Palestinians Said Heading to Syria, Iraq to Join Islamic State (Times of Israel)
Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank have joined the ranks of the Islamic State, Israel Channel 2 TV reported Thursday, citing intelligence sources.
formally designated the Islamic State a terror group on Wednesday.
See also 10 Israeli Arabs Joined Islamic State - Alaa Rimawi (Anadolu-Turkey)
The Israel Security Agency believes that at least 10 Israeli Arabs had joined the ranks of the Islamic State militant group, active in Syria and Iraq, Israeli Radio reported Friday.
ISIS Threatens Russia: We Will Liberate Chechnya and the Caucasus (MEMRI)
In a video posted on Aug. 31, 2014, ISIS militants speaking from Tabqa airbase in Syria threatened Russian President Putin, saying:
"These are the Russian planes that you sent to Bashar [Assad]. Allah willing, we will take them back to your own turf, and liberate Chechnya and the Caucasus."
Hamas Terrorists Admit to Using Mosques and Hospitals as Shields (Israel Defense Forces)
While being interrogated by the Israel Security Agency, Hamas terrorists confessed to using mosques and hospitals as hiding places during the Gaza war.
They also admitted building tunnels, launching sites and weapons-storage facilities near playgrounds in Gaza.
Abd Al-Rahman Ba'aloosha said Hamas operatives repeatedly met inside a bunker located underneath the Al-Abra mosque.
Mohammed Ramadan recalled that Hamas commanders taught him to fire anti-tank missiles inside the Al-Shafi'i mosque in Khan Yunis. The mosque, he said, served as a training base for the Al-Qassam Brigades.
On several occasions, Israeli forces documented rocket launches from inside mosques or nearby areas. While searching one mosque in Gaza, soldiers uncovered dozens of weapons and shafts leading into underground attack tunnels.
One Hamas operative admitted that Nasser and Hilal hospitals in Khan Yunis were used to hide guns, RPGs and other weaponry.
Afif and Ahmed Jarrah said Hamas built an attack tunnel just steps away from a playground in Beit Lahia.
Nafez Shaluf, an operative from Rafia, said that operatives of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad frequently hid in Al-Najar Hospital in Rafah.
Saudi Crown Prince Calls to Save Al-Aqsa Mosque from Israel (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
Saudi Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, urged UNESCO on Thursday to protecting the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem from Israeli designs.
"UNESCO should activate all its international resolutions to protect Al-Aqsa and all other valuable cultural antiquities in Palestine from Israeli aggression," he said during a visit to UNESCO headquarters in Paris, while praising the organization for giving full membership to Palestine.
See also The "Al-Aqsa Is in Danger" Libel - Nadav Shragai
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
How IDF UAVs Saved Lives in Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)
"It bothers me that the world doesn't see how hard we work to minimize harm to civilians. When I say 'we,' I mean me personally and my staff. The majority of our work is to prevent harm to innocent people," said Maj. S, the deputy commander of the IDF's UAV Squadron 200.
Maj. R, a senior commander in the squadron, added: "We had our target in reach. It was an armed terrorist with the aim of attacking us. Right before the strike, we saw him enter some kind of yard, full of children....You know he is close to kids, so you immediately cease the strike."
Israel's Growing Submarine Fleet - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
After 10 years as commander of the Israel Navy's submarine school in Haifa, Lt.-Cmdr. Y. is retiring from the IDF.
"Submarines bring a level of intelligence to Israel that cannot be achieved by other units," he said Wednesday. "A submarine can stay in enemy territory for weeks, and no one knows it's there."
Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades' Weapons and Units (MEMRI)
The Al-Qassam Brigades comprises six units.
The Infantry Unit constitutes 85% of the Brigades. Its job is to combat the enemy directly. The Special Unit conducts infiltration operations behind enemy lines.
The Engineering Unit is responsible for military production and tunnel excavation. The Armored Unit is responsible for contending with armored vehicles and tanks using antitank missiles.
