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Posts tagged ‘Gaza’

Israel, World Dignitaries, Honor Sharon at State Funeral.


Image: Israel, World Dignitaries, Honor Sharon at State FuneralTony Blair eulogizes Ariel Sharon during a state memorial service at the Knesset in Jerusalem on Jan. 13.

JERUSALEM — Israel said its last farewell to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Monday with a state ceremony outside the parliament building before his flag-draped coffin was taken on a cross-country procession to its final resting place at his family farm in the country’s south.With a high-powered crowd of VIPs and international dignitaries on hand, Sharon was eulogized as a fearless warrior and bold leader who devoted his life to protecting Israel’s security. Vice President Joe Biden and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair headed the long list of visitors.

In a heartfelt address, Biden talked about a decades-long friendship with Sharon, saying the death felt “like a death in the family.”

ObamaCare: You Can Win With The Facts 
When the two discussed Israel’s security, Biden said understood how Sharon earned the nickname “The Bulldozer,” explaining how Sharon would pull out maps and repeatedly make the same points to drive them home.

“He was indomitable,” Biden said. “But like all historic leaders, all real leaders, he had a north star that guided him. A north star from which he never, in my observation, never deviated. His north star was the survival of the state of Israel and the Jewish people wherever they resided,” Biden said.

Sharon died on Saturday, eight years after a devastating stroke left him in a coma from which he never recovered. He was 85.

One of Israel’s greatest and most divisive figures, Sharon rose through the ranks of the military, moving into politics and overcoming scandal and controversy to become prime minister at the time of his stroke.

He spent most of his life battling Arab enemies and promoting Jewish settlement on war-won lands. But in a surprising about-face, he led a historic withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, uprooting all soldiers and settlers from the territory after a 38-year presence in a move he said was necessary to ensure Israel’s security.

His backers called him a war hero. His detractors, first and foremost the Palestinians, considered him a war criminal and held him responsible for years of bloodshed.

The speakers at Monday’s ceremony outside parliament largely glossed over the controversy, and instead focused on his leadership and personality.

“Arik was a man of the land,” President Shimon Peres, a longtime friend and sometimes rival, said in his eulogy. “He defended this land like a lion and he taught its children to swing a scythe. He was a military legend in his lifetime and then turned his gaze to the day Israel would dwell in safety, when our children would return to our borders and peace would grace the Promised Land.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who resigned from Sharon’s Cabinet to protest the Gaza withdrawal, said that he and Sharon didn’t always agree with each other. Nonetheless, he called Sharon “one of the big warriors” for the nation of Israel.

“Arik was a man of actions, pragmatic, and his pragmatism was rooted in deep emotion, deep emotion for the country and deep emotion for the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said.

Nearly 10 years on, the withdrawal from Gaza remains hotly debated in Israeli society. Supporters say Israel is better off not being bogged down in the crowded territory, which is now home to 1.7 million Palestinians.

Critics say the pullout has only brought more violence. Two years after the withdrawal, Hamas militants seized control of Gaza and stepped up rocket fire on Israel.

In a reminder of the precarious security situation, Palestinian militants on Monday fired two rockets from the Gaza Strip. Sharon’s ranch in southern Israel, where his body was being laid to rest, is within range of such projectiles, though but Monday’s missiles did not hit Israel. No injuries or damage were reported.

Biden praised Sharon’s determination in carrying out the Gaza pullout, which bitterly divided the nation.

“The political courage it took, whether you agreed with him or not, when he told 10,000 Israelis to leave their homes in Gaza, in order from his perspective to strengthen Israel … I can’t think of a more difficult and controversial decision he made. But he believed it and he did it. The security of his people was always Arik’s unwavering mission.”

Blair, who is now an international envoy to the Middle East, said Sharon’s “strategic objective” never changed. “The same iron determination he took to the field of war he took to the chamber of diplomacy. Bold. Unorthodox. Unyielding,” he said.

Sharon’s coffin lay in state at the Knesset’s outdoor plaza where Israelis from all walks of life paid respects throughout Sunday.

In addition to Biden and Blair, the prime minister of the Czech Republic, and foreign ministers of Australia and Germany were among those in attendance at Monday’s ceremony.

