The Nations Trampling Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

The so-called al Aqsa intifada and mega terror outfit Hamas

May 26, 2020

Prof. Efraim Karsh and Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

Israel’s May 2000 rushed evacuation of its security zone in south Lebanon and the desertion of its longstanding local allies there tarnished the Jewish State’s deterrent posture and helped spark a string of large-scale armed confrontations with Hezbollah (2006), the PLO (the so-called “al-Aqsa Intifada”), and Hamas (2008/9, 2012, 2014). The withdrawal transformed south Lebanon into an ineradicable terror entity that can harass northern Israel at will and expedited Hezbollah’s evolvement into a formidable military power armed with 150,000 rockets and missiles capable of reaching anywhere in Israel. It also dented the IDF’s fighting ethos and operational competence, as illustrated by its lukewarm performance during the Second Lebanon War (2006) and Operation Protective Edge (2014).

In the dead of night on May 24, 2000, 18 years after invading Lebanon with the expressed goal of removing the longstanding terrorist threat to its northern towns and villages, Israel hurriedly vacated its self-proclaimed security zone in south Lebanon and redeployed on the other side of the border. With PM Ehud Barak authorizing the operation a day earlier to avoid its disruption by the Hezbollah terror organization, which had long harassed the Israeli forces in Lebanon, the evacuation was executed without a single casualty.

Yet the humiliation attending the IDF’s flight under Hezbollah fire, leaving behind heavy weapons and military equipment (some of which were promptly bombed by the Israeli air force to deny them to Hezbollah), as well as its abandonment of the South Lebanon Army (SLA), which had aided its counterterrorist operations for years and which collapsed upon the withdrawal with many of its fighters and their families seeking asylum in Israel, was not lost on outside observers. A prominent leftwing Israeli journalist, by no means hostile to the withdrawal, even compared “the scent of humiliation [that] permeated the air” to that attending the “last helicopter on the [US] embassy roof in Vietnam.”

Shattered deterrence

Keenly aware of these disturbing images, Barak quickly extolled the flight as a glowing success that in one fell swoop ended Israel’s “18-year Lebanese tragedy” and neutralized Hezbollah’s terrorist threat to the Galilee. “To fight against terrorism is like fighting mosquitoes,” he told Time Magazine:

You can chase them one by one, but it’s not very cost-effective. The more profound approach is to drain the swamp. So we are draining the swamp [by leaving Lebanon] … Once we are within Israel, defending ourselves from within our borders, the Lebanese government and the Syrian government are responsible to make sure that no one will dare hit Israeli civilians or armed forces within Israel. Any violation of this might become an act of war, and it will be treated accordingly. I don’t recommend to anyone to try us once we are inside Israel.

This buoyant prognosis couldn’t be further from the truth. Far from draining Hezbollah’s “terrorist marsh,” the withdrawal served to expand it to gargantuan proportions. Hezbollah exploited the demise of Israel’s security zone to transform south Lebanon into an ineradicable military stronghold crisscrossed with fortified defenses, both above ground and in a complex underground tunnel system, designed to serve as a springboard for terror attacks on Israeli territory, to shelter Hezbollah’s burgeoning rocket and missile arsenal (which quickly doubled after the withdrawal from 7,000 to 14,000), and to exact a high cost from attacking forces in the event of a general conflagration. Hence the IDF’s inconclusive ground operations in the Second Lebanon War (July 12-August 14, 2006), which hardly ventured more than a few miles from the border during the 34 days of fighting—in stark contrast to the 1982 invasion, which swiftly swept across this area and reached Beirut within five days. And hence the war’s relatively high human toll: 164 fatalities, or 70% of those killed in the security zone during the 15 years preceding the 2000 withdrawal.

Nor did Barak’s warning against any attempt “to try us once we are inside Israel” (or, for that matter, FM David Levy’s threat that “Lebanon will burn” in the event of terror attacks from its territory) make an impression on Hezbollah. With Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah famously deriding Israel as “weaker than a spider web,” the organization launched repeated attacks on targets in northern Israel at a rate of half-a-dozen per year. These began as early as October 7, 2000—a mere four months after the withdrawal—with the abduction of three IDF soldiers on a border patrol (who, it later transpired, were killed in the attack), culminating in the July 12, 2006 abduction of two more soldiers (who, too, were killed in the process) and the killing of another three in a cross-border raid that triggered the Second Lebanon War. During that war, Hezbollah fired some 4,000 rockets and missiles on Israeli towns and villages—the largest attack on the Jewish State’s population centers since the 1948 War of Independence—killing 45 civilians, inflicting massive destruction and economic damage, and driving thousands of Israelis to flee their homes to the southern parts of the country.

While the Israeli architects of the war, which was censured by an official commission of enquiry as “a great and grave blunder,” sought to portray it as a shining success that led to a prolonged period of calm, the conflagration did not deter Hezbollah from sporadic attacks on Israeli targets in subsequent years or from substantially expanding its military buildup in flagrant violation of Security Council Resolution 1701, which had ended the war. This included the expansion of its already substantial rocket/missile holdings to a monstrous 150,000-strong arsenal and the deployment of thousands of well-armed and battle-hardened fighters in south Lebanon on a constant state of alert to invade Israel en masse, either directly or via offensive underground tunnels penetrating Israeli territory (some of which were destroyed by the IDF in 2019).