The Artillery Unit is responsible for manufacturing and launching mortars and missiles. The Air Defense Unit targets enemy planes.
Photos: On Patrol with Israel's Female Fighters - James Rush (Daily Mail-UK)
In 2000, following mounting public pressure to allow women to serve in combat positions within the Israeli armed forces, the IDF formed the Caracal battalion, a mixed gender unit, tasked with patrolling the Egyptian border.
How Israel Is Winning the Social Media War in China - Peter Cai (Business Spectator-Australia)
Israelis are pouring resources into winning the war of opinion in China.
Michael Anti, a prominent Chinese blogger, looks at this issue in Caixin, a respected business magazine. He observes that Taiwanese social media users are generally supportive of the Palestinian cause while many mainland Chinese are rooting for the State of Israel. It is an interesting reversal of their countries' official positions, Taipei is generally considered to be pro-Israel and Beijing pro-Palestinian.
In China, the rising popular backlash against Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism is helping Israelis win hearts and minds.
China has suffered a string of deadly terrorist attacks recently and many of them are connected with Jihadist-inspired separatist groups in Xinjiang.
The Israeli embassy in Beijing maintains one of the most popular social media accounts among diplomatic missions in China, with close to 850,000 followers. By comparison, the U.S. embassy has 890,000 followers.
A recent Israeli embassy post which compares Hamas to the notorious IS terrorist organization is drawing many sympathetic comments.
The majority of comments support Israel's attack on Hamas.
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Coalition Emerges to Battle Islamic State Militants - Dion Nissenbaum and
American allies including the UK and France said they would help form an international military coalition to fight a growing threat from Islamic State militants. At a NATO meeting in Wales on Thursday U.S. officials urged members to provide more arms to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamist insurgents in northern Iraq. The American plan also entails choking off the financial resources the militants rely on, curbing the flow of foreign extremists, and backing Arab forces capable of battling the Islamic State.
One of the most impassioned pleas at the NATO summit came from King Abdullah of Jordan, who implored world leaders to create a "coalition of the committed" to fight the Islamic State.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Probe into War Crimes Targets Islamic State Militants - Jess Bravin
A British-backed team has been quietly investigating the Islamic State for war crimes since January, with operatives in Syria collecting evidence for future prosecution of the militant group's leaders. Now, with the Islamic State's offensive in Iraq, Western governments are considering expanding the investigation, adding the insurgents' persecution of Yazidi, Turkmen and Christian minorities, mass prisoner executions and terrorizing of Iraqi civilian populations to the dossier. Their independent investigative group is largely funded by the British government, with contributions from several European nations.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Syria May Have Hidden Chemical Arms, U.S. Says - Rick Gladstone
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, expressed concern on Thursday that Syria's government might be harboring undeclared chemical weapons, hidden from the international operation to purge them over the past year, and that Islamist militant extremists in that country could seize control of them. "I want to stress that much more work still needs to be done on Syria's chemical weapons program," Power said.
Sigrid Kaag, the UN official coordinating the Syrian chemical weapons disarmament effort, said Syria had yet to address "some discrepancies or questions" about whether it had accounted for all of the chemical weapons in its arsenal. She also said Syria had yet to destroy seven hangars and five tunnels used for mixing and storing the weapons - as required under the chemical weapons treaty that Syria has signed.
(New York Times)
- Iran Gets $1 Billion in Oil Revenue Released by Japan as Part of Nuclear Deal
Iran's central bank has received $1 billion of previously frozen oil revenue from Japan under the terms of the nuclear agreement with six world powers, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported on Thursday. The powers agreed in July to extend a six-month interim accord until Nov. 24.
Iran is to receive $2.8 billion during the four-month extension, in addition to $4.2 billion paid during the January-July period. (Reuters)
See also Iran Oil Sales to Asia Up 29 Percent - Osamu Tsukimori
Iran's major Asian customers shipped in 29.4% more crude oil in July from a year earlier, with China accounting for most of the increase since Western sanctions were eased at the beginning of the year.
