Thursday, February 14, 2019

14-Feb-19: A prince, a princess, four Tamimis - and murderous violence

Image Source | February 6, 2019: Jordan Media Institute in Amman
Ahed Tamimi is the speaker. Princess Rym Ali,
the JMI's founder, is seated in the front row
Ahed Tamimi, a young Palestinian Arab woman from Nabi Saleh, a hamlet a few kilometers from our Jerusalem home ["17-Mar-13: A little village in the hills, and the monsters it spawns"] has been busy traveling and speaking to attentive crowds these past few months.

Ahed Tamimi

Just before she started an eight month sentence in an Israeli prison a year ago, the result of a plea bargain her handlers made with the authorities, we noted here ["24-Dec-17: Nabi Saleh, the media and a Tamimi child's journey"] that she is
the young woman many call Shirley Temper, a photogenic performer who for at least eight years now has been the central figure in a long-running propaganda performance orchestrated by her father Bassem Tamimi and his publicity business, Tamimi Press.
Bassem Tamimi, Ahed's manager/father and long-time producer/director, asserted some months back ["Palestinian Ahed Tamimi 'banned from travelling abroad'"] that Israel was standing in the way of the post-prison globetrotting/meet-and-greets he had in mind for her.

Somehow overcoming the Israeli opposition (if indeed it existed), the young woman, frequently referred to via overblown noms-de-guerre ("Palestine's Joan of Arc", "Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian protest icon", "I know I am a symbol of Palestinian resistance"), managed to pull-off a run of well-publicized visits to Spain, France, Tunisia, Greece and Jordan in September and October 2018. She also became the subject of a photo spread in the October 2018 Arabic version of Vogue magazine along the way.

She's been busy. And the drum-beating and orchestrating have paid dividends.

After years of wildly zig-zagging media estimates of her age [outlined here: "28-Dec-17: So how old is the Tamimi girl?"], there's little doubt she's now come of age and is an adult for all legal purposes (her 18th birthday was two weeks ago). This may become relevant if she repeats or enlarges on calls for more Arab-on-Israeli thuggery like those she made in front of her mother's Tamimi Press video camera ["04-Feb-18: The embarrassing violence of Ahed Tamimi and its fig-leafers"] a year ago. Mother took care to have the video very widely distributed. But surprisingly (alright, not so surprisingly as this excellent Forward piece by Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll points out), the fact that not-quite-adult Ahed Tamimi quite plainly called for real, physical violence has somehow become a point of controversy and doubt. It shouldn't have. She did it and it's on the record.

Notwithstanding, she's turned up again in Jordan where she gave a speech a few days ago, asserting in some little publicized comments
that the Palestinian people’s struggle is to obtain their freedom, and not to gain the world’s sympathy or compassion. During a meeting with the Jordan Media Institute’s (JMI) students, in the presence of JMI founder HRH Princess Rym, Tamimi added that she works to convey a message for the need to support Palestinian prisoners in their struggle for freedom and national unity. She also explained that she was subjected to various psychological and physical pressures both during the 16 days of investigations, and after being transferred to prison. She said she underwent deprivation of sleep and food, as well as threats to arrest or kill her relatives... ["Ahed Tamimi addresses students at Jordan Media Institute", Jordan Times, February 6, 2019]
There's similar coverage in Jordan's Arabic media here and here as well as on the website of her hosts, the Jordan Media Institute. About that last entity, we have some experience.

The Nabi Saleh Tamimis

The JMI's English language report mentions only in passing Nariman Tamimi, Bassem's wife and Ahed's mother, who was in attendance. The Arabic version (but not the English) adds this somewhat repulsive piece of Tamimi self-promotion:
As for the anti-public campaign against Ahed, her mother Nariman al-Tamimi pointed out that the great support for Ahed came because of the spread of the video [Nariman's video] slapping the Israeli soldier and Ahed Tamimi's ability to resist in spite of all circumstances... adding that her constant contact with media professionals over the past ten years to contribute to the promotion of justice in the Palestinian cause has helped increase support for Ahed... [Jordan Media Institute - Arabic language report of the Tamimi event on their premises, February 6, 2019]
Think about that. The mother seems to be boasting about the fact (and it is a fact) that she and husband Bassem Tamimi began grooming their daughter to be a fist-thrusting, slogan-spouting, street activist and provocateur from when the child, already blonde and still somewhat Western looking, was a very vulnerable 8 years old. In most places, this would be viewed as child abuse and the parents as derelict and likely culpable criminally.

But Nariman Tamimi's ethics descend to greater depths. She has no qualms, for instance, supporting the murderous violence of her cousin, the bomber Ahlam Tamimi. Quote the opposite. In her own words
...What she [Ahlam Tamimi, the smiling mass-murderer of Jewish children] did was an integral part of the struggle. Everyone fights in the manner in which he believes. There is armed uprising, and there is popular uprising. I support every form of uprising... ["11-Sep-15: How devoted to non-violence are the villagers of Nabi Saleh really?"]
The Sbarro massacre mastermind

Ahlam Tamimi returned the favour a year ago ["05-Jan-18: In Jordan, the FBI fugitive Ahlam Tamimi pays tribute to her slapping/taunting/kicking Tamimi cousin"]. Standing before a Jordanian audience, flanked by Jordanian dignitaries including a former Jordanian prime minister, she praised Nariman's daughter Ahed Tamimi who had been detained by Israeli authorities (as was Nariman) some days before. Both were facing charges and an Israeli prison sentence. Somewhat vaguely (based on the reports we saw), Ahlam Tamimi congratulated Ahed Tamimi for "breathing new life" into the cause of female prisoners and children prisoners.

We remarked on how disturbing it was to see
...very prominent Jordanians, members of the country's political elite, [who] have no problem sharing a public platform with a confessed killer of Israeli children who is also an FBI fugitive and the subject of American efforts to have her extradited to the US to face serious federal charges. Can you imagine this happening anywhere else? She's a wanted criminal but not in Jordan where she's a hero. [Source]
Most readers of this blog know Ahlam Tamimi ["17-Nov-11: A monster walks the streets and she has many accomplices"] confesses repeatedly, publicly and with evident pride to being the mastermind of the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria massacre where 16 innocent Jews, among them our daughter Malki, were killed. Ahlam Tamimi was serving a prison sentence of 16 consecutive life terms right up until the catastrophic Shalit Deal that Israel transacted with Hamas in 2011.