Even the postwar relative lull has had less to do with the Lebanon War’s deterrent effect (though Nasrallah later admitted he would have foregone the soldiers’ abduction had he known it would lead to full-scale war) than with Hezbollah’s decade-long immersion in the Syrian civil war and the reluctance of its Iranian patron to unleash its protégé’s full might absent a direct Israeli attack on its nuclear weapons installations. Had PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak’s purported intention to launch such an attack in 2010-11 not been nipped in the bud by their security establishment and the Obama administration, an all-out Hezbollah-Israel war would likely have ensued. As it is, such a conflagration remains a distinct possibility, with Hezbollah’s security threat via both its rocket/missile arsenal, which can hit any part of the Jewish State, and ability to invade Israel and occupy Israeli localities infinitely greater than it was in May 2000.

Sparking the Palestinian war of terror

Defending his Lebanon decision 20 years later, Barak argued that the withdrawal improved Israel’s military position vis-à-vis the Palestinians since the IDF’s continued presence in Lebanon would have seriously constrained its ability to launch Operation Defensive Shield (April 2002), which curbed the Palestinian war of terror (euphemized as “the al-Aqsa Intifada”) that had begun a year-and-a-half earlier.

As with his claim that the Lebanon flight neutralized Hezbollah’s terrorist threat, this assertion is not only false but the inverse of the truth: had the humiliating Lebanon flight not occurred, the “al-Aqsa Intifada” might not have ensued in the first place, at least not on its unprecedented massive scale.

Like most of their Arab brethren, the Palestinians viewed the Lebanon flight as a defeat of the formidable Israeli army by a small but determined guerrilla force. Hamas and Islamic Jihad applauded Hezbollah’s achievement as proving the indispensability of the “armed struggle” while thousands of Palestinians celebrated the withdrawal with placards saying “Lebanon Today, Palestine Tomorrow.” Even Israeli Arabs were increasingly drawn into Hezbollah’s widening terror and spying web inside Israel in the years following the withdrawal.

More importantly, the flight’s humiliating nature helped convince PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, who viewed the Oslo “peace process” (launched in September 1993) as a strategic means not to a two-state solution but to the substitution of a Palestinian state for the state of Israel, that the pros of reverting to wholesale violence far exceeded its potential cons since Israel no longer had the stomach for a protracted conflict. If Israelis couldn’t bear 20-25 fatalities per year (less than a tenth of the death toll on their roads) in the fight against Hezbollah, surely they wouldn’t be able to stomach the much heavier death toll attending a protracted all-out Palestinian “resistance campaign.” At the July 2000 Camp David summit that sought to reach a comprehensive Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement, Arafat explicitly warned his Israeli counterparts that “we can see to it that the Hezbollah precedent is replicated in the territories,” and that threat was quickly amplified by his top henchmen after the summit. A Palestinian public opinion poll found two-thirds of respondents eager to see their leadership follow in Hezbollah’s violent footsteps.

This is indeed what happened with the outbreak of the “al-Aqsa Intifada” in September 2000—the bloodiest and most destructive confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians since the 1948 war—which exacted over 1,000 Israeli lives. And while West Bank terrorism was largely curbed in the early 2000s through sustained counterinsurgency operations and the construction of a security barrier, the Gaza Strip has become a formidable terror entity that represents a clear and present danger to the vast majority of Israel’s population. While it can be contained through repeated military campaigns (e.g., in 2008-9, 2012, and 2014), it cannot be eradicated altogether.

Weakening the IDF

A major plank of Barak’s justification of the withdrawal was its supposed benefits for the IDF. “If we act to change reality in the right direction, it strengthens us. It doesn’t weaken us,” he told Time Magazine after the withdrawal. “I didn’t see a single armed force that became stronger or a nation that became more self-confident by fighting guerrillas in another country.”

There is of course a world of difference between a great power fighting guerrillas thousands of miles from its homeland and a small state defending its citizens and population centers from terrorist attacks launched from across the border, even if this means taking the fight to the aggressing state’s territory. By abdicating this crucial component of self-defense, the Lebanon flight not only brought a terror organization committed to Israel’s destruction within a stone’s throw of its border neighborhoods and made its dislodgement from this area exceedingly difficult: it also dented the IDF’s fighting ethos and operational competence. The daring, enterprising, and proactive spirit that had characterized this force from its inception gave way to a reactive, dogmatic, and passive disposition that responded to events rather than anticipating them and that contented itself with containing rather than defeating the enemy.

In fairness to Barak, this transformation reflected a conceptual malaise that had been pervading the IDF’s top echelon for some time. This malaise deepened with the launch of the Oslo “peace process,” whereby striving for victory was replaced by a conviction that the changing nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict—from interstate wars to low-intensity warfare between Israel and terrorist/guerrilla organizations—made military decisions virtually impossible because these (far weaker) groups represented “authentic resistance movements,” to use Barak’s own words, that needed to be politically appeased.

