Monday, January 23, 2017

23-Jan-17: Another Shalit Deal outcome, another life sentence, another bereaved family

Malachi Rosenfeld, of blessed memory [Image Source]
As reported Sunday via the Israeli web-based all-news video channel i24news.tv:
Abdullah Ishaq, a Palestinian convicted in the 2015 drive-by shooting death of an Israeli man in the West Bank was sentenced by a military court Sunday to life in prison plus 30 years for the attack. Malachi Rosenfeld, 25, was fatally wounded in the drive-by shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Shilo on June 30, 2015. Three other Israelis sustained moderate injuries in the incident. Ishaq was given life for the death of Rosenfeld and the additional 30 years for the three injured. He was also ordered to pay 250,000 shekels ($65,800) in restitution to Rosenfeld's family as well as another 25,000 shekels ($6,500) to each of the Israelis wounded in the attack. He was part of a West Bank based Hamas terror cell arrested the month after the attack. Ishaq is said to have been the driver of the car in the attack. The members of the cell confessed to carrying other shooting attacks against Israeli targets that ended without casualties, including firing at an ambulance vehicle. Israeli media reported the terror cell's leader was released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner-exchange deal four years earlier. In the 2011 swap, Israel released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas and kept in Gaza for five years. ["Palestinian given life sentence for death of Israeli in 2015 shooting attack", i24news, January 22, 2017]
For some context, a reminder of what we wrote a year and a half ago: "19-Aug-15: The road to Malachi's death and the decisions that made it possible". And before that "19-Jul-15: Another catastrophic outcome of the 2011 Shalit Deal" and "29-Jun-15: Drive-by shooting attack near Shvut Rachel tonight".

The brutal theft of Malachi Rosenfeld's life was enabled by two largely ignored realities:
  1. The Palestinian Authority's appalling Rewards for Terror Scheme and - largely unwittingly - by the millions of European and American taxpayers whose funding of that terror-support mechanism allows it to continue day after day.
  2. And the decision to free 1,027 terrorists, the vast majority of them killers, in the catastrophic Shalit Deal of 2011, the reverberations of which continue to bring extreme misery into the lives of innocent families.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

14-Jan-17: Shock, horror: Press freedom under Hamas isn't what it ought to be

Reporting from the Israeli side of the border with Hamas-controlled Gaza
[Image Source]
It's the coldest part of winter in our part of the world, and there have been serious interruptions to the electricity supply in the Gaza Strip. The Islamist thugs who rule the enclave have responded in traditional fashion. And yes, personal violence is of course central to the story.
“Hamas forces blocked journalists from filming the gathering, and an Associated Press journalist was briefly detained at gunpoint until he handed over his mobile phones to plainclothes security men...” [Associated Press item reported last Friday]
Our attention was drawn to this via a piece that appeared Thursday on the website of TheTower.org [here] which says operatives of Hamas
blocked journalists from filming a major protest against power cuts in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, detaining an Associated Press journalist at gunpoint and badly beating an Agence France-Presse photographer who refused to relinquish his camera. The journalists sought to cover a demonstration against chronic electricity shortages in Gaza, which the AP described as “one of the largest unauthorized protests in the territory since the Islamic militant group took power a decade ago.” According to the Foreign Press Association, the Hamas men “stuck a pistol in his chest and verbally threatened the reporter until he agreed to give them the phones.” ["Hamas Holds AP Journalist at Gunpoint, Beats AFP Photographer for Covering Major Protest", The Tower, January 12, 2017]
It quotes a statement of the Tel-Aviv-based Foreign Press Association, a not-for-profit that represents the interests and views of correspondents working in our part of the world, saying that
In addition an AFP photographer was badly beaten to the head by uniformed policemen required medical care after he had refused to give up his camera. The memory card of his camera was confiscated and he was placed under arrest. He was subsequently released and the memory card was returned. The Foreign Press Association condemns this violent behavior in the strongest terms, and finds it especially shocking in light of verbal promises we have received from Hamas officials to respect the freedom of the press. We hope that Hamas will properly investigate this incident and provide an explanation and apology for this unacceptable behavior by their forces.
The Board of the Foreign Press Association. January 12, 2017
Especially shocking? We're shocked that the hard-boiled and experienced reporters of the FPA are shocked that verbal promises of the thuggish murderers who make up the leadership and rank and file of the Islamist Hamas terror group turn out to have not been respected. Almost as if Hamas tells lies.

The people at The Tower provide a valuable service in their article - evidently ignored by the FPA - by quoting a 2009 report for the Gatestone Institute authored by veteran Palestinian affairs journalist Khaled Abu Toameh:
Foreign journalists who manage to cross into the Gaza Strip face many restrictions imposed by the Hamas government. Local facilitators hired by foreign journalists are also under scrutiny by the Hamas government. That is why they are careful not to bring the dirty laundry out by telling the foreign media about things that could reflect negatively on Hamas.
Arabic-language news coverage of massive anti-Hamas protests in the
Gaza Strip this past week: Israel can't be blameed, so don't expect much Western
news coverage [Video Source]
They go on to quote egregious examples of the bare-knuckles Hamas management of media coverage of the Gaza Strip. including this from former AP correspondent Mark Lavie who wrote in August 2014:
Journalists, of course, won’t tell you what you’re missing in the coverage. Their anchors or editors won’t tell you why large parts of the story are colored a certain way or taken from a certain angle. They don’t want to put their reporters’ lives at risk. This is the main reason that video and pictures seem to flow freely out of Gaza. But critical elements of the story itself can’t, and neither can all the pictures and video. It gives the impression that the story is being covered, when only part of it—sometimes a small part—is being covered.
To see the report that Associated Press eventually put out after the events of January 12, 2017, see "In Rare Demonstration, Thousands Protest Power Cuts in Gaza". And for startling video clips - some of them emanating from fed-up (and courageous) Gazans - posted to YouTube in the last couple of days showing massive Gazan street rioting against Hamas, go here, here, here and here.