That's when she was freed and returned to the land of her birth, the place where most of her family lives and where she was raised.

We have written hundreds of blog posts and op eds about Ahlam Tamimi, born in Jordan and living there today, not in hiding but out in the open. She has become a genuine celebrity ["24-Nov-18: How Jordan's mainstream media showcase a couple of role-model jihadist murderers"] who speaks often in public forums and on Jordan's media. She is a fugitive from the FBI, charged by the US Department of Justice with Federal crimes and with a State Department $5 million reward for her capture and conviction. She is the subject of an extradition request which the Jordanian government, for narrow and technical reasons, has rejected ["20-Mar-17: The Hashemite Kingdom's courts have spoken: The murdering FBI fugitive will not be handed over"]. The US and Jordan have a valid extradition treaty that has been in effect between the two countries since 1995. Several Jordanian felons were extradited to the US before the Tamimi case.

It's interesting to us that of all the possible Jordanian venue options, Ahed Tamimi was a guest last week at the Jordan Media Institute.

It's also striking that Princess Rym Ali, the JMI's founder and a former CNN on-camera reporter before she married into the Hashemite royal family, was present to hear her speak, seated in the front row (see the photo above).

This brought to mind how the princess' husband, Prince Ali bin Hussein who is the half brother of Jordan's current ruler, posted a Tweet emotionally urging support for... Ahed Tamimi in December 2017 just before she went to prison. (Posted here; archived here.)

To us, this seems odd. Ahed is no Jordanian. And most other Jordanian royals seem to have wisely taken care not to get entangled with the outstandingly problematic Tamimi clan. Perhaps some enterprising journalist will take the trouble to look into what about the Nabi Saleh Tamimis' violent bigotry that so attracts this royal attention.

Jordan Media Institute

At this point, allow us to mention that we have had seriously disturbing experiences with the JMI and the unique interplay of professional aspiration and tolerance for extreme violence that we believe the school represents.

We're referring to how we discovered four years ago, and then did our best to publicize, that the very privileged students of this prestigious and hugely-needed institution had publicly declared Ahlam Tamimi - the boastful Hamas agent who set out to kill as many Jewish children as possible and succeeded - as their "success model"

We ended up persuading several of the school's international funders, including a number of governments, to terminate their support. But we never succeeded in (a) getting the school's management to respond to us other than rude and pointless response from a manager there, or (b) to be open about what we had reported. Their preference was to engage in a rather shabby and pathetic cover-up.

We wrote about this in the posts below:
What happened at the Jordan Media Institute and the scandalous way it was hushed up by management ought to be factored into people's thinking when they wonder about the state of democracy, human rights and terrorism in the Arab world.

The terrors of Arab journalism

Given the strange role played by an ambitious school like JMI, this seems a good time to be thinking about how very badly journalism serves the Palestinian Arabs (most Jordanians are Palestinian Arabs). And the difficulties their reporters and their editors encounter under the thumb of the powers that be.

Screen capture from the Gatehouse site
A typically incisive article today by Khaled Abu Toameh for the Gatestone Institute gives some exposure to the plight of a young woman working as a reporter in the Hamas-afflicted Gaza Strip:
Hajer Harb... is currently standing trial before a court in the Gaza Strip for exposing corruption in Hamas-run ministries and institutions. Harb, a cancer survivor, has been repeatedly summoned for interrogation by Hamas security forces for her role in reporting on corruption in medical and housing institutions... She is accused of "failing to display objectivity, fairness and accuracy" in her reporting... Instead of interrogating and prosecuting the corrupt officials whose identities were mentioned in her reporting, Harb is the one who is now standing trial for telling the truth. Her lawyer, Baker al-Turkumani, described the charges against her as "flimsy." The charges, he said, are an "assault on the freedom of the media and expression, which are protected by the law. The law and justice are the journalist's weapon against corruption. The law cannot be used to limit the work of a journalist or freedom of expression." ["Palestinians: "Journalism" Hamas Style", Gatestone Institute website, February 14, 2019]
Abu Toameh unpacks the Hamas charges against the reporter and calls them disingenuous and laughable:
It is disingenuous because it is coming from Hamas -- a group for whom the terms objectivity and accuracy are wholly inimical. It is laughable because it allows Hamas to set the standards for objectivity and accuracy... For Hamas, objectivity in the media means that journalists shut their mouths about their leaders and government officials. For Hamas, "accuracy" means that a journalist working in the Gaza Strip will show Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the worst possible light -- regardless of the facts.
He's no less blunt about Hamas' rivals, the Abbas-controlled Fatah/PA:
Since the beginning of this year, the Palestinian Authority security forces have arrested 10 Palestinian journalists in the West Bank for their "negative" reporting and alleged criticism of Abbas and other senior Palestinian figures... The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate regularly chooses totally to ignore the plight of the journalists arrested by the Palestinian Authority security forces. The only evils the Syndicate sees are those that can be linked to Hamas or Israel. That is because its heads and senior staff are affiliated with Abbas's Fatah faction... Like Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, with the help of its associates in the syndicate, is apparently seeking to control the news and narrative to make sure that journalists direct their criticism only against Israel. Like Hamas, the Palestinian Authority has been relatively successful in its effort to limit the flow of information from areas under its control. A Palestinian journalist living in Ramallah will think at least a dozen times before he or she writes or says a word that could rile Abbas or one of his senior officials.
Ahlam Tamimi boasting about her life as a Hamas terrorist
[Image Source: Video capture from Kuwaiti TV]
A great shame that all those 'activists' agitating for 'Free Palestine', for BDS and for "Palestinian rights" don't direct their energies, criticisms and fury at the two ham-fisted Palestinian Arab regimes that bear almost all the responsibility for what's wrong with the lives of the people living under their boots.

And also for the extreme violence that many people think about when the word "Palestinian" enters the discussion. (Ahlam Tamimi, our child's murderer, boasts that she was a journalist at the time of the massacre, and is still called one today.)

Also a great shame that the Ahed Tamimi phenomenon continues to get so much unjustified backing in parts of the Arab world where a little more inward-focused retrospection would do so much more for the problems that beset their lives.