This approach, which effectively handed off responsibility for defeating terrorism to the political leadership, was first manifested in the IDF’s failure to suppress the Palestinian intifada (1987-93), which only ended upon the signing of the Oslo Accords. Here too, Barak played a key role in his capacity as deputy chief of staff (1987-91) and chief of staff (1991-95). It received a major impetus with the May 2000 Lebanon flight and the delusion of removing Hezbollah’s terrorist threat via political retreat, and was repeated during the “al-Aqsa Intifada’s” first months—when the IDF (under the direct leadership of defense minister Barak) sought to contain rather than suppress the conflagration.

Even after Barak’s February 2001 crushing electoral defeat to Ariel Sharon, probably Israel’s most illustrious and offensive-oriented general, it took over a year of unprecedented terrorism that murdered hundreds of Israelis and spread mayhem in Israel’s population centers before the IDF moved onto the offensive and broke the backbone of Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank (but not Gaza). So much so that PM Sharon, who was elected on the crest of the hope that he would swiftly suppress the Palestinian terror war, was forced to justify this extraordinary delay with such meaningless platitudes as “restraint is power” and “what can be seen from here [the PM’s office] can’t be seen from elsewhere.”

Further deviations from the IDF’s hallowed precepts of initiative, maneuver, and shifting the fight to enemy territory were on display during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Protective Edge (2014), where the military leadership hoped to end the conflict via air strikes and only grudgingly committed ground forces at a later stage and in a highly circumspect fashion. By way of concealing its declining appetite for ground operations, the IDF leadership persistently denied terrorism’s strategic threat to Israel’s national security, stressing the (supposed) absence of a military solution to the problem and the attendant need for its resolution by political means. Hence Chief-of-Staff Moshe Yaalon’s assertion that Hezbollah’s political weakening would culminate in its rockets/missiles “rusting on their launchers”; and hence the stubborn ignoring of Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s cross-border underground terror tunnels and their hazards. As late as July-August 2014, while Israel was engaged in a full-scale war with Hamas, defense minister Yaalon and the IDF leadership, alongside the heads of Shin Bet and the National Security Council, continued to underplay the strategic significance of those tunnels, let alone provide the war cabinet with a concrete plan for their destruction—even though Hamas had used such a tunnel as long before as 2006 to infiltrate Israel, abduct an Israeli soldier, and kill two others.

IDF Chief-of-Staff Moshe Dayan (1953-58) famously quipped that he would rather have to restrain galloping horses than spur lazy mules. The humiliating May 2000 Lebanon flight accelerated the transformation of the IDF’s leadership in the opposite direction while greatly enhancing the dangers to Israel’s national security on the Lebanese and Palestinian fronts to hitherto unprecedented levels. One can only hope that its twentieth anniversary will be used for genuine reflection, stocktaking, and a return to the IDF’s daring and winning ways.

Prof. Efraim Karsh is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King’s College London, and editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, formerly a corps commander and commander of the IDF Military Colleges, is a senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Israel Threatens the Iranian Horn

PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei | File photo: AP, Reuters

‘Khamenei is risking his own annihilation,’ Netanyahu warns

On a pared-down Quds Day, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei calls Israel a “deadly, cancerous growth.” Meanwhile, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah reiterates calls to “liberate Palestine.”

By  Daniel Siryoti , Eli Leon , Lilach Shoval and AP Published on  05-24-2020 08:55 Last modified: 05-24-2020 09:24

“Anyone who threatens to annihilate Israel risks a similar fate,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday in response to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who compared Israel to a “virus.”

Khamenei spoke to the nation in a 30-minute speech aired on state television in honor of Quds Day, which this year was subdued due to coronavirus. He repeatedly referred to Israel as a “cancer” or “tumor” during the speech, criticizing the US and the West for equipping it with “various kinds of military and non-military tools of power, even with atomic weapons.

“The Zionist regime is a deadly, cancerous growth and a detriment to this region,” Khamenei said. “It will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also made it clear that Israel would not stand by as Iran continued to increase its power in the Middle East. In a post on his Facebook page, Gantz wrote, “Israel is facing huge challenges in a number of arenas. Khamenei’s declaration that Israel is a ‘cancer’ makes that clearer than anything else could. As someone who is very familiar with the Iranian issue, and who prepared the IDF to handle it, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone test us.”

“The state of Israel and the Zionist dream are facts, unlike the Iranian satellite states that are trying to entrench themselves and damage regional stability, which we will not allow. From my experience, our enemies’ grandiose talk points to weakness,” Gantz wrote.

In the days running up to Friday, his office released a cartoon graphic showing smiling Iranian-backed forces, Arabs and two Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem under a headline that included the phrase “the final solution.”

The image later was deleted from Khamenei’s Twitter account and other places, though it remains on the Farsi-language version of his official website. The Foreign Ministry offered a tweet of its own over the picture, writing: “We have experience with leaders who talk about ‘final solutions,’ and we promise: Not on our watch.”