Heavily spun reporting of Gazan suffering under the boot of the Hamas Islamist regime - invariably with Israel being blamed - has been a news-reporting industry constant since Hamas violently seized control in 2007. Here's a sampling of posts we wrote after previous Gazan electricity crises:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

11-Jan-17: Is there a new prisoner release deal?

Released terrorists received as heroes in Gaza by Hamas after the Shalit
Deal, October 2011 [Image Source]
In a rather strangely worded article today, Ynet reports on the substance of an article appearing in a major Arabic-language Israeli newspaper published in Nazareth, Kul al-Arab, that asserts another prisoner-release deal has been achieved or is close to being done between the Hamas terrorist regime in Gaza and the government of Israel.

The main points in summary:
  • The deal, if one indeed has been done, is brokered by Qatar. Ynet says a Qatari official, Mohammad al-Amadi, who supervises Qatar's rehabilitation projects in Gaza, is involved in the negotiations.
  • For its part, Hamas would hand over the bodies (Ynet oddly calls this "the release") of two IDF soldiers presumed to have been killed in action during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. It is widely believed that Hamas has held those bodies for ransom since that time. The soldiers are Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul.
  • In Ynet's language, the transaction "may also involve the return of Avraham 'Abera' Mengistu, an Ethiopian-Israeli reportedly held hostage by Hamas after he was seen crossing the border into Gaza out of his own volition in 2014." The popular sense here is that, despite the silence, Mengistu is believed to be alive. His family are said to know nothing at all about a deal.
  • The Hamas conditions include Israel releasing 60 of the 1,027 Shalit Deal prisoners who were unjustly released in a successful act of Hamas extortion in October/November 2011 (the vast majority of those freed had been convicted of homicide in varying degrees) and who had subsequently been arrested and re-imprisoned in Israel. 
  • Israel, according to the quoted source, conditioned this proposed re-release of Shalit Deal prisoners on their being promptly expelled to the Gaza Strip or to Qatar. Hamas rejected the condition, the report says. Readers are left with the impression that the Hamas stance prevailed, and the terrorists will not be subject to expulsion. 
The Israel National News version of today's report [here] concludes with
"Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) has said he will not deal with Hamas for dead bodies."
This might all be nonsense or spot on or something in between.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

08-Jan-17: Where the World Council of Churches stands as Israelis are rammed to death

The driver of the truck rammed into a crowd of young Israelis in
Jerusalem [Image Source]
A hideous, cowardly attack by a Palestinian Arab terrorist at the wheel of a heavy truck changed the lives - in the absolute worst possible way - of at least four Israeli families today.

The man drove at high speed onto a Jerusalem sidewalk and into a crowd of IDF cadets and having immediately killed several, turned his vehicle around and prepared to batter and crush some additional victims. He was forcefully stopped and will not be a terrorist ever again.

But had he survived and been caught and arrested and tried and sentenced, here is what the World Council of Churches would likely have urged its faithful followers - hundreds of millions of Christians - to do for him:
"To pray for, visit, and tend to [his] needs... no matter the reason for [his] detention... [And] for the churches in the Holy Land to remember [him] through prayers and acts of solidarity that restore to [him his] freedom with justice and dignity”.
How do we know? Because those words, very slightly changed in order to address a larger number of Palestinian Arab terrorists behind Israeli bars, issued forth from the publicity bureau of the Secretary General of the World Council of Churches, Olav Fykse Tveit, almost three years ago. 

We documented the WCC's extraordinary stand in a blog post at the time ["17-Apr-14: Christian solidarity with unrepentant murderers: where's the outrage?"]. And then soon afterwards in another ["6-Jun-14: Fear and loathing at the World Council of Churches"]. And another ["11-Jun-14: Where does this strategic deafness and moral blindness at World Council of Churches lead?"] And another ["15-Sep-16: Justice, peace, terror, truth - and the World Council of Churches"]. And this one last week ["02-Jan-17: At the World Council of Churches, a stunning theology of terror"]

The most recent of our short essays about the baffling amorality of the Christian leadership at the WCC focuses on another call by Tveit for solidarity with and sympathy for the many New Years Eve revellers murdered and injured when an Islamist gunman in the service of ISIS attacked a crowded Istanbul nightclub. Tveit was moved to observe that
Four victims (left to right) of today's truck ramming attack:
Shir Hajaj, 22; Erez Orbach, 20; Yael Yekutiel, 20; Shira Zur, 20
May their memories be for a blessing. There are many more injured.
"Innocent people are suffering again and again. This is an evil act. This attack is particularly shocking, in the first place because there seems to have been a clear intention deliberately to target people who were simply enjoying themselves... In the face of this brutality, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence... God in your mercy, be with the victims and their families and those who accompany and help them.” [Quoted here]
String and powerful words. But neither Tveit nor, as far as we can tell, any other WCC management team insider has expressed sentiments remotely like this for innocent Jewish victims of evil Arab-on-Israeli terror. Not today, not on August 9, 2001 when our fifteen year-old daughter Malki was murdered here in the center of Jerusalem by people doing lethal, cruel brutality in the name of Hamas, and not ever.

On the one occasion when we made direct contact with WCC officials in their Geneva head office, we were told by their corporate spokesperson not to expect any response. His name is Mark Beach and at the time (mid-2014) he served as WCC director of communication, but he had zero interest in directing any communication at us. We wrote about that particular shabbiness here. He's no longer doing that job but we don't expect a response now either.