And ours too.

UPDATE February 15, 2019

We just came across the Jordan Media Institute's two tweets of last week's Ahed Tamimi event currently here and here and here with a half-hour video of Joan-of-Arc's customary flat/monotone speech (and archived here and here and here in case... you know). There don't seem to be any English-language tweets of the momentous occasion, indicating - who knows - that they don't want their foreign supporters seeing this, but perhaps we just missed them.

The JMI photos make apparent that Nariman Tamimi, mother of Ahed, cousin and outspoken fan of Ahlam Tamimi and her hideous deeds, is seated at the head table.

Also apparent: that Jordanian journalism's best and brightest don't at all mind being associated with the terror-loving Tamimi clan's messaging.





Monday, February 04, 2019

04-Feb-19: Intruders

Image Source
As Israel announces, belatedly, the start of establishing a major barrier to protect the southern parts of the state ["Israel starts construction on 20-foot-high fence surrounding Gaza", Times of Israel, February 3, 2019], we're seeing a spate of news reports reminding Israelis why security of that sort is indispensable.
Two Jordanians cross into Israel, are arrested by army | Unarmed pair taken for questioning to determine why they crossed border, military says
Times of Israel | 3 February 2019, 2:01 pm | Two Jordanian nationals were arrested early Sunday after they crossed illegally into the country, the Israel Defense Forces said. According to a statement from the military, IDF soldiers identified the two suspects overnight, after they crossed the border fence. The troops stopped and arrested the pair near the border, the statement said, adding that they were carrying no weapons. They have been taken for questioning to determine why they crossed the border. The statement did not specify where along the border the incident took place.
Then this
Palestinian with knife nabbed among Hebron tourists | Armed suspect tries to enter Tomb of the Patriarchs shrine, is separated by police from group of visitors
Times of Israel | 3 February 2019, 2:09 pm
A young Palestinian man trying to gain access to a West Bank holy site on Sunday aroused the attention of police when they spotted him in the middle of a group of tourists entering the Tomb of the Patriarchs, police said. Border Police officers arrested the suspect, a man in his twenties, after noticing he didn’t belong with the group and was acting suspiciously in an apparent bid to gain entry to the site, in the West Bank city of Hebron, police said. Police officers called him aside for a more thorough inspection before realizing he was carrying the blade. “When the suspicion grew stronger, the soldiers aimed their weapons and at that point the suspect drew the knife that had been concealed in his clothes, threw it to the ground and raised his hands,” a police statement said. Police said the suspect, a resident of Hebron, admitted during his initial questioning that he intended to carry out a stabbing attack.
And these
Palestinian crosses into Israel from Gaza, is arrested | Incident follows previous day’s 3 attempts to jump border fence on 3 borders — from Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan — and day after Israel begins final stage of barrier construction
Times of Israel | February 4, 2019, 9:04 am | IDF troops on the Gaza border apprehended a Palestinian man who crossed the border fence into Israel from the southern Strip, the military said in a statement Monday morning. The man was searched by soldiers and taken into custody. The IDF said that a knife was found near the point where the man crossed the fence, and “apparently belonged to the suspect.”  [...] Monday’s incident is the fourth in a 24-hour period in which individuals were caught attempting to cross into Israel on various borders. Five youths who crossed from northern Gaza into Israel on Sunday night remain in custody and are being questioned. On Sunday, IDF troops arrested two Lebanese men who crossed the border into Israel near the divided border village of Ghajar and were discovered to be carrying 11 kilograms (25 pounds) of hashish. Earlier Sunday, two Jordanian nationals were arrested after they crossed illegally from Jordan, the army said. They were carrying no weapons. Their reasons for attempting to jump over the border fence are not known.
Israelis tend to be cautious about how effective defensive security measures are. The latest sabre-rattling from Iran reminds us of why:
Iran said to put ‘guided warheads’ on missiles that can reach Israel | State media says the new Khoramshahr 2 is highly accurate and can carry two-ton payloads up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles)
Times of Israel | February 4, 2019
Iran has equipped its most advanced, longest-range missiles, which can hit Israel and US bases in the Gulf, with new precision guided warheads, state media reported Sunday. According to the unsourced report in the Fars news agency, the new home-made guided warheads have now been attached to the Khoramshahr, a missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles.) “The new generation of missiles with guided warheads has been named Khoramshahr 2 and they can be controlled until hitting the target and are able to carry warheads weighing nearly 2 tons,” the report said. It said that the new warheads had previously been mounted on the shorter range Emad, Qadr and Qiam missiles. The first generation of Khoramshahr was unveiled in 2017.  Iran says all of its missiles are designed to carry conventional warheads only and has limited their range to a maximum of 2,000 kilometers, although commanders say they have the technology to go further. That makes them only medium-range but still sufficient to reach Israel or US bases in the Gulf. The report comes a day after Iran said it had successful fired a new long-range cruise missile, amid events marking 40 years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The missile, dubbed Hoveyzeh, was described as a high-precision weapon capable of flying at low altitudes and able to carry a significant payload up to a distance of 1,200 kilometers (840 miles.)
These news reports tend to get somewhat overlooked outside Israel.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

30-Jan-19: Pal Arab would-be stabber, a 16 year old girl, is stopped before executing an attack near Jerusalem

From the police security cam video
In yet another instance of a thwarted attack by a weaponized child, a teenage Palestinian Arab girl launched a stabbing attack on an Israeli officer at the A-Za'im security checkpoint east of the capital between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem today (Wednesday) at about 10:15 am.

An Israel Police statement, quoted by Times of Israel, said
"A rapid response by additional security forces brought about her neutralization with no injuries to the security personnel... Police are investigating where the female suspect came from, and heightened security is continuing in the area."
The same media source speculates that this may be yet another instance of 
attacks by Palestinians, especially women, [that] are driven by personal and domestic issues, more than by ideological considerations. In some cases, Israeli officials have said Palestinians appeared to have carried out attacks or attempted to do so in order to be shot dead by Israeli security forces, as a form of "suicide by cop".
Later in the day, the assailant was identified in Arab media as Samah Mubarak, aged 16, from the nearby village of a-Ram. A different Israeli news source says she was
Samah Zuhair Mubarak, an 11th grade student from Ramallah, whose family was originally from Gaza... [source]
She died of her wounds according to Palestinian Authority health ministry officials.