Khamenei was not the only leader to target Israel on Quds Day. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah also gave a speech on Friday in which he called for the liberation of “Palestine.”

“Palestine belongs to the Palestinian people and must be restored to them. Israel is trying to keep itself alive by force. Our position on Palestine is clear and consistent. Resistance in all its forms is the only way to liberate Palestine,” Nasrallah said.

“Anyone who thinks they can change our minds is wrong. Wars, targeted killings, and sanctions wont’ help. The Zionist entity has a shield in the US. Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river. The US is leading Israel, and the main battle is against America,” the Hezbollah leader added.

The world was quick to condemn the anti-Israel statements.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “Incredible that @JZarif and Iran’s Supreme Leader are echoing Hitler’s call for genocide. This depravity should dispel any notion the regime belongs in the community of nations. We stand with Germany and Israel against this oldest & most vile form of hatred, and say #NeverAgain.”

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “There is no excuse for the anti-Semitic language in statements from Iran’s leadership. Israel has an undeniable right to peace and security, and denying it hurts all the people of the region.”

Hamas Warns of Uprising Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Palestinian security forces clash with demonstrators in Hebron | File photo: Reuters/Mussa Qawasma

Report: PA suspends security ties with Israel, Hamas warns uprising underway

Palestinian Authority also suspends contacts with the CIA. Hamas welcomes the move, warns Palestinians are “on the verge of a new intifada.”

By  News Agencies and ILH Staff Published on  05-22-2020 05:57 Last modified: 05-22-2020 12:20

The Palestinian Authority has informed Israel that it is suspending all security coordination with it, Arab media reported Thursday.

According to Qatar’s Al Jazeera and Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen, the move was declared in protest of Israel’s plan to apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria – a move endorsed in principle by the US.

According to the reports, Palestinian security officials have informed their counterparts in the IDF of the move. While the civil and intelligence coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is expected to continue, it will likely suffer as well.

On Friday morning, Palestinian security forces pulled out of Abu Dis, in east Jerusalem, where they worked with Israeli security forces, who control the area, to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Deputy Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri welcomed the move and threatened that “we are on the verge of a new intifada. … Washington and Tel Aviv are taking advantage of the current situation to take control of the West Bank. We are sparing no effort to prevent this annexation.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (EPA/Atef Safadi)

Israeli media quoted defense officials as confirming that the Palestinian Authority was making good on its threat to end security coordination with Israel.

One official warned that the move could lead to a rise in violence, with more clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians.

The severing of the agreements came after PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced Tuesday the Palestinians were no longer bound by agreements with Israel and the US, citing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to move ahead with applying Israeli law to parts of Judea and Samaria the Palestinians would like to see included in a future state.

Abbas has made similar threats on numerous occasions but has never followed through.

“Israel’s annexation of any parts of the West Bank constitutes an existential threat to the Palestinian national project and an end to the two-state solution,” PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told the Wafa news agency.

He said that Israel’s plan “breached international law and violated all the agreements signed with us. Therefor, we will no longer abide by these agreements.”

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Washington had been told of the move after Abbas said on Tuesday his administration was no longer committed to agreements with Israel and the United States, including on security coordination.

On cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency, Erekat said, “It stopped as of the end of the (Palestinian) president’s speech.”

Intelligence cooperation with the CIA continued even after the Palestinians began boycotting US peace efforts led by President Donald Trump in 2017, with the sides working together on heading off violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is based.

But Erekat said: “Things change and we have decided it is time now to change. Security cooperation with the United States is no more. Security coordination with Israel is no more,” said Erekat. “We are going to maintain public order and the rule of law, alone.”

Israel fires on Gaza fishers outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel fires on Gaza fishers 100 times amid pandemic

Maureen Clare Murphy Rights and Accountability 21 May 2020

Israeli forces have fired on Gaza fishers more than 100 times so far this year.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Israeli navy attacks on Gaza fishers spiked in April against the backdrop of increased economic uncertainty in the besieged territory amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Spring is the sardine fishing season, one of the most profitable harvests for Gaza fishers. Israel’s use of lethal force against Gaza fishers, particularly at a peak season, further undermines the fishing industry and food security in the coastal territory.

Gaza has been under a tightened Israeli blockade since 2007, severely debilitating its economy and plunging the territory’s two million residents, most of whom are refugees, into widespread poverty.

Three human rights groups are calling on Israel’s attorney general and military advocate general “to put an immediate end to the harassment of fishermen and investigate past incidents.”

Israel fired at fishing boats inside Gaza’s fishing zone more than 100 times in the first four months of the year, according to Al Mezan, a human rights group based in the territory.

Nearly 40 of those live fire incidents occurred in April, reflecting a 70 percent increase in the cases over the first three months of 2020.

Six fishers were injured and seven arrested during those incidents, and seven boats were badly damaged and one vessel seized.

Israel shot at Gaza fishers around 350 times in all of 2019.

Terror

A recent incident illustrates the terror Gaza fishers encounter when trying to ply their trade.