Instead we ask Christians - and especially Christians whose congregations are affiliated with the WCC - to condemn them for their bigotry, for their dangerous hypocrisy and for the succour they provide to bestial practitioners of terrorism. We are more than willing to provide additional background; please email us at thisongoingwar (at) gmail (dot) com

The family of the perpetrator of today's killings say they are “thankful” for what he did and are calling the killer's death “the most beautiful martyrdom”. In their ugly recourse to a religious category, are they so different from the WCC people and their grotesquely-politicized theology of terror?

08-Jan-17: Pakistanis, working for Iran, plotted murders of Israelis in France, Germany

From news coverage of the suspect's earlier arrest last summer [Image Source]
A brief report put out by Kuwait's official newsagency caught our eye last week:
BERLIN (January 3, KUNA): The office of the German Prosecutor General has on Tuesday officially accused a Pakistani national of spying for Iran. Sayed Mustafa, 31 years, confessed of receiving money from an Iranian secret service for spying on the former head of German-Israeli Society Reinhold Robbe over at least one year, said a statement by the Prosecutor General's office located in Karlsruhe city. The defendant is also accused by Paris of spying on a professor of economics for the same Iranian secret service, according to the statement. The man. arrested in last July is to stand trial after his interrogation complete in mid-December [Source: Kuwait News Agency KUNA]
The fractured English aside, it sounds like more than spying is involved here, unless the Kuwaitis mean for us to believe that Iran is seeking insights into economic theory or wants to get a deeper understanding of how Germany's parliament works (Robbe has been an elected member of the Bundestag for the past 23 years). Both options are unlikely.

Now there's a different version of this murky story from an official German source:
German federal prosecutors pressed charges against a 31-year-old Pakistani student who they believe targeted Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician Reinhold Robbe on behalf of the Iranian intelligence agency, German media reported on Friday. Robbe, who served as president of the German-Israeli Society (DIG) until 2015, was being eyed as a possible assassination target, according to information reviewed by German public broadcasters NDR and WDR, as well as the daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung." According to the federal prosecutors' indictment, the suspected agent, named as Syed Mustufa H., compiled a thorough "movement profile" on Robbe and staked out the DIG offices in Berlin - signs authorities said were a clear indication of an assassination attempt.
The suspect paid particularly close attention to Robbe's public transportation travel habits and charted alternate routes that he took on the way to the DIG Berlin building. Prosecutors said the suspect's actions were part of a broader operation to identify possible targets with friendly ties to Israel in Germany, France and other European countries, the reports said. The Pakistani man is also accused of spying on a French-Israeli professor at a business school in Paris on behalf of Iranian intelligence. The suspect was previously detained by authorities in July 2016 under suspicion of espionage and was known to Germany's domestic intelligence agency (BfV). The Pakistani suspect is believed to have been spying for Iran since July 2015. The exact motive for carrying out a possible attack on Robbe is still unclear. However, security agencies speculate that the Iranian government could have been preparing a retaliatory move against people closely linked to Israel should Israel carry out airstrikes against Iranian nuclear power plants. Despite his extensive observation of Robbe, files confiscated from Syed Mustafa H. indicate that some of his methods were those of an amateur... The suspected agent officially studied engineering in Bremen and also worked at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in the northern German city, the reports said. It is the first known case of a German politician being the target of an espionage operation by the Iranian intelligence agency, the reports said. [Deutsche Welle, January 7, 2017]
We're left wondering: Does this suspected spy/assassin have a surname and is it H? (Associated Press says this is "in keeping with German privacy rules"). Is there a good reason for not publicly identifying the Iranian spy agency? Is this really just an espionage story? And can we expect the wiley - and ruthless - Iranians to intervene and extract their agent from the German authorities clutches as they recently did in Kenya? ["14-Dec-16: Kenya, one way or another, clarifies its stance in the face of Iranian terror"]

In Pakistan, the alleged agent's July 2016 arrest in Germany on charges of serving the Iranians was a real story: see "Germany arrests Pakistani man accused of spying for Iran" [Express Tribune, Pakistan, July 8, 2016]. The photo at the top of this post is from the news coverage at the time.

Israel's Ynet, like us, is inclined to look past the espionage claims and to view the arrest as more pertaining to a sleeper assassination squad in the service of the Iranian regime:
A 31 year old Pakistani man has been indicted for being involved in an attempt to assassinate Reinhold Robbe - a member of the socialist-democrats and former president of the body responsible for strengthening relations between Israel and Germany. [He] was recruited by Iranian intelligence services, and was tasked with following known, outspoken Israel supporters in Germany... Mustafa and other operatives were to have been given orders to assassinate these targets should Israel have struck the Iranian nuclear reactors... Mustafa was arrested in July on suspicion of spying, and has been known to German intelligence services as a suspected Iranian agent since at least 2015. [Ynet, January 8, 2017]
And an Israel-based video news network pursues a similar line:
While the motive of the possible attack remains unclear, authorities reportedly suspect that the individuals were targeted as part of a planned worldwide retaliation scheme, in case Israel carries out an airstrike against Iran's nuclear facilities. Another suspect, also a Pakistani national, was arrested in connection to the affair but was released due to insufficient evidence, as he was able to erase the hard drive of his computer prior to his arrest, possibly destroying incriminating information. He left Germany immediately after his release. German media noted that it is the first known case in which a German politician was the target of an operation by the Iranian secret service... [i24NewsTV, today]
As for Iranian motivation (and perhaps fingerprints), a reminder of a news snippet we highlighted here just last month: 
Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, while speaking at a conference in Tehran, said that were President-Elect Trump to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear “deal” signed by the Obama administration, Iran would destroy the State of Israel... ["Iran threatens to destroy Israel - again", Washington TimesDecember 12, 2016]
We suspect this story has some way yet to go.