- Israel Gears Up for War Crimes Battle
The Israeli military is gearing up for UN investigations that could result in war-crimes allegations.
The army has beefed up its legal staff, is conducting internal investigations of its wartime actions in Gaza, and has prepared a detailed PR campaign of satellite photos and video clips - hoping to persuade the world that its war against Hamas was justified.
"We operate within the rules and regulations under the laws of war," said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman.
Israel argues that the heavy civilian death toll in Gaza is Hamas' fault, accusing the militant group of launching rockets - and drawing retaliation - from schoolyards, residential areas and mosques.
During the fighting, the army says it had a team of legal experts reviewing operations, and often approving attacks after determining they met international laws of war. (Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- U.S. Rejected Abbas' Peace Plan, PA Says - Khaled Abu Toameh
The U.S. has rejected PA President Mahmoud Abbas' new political initiative for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a PA official in Ramallah said Thursday.
The plan, which envisages a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines within three years, was presented to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday by chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat. The official said that in rejecting Abbas' initiative, Washington said it was opposed to any unilateral move that could negatively impact the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
- Israel Indicts Hamas Mastermind Behind West Bank Kidnapping and Murder of Three Teens - Gili Cohen
Hussam Kawasme, 40, who headed the terror cell that kidnapped and murdered three Jewish teenagers in Gush Etzion in June, was charged in Ofer military court with organizing and funding the attack. Hussam was imprisoned between 1995 and 2002 for his activism in Hamas and his membership in a cell that carried out attacks.
According to the charge sheet, the attack was funded through Hussam's brother, Mahmoud, who was freed in the prisoner release that freed Gilad Shalit and expelled to Gaza. Hussam received 220,000 shekels, used to buy two M-16 rifles, two pistols, and two cars, one used in the kidnapping and a getaway car. The killers, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aisheh, buried the three teens' bodies on land Hussam had purchased in January.
Several residents of Hebron helped the killers hide, including former prisoner Arafat Qaqasmah, considered to be senior in Hamas in the Hebron area. An Israel Security Agency agent considered the attack to be an attempt by a local Hamas cell in Hebron to kidnap someone to use as a bargaining chip. (Ha'aretz)
See also Israel Has Arrested Eight Palestinians Who Helped in Killing of Three Jewish Teens - Dan Williams
Israel has arrested eight Palestinians who had supporting roles in the abduction and killing of three Jewish teenagers in June, Israeli officials said on Thursday.
See also Israel Calls on Abbas to Sever Ties with Hamas for Connection to Murder of Israeli Teens - Herb Keinon
With Thursday's indictment of Hussam Kawasme as the Hamas mastermind of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June, Israeli officials called on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to rethink Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.
The Gaza War
- Israel Credits "Gloves Off" Targeting for Latest Cease-Fire in Gaza - Barbara Opall-Rome
After 11 collapsed cease-fires in 50 days of war, Israel had to employ "extraordinary escalation," an IDF General Staff officer said, to force Hamas to accept the latest Egyptian-brokered truce that promises to end the Gaza war.
He said Israel may never know what compelled Hamas to accept an Aug. 26 truce whose terms were "virtually identical" to those offered in the first days of the war. Operationally, he surmised it was a string of "spectacular airstrikes" leveling at least three luxury towers that followed "high-value" killings of senior Hamas leaders that triggered the turning point.
Following the Aug. 23 destruction of a Gaza City high-rise that housed a Hamas command center,
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "I call on the inhabitants of Gaza to evacuate immediately from every site from which Hamas is carrying out terrorist activity. Every one of these places is a target for us." (Defense News)
- The UN: Clueless or Complicit in Gaza? - Claudia Rosett
If UNRWA officials knew that Hamas was building terror tunnels, but raised no public alarm, then that should be grounds for a major inquiry into UNRWA complicity with terrorists. There's also the question of whether UNRWA employs or directly supports members of Hamas. If so, that should block the agency from receiving money from the U.S.