Video footage released by the police show a female, draped from head to toe in black and wearing black gloves, approaching the security personnel at the crossing. Police also circulated a photo of the knife in her possession - while throughout the Arab media reports we have scanned, it's claimed she was unarmed and executed in cold blood. 

None of the many thwarted Arab-on-Israeli terror attacks of the past three years (at least) has ever credibly been shown to meet that description. And A-Za'im has seen numerous Arab-on-Israeli terror attacks - vehicle-rammings, stabbings and bombings

The claim this time is embellished by the assertion, pulled out of thin air as far as we can tell, that the girl was shot after refusing to undress and remove her black robes. This line of explanation plays tragically well in Palestinian Arab circles.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

08-Jan-19: In the wake of multiple murders, this violent Pal Arab village's economy just grew

Kobar [Image Source]
Providers of foreign aid to the always-insolvent Palestinian Authority - and the ordinary citizens who unwittingly contribute to the funding via their taxes - acquired yet another new beneficiary earlier today.
Assem Barghouti suspected of participating in the murder of 4 day old Amiad Ish-Ran and IDF soldiers Staff Sergeant Yuval Mor Yosef and Sergeant Yosef Cohen, and the injury of numerous others, was arrested this morning. According to Palestinian Authority law and regulations, since he was arrested by Israel for his "participation in the struggle against the occupation", Barghouti is entitled to a monthly salary from the PA of 6,000 shekels [at today's exchange rate, about US$1,637 - TOW]. According to PA law, his salary will increase over time to 12,000 shekels per month 
[at today's exchange rate, about US$3,274 - TOW]Barghouti's starting salary is higher than most other terrorist prisoners, since he has already spent 11 years in prison for past involvement in terrorism. During his first term in prison, Barghouti received an estimated cumulative sum of 447,000 shekels [at today's exchange rate, roughly US$122,000 - TOW]Additionally, according the PA law and regulations, upon his release, Barghouti was also entitled to a $6,000 one-time release grant and a guaranteed salary paid by the PA even if he did not work... ["Another baby murderer to receive fat salary from the PA", Palestinian Media Watch, January 8, 2019]

Barghouti's younger brother, 29 year old Saleh Omar Barghouti
shot and injured seven Israeli civilians at a bus stop outside of the Ofra settlement on December 9. Among the wounded was a pregnant woman who gave birth prematurely. Her baby boy died three days later... [The two are the sons] of West Bank Hamas leader Omar Barghouti, from the village of Kobar... [Jerusalem Post, December 20, 2018]
That younger brother who was the subject of an intense manhunt for several days was arrested on December 12, 2018 when IDF soldiers, conducting a manhunt, intercepted a cab he was riding in. Saleh died in the subsequent shootout with IDF forces. A second Palestinian Arab suspect also from Kobar, Wa’ed Barghouti, was arrested separately shortly afterward.

Image Source
The Barghouti's home village of Kobar (also written Cobar, Kaubar and Khobar), controlled by the Palestinian Authority and located about 10 km north of its seat of government, Ramallah, has a population about 3,500 (as of  2007). 

Almost all of them belong to one of eight family-clans of which the most prominent is the Barghoutis. 

For a thinly-populated Palestinian Arab place, it possesses a rich and strikingly repellent charge-sheet:
Omar al-Abed, 19, from a Palestinian Arab settlement called Kobar - the home village of the notorious convicted Palestinian Arab terrorist Marwan Barghouti - jumped the fence in the dark and made his way to one of the nearby, brightly-lit houses. He burst into the home around 9:30 pm brandishing a kitchen knife he had purchased earlier in the day for what he admitted to be an intended knife attack on Jews... Times of Israel says the Salomons were celebrating the birth of a baby boy in the family. Also that El'ad's wife, Michal, managed to flee from the carnage and protect their five children behind a locked door in the house from where she called police. That same report quotes the 19 year-old murderer saying he was driven to carry out the killings by the incitement of "the imams on the Temple Mount". This statement ought to be getting much media amplification but almost certainly will not... ["22-Jul-17: Friday night carnage in Neve Tzuf"]
For reasons best known to certain kinds of Brits, the English West Midlands industrial town of Walsall in Staffordshire chose to establish a twinning relationship with Kobar which is still in operation. What each side gets from this borders on the frankly disturbing.
Kobar's economic basis was bleak as of 2011 which is when some detailed analysis was published. Some 62.5% of its population were categorized at the time as "not economically active". The village was reported to have (and this the whole list) an olive oil-press and two stone quarries, 14 grocery stores, one fruit and veg store, five "professional workshops", three service stores, and one shop for agricultural tools [source].

We have not yet found published data to show what share of daily life in this violent place is sustained by lifetime Pay-to-Slay stipends from the Palestinian Authority. Whatever it is, it grew larger today. Thanks, Europe.

Monday, January 07, 2019

07-Jan-19: Pre-dawn Gazan rocket attack on Ashkelon is thwarted

The marina at Ashkelon [Image Source]
It's a little after seven in the morning on a chilly January Monday and the sleep-deprived citizens of Ashdod are, not for the first time, counting their blessings.

Around three this morning, incoming-rocket warnings were sounded in the coastal city that has the misfortune of being within easy firing range of the rocket-rich Gaza Strip and its mayhem-minded terrorist hordes:
...[W]arning sirens blared in the southern city of Ashkelon and the nearby Ashkelon beach region after 3 am. The IDF said it identified a single launch from Gaza that was intercepted by Iron Dome. Residents reported hearing loud explosions, apparently from the interceptor. The launch came hours after the Israeli Air Force struck two Hamas positions in the eastern Gaza Strip in response to an explosive device that was flown into southern Israel earlier in the day, the army said. On Sunday morning, a bomb was flown into Israel using a large cluster of balloons and a drone-like glider device, landing in a carrot field in the Sdot Negev region of southern Israel shortly before noon... ["Air force hits Gaza targets after rocket fired into Israel", Times of Israel, January 7, 2019]
Following the now-familiar playbook, the in-bound rocket was aimed at civilian targets (Ashkelon is not a military base but a bustling city of about 140,000 civilian residents). The fact that it was intercepted mid-flight indicates it was on-target for causing the very sort of damage and destruction that it was intended to. The Iron Dome system calculates the trajectory of enemy rocket attacks before telling its operators whether or not to commit to firing off one of its counter-measure rockets.