Monday, January 02, 2017

02-Jan-17: At the World Council of Churches, a stunning theology of terror

WCC's Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit [Image Source]
We have devoted a dozen or more posts to things the World Council of Churches has said or done [click here] about terror. Frankly, and with sincere respect for a value system of which we are not a part, it's been hard to say anything positive about them. Here's the latest example of why.

Yesterday, the WCC secretariat, based in Geneva, issued a statement to the media in relation to the Istanbul New Year's Eve Reina nightclub massacre. You might have noticed that credit for those brutal and cruel killings was today claimed by an Islamist terror group ["The Latest: Islamic State claims Istanbul nightclub attack", Associated Press, today].

Here's the Council's statement:
WCC condemns terrorist attack in Istanbul on innocent New Year revellers | 01 January 2017 | World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, condemns the latest terrorist attack against people in Istanbul celebrating the New Year. At least 39 people were killed and dozens more were wounded when a single gunman attacked a crowded Istanbul nightclub... "Innocent people are suffering again and again. This is an evil act. This attack is particularly shocking, in the first place because there seems to have been a clear intention deliberately to target people who were simply enjoying themselves at the New Year’ Day,” said Tveit... “In the face of this brutality, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence.” The WCC offers its deepest condolences to the bereaved and injured. Tveit said “God in your mercy, be with the victims and their families and those who accompany and help them.” [Online here]
Most reasonable people will agree it's right for a highly influential religious group to call on the Almighty to come down on the side of the victims. It would be incomprehensible if the Reverend Mr Tveit had taken the opposing view and called for compassion for the murdering savages of ISIS.

But wait.

We want to point out how differently the same Mr Tveit expressed himself in relation to a different collection of savages who. unlike the perpetrators of the Istanbul barbarism two days ago, have been caught and in most cases tried and convicted on terrorism charges. In relation to those savages, Mr Tveit very publicly urged the Christian faithful who seek leadership from his office to pray and to help them in practical ways and not to give any thought to the things those prisoners had done to be locked up. 
The scene outside Istanbul's Reina night-club [Image Source]

That nauseating appeal for sympathy for actual and thwarted murderers got our attention in April 2014 [here] when the WCC called for solidarity by its faithful with what it disingenuously terms 
"some 5000 Palestinian men, women and children, languishing in Israeli jails". 
For their benefit, believer-members ought
"to pray for, visit, and tend to the needs of all prisoners, no matter the reason for their detention. For Israel and Palestine, prisoners have taken on even greater significance than in the past."
Just turn those words over in your mind: "no matter the reason for their detention". It makes us wonder what kind of evil faux-theology this man amd his cohort practice. 

He and they certainly don't view themselves as a satanic cult. By their own account, they are: 
the broadest and most inclusive among the many organized expressions of the modern ecumenical movement, a movement whose goal is Christian unity.  The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. While the bulk of the WCC's founding churches were European and North American, today most member churches are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific. There are now 348 member churches. For its member churches, the WCC is a unique space: one in which they can reflect, speak, act, worship and work together, challenge and support each other, share and debate with each other... [From the WCC website today]
It didn't matter to Olav Fykse Tveitthe WCC's chief executive, an educated and cultured man on a mission and a Norwegian Lutheran clergyman, that many of the Palestinian Arab prisoners for whom he intervened are convicted, self-confessed killers of innocent people. 

Mostly of innocent Jewish people, if you're already asking. 

How much did it matter that most of the rest - other than the actual killers - are unrepentant terrorists? Or that Palestinian Arab society from president Mahmoud Abbas on down embraces all of them as heroes, as we have noted with utter revulsion in this blog dozens of times over the past decade? 

The answer: not one little bit(For other comments we made at the time, see "17-Apr-14: Christian solidarity with unrepentant murderers: where's the outrage?")

So now let's play "what if". 

What would the reaction have been yesterday in Istanbul - or in Paris or Brussels or Sydney or Nairobi - if the head of the World Council of Churches had called for 
  • the freedom of the Istanbul killers to be restored; 
  • the justice of the Istanbul gunmen's cause to be respected; 
  • the dignity of the Istanbul shooters - with their high-powered weapons firing point-blank at innocent, unsuspecting and unarmed revellers in the night-club - to win faithful Christian people's solidarity
Mourners prepare to bury one of the Istanbul massacre victims [Image Source]
Freedom, justice, dignity, solidarity. Mr Tveit asked his flock two years ago to beseech all of those from Heaven so as to benefit, and deliver solace to, Palestinian Arab prisoners behind Israeli bars. (Full disclosure: Several of those convicts happen to be the murderers of our fifteen year-old daughter Malki. So yes, we do lack a certain scientific objectivity on this.) 

Would he have dared make a request like that from his Geneva pulpit for the Istanbul shooters and plotters? The answer is obvious. He can do what he did because, and only because, the victims of the Palestinian Arab terrorists are who and what they are. Do we need to be more explicit than that? We hope not.

With time, it gets clearer that this important Christian group has developed and propagates a theology of terror and of terror-victimhood that deserves unsparing critical scrutiny but doesn't - as far as we know - get it.