The U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 forbids funding to UNRWA unless it takes "all possible measures" to ensure that no U.S. assistance goes to any refugee who has received "military training" as a member of the Palestine Liberation Army, or any other "guerrilla-type organization," or who has "engaged in any act of terrorism." UNRWA promised to check its staff against specific UN sanctions lists. But those lists are not that relevant to Gaza: They cover al-Qaeda and the Taliban (there is no UN sanctions list for Hamas). The writer is journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Reveal UNRWA's Bluff - Einat Wilf
During the fighting in Gaza, Israeli forces were fired at from UN facilities. Now that the fighting over, Israel should recognize UNRWA as a hostile Palestinian organization that perpetuates the dream of the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel - and treat it accordingly. Even if UNRWA itself does not attack the IDF directly, it ensures that there will always be someone to do so in the future. Under a thin veil of humanitarian activities, UNRWA acts with a clear political agenda, aimed at perpetuating the situation of Palestinian refugees and fostering the dream of their return to Israel.
UNRWA is directly responsible for the fact that 5 million people are registered as Palestinian refugees, a large number of whom continue to live in refugee camps. UNRWA works to inflate the number of registered refugees in two ways. First, the descendants of refugees from 1948, already the fifth generation, are automatically "entitled" to refugee status. And second, UNRWA thwarts any attempt to absorb refugees where they currently live or in third countries. If UNRWA operated the same way as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which is responsible for all other refugee groups in the world, today there would be only tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees, rather than millions.
UNRWA's continued existence depends on donations totaling $1 billion per year from Western nations, including $250 million from the U.S. and more than $500 million from Europe. Why do Western taxpayers fund an organization which acts in stark contrast to the policy of finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? The writer, a former member of the Knesset, is a senior fellow with the Jewish People Policy Institute.
- Hamas Is the Single Biggest Barrier to Peace in Gaza - Yiftah Curiel
Hamas is an internationally recognized terror group which has earned that dubious title honestly by virtue of dozens of suicide bombers, exploding buses and thousands of rockets. Its ideology is both radical Islamist and anti-Semitic. Its actions, as seen recently with the executions of 18 alleged collaborators with Israel in Gaza, resemble those of ISIS and al-Qaeda.
For Israelis, Hamas' actions weaken the case for peaceful coexistence, providing a worst-case scenario that became a reality which would be catastrophic if repeated following a West Bank withdrawal.
The international uproar following an Israeli declaration as "state land" of 1.5 square miles in Gush Etzion - land that is under no private ownership and is destined to remain under Israeli sovereignty under any future agreement - is telling. Outrage, and action, should be directed at Hamas' extremist brand of terrorism, which remains the foremost stumbling block to any agreement.
The writer is spokesman for the Embassy of Israel in London.
- Preventing ISIS Inroads in Jordan - David Schenker
The Islamic State threatens Jordan, and the group is hoping to open a new front inside the kingdom. In recent weeks, Jordanian authorities have reportedly arrested fifty supporters of ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. Along with ongoing border infiltration attempts, there are increased reports of local funerals for Jordanian ISIS members killed in Syria.
Even before 1.5 million Syrian refugees entered Jordan, the kingdom was struggling economically. Even if Jordan's security solution to Islamist militancy is effective in the short term, the kingdom will become increasingly fertile ground for local recruitment if the economy does not improve. Civil disturbances are already a regular occurrence outside the capital. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Where Are the Marches Against the Islamic State? - Yasmine Bahrani
This summer, many Muslims marched in the streets of London, Paris and other cities to condemn the deaths of Gazans. But, inexplicably, there have been no similarly large-scale demonstrations against the Islamic State for its horrific acts against Christians, Yazidis and even its fellow Muslims in Iraq and Syria. And there certainly haven't been any marches protesting the beheading of innocents. Why is it so hard to take a stand against the killing of women and children? We need the world to see anti-Islamic State marchers taking to the streets with the passion that we saw at the Gaza rallies in London and Paris.
