ISIS Gains Ground in Gaza - Sami Moubayed (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
Gaza, held for the past decade by Hamas, itself a jihadi militia, is a perfect incubator for radical Islam.
In 2015, a militia emerged in Gaza called the Omar Hadid Brigade. Having started out as a group of 50, according to sources in West Bank intelligence, it now boasts 3,000 men.
Most of the Palestinians who joined the Omar Hadid Brigade were ex-Hamas fighters who knew Gaza City inside out, and had access to its arms, weapons storehouses, and secret coffers.
They accused some Hamas commanders of being too soft on Israel, especially after Hamas leaders toyed with the idea of a ten-year truce with the Jewish State. In May 2015 they killed Hamas commander Saber Siam with a car bomb in Gaza.
The Egyptian branch of ISIS,
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which has been active in the Sinai Peninsula since 2012, helped their Palestinian comrades set up the Gazan ISIS-affiliate. These Palestinian militants went to Sinai to procure arms. They were given NATO weapons, stolen from the Libyan battlefield.
In their online videos, these Palestinians play ISIS anthems, carry its black flag, and pledge an oath to its "caliph," Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
French Government Funds NGOs Involved in Israel Boycott Campaigns (NGO Monitor)
The French government supports numerous French, Israeli, and Palestinian organizations that support and promote discriminatory boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel, despite the fact that such boycotts are illegal under French law.
France directly and indirectly funds several other NGOs with alleged ties to the PFLP terror group.
This type of financial support casts doubts on the ability of France to serve as an impartial host of a summit dedicated to peace.
French Doctors Visit Israel to Learn About Emergency Care (Israel Hayom)
A delegation of French doctors arrived in Israel to learn about emergency protocols for hospitals in situations of mass casualties and terrorist attacks, French media reported.
The doctors visited Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center's underground hospital, designed to withstand nuclear, chemical and biological warfare, as well as long-range missile attacks.
"We test the hospital's [emergency] preparedness at least twice per year," Sourasky Emergency Medicine Director Dr. Pinchas Halpern said.
Egyptian Cleric: The Jewish "Cancer" Gnaws Away at Our Nation (MEMRI)
Egyptian cleric Sheikh Ali Qassem, speaking on the "Path to Allah" YouTube channel on Dec. 5, said that the Jews were "the most base, contemptible, and despicable nation upon the Earth," adding that the "Jewish germ" was a cancer gnawing away at the body of the Islamic nation.
He praised the recent fires that raged through Israel, saying that the Muslims were united in their loathing of the Jews and in their rejoicing at the harm inflicted by "divine winds and heavenly destructive fires."
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- Iran Stockpiling Uranium Far Above Current Needs - Olli Heinonen
On Jan. 1, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran had imported 200 metric tons of yellowcake uranium and would import another 120 tons at a future date. The imports are permitted by the nuclear deal, but nonetheless significantly exceed Iran's needs for natural (unenriched) uranium over the next 15 years. There is no plausible justification for the acquisition of several hundred tons of yellowcake.
Iran's import of such high levels of uranium suggests it may be stockpiling uranium to reach nuclear breakout before the deal's initial limitations expire. Tehran additionally produces uranium domestically from its mines at Gacchin and Saghand. Dr. Olli Heinonen is former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and head of its Department of Safeguards.
(Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
- Iran Drops Threat to Retaliate for U.S. Extension of Iran Sanctions Act - Shadia Nasralla
Tehran threatened last month to retaliate against a U.S. Senate vote to extend the Iran Sanctions Act, saying it violated the nuclear agreement. However, after a meeting Tuesday in Vienna of the Joint Commission overseeing the nuclear deal, Abbas Araqchi, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, said Iran did not intend to invoke a dispute resolution mechanism set out in the accord for cases where one participating country feels there is a breach of the deal.
- Will Trump Be the President Who Moves the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem? - William Booth and Carol Morello
Mohammad Shtayyeh, a senior Palestinian official, said that if Trump moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Palestine Liberation Organization would consider revoking its recognition of the State of Israel, marking the collapse of the 1993 Oslo peace accords.
Among Israelis, there is broad support for moving the embassy to west Jerusalem, where Israel's parliament, supreme court and government ministries are all located. Alan Baker, an Israeli diplomat and former peace negotiator with the Palestinians, said: "This should not be a problem for the Palestinians, but they are turning it into a problem and turning the whole of Jerusalem into a problem. It's a tactic of fear, they threaten fire and brimstone, so everyone is afraid." (Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Revokes Residency Status of Jerusalem Terrorist's Family - Danny Adeno Abebe
Israeli Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri has decided to revoke the permanent resident status and corresponding social benefits for 13 members of Jerusalem terrorist Fadi Al-Qunbar's family, following consultations Monday with the Israel Security Agency and the Immigration Authority. Four IDF officers were murdered in the terrorist attack on Sunday.
