Category Archives: Middle East News

Middle East News

Under Cover Of Night, Syrian Wounded Seek Help From Israel

Nearly every night Syrian wounded come to the Golan Heights in Israel seeking medical help.  Coming into Israel challenge their perceptions about the Jewish state.

It happens nearly every night. After dark, the Syrian wounded come to known locations on the Israel-Syria front in the Golan Heights, driven by desperation to seek help from an enemy army.

Israeli soldiers on lookout or patrol spot them waiting by the fence and whisk them away to a rear position where army medics soon arrive, according to army officials operating in the Golan Heights.

Israel refuses to accept refugees fleeing the nearly six-year conflict in Syria, a country with which it remains technically at war. But it has allowed in more than 2,600 Syrians for medical care…

One man, his legs pierced by shrapnel, survived a bomb attack in his village in which 23 people were killed.

“In the past we used to know Israel as our enemy. That’s what the regime used to tell us,” he said. “When we came to Israel we changed our minds, there is no enmity between us.

“In the end we discovered that our regime is the enemy of us all,” he said, referring to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.  Reuters

Video: Under the Cover of Night, Syrians Seek Help From Israel

Video: Fatah Members Wear “Suicide Belts” And Carry Knives To Commemorate Party’s Anniversary

Fatah-run Awdah TV reporter: “The Fatah Movement will defend the Palestinian national project. Fatah will continue to be like the phoenix that rises out of the fire and the ruins. Dear viewers, the anniversary of the Palestinian revolution, the 52nd anniversary of the Launch of Fatah.”

A young girl’s chant that encourages violence against Israel and glorifies death was posted by Fatah on Facebook.

…at a rally marking Fatah’s anniversary this month, the young Palestinian girl encouraged death for “Palestine,” for which “blood is spilled.”

“This is what Yasser [Arafat] called for…He announced: For the sake of Jerusalem my path is burning,” the girl said, according to PMW, citing a Jan. 8 post on Fatah’s official Facebook page.

At the same rally, the honorary plaques were given to the families of Palestinian terrorists Zaid Younes, who was involved in a 2002 suicide attack in Tel Aviv that injured 23 people, and Nael Yassin, who murdered Israeli Border Police officer Yosef Tabjeh in 2000 and was involved in dozens of other attacks until he was arrested in 2006. JNS

Iran Repopulating Syria With Shia Muslims

This is extremely wrong!

New communities of Shia Muslims are being settled in areas where Sunnis have fled or been forced out as Tehran seeks an arc of control stretching from its borders to Israel.  There would be Iran controlled areas just above Israel.

In the valleys between Damascus and Lebanon, where whole communities had abandoned their lives to war, a change is taking place. For the first time since the conflict broke out, people are starting to return.

But the people settling in are not the same as those who fled during the past six years.

The new arrivals have a different allegiance and faith to the predominantly Sunni Muslim families who once lived there. They are, according to those who have sent them, the vanguard of a move to repopulate the area with Shia Muslims not just from elsewhere in Syria, but also from Lebanon and Iraq.

The population swaps are central to a plan to make demographic changes to parts of Syria, realigning the country into zones of influence that backers of Bashar al-Assad, led by Iran, can directly control and use to advance broader interests. Iranis stepping up its efforts as the heat of the conflict starts to dissipate and is pursuing a very different vision to Russia, Assad’s other main backer. TheGuradian 

The author of the below article is Zvi Mazel.  He is the former Israeli ambassador to Romania, Egypt, and Sweden.  Since 2006 he has been a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs – a think tank specializing in Security and Foreign Affairs of Israel.

Sunnis make up 85% of the Muslim world, while Shi’ites are less than 15%. Nevertheless, Iran enjoys an advantage because it is the supreme Shi’ite religious and political authority, whereas, in the Sunni world, every imam can issue his own fatwas – though there is no general obligation to follow them. The lack of religious solidarity – let alone a common policy – severely hampers the ability of Sunni countries to counter the Iranian threat.