Even Egypt, the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, sent a low-level diplomat, its embassy said.

After the ceremony ended, the closed coffin, draped in a blue and white Israeli flag, was placed in a military vehicle and driven in a police-escorted convoy toward Sharon’s ranch in southern Israel.

Crowds stood along the roadside and on bridges, snapping pictures and getting a final glimpse of the coffin as the procession of vehicles left Jerusalem and snaked down the highway outside the city’s picturesque hills.

The convoy made a brief stop at Latrun, the site of a bloody battle where Sharon was wounded during Israel’s war of independence in 1948, for a brief military ceremony before continuing south. His coffin was lowered into the ground in a military funeral at the family farm in southern Israel.

At Sharon’s graveside, his son Gilad remembered his father for overcoming the odds, whether it was battling a Palestinian uprising after becoming prime minister in 2001 or clinging to life in his final days even after his kidneys had stopped functioning.

“Again and again you turned the impossible to reality. That’s how legends are made. That’s how an ethos of a nation is created,” he said.

Sharon’s life will be remembered for its three distinct stages: First, was his eventful and contentious time in uniform, including leading a deadly raid in the West Bank that killed 69 Arabs, as well as his heroics in the 1973 Mideast war.

Then came his years as a vociferous political operator who helped create Israel’s settlement movement and masterminded the divisive Lebanon invasion in 1982. He was branded as indirectly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps outside Beirut when his troops allowed allied Lebanese militias into the camps. An uproar over the massacre cost him his job.

Yet ultimately he transformed himself into a prime minister and statesman, capped by the dramatic Gaza withdrawal. Sharon appeared to be cruising toward re-election when he suffered the second, devastating stroke in January 2006.

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© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Dead.


JERUSALEM — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the trailblazing warrior-statesman who transformed the region and was reviled by Arab foes, died on Saturday at the age of 85 and after eight years in a coma caused by a stroke.

The Sheba Medical Center that has been treating Sharon said last week that his health has been declining. Sharon had been suffered from failure vital organs including his kidneys shortly before his death.

The Associated Press reported that his son, Gilad Sharon, said: “He has gone. He went when he decided to go.”

Sharon’s nurse, Marina Lifschitz, said he had not suffered while lying comatose, though he had at times given basic responses to stimuli. She recalled at one point holding up a picture of his late wife, Lily, for him to view.”And suddenly I saw a tear simply rolling out of his eye. That is very difficult to forget,” Lifschitz told reporters.

A maverick in war and politics, Sharon reshaped the Middle East in a career marked by adventurism and disgrace, dramatic reversals and stunning rebounds.

“Arik was a valorous soldier and a bold statesman who contributed much to the security and building up of the State of Israel,” said President Shimon Peres, a former political ally of Sharon and, with the ex-premier’s death, the last of the Jewish state’s founders still in public life.

“Arik loved his people, and his people loved him,” Peres said, using the nickname of Sharon, a famously burly and blunt figure with a prizefighter’s rolling gait.
“He knew no fear and never feared pursuing a vision.”
Officials said Sharon, who took power in 2001 soon after the start of a second Palestinian uprising that raged until 2005, would be given a state funeral.

One official said Sharon’s remains would lie in state in parliament in Jerusalem on Sunday. A memorial service will be held there on Monday morning, followed by an afternoon funeral near Sycamore Farm, Sharon’s residence in southern Israel.Among foreign dignitaries expected to attend are U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former British prime minister Tony Blair, the official said.