Today, say the word "Islam" and few think of the glories of our history and culture. Rather, they picture masked men with knives. As long as our condemnations remain tepid, we give the impression that we accept the crimes of murderers whose savvy YouTube productions reach far and wide. Groups of people are car-bombing, shooting, starving, kidnapping and beheading people in the name of Islam - not to mention blowing up churches and mosques. Where is the anger? Is it possible that Muslims hate Israel more than we hate criminal gangs who have hijacked the narrative of our religion? The writer is a professor of journalism at American University in Dubai.
See also ISIS's Cruelty Toward Women Gets Scant Attention - Haleh Esfandiari
ISIS fighters are "rewarded" by being allowed to have their way with captured women. To the men of ISIS, women are an inferior race, to be enjoyed for sex and be discarded, or to be sold off as slaves. From ISIS-captured territory in Syria, we saw a photograph of a line of women, covered from head to toe and tied to one another by a rope, as they were being led to a makeshift slave market. Little girls were married off to men many times their age.
Although Islam requires that marriages be based on consent, consent does not appear to exist in the lexicon of ISIS fighters.
Why are there are no demonstrations in Western and Muslim societies against this barbaric onslaught on women and girls?
The writer, who directs the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison in Tehran for 105 days in 2007.
(Wall Street Journal)
- The Hysteria over the Israeli Land Announcement - Eugene Kontorovich
Israel's declaration of certain open, uncultivated areas near the 1949 Armistice Line as "state land" has been widely mischaracterized as an "appropriation" of private Palestinian land, and a promotion of settlement activity. It is neither.
A determination that land is "state land" is a factual, administrative finding that does not change the ownership of land.
An "appropriation" involves taking something that is someone's. A designation of land as "state land" requires a determination, based on extensive investigation, that it does not have a private owner. The determination can be challenged administratively and judicially, as Palestinian claimants often do, and sometimes prevail. Nothing has been taken from anyone.
The hysteria over this announcement reflects how detached discussions of "illegal settlements" are from international law. The entire legal argument against settlements rests on one sentence of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an "occupying power" to "deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population" into the territory it occupies.
Israel also announced this week the construction of thousands of housing units in eastern Jerusalem for Arab Israelis. If the Geneva Convention indeed forbids building apartments in occupied territory for one's nationals, Arab Israelis are part of Israel's "civilian population." Yet on this action, the international community was silent. Apparently, moving people is illegal settlement activity only when it involves Jews. (Commentary)
- World Shudders as Israel Builds Houses in Settlement Bloc - Richard A. Baehr
Muslim extremists can massacre people in one country after another in the Middle East and Muslim world, but Israel taking land it already controls to build houses, pending any legal challenges, is the ultimate threat to the survival of the world. This "logic" depends on the badly mistaken notion that if only Israel would stop building houses, then peace would be achievable between Israel and the Palestinians, and all the myriad Muslim grievances in dozens of countries on every continent would miraculously disappear. Such is the obsession with what Jews do, but more to the point, the intensity of the hatred of Jews and the state they control.
The Oslo accords, signed by both Israel and the Palestinians, established a three-part demarcation of West Bank land, and the 988 acres Israel just declared as state land are entirely in Area C. This is an area in which Israel exercises full military and civilian control, and in which settlement activity was not in any way limited.
The 988 acres are in an area known as Gush Etzion where 70,000 Jews already live, in one of those blocs that everyone knows Israel will absorb in any final peace agreement. So what exactly is the problem if Israel builds houses in an area that all acknowledge will remain in Israel? How does that damage the peace process?