No less familiar, Israel's response was to fire from the air against "several terror targets at a Hamas training camp in the northern Gaza Strip" according to Times of Israel quoting the IDF. Since this happened in the dark of the early morning, it's likely no one was injured on the ground.

Yesterday's balloon attack: The payload exploded while
being examined by Israeli police [Image Source: IDF]
Yesterday (Sunday), a brightly-colored, large cluster of balloons carrying an explosive payload as well as (bizarrely) a non-functioning drone-looking device floated across Gaza's frontier with Israel and exploded in a carrot field in one of southern Israel's Gaza containment communities:
The balloons were attached to a drone, which was labeled with a logo from the Gaza engineering college. The balloons sat in a field near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip for most of the day before security personnel could raise the drone using heavy machinery. When that occurred, the device detonated, but the incident did not cause any damage or injuries. Palestinians frequently send balloons, kites and other items laced with incendiary devices over the border fence in attempts to harm Israeli territory, since the "Great March of Return" riots along the fence began in March 2018. The devices have burned more than half the forested land in the area, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) data showed in October... ["Israel hits Hamas posts after incendiary balloons, drone, fall near border", Jerusalem Post, January 6, 2019]
Given the very different kind of media coverage terrorism gets here versus outside Israel, the capacity of Hamas' rocket-equipped forces to deliver serious and deadly harm to Israelis is well-recognized by Israelis; much less so by people far from the scene. Less than a month ago, some 300 Israel-bound rockets were fired from Gaza [Ynet, December 11, 2018] during a single, very violent 5-hour time span on a Monday evening.

No one expects attacks of that sort to end soon.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

29-Dec-18: A quiet weekend

Dutch police action [Image Source]
A handful of terror-centric reports that arrived in our news filter this quiet weekend and that, for the most part, have gotten very little media attention.

Friday night Arab-on-Israel rocket attack
A rocket was fired Friday from the Gaza Strip into Israel, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office said, the first such incident in over six weeks. The Red Alert alarm warning system was not activated as the projectile landed in an open area, the spokesperson added. No injuries or damage were reported. [Times of Israel]
Five men arrested in Rotterdam on terrorism charges 
Five men have been arrested in Rotterdam on charges of preparing a terrorist attack, broadcaster NOS said on Saturday. Four were arrested early on Saturday morning at homes in the centre and east of the port city and the fifth man was picked up later in the day. The first four are aged 20 to 30 and have a ‘non-western’ background, broadcaster NOS said. One is said to be a Syrian refugee with residency status named as Saleh H. A second man is said to be an Egyptian national... [DutchNews.nl]
Egypt security forces kill 40 suspected terrorists in raids - report 
Egyptian security forces killed 40 alleged terrorists in raids in the Giza and North Sinai regions early Saturday, state media reported, a day after four people were killed when a roadside bomb struck a tourist bus in Giza. Egypt's Interior Ministry said the raids, conducted at dawn Saturday, targeted three suspected hideouts of terrorists who were planning hostile acts during the Christmas holidays, according to the state-run Al-Ahram online newspaper. Ammunition, firearms and improvised explosive devices were recovered in significant numbers... Three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian tour guide were killed and at least 11 people were injured in the attack Friday in a central tourist area of Giza, near Cairo, where the pyramids are located... [CNN]
...meanwhile from the Palestinian Authority's media mouthpiece:
"...Spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud said in a statement that the Palestinian people and its leadership stand with Egypt in fighting “this cowardly terrorism aimed at innocent people and the security and stability of the Egyptian people.” He expressed belief that Egypt is capable of fighting terrorism and those who stand behind it, calling on Arab countries to stand together in fighting terrorism and extremism targeting the Arab world in particular and the world in general.
Three charged with planning terror attack in Sweden
Sweden's prosecution authority said on Thursday it had charged three men with planning a terror attack in Sweden, warning the plot could have caused serious damage had it not been prevented... The men, aged between 30 and 46, originally hail from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Their residency status in Sweden could not immediately be verified... The three are suspected of "obtaining and storing large amounts of chemicals and other equipment with the aim of killing and wounding other people," the prosecution authority said in a statement. "If the terrorist crime had been carried out, it could have seriously hurt Sweden." The trio were also charged, along with three other people, with financing terrorism. Prosecutors accuse them of sending money abroad to fund the so-called Islamic State's operations... According to Dagens Nyheter, at least one of the suspects had been in contact with Rakhmat Akilov, a radicalized Uzbek asylum seeker who mowed down pedestrians in Stockholm with a stolen truck in April 2017, killing five people. Akilov was sentenced to life in prison in June 2018... [TheLocal (Sweden)]

Thursday, December 27, 2018

27-Dec-18: What's changed these past 15 years with the maleducation in Palestinian Arabs schools?

One of the most distressing and depressing aspects of how the Abbas and Hamas regimes weaponize their Palestinian Arab society's children is in how they educate them.

The evidence for the open and callous manipulation of their children's minds and futures has been out there for anyone concerned with the truth to absorb. Yet its corrosiveness goes on. And no less disturbing, it continues in large measure to be funded by non-Arab states in the name of "helping".

We're reposting here an article written by Arnold Roth for the Wall Street Journal back in September 2003 - more than a decade and a half ago.

Readers paying attention will see that, while some things have changed somewhat, others remain just as rotten as they were back then.

Blood, Money and Education
Arnold Roth / The Wall Street Journal Europe
September 26, 2003

JERUSALEM -- The European Commission is abuzz with financial scandals involving significant sums and the EU's statistical agency. They pale, however, compared with the consequences and scale of EU mismanagement in an area that affects my family and me.

Last December, I traveled to Brussels as a member of a small contingent of Israelis. Each of us had experienced the loss of a family member by terrorism in the past two years. My daughter, Malka Chana, 15, was killed by a Hamas terrorist cell. She was a high school student, a talented musician, a volunteer passionately dedicated to the care of disabled children. When her murderer exploded himself in a Jerusalem restaurant in August 2001, he massacred 15 innocent civilians, mainly children and teenagers. Hundreds were injured.