Loathed by many Arabs and a divisive figure within Israel, Sharon left his mark on the region as perhaps no other through military invasion, Jewish settlement building on captured land and a shock decision to pull out of Gaza.
“The nation of Israel has today lost a dear man, a great leader and a bold warrior,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.
There was no immediate comment on the death from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom Sharon’s Likud party successor, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been holding U.S.-sponsored peace talks.
But in Gaza, the Hamas Islamists whose political fortunes rose with the Israeli withdrawal savored Sharon’s demise.
“We have become more confident in victory with the departure of this tyrant,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zurhi, whose movement preaches the destruction of the Jewish state.
“Our people today feel extreme happiness at the death and departure of this criminal whose hands were smeared with the blood of our people and the blood of our leaders here and in exile.”
A commander in the army from the birth of Israel in 1948, he went on to hold many of the top offices of state, surviving fierce debate over his role in refugee camp massacres in the 1982 Lebanon war to be elected prime minister in 2001.
Famously overweight, he suffered a stroke that put him into a coma in 2006, when he was at the height of his power, and died on Saturday without ever apparently regaining consciousness.
Some diplomats believed that had he remained in good health, he would have secured peace with the Palestinians after overcoming domestic critics to force through the withdrawal of troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
“As one who fought in all of Israel’s wars, and learned from personal experience that without proper force, we do not have a chance of surviving in this region . . . I have also learned from experience that the sword alone cannot decide this bitter dispute in this land,” Sharon said in 2004, explaining his move.
But critics said the unilateralism he favored helped discredit diplomacy and embolden ideological hardliners.
As prime minister, Sharon presided over some of the most turbulent times in Israeli-Palestinian history, a Palestinian uprising that erupted in 2000 and an Israeli military crackdown after peace talks collapsed. As Israel’s leader, he besieged his arch-nemesis Yasser Arafat with tanks after suicide bombers flooded Israel from the occupied West Bank.
Long a champion of Jewish settlement on land Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war, Sharon, serving in 1998 as foreign minister, urged settlers in the West Bank to “run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge settlements, because everything we take now will stay ours.”
He said the contested decision to quit the Gaza Strip, which pulled apart his Likud party and persuaded him to form a new political force, would enable Israel to strengthen its hold over “territory which is essential to our existence.”
It was a reference to the West Bank, where his government began the construction of a massive barrier during the Palestinian uprising. Israel called it a security measure – Palestinians condemned the project as a land grab.
Sharon dominated Israel to a degree not seen since the era of its founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.
Like many native Israeli leaders, Sharon, born in British-mandated Palestine, grew up in a farming community. He later lived in a sprawling ranch in southern Israel, and was often photographed lumbering through its fields.
Sharon joined the pre-state Haganah Jewish underground at the age of 14.
Wounded as a young officer in the 1948 war of Israel’s founding, he went on to lead key commando units and crafted a policy of reprisals – even at the cost of innocent lives – for cross-border Palestinian guerrilla raids.
Along with a reputation in the military for recklessness and disobeying orders, Sharon was hailed for daring operations that brought victories on the battlefield. He retired a major-general.
“It was he who set out the principle that no one who attacked our troops or civilians would be immune, no matter where they were,” said ex-Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai.
Passed over for chief-of-staff, Sharon left the military in the summer of 1973. Three months after he quit, he was back as a reservist-general, commanding troops that launched a counter-offensive that helped rout Egyptian forces in the Yom Kippur 1973 Middle East war.
A photo of Sharon in the desert, in battle fatigues and with his head bandaged, became an iconic image of the conflict.
He helped form the Likud party, which courted Israel’s underclass of Jews of Middle Eastern descent and rose to power in the 1977 election, ending the dominance of the “European” Labor Party.
Appointed agriculture minister, Sharon used that post and his chairmanship of a ministerial settlements committee to break ground on new settlements – helping to earn him the nickname “Bulldozer.”
As defense minister under Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Sharon masterminded the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, one of Israel’s most divisive campaigns.
What started as a stab against Palestinian guerrillas on the border evolved into a murky and costly bid to install a government more friendly to Israel in Beirut.
Arab hatred of Sharon crested with the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila by Israeli-allied Christian militiamen.

Sharon denied wrongdoing but was eventually forced to resign as defense chief in 1983 after an Israeli probe said he bore “personal responsibility” for not preventing the bloodshed.