And in case anyone's wondering why we don't try to get the World Council of Churches to give its viewpoint - we actually did. We wrote to them several times back in 2014. As noted here, the only substantive reaction we ourselves ever got from our efforts came as a couple of polite personal notes on behalf of Mr Tveit from the WCC's then director of communication, a certain Mr. Mark Beach who no longer holds that position. In an email from Geneva to us dated June 5, 2014, Beach addressed - in a certain not-too-helpful way - the questions and the sharply critical comments directed over and again at his boss. Now please note, as we asked him to, that we were writing not only as members of a concerned public but as parents of a beautiful child of 15, murdered by the very thugs for whose dignity the Christians of the WCC had been asked to pray. 

Probably not that moved by our letters, Mr Beach informed us that:
"Yes, I believe we would have nothing further to say."
And indeed we never did hear from him again. The background is here ["6-Jun-14: Fear and loathing at the World Council of Churches"]. 

We don't expect Mr Tviet or the World Council of Churches insiders to change their spots. But we're baffled by how ordinary religion- and morality-minded Christians who see the rank hypocrisy and genteel bigotry of the WCC leadership don't demand that the WCC leadership be kicked down the stairs of their exceedingly well-appointed Swiss headquarters and out into the street.

Call us perplexed.

PS As happened in 2014, the managing clique at World Council of Churches has remained silent and egregiously unresponsive to the criticisms aired here and elsewhere. So... interested members of WCC-affliated churches - there are millions of you out there - are invited to make contact with us [thisongoingwar (at) gmail (dot) com] so we can confidentially share some plans for expanding this protest of WCC malevolence.

UPDATE: We found it important to add some observations in the wake of a gruesome and cruel Palestinian Arab terror attack. See "08-Jan-17: Where the World Council of Churches stands as Israelis are rammed to death"

Friday, December 30, 2016

30-Dec-16: On Jerusalem's northern edge, another Palestinian Arab woman and her knife

A Times of Israel bulletin this morning reports on yet another attempt by a knife-wielding Arab female to kill her some Israelis. Fortunately, like most - but not all - such attempts in the past 16 months, this was thwarted by fast-moving Israeli security personnel.
Security forces shot and wounded a Palestinian woman on Friday at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank as she tried to carry out a stabbing attack, police said. There were no other injuries. “She approached the security forces with a knife in her hand. She did not respond to the calls of the soldiers to stop,” police said, adding that the threat was “neutralized.” Soldiers fired at her legs when she refused to stop. She was “lightly” wounded and arrested, police said... The Qalandiya crossing has two approach lanes, one for pedestrians and the other for vehicles. Israel Radio reported that she came through the vehicle lane...
There's a dramatic photo [here] of the attacker lying on the ground after taking some bullets from Israeli security personnel, but unfortunately none showing her getting medical assistance from Israeli medics. To restate the outcome, she's lightly hurt and will live.

As for why women:
Defense officials have pointed to a trend among some young Palestinian women who, often due to personal problems, have in recent months attempted to commit suicide by staging knife attacks against soldiers and police with the expectation that they will be shot.
The Arab news industry never notes this but sticks rigorously to assertions that the attack was alleged and somehow never real. Ma'an News Agency's report at this hour illustrates this:
A Palestinian woman was injured after being shot by Israeli soldiers at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem in the central occupied West Bank, for allegedly attempting to stab Israeli soldiers Friday morning... Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud of prisoners' rights group Addameer told Ma'an that the woman was identified as Jihan Muhammad Hashimeh, 35, from the neighborhood of al-Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem. Locals said that Hashimeh was ill, and that she was on her way to Jerusalem for medical treatment when she entered the vehicle lane by mistake.
As for her knife (a photo of which appears in a Tweet posted by the foreign press spokesperson for Israel Police), Ma'an presumably views its existence too as "alleged".

Qalandiya and its very busy security checkpoint - large numbers of people enter through it each day - is on Jerusalem's northern edge. Click here to view some of the many posts we have published here of terror attacks that have been launched in its vicinity.

In the most recent one ["13-Dec-16: Qalandiya and another vehicle-ramming attack on Israelis"], the assailant was also a Palestinian Arab female. Like today's attempted stabber, she too was fortunate enough to survive to talk about it afterwards. As for recent Arab-on-Israeli stabbing attacks, click here for some of our many previous posts.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

15-Dec-16: What do the Palestinian Arabs think now?

As Abbas starts the thirteenth year of his four-year
term as president, nearly two-thirds of all Palestinian Arabs say
it's time for him to go home [Image Source]
We're keenly interested in knowing what the Palestinian Arabs think.

If you rely on newspapers or pay attention to electronic media coverage of their attitudes and expectations, you are likely to be getting someone's wishful projections rather than data-based analysis. The difference between the two is vast and unbridgeable.

So what is reality when we're discussing people's attitudes?

In the case of the Palestinian Arabs, we think it's what they tell serious polling organizations that are themselves Palestinian Arab. That's why we have published several posts here in the past couple of years that are based on the published findings of the pre-eminent Palestinian Arab opinion polling organization, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research or PSR [website] headed by a respected figure, Prof. Khalil Shikaki.

Not for the first time, we say that understanding the feelings, expectations and aspirations of the Palestinian Arabs is fundamental to having a sense of what's ahead. If you agree, you might want to review one or two (or all) of these earlier posts of ours:
Let's now look at the latest PSR poll which was announced via a press release [here] two days ago. The parts that get the greatest prominence concern the political leadership of the Palestinian Authority and the outcome of the Fatah movement's recent Seventh Convention. Both of those matters provide an opportunity for the people polled to express broad and growing unhappiness with the performance of Mahmoud Abbas. In the previous poll three months ago, 61% said they wanted him to resign as president. That urgent Palestinian Arab dissastisfaction has now risen to 64%. This has vast implications for how and with whom and along what lines a living relationship can be negotiated by Israelis with the side he ostensibly leads.