Chris Patten, the EU's Commissioner for External Relations, plays a central role in the provision of EU financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. I intended to ask him in that visit whether he was aware of evidence that EU money, channeled through his office to the PA and so necessary to improving Palestinian lives, was being diverted to fund terrorism. Did he believe a just peace could be achieved when teachers paid from EU grants to UNRWA (U.N. Relief and Works Agency) teach Palestinian children that Israel has no right to exist and that their martyrdom is a glorious part of the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Middle East?

Unlike the other senior EU figures we approached, Mr. Patten declined to meet us. We met his deputy instead.

I referred him to evidence uncovered by Israeli forces in 2002 showing that the PA's top managers skim money off the payroll and that secret bank accounts are a routine part of corruption in the PA. My concerns were misplaced, he said, since all payments made via Mr. Patten's office to the PA are closely supervised by the International Monetary Fund. Immediately after our meeting, I checked the record and learned that some months before, the IMF had published a report denying this. The IMF report confirmed budgetary abuse by the PA.

Earlier this month, my family and I again lost friends to terrorism. One of the victims of another massacre in a Jerusalem cafe was an emergency room doctor, David Appelbaum, who had dedicated his life to caring for terror victims -- Jews and Arabs alike. His daughter, killed with him, was to be married the next evening.

Their tragic murders led me to reflect again on what it would take to stop the hate-filled education of Palestinian children that turns them into walking grenades.

Checking the EU's Web site, I found a Dutch MEP had just asked some questions to Mr. Patten on this theme. Mr. Patten's written answer said that the Commission "has no evidence of Community funding to the Palestinian Authority being misused for anything other than its agreed purpose. Should such evidence come to light, immediate action would be taken."

This was strikingly similar to his response to charges about the misuse of EU money by the PA. The refrain was repeated after Human Rights Watch's report into Palestinian terrorism noted that "The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades appear to have benefited from the routine misuse of PA funds."

Some 55% of all Palestinian Arabs are under the age of 20. Addressing their needs is critical to the building of bridges of peace between our two peoples. Around 3.5 billion euros in the form of EU aid reached the Palestinian leadership between 1994 and 2001. Wherever it went, it has failed to benefit their education or bring peace. The hateful messages that permeate their education, including EU-funded textbooks, guarantee another generation incapable of reconciling itself to peace with Israelis. In fact, there is internal Palestinian correspondence verifying that Hamas has taken control of the Palestinian Ministry of Education, ensuring the children continue to be taught to admire and emulate suicide bombers.

Mr. Patten promised immediate action when concrete evidence comes to light. I have now written to him, pointing to two specific sources.

First, the San Francisco Chronicle, in an interview last week with Mahmoud Abbas, the PA prime minister who just resigned, quotes him as confirming what Israeli documents proved 18 months ago: that the PA's top managers skim money off the payroll and that secret bank accounts are routine.

The story quoted Mr. Abbas as saying that Arafat blocked financial reforms because they threatened illegal slush funds Arafat was using to pay for the intifada. PA officials' salaries are paid by the EU, "but Arafat or his cronies were skimming off up to 15% in income taxes and using it for their own causes," said the story.

It then quoted Mr. Abbas as saying "Personally, I don't know where those funds go. When we wanted to cancel them, they said: `You're harming the intifada'."

A second source is a report on the Palestinian economy released last week by the IMF. This reveals that $900 million was "diverted" by Arafat from tax receipts alone over the past several years. Most of it possibly ended up in Palestinian public assets. But the IMF adds that not all the missing money can be accounted for and points to additional specific problems in internal PA budget control practices. Published Israeli military intelligence reports said exactly this last year. Mr. Patten dismissed them.

The Commission has stubbornly denied the existence of such corruption even while serving as one of its principal feeders. Innocents like my daughter die because money is available to lubricate the wheels of evil and corruption and for hate-filled education.

My letter reminds Mr. Patten that the EU-sponsored road map demands an immediate end to Palestinian terrorism. He can choose to exercise the funding power already in his control, and condition future PA grants on unambiguous prior evidence that Palestinian education has become peace-directed and positive. Or he can continue denying the price of EU blood money.

* * *

Click to go to "Snouts and troughs"
Chris Patten, better known today to those who respect and appreciate him as Baron Patten of Barnes, CH, PC, went on at the conclusion of his European Commission gig to to become Chancellor of the University of Oxford and then Chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation. He resigned (on grounds of ill-health) in 2014. He never troubled himself to reply to our expose or to the letters mentioned in the WSJ article.

For a little additional colour and background, please take a look at some related past posts of ours:

26-Dec-18: Vehicle rammer is stopped by IDF Wednesday afternoon

Image Source: Xinhua
Times of Israel reported yesterday["Attempted West Bank car-ramming attack reported outside Nablus"] on an attempted car-ramming attack on Israeli soldiers and civilians in the northern West Bank. IDF troops opened fire and stopped the attacker, who is now injured, before he could do more damage.
The suspect attempted to run over a group of people waiting at a bus stop at a junction outside Nablus, near a military base, according to the military and the Samaria Regional Council. Soldiers at the scene shot at the assailant, who was taken to hospital in moderate condition. No Israelis were physically hurt in the attempted attack, although the Samaria Regional Council spokesperson said three people — two women and a man — suffered panic attacks and underwent treatment. “He was driving slowly and suddenly sped up toward us,” said eyewitness Emunah Mevorach, 23, who said the car had tried to maneuver between concrete columns placed next to the bus stop to prevent such attacks. “The soldier shot many bullets and we ran behind a concrete block. The soldier’s reaction saved us.”
The Chinese newsagency Xinhua ["Israeli forces foil Palestinian car-ramming attack in West Bank, driver injured"] adopts a straightforward approach to their headline, while Turkey's Anadolu does what most of the Arabic-language press customarily does: irrespective of what their sources tell them, and pretending there is not a years-long obsessive Palestinian Arab campaign to encourage vehicle rammings of Israelis underway - and many dead Israelis as a result - it suggests the attack may or may not have happened, depends whom you ask (but their reporters rarely ask). See "Israeli forces shoot Palestinian in alleged car attack" from the Turks.

