I Saw Hamas' Cruel and Selfish Game in Gaza - Wojciech Cegielski (Ha'aretz)
I spent a month in Gaza during the 2014 war. Yes, Israel bombed Palestinian houses in Gaza. But Hamas is also to blame for its cruel and selfish game against its own people.
It was obvious that they were breaking international rules of war and, worst of all, were not afraid to use their own citizens as living shields.
In one incident, a man drove up in a pickup to our street. He placed a rocket launcher outside and fired. But the rocket failed to go upwards and flew along the street at ground level for a long time before destroying a building.
On another day, I was sitting with other journalists in a cafe outside one of the hotels near the beach. Suddenly I saw a man firing a rocket from between the hotels.
The writer is a foreign news correspondent for Polish Radio.
Lessons on Twisted Leadership - Richard Cohen (Washington Post)
What matters is not the yearnings of everyday people in Iran but the mad dreams of their leaders.
Iran's leadership consists of dense theocrats who vow the destruction of Israel. The current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is forthright in his hatred:
"This barbaric, wolf-like, and infanticidal regime of Israel, which spares no crime, has no cure but to be annihilated."
The lessons of history are clear. The Iranian people are irrelevant; only the country's leadership matters.
Former Senator Webb: Giving "Tacit Approval" for Iran's Eventual Acquisition of Nuclear Weapons Is Unprecedented - David Sherfinski (Washington Times)
Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) told CNN Thursday:
"I think that the focus on this deal has simply been on a slowing down [of] the potential acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran, and we've never been in [this] situation before where we have sort of given a tacit approval for the eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons by another country."
He also knocked "an approach that is just focusing on a nuclear agreement when we have to look at the balance of power in the region and the signals that have been sent in the region in terms of Iran's growing power."
The Persistence of Slavery in the Arab World (Economist-UK)
While IS' embrace of outright slavery has been singled out for censure, forced labor for sexual and other forms of exploitation is not exceptional in the Arab world.
From Morocco, where thousands of children work as maids, to the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan where girls are forced into prostitution, to the unsanctioned rape and abuse of domestics in the Gulf, aid workers say servitude is rife.
The Global Slavery Index (GSI), computed by an Australian NGO working with Hull University, claims that of 14 states with over 1% of the population enslaved, more than half are Muslim. Prime offenders range from Mauritania to Qatar.
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- Rouhani Stresses Iran's Arms Imports/Exports Irrespective of Western Opposition
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has underlined that Iran will not allow foreign countries to interfere in its defense and military affairs and will continue arms sales and purchases irrespective of the views of other states. "We will purchase weapons from wherever we deem necessary and we are not waiting for anyone's permission; if we deem necessary we will sell our weapons and we will do this without paying attention to any resolution," he said on Saturday.
On Friday, the Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force, Brig.-Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said that Iran "will continue developing its defense capabilities and military might, especially the surface-to-surface ballistic missiles."
- U.S. Judge Says Palestinian Authority Must Post $10M Bond in Terrorism Case - Joseph Ax
U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels in Manhattan ordered the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization on Monday to post $10 million in cash or bond while they appeal a jury's finding that they supported militant attacks in Israel. The defendants must also deposit $1 million each month pending the appeal of a February jury verdict worth $655 million in favor of 10 American families. A lawyer for the PA, Mitchell Berger, said it was willing to comply.
The Obama administration had urged Daniels to "carefully consider" the PA's financial condition in deciding the amount of the bond. Daniels said he had given "serious consideration" to the State Department's position, despite objections from the plaintiffs that the amount was far too low.
- One Year After the Gaza War - Jodi Rudoren and Majd al-Waheidi
A year after the halt to hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza on Aug. 26, 2014, just 719 families have actually purchased cement or other materials to rebuild their homes. International donors have sent about $340 million of the $2.5 billion they pledged for Gaza's reconstruction last fall, and much of that was spent on removing rubble, on temporary housing or on minor repairs. About 78,000 Gaza families received money to repair homes with minor or moderate damage (though many of them resold some of the cement).
Israeli, Palestinian and UN officials acknowledge that cement has flooded Gaza's black market, with some undoubtedly ending up in the militants' underground tunnel network. "We know and believe that some of it goes to the wrong places," said IDF Maj. Adam Avidan. At one point, 18 of 30 beneficiaries bought their full allotment of cement and "went the same day and sold it on the black market. They didn't build their houses." About 37,000 tons of cement sits unused in Gaza warehouses, nearing or past its expiration date for load-bearing projects.
Mofeed M. Al-Hassaina, the Gaza-based minister of housing and public works, as well as other Palestinian leaders and UN representatives, all said that Israel had done its part in reasonable time and had allowed cement into Gaza.
