March 19, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Did Hamas Lose Control of the Gaza "Return" Marches - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The original instigator of the Gaza "Return" marches, Ahmed Abu Ratima, posted a call on Facebook to Hamas police officers to remove their uniforms and join the demonstrators against Hamas.
    He even called for establishing a committee of all the Palestinian organizations to administer Gaza. In other words, the demonstrators now want to dismantle the Hamas government.
    Furthermore, Ma'an News reports that the "war room" Hamas established with other organizations against Fatah may indeed be opposed to Fatah, but it also supports the demonstrations against Hamas.
    See also Hamas Violently Suppresses Gazans at "We Want to Live" Protests - Ali Adam (The National-Abu Dhabi)
    On Saturday, eleven Palestinians factions released a joint statement to express their support for the popular movement and called on Hamas to fulfill their demands.

Fatah Spokesman in Gaza Has Arms and Legs Broken by Attackers - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Atef Abu Seif, the Fatah spokesman in Gaza, was kidnapped on Monday near his home by gunmen who broke his arms and legs.
    Hamas has accused Fatah of trying to hijack recent protests in order to stage a coup against Hamas.
    Last week, senior Fatah official in Gaza Ahmed Hillis survived an assassination attempt when gunmen opened fire at his car.

College President Vetoes Call to Suspend Israel Study Abroad Program - Brent Scher (Washington Free Beacon)
    Students and faculty of California's Pitzer College voted Thursday to suspend the study abroad partnership with Israel's University of Haifa, but college president Melvin Oliver is declining to take any action on the program, calling it an "academic boycott of Israel."
    Oliver said the proposal was "prejudiced" against Israel, would "curtail academic freedom," and that "the recommendation runs directly counter to Pitzer's core value of intercultural understanding."