Sharon described those findings as a “mark of Cain”, and many thought that his political career was finished. But after holding a series of cabinet posts, he was elected as the head of the Likud in 1999 and prime minister in 2001, serving until his stroke five years later.
As a cabinet minister, he visited Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound in 2000, the third holiest place in Islam, which is also revered by Jews as the site of the Biblical Jewish Temples.
The visit, in a part of Jerusalem that Israel captured in the 1967 war and annexed in a move that has never won international recognition, was widely seen as a spark for the second Palestinian uprising.
During the subsequent tsunami of violence, the respected Palestinian-American academic Edward Said called Sharon a “homicidal prime minister” who deployed “systematic barbarity” against the Palestinians throughout his career.
“Isn’t it clear that Sharon is bent not only on breaking the Palestinians but on trying to eliminate them as a people with national institutions?” Said wrote in The Nation newspaper in 2002, a year before his death.
Known in Israel by his popular nickname “Arik”, Sharon could charm with a grandfatherly glint in his eye and a jocular laugh. He could also flash disapproval with a cold, steely stare. He had a penchant for Broadway musicals and copious amounts of food.
Sharon was married twice. His first wife, Margalit, died in a car accident in 1962. They had one son, who was killed in 1967 when a friend accidentally shot him while playing with a rifle. In 1963, Sharon married Margalit’s sister, Lily, who died of cancer in 2000. They had two sons.
“Sharon was a mass of contradictions – a peerless cynic and a proven patriot, a man who built up the Likud and then walked out on it, who mixed up Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank while pulling out of Gaza,” said Uzi Benziman, author of “Sharon: An Israeli Caesar.”
He noted the varying theories about what motivated the Gaza withdrawal, including that it aimed to distract from corruption allegations at the time that dogged Sharon and his sons.
“Whatever the truth, it cannot be denied that Sharon’s legacy was to convey to Israelis that holding on to all of the (Palestinian) territories would not last,” Benziman said. “He was the last of the real leaders.”

© 2014 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.

By Newsmax Wires

Nearly 50 Percent of Freed Palestinian Terrorists Return to Fight.


Although nearly half of the 13,000 terrorists Israel has released since 1985 have returned to the battlefield, Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing Israel to free more imprisoned militants in the hope of bolstering Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, Israel Hayom reported.
Israeli authorities say the high terrorist recidivism rate is because many of those released have long had a strong ideological belief in violence, and that this is reinforced by a culture of officially sanctioned anti-Israel incitement in both the West Bank and Gaza.
Earlier this month, for example, terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis received certificates of citation at a cultural event hosted by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.They were released from prison several months ago, according to veteran Israeli journalist Nadav Shragai, author of the Israel Hayom piece.

Footage of the event depicts a gun battle in which members of Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah organization unite to kill a group of “Israelis” opposing them.
Many Israelis who oppose further prisoner releases cite the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner deal in which a kidnapped Israeli soldier was freed in exchange for about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
During the last two years, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency has intercepted at least 80 attempted terrorist attacks in the West Bank that were masterminded by Gaza-based Hamas operatives freed in the Shalit deal.
One individual involved in these operations was Omar Abu-Sneina,  who mailed a computer disk drive from Gaza to his family in the West Bank with detailed instructions on carrying out a kidnapping.
The Shin Bet intercepted the mailing.
Even as Washington has urged Israel to free additional prisoners with Israeli blood on their hands, it unsuccessfully opposed the Israeli government’s decision to release Othman Omar Mustafa, a Palestinian convicted of the 1989 murder of Frederick Steven Rosenfeld, a former Marine and U.S. citizen, according to Israel Hayom.

Rosenfeld was stabbed to death by Mustafa and two other men who befriended him as he hiked near the West Bank settlement of Ariel, the Daily Beast reported.

Related Story:

© 2013 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.

By Joel Himelfarb

Israeli Civilian, Palestinian Girl Killed in Gaza Flare-Up.


GAZA CITY, Gaza — A Gaza sniper shot dead an Israeli civilian over the border Tuesday and Israel hit back with airstrikes on two Hamas training camps, which hospital officials said killed a Palestinian girl near one of the targets.

The Israeli man, who the military said was working on Israel’s security fence, was the first Israeli killed on the Gaza frontier in more than a year.

ObamaCareYou Can Win With The Facts 

His death, which drew a swift threat of retaliation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, came amid heightened tensions after two suspected Palestinian attacks — a bus bombing near Tel Aviv on Sunday that caused no casualties and the wounding of an Israeli policeman in a stabbing on Monday.

Officials from Hamas, the Islamic group which rules Gaza, and witnesses said Israeli aircraft bombed the group’s training camps in Khan Younis and al-Bureij. Witnesses said Israeli tanks fired shells east of Gaza city.