The Israeli navy fired rubber-coated metal bullets at two fishing boats on 8 May, hitting one fisher in the head and another in the hand. Naval forces used live fire against the boat engines, destroying them, and fired water cannons at the boats, injuring a fisher.

The human rights groups have drawn attention to how Israeli military policies “permit the use of force and live fire against fishermen in the absence of any immediate threat to human life.” Such policies violate the 1907 Hague Regulations – a cornerstone of international law which prohibits the targeting of vessels used exclusively for fishing.

Israel announced changes in access to Gaza’s coastal waters around 20 times last year as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has treated its fishing industry “a lever for pressure” over the territory’s population as a whole.

Israeli military bodies have openly admitted to using Gaza fishing restrictions as a form of collective punishment.

The punishment of a civilian population over acts for which they bear no responsibility is prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which was ratified by Israel.

The International Committee of the Red Cross holds that the air, land and sea blockade on Gaza “constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.”

Crimes at sea

Palestinians are pursuing investigations of alleged Israeli war crimes at the International Criminal Court.

Palestinian human rights groups largely welcomed a recent response from court’s chief prosecutor reaffirming jurisdiction in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But those groups object to the prosecutor’s omission of Palestine’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from her understanding of the court’s jurisdiction.

The EEZ is a sea zone over which a state has special rights for exploration and resource extraction, stretching 200 nautical miles from its coast.

In September last year, having acceded to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the State of Palestine declared its maritime boundaries, including its EEZ.

Palestinian human rights groups have posited that if a state is authorized by that UN convention “to exercise exclusive jurisdiction over EEZ natural resources as a sovereign right, then it is equally within the jurisdiction of the coastal state to exercise its jurisdiction over relevant Rome Statute crimes in that area.”

Rome Statute crimes are international crimes that would fall under the ICC’s purview. The four core international crimes established by that statute are genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

The rights groups pointed to Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza’s coastal waters, “the harassment and attacks on fisheries workers, and the pillage of natural resources at sea and on land.”

Iran’s Stand Against Israel (Daniel 8:4)

Official Khamenei website/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Iran will support any nation or group that fights Israel, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, ahead of this week’s annual observance of Quds (Jerusalem) Day to express support for Palestinians.

“We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this,” Khamenei said in a post on his official English-language Twitter account.

Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy in the Middle East, has been a key supporter, along with Russia, of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria’s civil war, sending military advisers as well as material and regional Shi’ite militias.

Israel, which monitors neighbouring Syria intensively, has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria targeting suspected arms and troop movements by Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas that Tehran sponsors.

Separately, Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran’s enmity toward Israel was not the same as hostility toward Jewish people.

“The elimination of the government of Israel does not mean the elimination of Jews. We don’t have an issue with Jewish people,” Khamenei said in a post on his official Farsi-language Twitter account.

“‘Elimination of Israel’ means the Muslim, Christian and Jewish people of #Palestine choose their own government themselves and push out foreigners and thugs like [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” the post added.

Khamenei is scheduled to speak on Friday to commemorate Quds Day.

Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney

Terror Continues Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Pandemic Slows — but Doesn’t Stop — Hamas’ Terror Industry

Hamas members wear protective gear as a precaution against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, April 13, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

JNS.org – Hamas in the Gaza Strip has remained highly active in its efforts to plot and implement terror attacks in the West Bank. Its operatives have been working in the past few months to orchestrate attacks, and while there has been a reduction in the number of incidents during the height of the coronavirus outbreak, this is mainly due to the fact that the territories have been in lockdown.

Nevertheless, the virus and its knock-on effects have not influenced Hamas leaders at headquarters in the Gaza Strip, who continue to try to recruit operatives around the clock in the West Bank for attacks.

“They haven’t stopped trying to conduct terror attacks in the West Bank, and Israel hasn’t stopped foiling them,” Reuven Erlich, director of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, said

Last month, the Shin Bet made an announcement that signified how constant the threat remains, albeit submerged from view for the most part. The agency stated that it broke up a Hamas terror cell that was plotting a series of bombing attacks in Jerusalem, including targeting the landmark Teddy Stadium. Other plots eyed Israel Defense Forces’ positions, as well as attacking roads near Ramallah with remote-controlled explosives. The terror suspects were arrested.

According to the investigation, they met during their studies at Birzeit University near Ramallah, where a Hamas student organization operates — the largest one in the West Bank. The organization, known as the Kutla Islamiya, is devoted to “resistance” to Israel, and is often used by Hamas to promote its ideology and for recruitment.

Tens of thousands of shekels were transferred to the cell’s members by a senior Hamas member, a resident of Ramallah, who is also an operative in the Kutla Islamiya at Birzeit University, according to the Shin Bet. “He was the liaison between the cell’s member and Hamas, and he has been in prior administrative detention due to the risk that he posed to the security of the area,” said the Shin Bet.

The break-up of the cell prevented a major series of armed attacks against civilians and soldiers, and is part of a long line of plots thwarted by Israeli security forces in recent months.

In 2019, the Shin Bet, together with the IDF, foiled more than 500 significant terror attacks, including bombings, shootings, and kidnappings, many of them planned by Hamas and many targeting Israeli cities.