Iran Recalls Ambassador after Kenya Jails Iranians Who Planned Bomb Attacks (Reuters)
    Iran recalled its ambassador to Kenya because of a court decision upholding sentences for two Iranians, Ahmad Abolfathi and Seyed Mansour Mousavi, convicted of planning bomb attacks in 2012.
    In 2016, a Kenyan judge reduced the life sentences given to the two Iranians convicted of planning bomb attacks to 15 years.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Supporters Protest UN Rights Meeting - Lisa Schlein
    Hundreds gathered in Geneva Monday to protest as the UN Human Rights Council met to discuss allegations of Israeli violations in the Palestinian territories. "Today Israel alone is criticized for an entire day," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. "The only country in the world that is the focus of its own day, its own debate, its own agenda item. Not North Korea, not Syria, not Sudan is treated in this way."
        The Israeli Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, said, "While anti-Semitism is raising its ugly head all over the world, this place is legitimizing discrimination against the one and only Jewish State, the State of Israel."  (VOA News)
        See also U.S. Envoy to Germany: UN Human Rights Council Is Anti-Semitic - Herb Keinon and Anna Ahronheim
    To apply one standard to Israel, and another to the rest of the world - as the UN Human Rights Council does - is to be anti-Semitic, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said Monday in Geneva. "To pass resolution after resolution against Israel while ignoring China, Russia or Cuba is a horrendous hypocrisy," Grenell said. That the UNHRC "not only singles out Israel, but it does so on a permanent basis," and that it believes "that a single country and a single people merits such attention on a permanent basis," is also anti-Semitism.
        Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold asked, "How can anybody take the UN seriously when it has shown that, when it comes to Israel, its reports have been highly politicized and seriously flawed? Is anyone protecting the human rights of Israeli farmers whose fields are regularly set ablaze by Hamas incendiary weapons?"  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: Equal Rights for Israel at the UN - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Iran-Backed Militias Step Up the Battle in Iraq - Jonathan Spyer
    Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq are operating with increasing impunity. On Feb. 3, Shiite militiamen murdered Iraqi novelist Alaa Mashzoub, a chronicler of Iraq's lost Jewish community, who was a bold critic of Iran's increasing power in Iraq. A few days later, Aws al-Khafaji, a powerful Shiite militia leader and Mashzoub's kinsman, who appeared on TV and denounced Iranian interference in Iraq, was captured by Shiite militias of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units and has not been seen since.
        The same week, Iraqi Shiite militiamen challenged a U.S. Army foot patrol in eastern Mosul. Ja'afar Husseini, spokesman of Kataib Hezbollah, one of the most powerful Shiite militias, warned that clashes between the Iran-allied fighters and the U.S. "may start at any moment."  The writer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Ambassador Pans Abbas for Not Condemning Deadly West Bank Terror Attack - Stuart Winer
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Monday criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for not condemning the deadly West Bank attack that killed Rabbi Achiad Ettinger and Sgt. Gal Keidan.
        "Hamas, as usual, is celebrating and Abu Mazen [Abbas], who properly joined with all civilized people in condemning the terrorist attack in Christchurch, is now deafening in his silence," Friedman said. "Palestinians attacking Israelis are celebrated, compensated and venerated by the PA leadership and/or Hamas. And there lies the problem."  (Times of Israel)
  • Gaza Has Grown Completely Reliant on Outside Aid - David Rosenberg
    Hamas is responsible for Gaza's economic woes by sacrificing everything for the cause of armed confrontation with Israel. But that is a policy that at least a plurality of Palestinians say they support.
        It would be accurate to call Gaza the world's biggest soup kitchen. There's very little ordinary economic activity in Gaza - people growing and manufacturing things or providing services. 25 years ago, manufacturing accounted for 16% of its gross domestic product and agriculture another 11%; today the figures are 8% and 5%. The only growth industry is the public sector, which expanded from 12% of GDP to 29%, most of it make-work.
        International aid and remittances are today about the only source of foreign exchange for Gaza. According to the World Bank, 79% of all Gazans received some kind of international aid in 2017. Even among the wealthiest 20%, nearly half received assistance. Hamas did what you'd expect from any ruling group with access to free money, which is to take it. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Framing Israel: The UN Commission of Inquiry on the Spring 2018 Gaza Border Confrontations - Geoffrey S. Corn and Peter Margulies
    The UN Human Rights Council's Commission of Inquiry (COI) published its full report on March 18 on the border confrontation that occurred last spring between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and tens of thousands of Gaza residents who sought to force their way into Israel by breaching the security barrier.
        The COI framed these events as a series of demonstrations that were "civilian in nature." Israel and its Supreme Court framed the same events quite differently: as a new evolution in Israel's ongoing armed conflict with the terrorist organization Hamas. Consistency and common sense suggest that the Israeli High Court of Justice's framing is a more rational explanation of what occurred.
        Geoffrey S. Corn is a Professor of Law at South Texas College of Law in Houston. Peter Margulies is a professor at Roger Williams University School of Law. (Lawfare)
  • UNHRC Should Condemn the PA and Hamas for Abuse of Palestinian Children - Maurice Hirsch, Itamar Marcus, and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    On Monday, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) condemned Israel for its treatment of Palestinian children. The reality is that while Palestinian children are indeed suffering, the ones responsible are the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders who have systematically stolen the childhood from Palestinian youth by raising them to see violence and martyrdom-death as ideals to strive for. Palestinian children and teenagers have been taking an active part in violence and murderous terrorism for years and have paid the price with both their lives and as prisoners in Israeli jails.
        While the UNHRC is always quick to condemn Israel for the deaths of Palestinian teen terrorists and for the imposition of prison terms on arrested teen terrorists, it should instead be condemning the PA for using children as combatants in violation of international law and morality. Israel cannot be blamed for arresting or shooting anyone while defending itself against Palestinian terror, even if the terrorist is a teenager. The bottom line is that if the PA would stop using children as terror combatants, there would be no Palestinian child terrorist prisoners and potentially no or many less child casualties. (Palestinian Media Watch)

  • In testimony delivered on Monday at the UN, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. Corn (ret.) and British commander Col. Richard Kemp refuted a UN Human Rights Council report that accuses Israeli soldiers of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" on the Gaza border.
  • Corn said, "By omitting from the UNHRC inquiry reports of the use of human shields by Hamas, the report incentivizes these terror tactics in the future, and the risk posed to the civilian population of Gaza is exacerbated. If we are really concerned about mitigating harm done to civilians, we should be condemning Hamas' actions and this report."
  • Kemp said, "The United Nations has played directly into Hamas' hands and the UNHRC is but an instrument of Hamas terrorism. This report, as well as countries that vote for it, encourage Hamas towards further terrorism in the future." He added that his personal testimony to the Commission of Inquiry was completely ignored in the production of the report.
  • Dr. Einat Wilf, a former member of Israel's Knesset, explained that "Those who come to the border marching in the name of the so-called 'right of return' are not rioting against Israel's blockade, but rather, are coming to destroy Israel. This needs to be understood clearly as a declaration of war and nothing less than that. The Israeli response cannot be understood if this is not understood."