(New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Internal Security Minister: Outlaw Radical Muslim Groups that Harass Jews on Temple Mount - Daniel K. Eisenbud
Israel's Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, backed by the Israel Security Agency and the Israel Police, called on Monday to outlaw two groups of Muslim radicals who go to the Temple Mount on a daily basis to harass and intimidate Jewish visitors. "Morabiton" and "Morabitat" are Islamic fundamentalists paid by the Islamic Movement in Israel to shout at and block Jewish visitors to the site. "Their aim is to limit Jews wishing to visit the Temple Mount through violence and intimidation," Erdan said. (Jerusalem Post)
- South African Parliamentarian: Israel Is Not Apartheid
Kenneth Rasalabe Joseph Meshoe, President of the African Christian Democratic Party, who is currently visiting Israel, told Israel Channel 10 TV: "Those who know what real apartheid is, as I know, know that there is nothing in Israel that looks like apartheid." Calling Israel an apartheid state "is an empty political statement that does not hold (any) truth," adding, "You see people of different colors, backgrounds and religions" interacting with each other every day.
- The Unbelievable Side-Agreements with Iran - Ephraim Asculai
Any self-inspection role for Iran will run counter to the presently accepted International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verification methodology. How can one trust information produced, even partially, by the Iranians, who have such a distinguished record of concealment, lying and non-compliance with NPT and safeguards obligations?
It can be envisioned that in future cases, if and when Iran is challenged to permit inspections at a named suspect site, it will surely demand the same privileges it has in the present situation. Moreover, other nations under IAEA safeguards could justifiably demand that they be accorded the same privileges as Iran and be permitted to carry out their own inspections.
The IAEA should declassify and publish the confidential arrangements and bring them for the approval of its Board of Governors (BOG). The BOG should consider declaring these agreements null and void if they do not conform to IAEA standards and norms. If the situation is allowed to remain unchanged, this will become the symbol of the unwillingness of the world to confront Iran, and prove that the many declarations assuring the delay of Iran's breakout potential are without any basis.
Dr. Ephraim Asculai, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), worked at the Israel Atomic Energy Commission for over 40 years.
- French Critics of the Iran Deal - John Vinocur
After initially nodding "yes" to the nuclear deal with Iran, the French have partially reverted to form reflecting their traditional hard-nosed antinuclear proliferation position. Citing the profound weaknesses of an agreement that allows controls over Iran to end after 15 years and the mullahs to keep an absurdly high number of centrifuges, a French official expressed concern about America's willingness over time to continue paying the enormous expense of its vast Iranian surveillance operations. He also said that the deal's concessions to Tehran made a pressing reality of Saudi Arabia's quest for an atomic weapon.
French security expert Bruno Tertrais wrote last month in the Canadian newspaper Le Devoir that "with pressure from the Obama administration," European negotiators' original intent deteriorated from a rollback of Iran's nuclear ambitions to their containment. Camille Grand, director of the French think tank Foundation for Strategic Research, explained: "From 2013 on, the Americans gave the impression they wanted the deal more than Iran did. The administration put more pressure on its friends in the negotiations than on the Iranians." (Wall Street Journal)
- Will the Iran Nuclear Deal Mean War between Israel and Hizbullah? - Jonathan Schanzer
Hizbullah is Iran's most prized non-state proxy. With Iranian weapons, cash, and training, the group has dedicated itself to war with Israel since the early 1980s. Today, Hizbullah is pointing 100,000 rockets at Israel, furnished almost entirely by Iran. Many launchers are strategically placed in high-density population areas in Lebanon to ensure that Israeli reprisals will be met with charges of war crimes.
Hizbullah views the nuclear deal as a sign that its patron Iran is a burgeoning regional power, and that the military advantage is shifting away from Israel in the Middle East. It may not take long before the first provocation on the border. Washington openly acknowledges the possibility of a conflagration between the two, and the White House is now openly touting the fact that it wishes to help arm the Israelis to handle Iran-sponsored regional aggression of this sort.
The writer is Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
The Saudis Reply to Iran's Rising Danger - Sohrab Ahmari (Wall Street Journal)
- Anwar Eshki, a retired major general in the Saudi armed forces, has spearheaded Riyadh's outreach to Jerusalem. He made history in June when he appeared on a panel in Washington with Dore Gold, the director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry. I sat down for an interview with Gen. Eshki on Wednesday in Prague.
- Gen. Eshki said he was surprised by Secretary of State Kerry during the talks: "He supported the Iranians!" Kerry and his boss were willing to see things Iran's way, Gen. Eshki says, because they believe that moderates can outmaneuver hard-liners like Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards.
- "I believe Iran will not change its mind as long as that regime is in power in Tehran," he says. "They want to revive the Persian Empire. And also they want to dominate the Middle East."
- It was the common Iranian threat that brought the general and Dr. Gold into a year-long strategic dialogue that culminated in the Washington meeting. "The main project between me and Dore Gold is to bring peace between Arab countries and Israel....My government knows about the project. My government isn't against it, because we need peace. For that reason, I found Dore Gold. He likes his country. I like my country. We need to profit from each other."
- The U.S. doesn't figure much in the moral and strategic map Gen. Eshki paints of the region. "The United States doesn't like anymore to be involved in the Middle East." That may be preferable to many American voters, but it comes at the price of a diminished capacity to shape events and outcomes.
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