At the same time, Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh threatened to kidnap more Israelis if a prisoner deal is not reached.

“A prisoner-exchange deal has a known price. Israel knows that. Either we will come to a respectable deal, or we will go to the other option, which is increasing our loot. Our arm is long,” Haniyeh said according to a YNet report.

Erlich noted that in Gaza itself, the security situation has been quiet with no border disturbances and isolated rocket incidents. He said two factors could end that. The first is the end of the pandemic era. The second potential route to escalation, he said, could be linked to a future outbreak of the disease in Gaza. In such a scenario, Hamas would face public pressure about its inability to care for critically ill patients, and in response, it could use violence to try to extort Israel to provide economic and medical assistance.

The Meir Amit Center has been releasing regular reports on how health authorities in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority have been working to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Erlich gave Gaza’s health authorities a good grade in their ability to avoid an outbreak thus far, citing very low infection numbers.

“In light of the fact that Gaza is highly crowded, has refugee camps and sewage flowing in the streets, Hamas’ performance up to now has been effective,” he said. “Why has it been able to stop the spread so far? Most importantly, because there are only two narrow entry points into Gaza. One is the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. And the second is the Erez border crossing with Israel, which has been almost completely closed from the start of the crisis. And Hamas has invested many resources in Rafah so that it can place all new arrivals in quarantine and monitor them,” he added.

The lack of  organized tourism and the fact that Gaza’s population is relatively young have also helped.

Still, Erlich warned, if the virus does begin spreading in the community, it could “very quickly spin out of control because of Gaza’s crowded conditions and because Gazans don’t always listen to instructions about social distancing and masks. In addition, Gaza’s health-care system is not prepared in terms of medical equipment, medicine, and ventilation machines for dealing with outbreak in Gaza. Hamas is always living with this dichotomy. It has managed to stop it, but if the virus spreads inside the Strip, that will become a big problem.”

As a result, Hamas has preemptively begun spreading a cover story as part of a messaging campaign, blaming Israel for Gaza’s medical shortages and accusing Israel of destroying the medical system in Gaza. The Meir Amit Center quoted senior Hamas figures — among them Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas in Gaza — issuing threats, saying that if a shortage of ventilators and other medical equipment develops, Hamas will use force against Israel and “make six million Israeli settlers [sic] stop breathing.”

Erlich said this narrative was designed to distract from the fact that Hamas has chosen by itself to massively neglect Gaza’s civilian needs by investing most of its economic resources in military force buildup programs.

“Weapons, acquisitions, training, tunnel digging — these and other military activities are very expensive. Hamas has allocated very little to the medical system. This is the reason for the shortage, not Israel,” said Erlich. “If their budget had gone to civilian needs instead of military buildup, they would have a lot more money for medical needs. Israel would have helped them more; the international community would assist them more. Their situation could be completely different, and not only in the medical sector.”

“But due to their ideology of destroying Israel and conflict with it, they made their choice,” he said. “It projects onto everything else.”

Yaakov Lappin is a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He specializes in Israel’s defense establishment, military affairs, and the Middle Eastern strategic environment.

The Nations of Destruction Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel And Palestinians: Architects of their own destruction

Alon Ben-MeirDr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

By Alon Ben-Meir May 15, 2020

[Photo: Sebastian Scheiner, AP]

As Israel celebrates the 72nd anniversary of its independence, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to simmer as neither side seems to have learned anything from their seven decades-old conflict, and dramatic changes on the ground are readily dismissed. Charges and counter-charges against one another continue unabated as if everything was frozen in time. Israelis and Palestinians remain intensely distrustful of one another and blame the other for the lingering impasse. They now face a fateful crossroad and must reassess their positions. Israel must accept that the Palestinians are not a perpetual mortal enemy and that an agreement can be reached which guarantees its national security. The Palestinians must abandon some of their old and tired demands, which have proven to be fatal to all previous peace negotiations.

The Israeli right-wing political parties, led by Likud with Netanyahu at the helm, have been indoctrinating the Israelis through fear mongering with considerable success. They maintain that a Palestinian state in the West Bank will inevitably fall under Hamas and pose an existential threat to Israel. This argument which has seeped into the Israelis’ consciousness, especially since the second Intifada in 2000, is completely meritless as any peace agreement between the two sides must be based on stringent security arrangements that leave no room for errors and no recourse for the Palestinians.

To invoke Israel’s experience with Hamas as a justification for its refusal to allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank is contrived and disingenuous at best. Israel, which was led at the time by the most ardent right-wing prime minister, Shamir, brought about the rise of Hamas in 1987 by supporting its early leaders both financially and politically, who were ideologically opposed to the PLO. Avner Cohen, a former Israeli religious affairs official who worked in Gaza at the time, stated in 2009 that “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation.” Israel’s strategy was to divide and conquer by splitting the Palestinians into two camps to counter-balance and weaken then-Chairman Yasser Arafat’s hand and prevent the Palestinians from uniting into a single body politic.