The last time Palestinian Arabs were given the chance to vote for a president was in January 2005 when Abbas won; he has held tenaciously on to power ever since. The only previous presidential election, dominated by Yasser Arafat, was in 1996.

Frankly, we're much less interested in those issues and far more in what's revealed about Palestinian Arab thinking on violence and terrorism. Here's what we see, adopting verbatim (for the most part) the language of the PSR press release:
  • "A majority in favor of armed attacks and a return to armed intifada."
  • "The overwhelming majority of the public sees nothing but incitement against Arabs in Netanyahu’s claim that some of the recent fires in Israel were initiated by Palestinians."
  • "An increase in the percentage of those who favor the abandonment of the Oslo agreement."
  • "Almost a consensus among the public that the decision by the Israeli government to ban the use of loudspeakers in the mosques’ call for prayer is tantamount to declaring war against Islam."
A few more insights into the mindset of the neighbours with whom we are engaged in a generations-long conflict:
  • Asked about "the most effective means of building a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel", 37% vote for "armed action". Three months ago, that had the support of slightly fewer Palestinian Arabs - just 34%.
  • "62% support non-violent popular resistance, 53% support a return to an armed intifada..." [How to reconcile those two points? We won't try.] Three months ago, support for a return to an armed intifada stood at 48%..."
  • What do they not want president-elect Donald Trump to do when he takes office in January? According to 53% of them, he should keep out of the "peace" process.
  • About the PA leadership decision to send fire fighting vehicles and men to combat the recent wildfires in Israel, 50% say it was the wrong thing to do; they should not have been sent. And if their own houses or lands would have been destroyed? That wasn't asked, but we did notice that twice as many Arabs from the West Bank were in favour of Palestinian Arabs joining in the fire-fighting Arab compared with Gazan Arabs. (The fires did not threaten Gaza.)
  • "An overwhelming majority (87%) believes that the Israeli government decision to legislate a law that would ban the use of loudspeakers when calling for prayer at mosques is an indication of a war against Islam waged by the government while only 9% believe that the Israeli government is simply trying to protect the Israeli public." The pollsters evidently failed to check whether the respondents knew anything about similar measures adopted in other places. For instance the use of loudspeakers by mosques is (according to Wikipediabanned outright in Mumbai, India; Lagos, Nigeria; certain cities in Michigan; and in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Limitation on calls of prayers by muezzins exist in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Austria, Norway and Belgium. 
  • Only 32% think the two-state solution to the Palestinian Arab versus Israel conflict is "viable". In our October 2016 blog post on the previous PSR poll, 49% of Palestinian Arabs supported it, while among Israelis - via an unrelated poll we quoted then - 59% supported a two-state solution.
  • 54% of Palestinian Arabs say they believe that "Israel’s long term aspiration is to annex the lands occupied in 1967 and expel their population". 
  • Roughly the same number, 52%, believe Israel intends to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and replace them with a Jewish temple (that proportion is essentially unchanged from three months ago). 
There's not much here that's uplifting or forward-looking. But that's how it is with public opinion polls. You can ignore them, you can be angered by them, you can adopt them for the purpose of crafting new strategies. What you can't do is deny their meaning just because you find the conclusions unpalatable.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

14-Dec-16: In Jerusalem's Old City this afternoon, an Arab-on-Israeli stabbing

Why so many head and neck injuries among Israeli victims
of Arab terror attacks? The answer is shockingly simple.
[Image Source]
Judah Ari Gross, the Times of Israel's military correspondent, filed this report a little after noon today (Wednesday):
A police officer was stabbed in the head and lightly wounded in an attack in the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday, police said. A 12-year-old resident of East Jerusalem who had a light head wound claimed he had also been attacked by the assailant... The attacker had approached a group of officers near the Lions’ Gate in the Old City. As he got close to them, he pulled out a screwdriver and attacked one of the officers, police said. The other officers in the area opened fire, shooting the assailant. According to police, he was a 21-year-old Palestinian man from the Palestinian village of Beit Surik, northwest of Jerusalem. He was taken Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus. The Palestinian man arrived at the hospital in critical condition. After extensive CPR attempts, doctors pronounced him dead... ["Cop stabbed in head with screwdriver, lightly hurt in Jerusalem attack", Times of Israel, December 14, 2016]
News reports about victims being stabbed in the head by criminal assailants are not that common - but here in Israel they are. That's because an actual organized education campaign to encourage Palestinian Arabs to attack specific vulnerabilities in their victims' bodies, and providing detailed instructions for maximizing body damage, has produced a large number of terrible outcomes and horrific injuries among Israeli terror victims. There's more on this under-reported reality, in "Videos teach would-be Palestinian attackers ‘how to stab’", a Times of Israel article from October 2015 when the current wave of stabbings moved into high gear.

In a break with customary practice, the Ma'an News Agency - whose reports generally take a sympathetic approach to the perpetrators of Arab-on-Israeli terror - described the lethal attack in what is, for its editors, a relatively straight-forward way:
Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian after he carried out a stabbing attack... ["Israeli police shoot, kill Palestinian after stab attack leaves 2 lightly injured", Ma'an, December 14, 2016]
The appalling background to this screen-grab
image is here
But then slipped into a more familiar voice:
Al-Samri [the Arabic-speaking spokesperson for the Israel Police] shared a photograph of the screwdriver reportedly used by the Palestinian to carry out the stabbing attack. The picture did not show visible traces of blood on the alleged weapon... [Ma'an again]
Alleged may be the Ma'an editorial team's single most favourite word. Once you know about the eduction campaign we just mentioned, you get a sense of just how deceitful the use of "alleged" really is.