While religious extremism Shi’ite and Sunni appear poised to tear apart the Mideast, the lack of religious solidarity – let alone a common policy – severely hampers the ability of Sunni countries to counter the Iranian threat.

Beginning with Khomeini, Tehran has developed a powerful and aggressive army to push its agenda: exporting its Islamic Revolution to Sunni states as a first step before attacking “the great Satan” – the U.S. and its allies. Iran was a major driving force in the disintegration of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the shambles that is Lebanon. JPost

Research Findings Dating Back To Kings David And Solomon In Timna Valley

The ancient copper mines in Timna, in Israel’s Arava Valley in the Sinai Peninsula, are believed by many to be the site of King Solomon’s mines and believed to have been operated by the early Edomites.

Citing the biblical story about King David traveling with his soldiers to the land of Edom, where a major battle took place with the Edomites by the Dead Sea, Ben-Yosef said his team may have found evidence of the bloody conflict.

According to the Bible, Edom stretched from the Sinai Peninsula to the southern border of Canaan and Kingdom of Judah and as far west as Eilat, where it maintained its seaport. As David expanded his reign, Samuel 8:13 states that his army vanquished 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

Following the victory, David turned Edom into an Israelite province ruled by handpicked governors.

“You cannot overstate the importance of copper in the Levant during the 10th century BC,” said Ben-Yosef. “It was the oil of the time and produced agricultural tools and weapons.”  JPost

Archaeologists discovered elements that date back to the biblical era of King David and King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. with a highly organized defense system.

The archeological team, led by Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef, first found a wall of the 10th-century BCE copper-smelting site near Timna Park in the southern desert where the world’s first copper mine is believed to have been located.

The archaeologists, led by Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University, think these features show that this Iron Age settlement had a highly organized defense system and depended on an impressive network of long-distance trade. LiveScience

Unraveling the history of an ancient military fortification.

According to Ben-Yosef, the wall his team found was five meters high and once stretched for hundreds of meters.

In addition to the wall, the archeologists uncovered sling stones, donkey bones and dung on both sides of a gatehouse.

What the donkeys were feed.

Built of sturdy stone to defend against invasions, the fortification had pens for draft animals and other livestock. By studying pollen, seed and fauna in the dung, experts found that the animals were fed with hay and the remains of grapes, which was delivered from the Mediterranean coast hundreds of miles away.  FoxNews

“You have to remember the copper was used to [sustain life], and the nearest water source was 15 kilometers away,” he said.  JPost

Humans were not feed a slave diet.

Despite ancient accounts that the mines were operated by slaves, the researcher said mining experts likely oversaw and trained apprentices to extricate the valuable natural resource.  JPost

Previous research by Ben-Yosef’s team found that the laborers did not have a typical slave’s diet; instead, the metalworkers ate good cuts of meat, pistachios and fish imported from the Mediterranean, suggesting they had a rather high status and were valued for their craft. LiveScience

In Rare Move, UK Blocks EU Council’s Adoption Of Paris Peace Conference Statement

A decisive attempt by Theresa May to correct her government’s earlier mistake with UN Res. 2334, she sent a low-level functionary to the Paris Peace Conference, in which the UK participated as an observer only, declining to add its signature to the Paris Peace Conference final draft statement and now blocking the EU from adopting the statement.

It also seems PM Theresa May understands the importance of trade deals with Trump in a post-Brexit Britain.

Britain prevented the European Union Foreign Affairs Council from adopting the closing statement from the Paris peace conference.

Britain’s action on Monday, reported by Haaretz citing European and Israeli diplomats, followed a day after Britain refused to sign the closing statement at the conference. Britain had sent a low-level diplomat as an observer to indicate its displeasure with the proceedings.

Australia also distanced itself from the closing statement and did not sign it. JTA

Times of London interview

The Brits read what Trump said and implemented it immediately,’ diplomat tells Haaretz.