Prime Minister Sharon’s decision to withdraw Israeli forces almost overnight from Gaza in 2005 without any security arrangements with the PA to ensure long-term security was fatal. As a general, he knew full well that Hamas had greater military capability and was far more deeply entrenched in the Strip than the PA’s security forces. Sharon’s objectives were to deepen the PA-Hamas rift and to rid Israel of the responsibility to provide jobs, healthcare, and economic development to a densely Palestinian populated area that has no strategic importance to Israel.

What made matters worse was Israel’s refusal to accept the results of the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, which gave Hamas a clear victory over the PLO. Israel then imprisoned 33 of Hamas’s newly elected parliamentarians, accusing them of belonging to a terrorist organization. Finally, Israel did nothing to stop the fighting between Hamas and the PA which ended up, unsurprisingly, with the defeat of the PA, which sealed Gaza’s fate under Hamas in 2007.

The breakout of the second Intifada in 2000 was a turning point for the Israelis as well as the Palestinians. The 117 terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Israelis was convincing enough for many Israelis that the Palestinians are a mortal enemy, especially following the 1993 Oslo Accords, which was supposed to evolve into a permanent peace based on a two-state solution. However, Israel ignored the fact that the Palestinians in the West Bank also learned a bitter lesson. They did not forget that the second Intifada invited massive Israeli retaliations that destroyed much of their newly-built infrastructure, housing, and public institutions post-1993.

To suggest however that Israel is the sole culprit behind the lasting Israeli-Palestinian conflict is wrong and disregards the Palestinians’ continuing violent hostilities against Israel, as well as their repeated missed opportunities to reach a peace agreement.

The Palestinians rejected the 1947 UN partition plan, turned down Israel’s offer to exchange most of the territories captured in the 1967 war for peace, refused to join in the 1977 Israeli-Egyptian peace talks, scuttled the nearly-completed peace agreement at Camp David in 2000 over the right of return, and in 2009 failed to seize the opportunity to make peace over disagreements on the extent of the land swap. What made matter worse is the Palestinians’, especially Hamas’, refusal to recognize Israel and its continuing threats against its very existence while purchasing and manufacturing weapons, especially rockets, to give a tangible meaning to their threats.

None of this however, suggests that if and when a Palestinian state is established in the West Bank it will become, as many Israelis say, another Hamastan. The precipitous Israeli withdrawal from Gaza without any security arrangements and Israel’s subsequent treatment of Hamas are what has galvanized the rise of Hamas as a force and a significant player.

Thus, only a fool would advocate that Israel should withdraw from the West Bank without the most comprehensive security arrangements that address Israel’s real or perceived security requirements. Whether the Palestinians like it or not, if they want a state of their own, they must realize that their demands from decades ago are no longer applicable or doable and need to concede on a number of key sensitive issues:

The Palestinians must accept that the right of return of the Palestinians refugees be based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that called for a “just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem” which from my firsthand knowledge was understood by its framers to mean compensation and/or resettlement. They must also accept that much of Israel’s presence in the West Bank is permanent, as Israel will not under any circumstances relinquish all the settlements, especially the three blocks along the 1967 borders (although this can be resolved through land swaps, as was agreed upon in previous peace talks). Finally, the Palestinians have to agree that Israel will, at minimum, jointly administer East Jerusalem because of the Jews’ irrevocable historic and religious affinity to the holy city, and because of the interdispersement of Jews and Arabs in East Jerusalem and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Israel, on the other hand, must agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state, and to that end it should not annex any more Palestinian land. Approximately 80,000 Israeli settlers residing in a score of small settlements scattered throughout the West Bank must be relocated to allow for a contiguous land mass for the Palestinian state. Israel must also agree to negotiate with Hamas based on mutual recognition to reach a peace agreement jointly with or independently from the PA.

Hamas’ leadership knows that Israel is a formidable military power, and no matter how many rockets they accumulate they will be defeated soundly should they ever pose a real danger to Israel. Israel, however, also knows that Hamas in Gaza is there to stay, with frequent violent flare-ups and the terrible cost that Israel must bear to maintain security. Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy stated that “Hamas can be crushed…[but] the price of crushing Hamas is a price that Israel would prefer not to pay.” Their choice is clear: maintain the status quo with the Israeli blockade in place from which the Palestinians in Gaza suffer the most, or reach a peace agreement that will free Israel from the heavy burden and Hamas’ continuing threats that unsettle many Israelis.

The complete lack of trust between the PA, Hamas, and Israel, and the existence of radicals in all three camps who still want to have it all, makes it imperative to establish a mutually agreed upon security apparatus that addresses Israel’s security in the West Bank in particular. This is indeed a prerequisite to any peace agreement, which the PA must agree to if they want an independent state of their own.

This includes extensive joint patrolling of the Jordan Valley to prevent infiltration of weapons and radicals from Jordan who oppose any agreement with Israel regardless of its nature, sharing intelligence to avert terrorist attacks, and establishing joint economic development projects. These and other joint programs will over time foster trust which is conspicuously lacking, as well as instill vested interests by both sides to maintain a collaborative and mutually gainful relationship.