From Ma'an's version of the news
The notorious Ma'an News Agency (not surprisingly) headlines its version of the news with this: "Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian at Huwwara checkpoint":
The Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs confirmed that they were officially informed of the driver's injury, whom they identified as Raed Thiab, 35, from Kafr Qalil village. The ministry added that he was injured with two bullets in the leg. Witnesses told Ma’an that the vehicle was parked dozens of meters away from the Huwwara checkpoint, near a transport stop for Israeli settlers.
The headline of their Arabic-language version is (not surprisingly) less shy and owns up to how the guy wasn't just shot but "was injured allegedly carrying out an attack".

Sunday, December 23, 2018

23-Dec-18: In the UK, what we used to know about airport safety suddenly looks so 1990s

Massive disruption at Gatwick this week [Image Source]
As the UK deals with the strange and unsettling experience of one of its most strategically important airports being left in a state of total paralysis as the holiday travel season reaches its peak, thoughtful Brits will be contemplating some even fresher - and certainly no less disturbing - news.

Gatwick Airport, the UK's second-busiest, was the scene of a still-perplexing series of massive anxiety attacks this week:
After rogue drones forced it to close for 32 hours this week, the airport, one of Europe’s busiest, reopened Friday morning and had a nearly 12-hour uninterrupted run of takeoffs and landings. Then came an unconfirmed drone sighting, forcing the airport to close yet again, although briefly, leaving planes circling above and travelers fuming in the terminals. And by the time flights resumed Friday night, many questions remained: What was behind the incursions? Why couldn’t they be stopped more quickly? And is Britain doing enough to keep the devices away from airports and other sensitive spots? Early Saturday, the police in Sussex announced that they had arrested a man and a woman on suspicion on the “criminal use” of the drones... ["Two Arrests, and Many Questions, as Gatwick Reopens After Drone Threat", New York Times, December 21, 2018]
The answers, when they come, are unlikely to calm the fears of rational Brits. It's clear enough that the huge disruption at Gatwick, whatever its actual details (which at this stage are sketchy) can be reproduced and exacerbated at will by any trouble-minded copy-cat; sustainable protective and defensive measures are almost certainly on the agenda of the authorities but in the nature of things, are unlikely to be implemented as rapidly as they are needed.

But then what if people with serious and deadly malice on their minds, let's say, read the news reports and decide to test those not-yet-in-place defences? And not necessarily in the UK, or in the UK only, but elsewhere?

The issue is far from speculative and not at all fanciful. Underscoring the potential for serious trouble, a Times of London report under the byline of its political editor, Tim Shipman, this morning makes that painfully clear. 

Highlights to mull:
  • The UK's Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime Ben Wallace met with senior UK airport managers a week ago, prior to the Gatwick chaos, in order to to discuss what's now known about threats to their facilities including the “insider threat” of jihadist sleeper agents working undercover at airports.
  • "Al-Qaeda is resurgent and seeking to carry out new terrorist atrocities against airliners and airports, [he] warned last night. The terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks in 2001 poses a growing threat that is keeping ministers “awake at night”, he told The Sunday Times... They have reorganised. They are pushing more and more plots towards Europe and have become familiar with new methods and still aspire to aviation attacks.”
  • "...The decline of Isis meant al-Qaeda would seek to reassert itself as the world’s leading terror group and an aviation spectacular would be its calling card.... al-Qaeda is developing technology to bring down passenger jets using miniaturised bombs and drones packed with explosives." 
  • "Security sources say sketches of drones designed to deliver bombs were discovered during a recent terrorist investigation in the UK. British businesses have also been warned that Islamist terrorists are seeking to mount attacks using a drone armed with explosives or chemicals."
  • "British intelligence chiefs are concerned that Donald Trump’s decision last week to withdraw US troops from Syria will create a new safe haven for Islamists to launch attacks on the West. The UK found out about his decision only when he tweeted it on Wednesday."
  • Especially depressing is his advice about how useful current, and very intrusive, security arrangements directed at ordinary travelers are. "Wallace said improvements in airport security meant terrorists were less likely to smuggle explosive through terminal security systems: “They have explored other ways of getting bombs on planes. We’ve talked publicly about an insider threat issue. If you can’t get in the front door, you’re going to try to get in the back door.”" ["Al-Qaeda terror group returns to target airliners and airports", Times of London, December 23, 2018]
Meanwhile, UK travelers are still absorbing the scale of the impact on their lives from what, at least at this moment, looks like a criminal offence at worst with no immediate connection to terrorism:
The drone sightings had forced the cancellation or diversion of more than 1,000 flights over three days, affecting some 140,000 people, officials said. On Saturday, Gatwick warned passengers to expect still more delays and cancellations and to check their flight status before going to the airport... [British] officials identified the two [suspects] as Paul Gait, 47, and his wife Elaine Kirk, 54... from Crawley, a town just south of the airport. The couple are suspected of disrupting civil aviation services and endangering people or operations — offenses that carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, according to the police. They have not been formally charged and are still in custody, but the police did not release further details. The incident exposed the vulnerabilities of the airport to outside interference and drew attention to the limitations of security officials responding to such a threat at a peak travel time... ["Married Couple Arrested Over Drone Incursions at Gatwick Airport", New York Times, December 22, 2018]
It's evident that whatever the solution, technology will be part, but only part, of fighting back. We noticed some reporting in a Russian source about the things technology can potentially do in ameliorating the drome threat:
UK authorities could use an Israeli-made "Drone Dome" system that the British army acquired in August 2018 to take down the drones, which had been disrupting Gatwick Airport's operations for the last two days. The equipment, seen on the rooftop of a building near the airport and operated by the UK police looks just like the "Drone Dome" components in the photos, published in 2016 by several media platforms. The DJI system is capable of not just detecting drones and hijacking their controls, but also of tracking down the person, who controlled it. Its major downside is that it is not compatible with all drones. On the other hand, "Drone Dome" can take down any drone, by either hacking and landing it or by shooting it down with powerful laser. ["What is 'Drone Dome' That UK Could Have Used to Take Down Gatwick UAV", Sputnik News, December 22, 2018]
What the Russian report calls "Drone Dome", a system developed by two of Israel's major defense firms Rafael and RADA, is described in this recent Times of Israel report: "UK army said to use Israeli-made system to end drone chaos at London airport".