What did you think of Obama’s approach towards the UN Security Council resolution on Israel just before Christmas?  I think it was terrible. It should have been a veto. I think it was terrible.

Do you think the UK should have vetoed it?

Well, the UK may have another chance to veto if what I’m hearing is true, because you know you have a meeting as you know, this weekend. And there are a lot of bad stories being circulated. The problem I have is that it makes it a tougher deal for me to negotiate because the Palestinians are given so much — even though it’s not legally binding it’s psychologically binding and it makes it much tougher for me to negotiate. You understand that? Because people are giving away chips, they’re giving away all these chips.

And do you think the UK should veto any UN Security Council resolution on Israel put forward this week so that you are in a stronger position to get the right deal for the Middle East?

Well, I’d like to see the UK veto. I think it’d be great if they veto because I’m not sure the United States is gonna veto, amazingly.

Obama Tells ’60 Minutes’ He Made Decision To Abstain On UN Israel Vote, UN Vote Didn’t Rupture US-Israel Relations

Obama:  “I don’t think it caused a major rupture in relations between the United States and Israel.”

He tried to destroy the US-Israel relationship and failed in this as well.  Some unintended consequences of abstaining from that vote; end of the two-state peace solution and less funding to the UN from the US.

President Barack Obama told “60 Minutes” that he made the call for the U.S. to abstain from a vote on a U.N. Security council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, allowing the resolution to pass, and that doing so didn’t fray relations between the two countries.

The move caused a major fallout between the United States and Israel, a notion Obama demurred while speaking to Steve Kroft in an interview that aired Sunday.

“I don’t think it caused a major rupture in relations between the United States and Israel. If you’re saying that [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu got fired up, he’s been fired up repeatedly during the course of my presidency, around the Iran deal and around our consistent objection to settlements. So that part of it wasn’t new,” Obama said in his final interview as president.

“And despite all the noise and hullabaloo, military cooperation, intelligence cooperation, all of that has continued,” he said. “We have defended them consistently in every imaginable way. But I also believe that both for our national interests and Israel’s national interests that allowing an ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that could get worse and worse over time is a problem. And that settlements contribute. They’re not the sole reason for it, but they’re a contributing factor to the inability to solve that problem.”  NewsMax

In 2016 U.S. State Dept. Gave Palestinians $357 Million. And That’s Not All

The U.S government gives more aid to the Palestinians than any other country.

The State Department has in fact provided Ramallah with over $357 million in financial assistance in the past year, according to information given to The Times of Israel by a US State Department official.

Additionally, in 2016 alone, the US contributed $355,177,827 to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA), of which $95 million was earmarked for the West Bank and Gaza. UNWRA also operates Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

In total, therefore, the US gave around $712 million in aid to Palestinians in 2016, and is the world’s largest supplier of such aid. TimesOfIsrael

In terms of per capita dollar amount, Palestinians are on top of the list for aid.

The European Union contribution in 2014 was $139,402,221; the United Kingdom’s $95,328,127; Sweden’s $79,975,260; Germany’s $54,838,742 and Norway’s $35,911,782.  Together, with other western governments including Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Netherlands, Denmark, France, Italy, Belgium, Finland, and Ireland, the total came to over $1 billion. That amount reflects only government contributions and not non-governmental agencies (NGO’s). Global Humanitarian Assistance reported that the international humanitarian response from 2002 to 2011 provided the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians with $6.7 billionFrontPageMag

Video: PA Minister defends PA giving money to terrorists, they are “heroes”

PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake, at a rally, defends the use of EU aid money to pay the “salaries” of imprisoned terrorists.