Ma'an's Arabic online edition [here] gets straight to its usual point, declaring the attacker a "martyr" in the story's headline.

In the Arabic social media tonight, he's been identified as Hammad Khader Sheikh. Posters (here's one) with his portrait and declaring him a role-model for teenage Palestinian Arabs to emulate are already on walls throughout the villages in our area tonight.

His last posts on Facebook are being promoted (here and in lots of other places) tonight by the usual purveyors of Arab-on-Israeli terror.

14-Dec-16: Kenya, one way or another, clarifies its stance in the face of Iranian terror

The arrested Iranians with their Kenyan driver, in the dock of the court and
in handcuffs in a December 3, 2016 Reuters photo [Source
Remember what we wrote here about the latest round of Iranian terrorism in East Africa? It's here: "02-Dec-16: Kenya, seeking Iranian oil and gas, learns again that it's getting a very different Iranian export". Towards the end, we offered this unwanted advice to the authorities in Nairobi:
Not to sound rude, but how well do the Kenyan authorities understand what it means to pursue counter-terror co-operation with the Islamic Republic of Iran? We have had our doubts in the past (see "24-Jul-15: Terror here? 'Ridiculous' say Kenyans, deploying their largest ever security blanket" and "16-May-14: More jihadist killings in East Africa today" and "27-Sep-13: Freeing terrorists and the Nairobi massacre"). If the US State Department doesn't return their calls (and the State Department knows a lot about Iranian terror even if they don't always own up to it), the Kenyans could go searching on the web. A good starting point might be "Iran and state-sponsored terrorism" from Wikipedia.
Turns out they didn't pay any attention to our advice on this, which in the circumstances is a real pity. A syndicated Reuters report from December 2, 2016, already conveyed a sense what might be ahead ["Iran urges Kenya to free two Iranians facing terrorism charges: Tasnim", Reuters].

Then the "semi-official" Iranian media chimed in.
Iran's Ambassador to Nairobi Hadi Farajvand announced that the country's mission is seriously pursuing freedom of the two detained Iranian nationals in Kenya, stressing that the media ballyhoos on the case are aimed at distorting the good relations between the two countries... The Iranian foreign ministry said that the two Iranians, namely Abdolhossein Safayee and Seyed Nasrollah Ebrahimi, who are lawyers and university instructors, are now in Nairobi as lawyers of the families of two Iranian prisoners in Kenya to probe into the case of the inmates and provide them with legal advice... Farajvand voiced deep regret over releasing such "baseless" media reports, and said they are merely aimed at destroying the friendly and growing ties between Tehran and Nairobi. He also expressed the hope that given the fact that the two Iranian nationals are prominent lawyers, the process to pursue the case would not be affected by the ballyhoos of ill-wishers and the two lawyers would be freed soon through good interaction between the Kenyan government and judiciary... Kenyan Ambassador to Tehran was invited to Iran Foreign Ministry on Thursday evening to be informed of Tehran's protest. "Tehran asked the Kenyan party to seriously look into the issue, while emphasizing prompt release of the two Iranian citizens," he added. [FARS News, December 3, 2016]
In Kenya, the local media expressed it very much more bluntly:
The Iranian government on Friday ordered the Kenyan government to set free two of its nationals arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit... [Iran] rubbished the terrorism link saying that the two were government lawyers on an official assignment. [A Kenyan news site, December 3, 2016 - archived by us in case the source disappears]
So having been ordered by the Islamic Republic, here's what happened in Nairobi today:
Kenyan court has ordered the deportation of two Iranian men who were accused of plotting an attack on the Israeli embassy in the capital, Nairobi. A court order issued Wednesday said an agreement had been reached between prosecutors and the Iranian Embassy leading to the termination of criminal charges and deportation. The suspects, Sayed Nasrollah Ebrahim and Abdolhosein Gholi Safaee, had been in custody since November 29, when they were arrested outside the Israeli Embassy with video footage of the facility. They had been traveling in an Iranian diplomatic car after visiting a prison where they saw two other Iranians who have been jailed for 15 years on terrorism charges, according to prosecutors. They were charged with collecting information to facilitate a terrorist act. Iranian agents have been suspected in attacks or thwarted attacks around the globe in recent years, including in Azerbaijan, Thailand and India. Most of the plots had Israeli targets. ["Kenya drops charges, deports Iranians thought plotting attack on Israelis", Associated Press via Times of Israel, December 14, 2016]
Sounds to us like a serious and regretable Kenyan mistake. Meanwhile on a completely unrelated subject:
Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, while speaking at a conference in Tehran, said that were President-Elect Trump to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear “deal” signed by the Obama administration, Iran would destroy the State of Israel... ["Iran threatens to destroy Israel - again", Washington Times, December 12, 2016]

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

13-Dec-16: Qalandiya and another vehicle-ramming attack on Israelis

Moments after the attack at Qalandiya, the assailant's vehicle is in the center
of this photo [Via social media]
Times of Israel, quoting the Israel Police, reports that a Palestinian Arab woman attempted a vehicle-ramming attack on Israeli security personnel manning the Qalandiya crossing on Jerusalem's northern edge, near Ramallah, early this afternoon.
Police say she approached the crossing at high speed in her vehicle and troops forced her to stop. She then got out of her vehicle with a knife. Guards at the checkpoint subdued and arrested her, police say. There are no injuries... [Times of Israel, today]
The attack evidently happened around 1:45 pm this afternoon (Tuesday). Israel National News adds that
Witnesses report the terrorist shouted “Allah Akbar” while charging soldiers.
An initial Ynet bulletin says "She was shot and neutralized before being able to harm anyone." But a slightly later Ynet report makes no mention of any shooting:
The woman sped towards the security forces stationed at the checkpoint, prompting them to begin the arrest procedure by firing into the air. This caused the woman to stop the car, exit it wielding a knife, and call out "Allahu Akbar." Security forces overpowered her and arrested her. She was unharmed... [Ynet, today]
In characteristic fashion, the Palestinian Arab news channel Ma'an describes what happened as being an Israeli response to a woman "allegedly attempting to run over Israeli forces stationed there". Arab-on-Israeli attacks by Palestinian Arabs are invariably "alleged" in the Ma'an lexicon.