Regardless of the violence and regional instability that may ensue, the new Israeli government is planning to embark on further annexation of Palestinian land by the beginning of July—while Trump is still in office and Israel can count on his support. For Trump, such a move by Israel, which is a central part of Trump’s “deal of the century”, will further enhance his political standing in the eyes of the evangelicals, whose support he must have if he stands any chance of winning the next election.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, have no real backers. Much of the international community, including their traditional supporters, the Arab states and the EU, are preoccupied with domestic and regional issues of major concerns. They are paying little or no attention to the Palestinian problem, and with the absence of a major power which can exert real pressure, Israel will not change its plans as long as the US continues to lend its full support.

If Israel proceeds with its plans of annexation and the Palestinians continue to hold onto their dead-end position, the result is all but certain. Continuing and escalating violent conflict will rob the Palestinians of a state of their own for the foreseeable future, which will exact a heavy toll on Israel while making it a pariah state that lives by the gun.

Time is of the essence; both sides must carefully reevaluate their positions before it is too late.

Army of Islam Steps Up its Activities Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Jaysh al Islam steps up its activities in the Gaza Stripa

By Joe Truzman | May 13, 2020 | Joe.Truzman@longwarjournal.org | @Jtruzmah

Jaysh al Islam (Army of Islam)

Recently, one of Gaza’s Salafi jihadi groups, Jaysh al Islam (JAI), stepped up its activity in the Gaza Strip. In the last month and a half, the militant group has published material showing its fighters training, conducting community service and interpreting Islamic rulings about COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 pandemic started to affect Middle Eastern countries, JAI published a 10-page document of its interpretations of Islamic law regarding the disease. The document describes COVID-19 as “of the creation of God Almighty.” Additionally, the group ruled the closing of mosques during a pandemic if certain conditions aren’t met, is prohibited.

“We consider the mosques the best places on earth and they are glorified from the Taqwa [being conscious and cognizant] of God Almighty, and the closure of them and preventing the servants of God Almighty from praying in them is among the greatest oppression,” the publication says.

On April 25, the group’s Telegram channel published over two dozen images of fighters conducting military training titled “Part of the preparation courses conducted by the Army of Islam in Jerusalem.” The photographs, which appear to be new, are believed to be the first publication showing military training of its fighters since the summer of 2019.

Photographs from the course show JAI fighters training under different military scenarios. A close look at the photographs reveal some of the fighters equipped with wooden firearms. This is likely an indication of JAI’s inability to procure weapons for all of its members due to the lack of financial support for the group.

Water and dates given out as Dawa before breaking the Ramadan fast.

On May 6, JAI published a video depicting its fighters handing out water and dates as a part of Dawa (missionary work) before breaking of the Ramadan fast. Each packet given to a needy person also contained a message from the group.

“Breaking the fast, from your brothers, Army of Islam Group,” read the statement. Interestingly, below the message was the group’s Telegram channel information and how to access it. Which suggests JAI’s attempt to increase its social media presence through its charity work.

JAI’s publication of its recent activity in the Gaza Strip is a stark difference compared to the last twelve months. During most of 2019, the group was considerably quiet and inactive on social media contrasted to previous years. Its social media channels were removed from Telegram, due in part to its pro-ISIS content, which made it difficult for the group to disseminate information about its activities.

One of the group’s primary goals is to wage jihad against Israel. Their last major jihadist act against the state was in 2018 when it took advantage of clashes between the IDF and militant groups in the Gaza Strip. Its fighters fired several mortars against southern Israel in retaliation for the killing of a Gaza resident in an IDF airstrike.

JAI has kept a low profile publicly and on social media. The group seems to be acting cautiously about its activities due to it likely being under the surveillance of Israel’s intelligence agencies and Hamas, which JAI considers an apostate disbeliever of Islam. In the meantime, the group continues to step up its activities in the Gaza Strip as it continues to wage jihad against Israel.

Joe Truzman is a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal.

Israeli Military Vehicles Outside the Temple Walls, Raze Land (Revelation 11)

Israeli Military Vehicles Infiltrate Southern Gaza Strip Borders, Raze Land

KhamakarPress News PortalMay 12, 2020

Israeli military vehicles ton Monday infiltrated the southern borders of the Gaza Strip east of Khan Yunis and razed land, according to local sources.

It said several army vehicles entered several meters into the Gaza Strip, razed land and placed dirt mounds while opening fire in the air before returning to the bases.

(Source/ 12.05.2020)

Israel responds to rocket fire from outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel responds to rocket fire from Gaza

Israel targeted three Hamas sites in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday night after a rocket was launched at southern Israel from the Hamas-ruled territory, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The rocket, which was fired at the Eshkol region, triggered a Color Red alert before falling in an open area, causing no casualties or damage, said the military.

In response, the IDF said tanks shelled “three Hamas military posts” in the northern Gaza Strip.

The Israel-Gaza border has been relatively calm in recent weeks, as both parties have been focusing on fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Tuesday’s attack was the first time in more than 40 days that terrorist groups in Gaza have fired on Israel.

The IDF responded to the rocket fire in March by attacking “military positions and infrastructure used for underground activity by Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip,” according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.