In itself, humanitarian aid to the Palestinians is a positive and welcomed gesture, provided that the aid goes to build an economic, social, and political infrastructure, as well as the rule of law in the Palestinian territories.  If the funds provided by American, European governments and NGO’s were to be used for the creation of a civil society that is promoting democracy, religious tolerance, and peaceful coexistence with Israel, every cent would be worthwhile.  Regrettably, that is not the case. FrontPageMag

Israeli-Settler Leaders Invited To Attend Trump Inauguration

Interesting invite.

In a sign of the different attitude of US President-elect Donald Trump, the West Bank settlers’ council said Friday it has been invited to send a delegation to the presidential inauguration next week.

It said that Oded Revivi, chairman of the Yesha settlers’ council, will lead the delegation. He will be joined by Benny Kasriel, mayor of Ma’aleh Adumim, a large settlement next to Jerusalem.

This comes three weeks after the Obama administration failed to veto a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements, a move Israel bitterly condemned. Consecutive US administrations have called the settlements an obstacle to peace, saying they undermine the possibility of a two state solution.

Revivi said the invitation is a “clear indication” that the new administration understands the importance of his group. He says he is looking forward to working “with our new friends in the White House.”

Trump has appointed David Friedman, a Jewish-American lawyer with close ties to the settlement movement, as his ambassador to Israel. Trump also has vowed to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step the Palestinians strongly oppose.  TimesOfIsrael

Life Under Palestinian Authority Rule

The Jerusalem Center was contacted by a respected Palestinian attorney from a West Bank city.  After personally interviewing him, we are publishing a letter he wrote.  His identity will not be made public to ensure his safety.

The true opposers of the Palestinians are its leaders.

“Principal human rights problems related to the PA included mistreatment in detention, arbitrary and prolonged detention, poor prison conditions, impunity, corruption, and lack of transparency. Domestic abuse of women, societal discrimination against women and persons with disabilities, and child labor remained serious problems.” State.gov

A Life of Degradation and Bitterness under Fatah Rule
by a Palestinian attorney from a West Bank city

Excerpts:

  • The Palestinian citizen suffers from ugly terror if he expresses an opinion that is opposed to that of the PA, or insists on his rights before an official or has refused to pay a bribe to a senior official, his sons, or his bodyguards.
  • The citizen wonders – is he supposed to pay the extortion money to the members of the Fatah Executive Committee, or to the members of the Fatah Central Committee, or to their sons, when he does not have the wherewithal to protect himself from their evil and from the evil of their sons, their bodyguards, and Fatah? No – they will declare him a doomed Zionist agent, and no one will protect him.
  • I demand of the international legal organizations that pretend to defend human rights, the states of the European Union, and the United States, the great economic and rhetorical supporter of the PA, and even of the United Nations, which has a commitment to human rights, to set up investigatory committees on the irregularities of the Palestinian Authority, whose legal branch is nothing but an arm of Fatah’s governmental terror, and that includes the civilian and military prosecution. The security apparatus of the PA and the Fatah movement has already been committing crimes against the Palestinian people, which reach the level of crimes against humanity, for half a century – and the crimes continue.
  • I still have never heard of any settler, Israeli soldier, or Israeli officer extorting a Palestinian citizen. It is what the PA and Fatah people do.
  • I ask: “Is there one honest person in the PA and in Fatah, or are they all thieves and bandits?”

Read the full letter at JCPA.

On Palestinian Statehood – Bret Stephens

Bret Stephens of WSJ looks at the central obsession of contemporary global politics and its least examined obsession, Palestinian statehood.

Diplomats from some 70 countries will assemble in Paris on Sunday for another Mideast conference, intended to preserve the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. The timing is not accidental: With five days to go in the Obama administration, there are whispers that the conference may lead to another U.N. Security Council resolution, this time setting out parameters for an eventual Palestinian state.

The question is: For what?