- Gaza, West Bank Cannot Be Viewed as Occupied - Steven Stotsky
In her Aug. 24 opinion piece "What its bomb shelters say about Israel's future," Moria Paz wrote that Israel "devotes its resources to occupying Gaza and the West Bank."
The legal team of the International Committee of the Red Cross publishes a definition of occupation on the ICRC website. It reads as follows:
"Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations...states that a territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised."
As the recent war between Israel and Hamas makes self-evident, Gaza does not meet this definition. If it did, Israel would not have had to respond to rocket fire and tunneling into Israel with an invasion of the Strip. Gaza has been under the authority of Hamas since 2007. There has been no Israeli military presence there since 2005.
Furthermore, according to UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed in 1967, the West Bank and other territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war are classified as administered territory whose ownership is disputed and whose status will only be finalized in a comprehensive peace agreement.
The writer is senior research analyst at Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).
Letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon by the Parents of the Late Daniel Tregerman, Age 4 1/2 - Gila and Doron Tregerman (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Dear Sir: My name is Gila, I am an Israeli citizen, and I am a resident of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, near the border with Gaza.
A week ago, we lost our eldest son, Daniel, age 4 1/2, when he was killed by a mortar shell fired from Gaza into Israel.
I address you after your announcement of an international investigation of "Israel's crimes" in the recent fighting in Gaza.
- We found ourselves constantly debating whether to move to another location, quieter, safer, far from rocket fire from Gaza.
Then came the threat of terrorist tunnels, which Hamas members dug from Gaza to Israel under our home to hurt us. At night we heard noises and voices digging beneath us. Thus, in the last six months our children slept with the window closed and locked. We were afraid that they would be kidnapped.
Can you imagine our life? How do you live in constant fear of mortar shell and terrorists emerging from tunnels?
- Then on August 22, Daniel was killed. All the precautions we had taken failed. Daniel was killed in our house, while playing indoors and not outside, because it's dangerous. Daniel died in our hands, killed from a mortar shell that was fired by Hamas members from an elementary school for boys in Gaza City.
Daniel was killed almost immediately. Daniel's father, Doron, covered him with a blanket and we escaped from our home with two small children, leaving our precious son behind, in order to protect them from bombs that continued to explode around the house.
- Your investigation committee will examine the "crimes of Israel" during the fighting. The investigation committee is not asked to investigate how terrorists shoot out of UN buildings and schools.
It won't investigate how Hamas abuses the Palestinian people, and how its members force residents of Gaza, even children, to dig tunnels aimed only for terrorism against Israel.
It won't investigate how after these excavations, Hamas murdered the diggers, just to be sure they won't be able to pass information to Israel.
- The terrorists, fully equipped and full of hatred, that attacked us in our homes, are the same as those who kidnapped 43 UN observers in Syria. They are the same as those who decapitated innocent people in Syria and Iraq. They are the same as those who crashed aircraft into crowded buildings in 2001 in New York.
- My husband's parents also live near the border fence and three and a half years ago a Qassam rocket exploded and destroyed their home.
Up until a few years ago they had good relations with the residents of Gaza. They hired workers from Gaza and Paulina, Daniel's grandmother, drove them home - to Rafah, every evening after work. They used to invite each other for weddings and other celebrations and often traveled to Rafah or Gaza.
All that ended when Hamas rose to power and ordered the civilians who worked in Israel to kill their Israeli employers.
- It is our hope that our neighbors, the people of Gaza, will be able to live peacefully in their homes and build and develop their beautiful country. We believe that the vast majority of the people on this planet do not want to see the sights of blood, tears and fire of the radical Islam movement, but to live peacefully, enjoy kid's laughter, wait for a better tomorrow.
We do not seek the people responsible for our Daniel's death.
We only wish your response and your voice against this crime and the crime Hamas has committed against their own people.
Gila and Doron Tregerman,
Nahal Oz, Israel
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