Of course not. No country in the world would tolerate terror in its cities, regardless of the age of the terrorists. Israel has a right — according to international law — to protect its citizens from constant terror attacks, even those committed by young Palestinians. Indeed, it has an obligation to do so.

If Israel were to be punished for trying to protect its citizens from teenage terrorists, it would further incentivize terrorist leaders to keep using children in pursuit of their key objective: wiping the Israel off the map. Meanwhile, rather than condemning the abhorrent and unlawful use of children as pawns in this deadly process, this group chose to single out only the nation-state of the Jewish people for punishment, as it tries to protect its own citizens from indiscriminate terror attacks. People of good faith on both sides of the aisle should call out this double standard for what it really is: an attack on Jewish victims of teenage terrorism and their state. For shame on this group of biased anti-Israel “progressive” Democrats, which include the following members of Congress: Mark Pocan (WI), Earl Blumenauer (OR), André Carson (IN), John Conyers, Jr. (MI), Danny K. Davis (IL), Peter A. DeFazio (OR), Raul Grijalva, Luis V. Gutiérrez (AZ), and Chellie Pingree (ME). They give a bad name to the Democratic Party, to the Progressive Caucus and to Congress.

(Image source: Fox News video screenshot)Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of, “Trumped Up! How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy,” which is now available.

‘Don’t you dare’

November 13, 2017

‘Don’t you dare’ Israel Hayom, Yoav Limor, November 13, 2017

Now the message to Gaza is “no more.” Israel will not be a passive player, rather an active one that if attacked – will attack back. If Islamic Jihad considered a limited retaliation, one that would not lead to an escalation of hostilities, Israel is saying that its reaction will be severe regardless. It will not only target Islamic Jihad but the ruling faction in Gaza: Hamas.

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The unusual announcement from Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories unit, Saturday night was not out of the blue. In Israel, defense officials believe Palestinian Islamic Jihad is preparing a revenge attack for the demolition of its underground tunnel and deaths of its people.

This assessment was enough for Mordechai to leave his home Saturday evening, put on his uniform, and drive to IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv to record an announcement in Arabic, the gist of which can be summarized in three simple words: Don’t you dare.

During the 69 seconds in which he spoke, Mordechai sought to transfer the dilemma to the other side. Ever since the tunnel was destroyed, some two weeks ago, Israel has been on high alert; its military activity along the security fence has been minimal, agricultural work in the vicinity has been greatly restricted, and the message received by the Gaza was that Israel was waiting for a retaliation.

Now the message to Gaza is “no more.” Israel will not be a passive player, rather an active one that if attacked – will attack back. If Islamic Jihad considered a limited retaliation, one that would not lead to an escalation of hostilities, Israel is saying that its reaction will be severe regardless. It will not only target Islamic Jihad but the ruling faction in Gaza: Hamas.

This purpose of this message was to pass the dilemma back to Gaza. It was meant for Hamas, which is taking great pains to restrain Islamic Jihad and has thus far managed to stop it from retaliating; and for Islamic Jihad itself – which was warned that a terrorist attack would bring disaster to the Gaza Strip and sabotage Palestinian reconciliation efforts (which Israel opposes but is presently seeking to utilize). As expected, Islamic Jihad responded with an aggressive message of its own, reiterating its intention to retaliate.

With that, it appears the group’s leadership in Gaza has yet to make that decision and is waiting for the green light from its military headquarters in Damascus, namely from Ramadan Salah and his second-in-command Ziad Nahala. This is also why Mordechai included in his statement a particularly undiplomatic message for the two, warning “there will be those who will be held responsible” for the consequences of a future attack.

In the meantime, there are no signs that Islamic Jihad is folding. If the prevailing assumption of a revenge attack materializes – which will lead to an assured Israeli response – we could find ourselves in a downward spiral that neither side wants.

Syrian drone over Golan followed Trump-Putin disagreement on Syrian buffer zones

November 11, 2017

Syrian drone over Golan followed Trump-Putin disagreement on Syrian buffer zones, DEBKAfile, November 11, 2017

Nonetheless, the negotiating teams did achieve progress on two points, our sources report: It was decided to expand the de-escalation zones already operating in Syria and also to boost the joint US-Russian Monitoring Center based in Amman – not only to prevent accidental clashes between Russian and US forces, but also between their local allies.

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The Syrian UAV was sent over the Golan, likely with Russian approval, to probe Israel’s flexibility on the buffer zones for keeping Syrian/Iranian/Hizballah forces far from its borders.

The Syrian UAV which flew over the Golan demilitarized zone Saturday, Nov. 11, was a direct result of the failure of US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to reach an agreement in time for the Danang summit in Vietnam on the political and military future of Syria. They were at odds in particular on the depth of the buffer zone to be carved out between Syria and Israel. This is reported exclusively by DEBKAfile’s sources.

The Syrian UAV was sent over the Golan, presumably with Russian approval, to probe Israel’s reactions and find out how far into Israeli air space the drone would be permitted to enter. This probe was to be taken as a measure of Israeli flexibility and willingness to accept a buffer zone between IDF positions and Syrian/Iranian/Hizballah forces of less than 30-40km deep.

Israel struck back and launched a Patriot missile defense system which intercepted the Syrian drone before it crossed the border and reached Israeli air space over the Golan. No breach of Israel’s sovereignty was allowed to occur.