Friday, December 09, 2016

09-Dec-16: Espionage and indignation

The on-line version of the
Le Monde revelations [Source]
We're not proposing any value judgements here. Simply alerting readers to things they might keep in mind the next time a spokesperson for one of the world's major powers expresses official public indignation at some alleged deed or ommission of Israel's government.
The UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ carried out surveillance on the Israeli military, defence firms and diplomatic missions, French newspaper Le Monde has reported, based on leaked documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“The Israelis constitute a true threat to regional security, in particular because of the position of this country with respect to the Iranian dossier," a top secret file from Britain's intelligence-gathering unit reportedly read, despite the UK's professed support for Israel and the closeness between the two countries...  Among those spied on were an unnamed person described as the “second-highest ranking official in the Israeli foreign ministry”, the Israeli ambassadors to Nigeria and Kenya, and a fibre optics firm called Ophir Optronics which has contracts with the Israel Defence Forces, and the research departments at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Racah Institute of Physics... ["Britain called Israel a ‘threat to the Middle East’, leak shows", The Independent UK, December 8, 2016]
And this
Previous reports by the Wall Street Journal and German magazine Der Spiegel have already revealed how US spies monitored the communications of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessor Ehud Olmert. These new revelations show how Israel’s closest political allies – Britain and the United States – are clearly keeping tabs on all areas of Israeli politics, including government departments, civil servants, and diplomats. Le Monde also names defense company Ophir Optronics and research centers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as institutions that have been hacked by GCHQ. Ophir Optronics is known for developing, manufacturing, and dealing in infrared optics and laser measurement equipment – pivotal elements in modern armaments. It is believed that GCHQ and the NSA have collected 18 years’ worth of drone transmissions between Israeli army drones, fighter jets, and army bases. The operations of the Israel Defence Force (IDF) in the Gaza Strip were also carefully monitored, amid suspicions that Israel might carry out a strike on Iran. ["British spies monitor Israeli diplomats, with help from US and Jordan – Snowden docs reveal", RT (formerly called Russia Today), December 7, 2016]
Spy vs Spy
(See this link for more background about the nearly two decades of British and US espionage activity  - code-named "Anarchist" - directed at Israeli drone operations and reportedly done from a Royal Air Force facility in the Troodos Mountains, near Mount Olympus, the highest point in Cyprus.)

When we mention "public indignation", readers might want to think back to instances like these:
And this: "Next Time Someone Gets Indignant about Israeli Spying on the United States" [Daniel Pipes website, June 5, 2005]

Thursday, December 08, 2016

08-Dec-16: At Tapuah Junction, yet another young man and a knife... and a familiar outcome

This cartoon appeared recently in the Palestinian
Arab media after yet another knifing attack on Israelis.
The Arabic text reads: "Good morning Palestine"
[Image Source]  
The attractions of Tapuah Junction to the stabbers and shooters of Palestinian Arab society proved irresistable this morning yet again to another would-be 'resistance hero'.

Just before 9 this morning (Thursday), a Palestinian Arab attacker was thwarted attempting to launch a stabbing attack at the frequent scene of stabbing and shooting attempts in Israel's Samaria district. The outcome this time? He
was shot and killed by troops, police said. No Israelis were hurt in the attempted stabbing attack at a bus stop at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank. Police spokesperson Luba Samri said the assailant, an 18-year-old resident of the West Bank city of Qalqilya, alighted a bus at the junction and began moving toward border guards there. After ignoring orders to stop, the man “continued to move toward them and at a certain point even pulled a knife out and attacked them,” Samri said in a statement. He was shot and killed. Security forces are regularly stationed at and near the junction, which has been a flashpoint of violence over the past year. Photos from the scene of the attack showed the assailant lying lifeless on a sidewalk as a soldier stood watch nearby... ["Palestinian pulls knife on troops in West Bank, shot and killed", Times of Israel, December 8, 2016]
The Palestinian Arab media allegedly have their allegedly standard way of reporting such attacks, as Ma'an News Agency demonstrates today:
A Palestinian youth was killed by Israeli border police force... after he allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack... Locals identified the slain Palestinian as Jihad Hussein Harb, 19, from Qalqiliya... While Israel alleges many of those were attempting to attack Israelis when they were shot, Palestinians and rights groups have disputed Israel's version of events in a number of cases... ["Palestinian youth killed by Israeli forces after alleged attempted stabbing near Nablus", Ma'an, December 8, 2016]
Ma'an's Arabic edition (but not the English language version), in its news ticker - the story doesn't yet have its own page - calls the thwarted killer a "martyr"
شهيد برصاص الاحتلال عند مفرق زعترة جنوب نابلس بزعم محاولة الطعن
His portrait is already all over the Arabic social media (here for instance) as are photos of his dead body at the bus shelter (here for instance). Martyrdom posters and a celebratory funeral and mourning wake are surely not far behind.

The weaponization of their youth and children continue to be a core value of Palestinian Arab culture and society, with the formal and very public backing of its political echelon starting with its president and continuing all the way down to its schools and mosques.

The possibility of acheving peace in circumstances like these? Absolutely none.