Such a measure has previously never been implemented and prevents the family from appealing to the High Court of Justice, as they are not Israeli citizens. Deri decided on the measure after discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who supported the move.
The decision is viewed as a means of deterrence against future attackers. In the future, in cases of terrorism involving permanent residents of Jerusalem who are not citizens of Israel, all family members - including cousins, nephews, aunts and uncles - will lose their permanent residency status immediately.
"This is a decision that signals a new era against terrorism and terrorists who use their status [as permanent residents of Jerusalem] to carry out attacks against citizens," Deri said. "Let this be known to all who are plotting, planning or considering carrying out an attack, that their families will pay a heavy price for their actions." (Ynet News)
- Peace Index Poll: 69% of Israeli Jews Expect Trump to Be Friendly toward Israel - Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann
57% of the Israeli Jewish public view outgoing President Obama as unfriendly toward Israel, while 69% expect President-elect Trump to be friendly, according to the monthly Peace Index survey by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, conducted on Jan. 2-3, 2017.
53% think the recent UN Security Council resolution on settlement building stemmed mainly from hostility to Israel. Only 28.5% said it stemmed from a principled position in keeping with international law.
In the wake of the UN resolution, 62% of the Jewish public said construction in the territories should continue. 58% of the Jewish public reject U.S. Secretary of State Kerry's assertion that if "the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic - it cannot be both." At the same time, 70% of the Jewish public and 77% of the Israeli Arab public are optimistic about their personal future.
- Why Is France Hosting a Middle East Peace Conference? - David Harris
Dear French foreign minister, I am no less eager than you to find a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So why have we voiced the hope that the "Middle East peace conference" in Paris you will be hosting would be canceled?
With everything happening in Europe today, why does this issue deserve such an investment of effort and energy?
The EU is at risk, especially after the Brexit vote. Terrorists are exposing the weakness of the Schengen agreement. Disaffected parallel societies have emerged in the cities and suburbs of France, Belgium, and elsewhere. Populist parties promoting xenophobia and anti-Semitism are threatening the established order.
But instead of focusing on any or all of these issues, the Quai d'Orsay is organizing yet another international effort to address a conflict that everyone knows can only be resolved by the parties themselves.
If France has decided on the need for an international conference of some sort at this time, how about one on Syria, the greatest human tragedy of this century. Or how about on Libya, where a French decision in 2011 to help topple Muammar Gaddafi left the country in tatters, a breeding ground for jihadism. Or how about on the Kurds, a people in the Middle East with all the elements of nationhood - and among our most reliable allies. The writer is the executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC).
- Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem: A Necessary, Natural Step - Prof. Eyal Zisser
Sunday's terrorist attack in Jerusalem came a few days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry chose to warn against relocating the American embassy to Jerusalem, as doing so would send the region up in flames. Perhaps Kerry has failed to notice that the Middle East is already burning, and has been for quite some time now.
Why is transferring the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem not inherently hazardous? Because any reasonable person understands that doing so would not change the status of the city or the existing reality there in any significant way, nor would it cause a shift in Washington's fundamental positions on the conflict.
Hesitation and trepidation are perceived as weakness in this region and invite pressure, belligerence and even a rejectionist approach. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who never sought favor from anyone, is respected and feared; certainly no one threatens to burn the region down in response to his policies. The writer, Vice Rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.
Debunking Eleven More False Assumptions Regarding Israel - Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- In addition to the "Ten False Assumptions Regarding Israel," which addressed many of the widely-held and universally-disseminated false and mistaken assumptions regarding Israel, here are some additional false assumptions to address.
- "Israel is committing genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian People" - Israel has never advocated, devised or entertained any plan, design or campaign, systematic or otherwise, to undermine or destroy the Palestinian people, or to act out of revenge or despair.
Since 1967, the Palestinian Arab population has increased from 954,898 to 4,654,421 - by 387%. It was not Israel that massacred 15,000 Palestinians living in Jordan during the "Black September" war between Jordan and the PLO in 1970. It was not Israel that caused the displacement of 390,000 Palestinians in Syria since the conflict began in 2011.
- "The establishment of Israel was a catastrophe for the Palestinians" -
The Arabs' original 1948 rejection and denial of the right of existence of the State of Israel has not changed and remains the central aim of their narrative.
- "Israel violates its obligations in the Oslo Accords" - Israel has implemented its obligations pursuant to the accords in good faith.
The long list of fundamental breaches by the Palestinians includes active support, encouragement and financing of terror and violence against Israel and its population, and the maintenance of terror infrastructure despite obligations to dismantle it; wholesale acquisition and manufacture of illegal weaponry for purposes of terror; daily hate indoctrination and incitement to violence and terror; and attempts to unilaterally alter the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip outside the negotiating process, through unilateral initiatives in international bodies.
- "Israel is denying the 'right of return' to millions of Palestinian refugees" -
There exists no 'right of return' for refugees in international law or practice, and no international treaty imposes any such obligation on Israel.
Ambassador Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.
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