Neither did a “high-ranking IDF source” need to offer reassurance that the Russian liaison apparatus was kept in the picture, since the Russian officers in Syria must have tracked the UAV and taken note of the message Israel relayed by shooting it down.

Our sources add that the Trump administration, as well as Moscow, is pushing Israel hard for flexibility as to the depth of the Syrian buffer zone. But the Netanyahu government has not so far given way, in the knowledge that Tehran fully intends to maintain military strength together with its proxies, including Hizballah, in post-war Syria.

The BBC revelation of Friday, Nov. 11, supported by large satellite images, that Iran is building a permanent base in Syria just 50km from the Israeli-Syrian Golan border, was intended to show that Israeli leaders don’t mean what they say. The site cited by “Western intelligence sources” is El-Kiswah, 14km from Damascus, where Syrian military facilities already exist

The British report contains several quotes of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s declarations that Israel will not permit Iran to establish a military presence in Syria that threatens its borders.

The May government has a bone to pick with Netanyahu on other issues. The Brits, whom both Washington and Moscow have cut out of decision-making on Syria’s future, were also taking a dig at them both by showing that Tehran is out of their control.

The buffer zone is not the only topic on which Trump and Putin are in discord on the shape of post-war Syria.

The plan for a US-Russian deal on a final accommodation was meant to ride on the momentum of the recent military successes in pushing ISIS back from eastern Syria and into western Iraq. Both presidents felt that these victories were too good not to use for working together on Syria’s future. Therefore, when ISIS strongholds in Al Qaim, Iraq and Abu Kamal, Syria fell to joint Iraqi-Syrian-Hizballah-pro-Iranian Shiite militia forces in the last two weeks, both the US and Russia were eager to seize star roles as victors by forging a final accord for ending the Syrian war.

However, the US and Russian teams working on a draft accord found the gaps between them too great to bridge at this time. They are at loggerheads on major issues —  such as the political future of Bashar Assad — how long he would remain president and how much power must he hand over to Syrian opposition groups in a government coalition. Neither do they see eye to eye on the disposition of foreign armies to remain in the country, specifically Iran’s role in the new Syria.

Last Friday, Nov. 10, DEBKAfile reported that the differences between Trump and Putin on the Syrian issue had prevented the release of a statement of accord. The US president insisted that without an accord there would be no formal sit-down at the Vietnam Asian summit.

Nonetheless, the negotiating teams did achieve progress on two points, our sources report: It was decided to expand the de-escalation zones already operating in Syria and also to boost the joint US-Russian Monitoring Center based in Amman – not only to prevent accidental clashes between Russian and US forces, but also between their local allies.

When Israel Took Out Hamas’ $13 Million Payroll With a Drone

November 9, 2017

When Israel Took Out Hamas’ $13 Million Payroll With a Drone, The Point (FrontPage Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, November 9, 2017

An interesting anecdote from Nitsana Darshan-Leitner’s new bookHarpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters, that shows that drones and financial warfare against terrorists don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

The book recounts that Israeli intelligence “had learned that the elite of the Hamas force… were rumbling to their wives and families over not being paid… their salaries in weeks. Their anger was close to undermining the entire military campaign… The lack of money meant that the families of the fighters couldn’t buy food and clothing… Hamas leaders warned of insurrection. Calls were made for an emergency delivery of dollars.”

On August 23, 2014, Israel’s intelligence services picked up the trail of a main in his 20s traveling across Sinai with $13 million in cash packed inside four large leather suitcases.

He eventually arrived at “a tunnel, well illuminated and ventilated [that] had been dug underneath the safe house… At just before dawn, the envoy sent a brief SMS message to his patrons… waiting for the money on the Gaza side of the tunnel… The text consisted of a code word indicating that the courier was coming across; the phone… was destroyed immediately after the message was sent,” the authors recount.

After an hour, when the man was almost across the tunnel and “a smile came over his face. The cash had been delivered. His mission was over… A black Mercedes… was waiting for the luggage. Inside the car was Mohammed el-Ghoul, Hamas’s head of payroll.” He connected Hamas with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Qatar and the various Gulf Arab states – and sources of money generally.

The celebration was interrupted by an Israel Air Force AH-64D Longbow attack helicopter that, with the push of a button, sent a single AGM-114 Hellfire antitank missile slamming into Ghoul’s Chinese-made car.

“The sedan evaporated into a fireball and a cloud of black smoke… the skies turned green as a storm of singed $100 bills cascaded onto the dusty streets of Gaza City…. The payroll’s incineration was a major blow to Hamas. Without the cash they could not maintain the struggle. Hamas asked for a cease-fire,” says the book.

You can hazard a guess whom Hamas was getting the money from.

That would be Mohammed Al-Ghoul, Hamas’ Justice Minister. As opposed to Mohammed Al-Ghoul who carried out the Jerusalem bus bombing in ’02 which killed 19 people. There are a lot of Mohammed Al-Ghouls and quite a few ghoulish Mohammeds.

“Israeli Kills Hamas Financial Officer in Airstrike.” That’s how Voice of America reported that story.

Al-Ghoul was the contact person for the 2009 Goldstone report which accused Israel of “war crimes” in Operation Cast Lead, before Judge Richard Goldstone later retracted that core accusation of the report.

Of course he was.