UPDATE Sunday December 23, 2018 at 2:30 pm: So who is actually behind the drone assault (if that's what it was) on Gatwick? At this point, and despite the certainty generated by a proliferation of news reports referring to a specific couple, it seems ["Gatwick drones pair 'no longer suspects'", BBC, this afternoon] no one actually knows:
A man and woman arrested in connection with drone sightings that grounded flights at Gatwick Airport have been released without charge. The 47-year-old man and 54-year-old woman, from Crawley, West Sussex, were arrested on Friday night on suspicion of "the criminal use of drones"... Sussex Police said the pair were no longer suspects. Det Ch Supt Jason Tingley said: "Both people have fully co-operated with our inquiries and I am satisfied that they are no longer suspects in the drone incidents at Gatwick... "Our inquiry continues at a pace to locate those responsible for the drone incursions, and we continue to actively follow lines of investigation."

Friday, December 21, 2018

21-Dec-18: After the terror attacks, the focus moves on as the quiet struggle of the victims continues

Shira and Amichai Ish-Ran speak to reporters from hospital
five days ago [Image Source]. Their baby did not survive the cowardly attack.
Based on reports in the past few hours from several news sources, including Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post, here are some updates on the Arab-on-Israeli terror attacks of the past ten days.

Amichai Ish-Ran, who took three bullets in the leg as a civilian victim - alongside his wife - of a  drive-by shooter at a bus stop near the entrance to the Israeli community of Ofra ["09-Dec-18: A shooter in a passing vehicle seriously injures several Israelis tonight near Ofra, north of Jerusalem"] is thankfully doing well enough that he was released from Shaarei Zedek Medical Center yesterday (Thursday).

His wife Shira, who suffered critical injuries in the attack, is said to be "steadily recovering". She had further surgery on Wednesday and this is reported by the hospital to have been successful. The baby boy she was carrying in her womb when they were shot died four days after the attack after being born under emergency conditions by Caesarian section.

An IDF soldier, 21-year-old Naveh Rotem, who was critically injured this past Friday when stabbed and head-bashed with a rock by a Palestinian Arab at a military post outside the Israeli community of Beit El is thankfully doing much better. The attacker who fled the scene, prompting a manhunt, later turned himself in.
The soldier, had been taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in life-threatening condition, unconscious and hooked up to a ventilator. The hospital said in a statement that Rotem had been treated by multiple medical experts over the past week, and quoted neurosurgeon Dr. Iddo Paldor as saying he was returning home “in good condition, strong and smiling.” Rotem will undergo followup treatment. His parents said in a statement that they were “happy to thank all the hospital staff,” saying they had “felt we were in good hands..." [Times of Israel]
Shira Sabag, a civilian seriously injured in last week’s Arab-on-Israeli shooting attack ["13-Dec-18: Another lethal Arab-on-Israeli shooting attack Thursday"] at a bus stop near the small Israeli community of Givat Assaf, is said to be improving though still hospitalized at Shaare Zedek.

An IDF soldier, Netanel Felber, whose family made aliyah to Israel from the US a decade ago, is still reported to be critically injured and fighting for his life and suffering gunshot wounds to his head in the attack, He has undergone multiple surgeries at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital. Two of his army colleagues, Yovel Mor-Yosef and Yosef Cohen, were killed in the attack.

It was reported yesterday (Thursday) that the main perpetrators of both the Ofra and Givat Assaf attacks are brothers, As'am Barghouti, 32, and Saleh Omar Barghouti, 29, clansmen and residents of the same village (up until he was incarcerated) of prominent Palestinian Arab convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti. (There's some background here: "18-Apr-17: So what, in reality, is Marwan Barghouti?") Salih Barghouti was shot last Wednesday in a village near Ramallah as he resisted apprehension by Israeli security forces. The attack allegedly carried out by As'am Barghouti happened the following day. There is an ongoing manhunt for him.

It was also reported yesterday for the first time that this As'am Barghouti was released from an Israeli prison in April 2018 after serving an 11-year sentence.

We personally sat through the 2003/4 terrorism trial of Marwan Barghouti in Tel Aviv (he was convicted and has been in prison since then). Beyond the homicides for which he was convicted, we learned that Barghouti personally laid out $500 [source] for the making of the explosive-filled guitar case that was brought to, and exploded inside, Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria destroying it on August 9, 2001 and killing fifteen innocent people including our daughter Malki. 

The Sbarro bombmaker, the inventor of that grotesque explosive-and-nails-filled guitar case, was another Barghouti clansman, Kuwait-born Abdullah Barghouti. About him, we have written numerous times. Here's one piece: "20-Jun-13: Abdullah Barghouti, terrorist, bomb-maker, killer of 66 innocents, has some demands".

When churchman Desmond Tutu, himself a Nobel Peace Prize winner,
nominated convicted murderer and terrorist Marwan Barghouti for the same
award, he tweeted the news with this photo of himself with Mrs Marwan
Barghouti [Twitter Source]
And yet one more clansman, Bilal Yaqub Barghouti, a senior Hamas operative, was personally sheltered by Marwan Barghouti in his home when Bill Barghouti was on the run from the Israeli security forces because of his involvement in the massacre at the Sbarro pizzeria (he was later convicted for his part). Bilal Barghouti said for the record that, during his stay there, "he saw a number of weapons, and when he left the house Barghouti armed him with a gun for his use."

Unlike most of the Sbarro Massacre plotters, Bilal Barghouti still resides in an Israeli prison cell. On being sentenced in 2003, he said: "Thank god. I regret that I did not kill even more people than I did kill". (More background here: "24-Aug-18: What aid funds handed to the Abbas regime ($1 million and growing) have done for savages who kill Jews".)

And this: Marwan Barghouti, whom the Nobel Prize-winning social activist church-man Desmond Tutu odiously nominated for a Nobel Prize in 2017, is arguably an unindicted accessory-after-the-fact to the Sbarro murders. (It would be nice if someone were to forward this post to Archbishop Tutu in South Africa.)

May all the victims needing a full and rapid recovery get it.