  • Would a Palestinian state serve the cause of Mideast peace? This used to be conventional wisdom, on the theory that a Palestinian state would lead to peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, easing the military burdens on the former and encouraging the latter to address their internal discontents.
  • Today the proposition is ridiculous. No deal between Jerusalem and Ramallah is going to lift the sights of those now fighting in Syria, Iraq or Yemen. Nor will a deal reconcile Tehran and its terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Gaza to the existence of a Jewish state.
  • Aren’t the Palestinians entitled to a state? Maybe. But are they more entitled to one than the Assamese, Basques, Baloch, Corsicans, Druze, Flemish, Kashmiris, Kurds, Moros, Native Hawaiians, Northern Cypriots, Rohingya, Tibetans, Uyghurs or West Papuans – all of whom have distinct national identities, legitimate historical grievances and plausible claims to statehood? What gives Palestinians the preferential claim?
  • Comparisons aside. Would a Palestinian state be good for Palestinian people?  That’s a more subjective judgment. But a telling figure came in a June 2015 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, which found that a majority of Arab residents in East Jerusalem would rather live as citizens with equal rights in Israel than in a Palestinian state.
  • But isn’t a Palestinian state a necessity for Israel? Can it maintain its Jewish and democratic character without separating itself from the Palestinians?
  • In theory, Israel would be well-served living alongside a sovereign Palestinian state that lived in peace with its neighbors. But Israelis don’t live in theory. They live in a world where Israeli prime ministers made good-faith offers of Palestinian statehood and were met with rejection and violence.

 

Widow Of Jerusalem Truck-Ramming Attack Terrorist To Receive $760 Lifetime Monthly Allowance From Palestinian Authority

Funding to the Palestinian Authority supports and fuels terrorism with generous salaries paid to murderers,  the sending of money to families monthly, and buying families new homes, it needs to be stopped.

The widow of the terrorist who committed Sunday’s truck-ramming attack at the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem, killing four Israeli soldiers and wounding another 15, will receive a lifetime monthly stipend as a reward for her husband’s “martyrdom for Allah,” a prominent research organization reported on Wednesday.

According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Fadi al-Qanbar’s widow, a resident of the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood in east Jerusalem, will receive a total of NIS 2,900 (approximately $760) each month, in accordance with Palestinian Authority law.

PMW broke down the sum, based on the statute, as follows:

All families of “martyrs” receive a base monthly payment of NIS 1,400 ($365). Widows of “martyrs” receive an additional NIS 400 ($104). NIS 200 ($52) is paid for each of their children; al-Qanbar has four. And Jerusalem residents, such as al-Qanbar, receive an extra NIS 300 ($78).

In addition, within the next few months, al-Qanbar’s widow will receive a one-time grant of NIS 6,000 ($1,580).

In October, US Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dan Coats (R-IN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced the Taylor Force Act — named after the American military veteran who was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv in March by a Palestinian terrorist — which would cut off funding to the PA if it continues its policy of dispensing monetary rewards for terrorism.  Algemeiner

Facebook Closes Over 100 Hamas-Linked Accounts

The Facebook pages were closed after an online campaign celebrating an infamous bomb-maker.

Hamas slammed the social media giant Facebook for closing down over a hundred pages belonging or sympathetic to the terror group in control of the Gaza Strip.

The closures took place on Thursday, in light of a social media campaign by Hamas to celebrate the man who first manufactured bombs for it in the early 1990s, Yahya Ayyash, known as “the engineer.” Ayyash was assassinated by Israel 21 years ago on Thursday.

“We condemn the arbitrary measures taken by Facebook management against the pages and accounts supporting the Hamas movement. We affirm that those pages have the right to express their points of view just as anyone else does,” wrote Hamas spokesman Husam Badran in a statement posted on the terror group’s website.

Badran called on “Palestinian activists and Palestinian news sites with Facebook pages to search for effective replacements” for Facebook.

Hamas said a total of 90 Facebook pages belonging to Hamas or sites sympathetic to the group were taken down, as well as another 30 personal pages belonging to individuals. TimesOfIsrael

Photo – Screen shot from Hamas’s official news site 1/8/17.