Gaza hospital officials said a girl, whom they estimated was two-years-old, was killed by shrapnel during the Israeli strike on the Bureij facility.

She was standing with other family members outside their home near the camp and two of her brothers were wounded, the officials said.

Earlier, a Palestinian was killed in a separate incident in northern Gaza, hospital officials said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said he was handling an explosive device near the security fence and that soldiers fired at him after warnings.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the sniper attack, which followed a Palestinian rocket strike on southern Israel on Sunday that caused no casualties.

“This is an extremely grave incident and we will not ignore it,” said Netanyahu, who was visiting the southern town of Sderot, about a kilometer [half a mile] from the Gaza border, at the time of the shooting.

“Our policy has been to thwart [Palestinian attacks] and to respond [to them] forcefully, and that is what we will do in this case,” he said, referring to the shooting, in a statement released by his office.

However, since an eight-day war in November 2012, both Israel and Gaza’s Hamas Islamist rulers have been wary of taking military action that could trigger widescale fighting.

No one was hurt in Sunday’s bomb blast on the bus, which had been evacuated after the explosives were spotted, and the wounded policeman was expected to recover.

But the incidents, which Israel blamed on Palestinian militants, fueled concerns of a new Palestinian uprising as peace talks show few signs of progress.

Hamas praised Sunday’s bus bombing — the first in Israel in more than a year — but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

Violence in the West Bank has increased in recent months. At least 19 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in the occupied territory since the U.S.-brokered talks on Palestinian statehood resumed in July after a three-year break.

ObamaCare: You Can Win With The Facts 

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Are We Witnessing the Death of the Jewish State?.


Kerry and Abbas
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. Picture of the Mosque of Omar symbolizes the Palestinian goal of decreeing the ancient city of Jerusalem the Muslim Arab capital of a Palestinian state. (Reuters)

The world’s most prestigious newspaper, The New York Times, recently produced an article predicting Israel’s soon-coming demise.

Written by an illustrious University of Pennsylvania professor, Ian S. Lustick, it carefully outlined the reasons Lustick believes Israel will disappear.

Lustick’s logic is impeccable. From man’s perspective, there is no way Israel will be able to forever fight off those who want to destroy her. In fact, in the 46 years I have lived in Israel, I have watched almost the entire world turn against Israel.

Yes, there are still a few friends. Very few. The U.S., Canada, Australia with its new prime minister. Then there are a few fair-weather friends—off and on as the wind blows.

But how can a nation of 7 million Jews continue to fight off the whole world?

Professor Lustick ticks off his reasons with brilliant insight. On second thought, you don’t have to be a genius to see the insurmountable obstacles to peace facing little Israel surrounded by 23 Arab states filled with jihadists.

Yet most democratic nations are in denial as to Israel’s genuine vulnerability. On the other hand, the Islamic and autocratic regimes like Iran simply believe Israel’s destruction is on its way. Time is on Islam’s side.

As Lustick sees it, for 30 years every American president has enthusiastically brought his entire might and influence to the Middle East in order to “solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Only one time was there a tiny window for a possible breakthrough—in 1993, with the Oslo agreements.

That accord provided for the creation of a Palestinian interim self-government, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). But the “insurmountable obstacles” were left for later. Nothing ever came of it.

Palestinian Demands

The obstacles are well known. Palestinians demand:

  1. Israel must hand over the Old City of Jerusalem to Muslim control, including the Western Wall—and including the surrounding “settlements” suburbs of Jerusalem.
  2. The 5 million Arab “refugees,” including children and grandchildren who have never been near Israel, must be allowed to move into Israel proper (and thus overwhelm the democratic state with several million new Muslim voters).
  3. The 500,000 Jews who live in East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria must vacate their homes for a new Arab population to take occupancy.

Will this happen? Of course not. If only one of these hurdles existed, there would never be a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel’s Demands

I must quickly admit that Israel does have some non-negotiable demands also:

  1. The Palestinians must officially agree to recognize the right of the Jewish state of Israel to exist.
  2. The Palestinians must officially agree to cease all violence and terrorist attacks against Israel and to stop pressing the U.N. to take steps to destroy Israel’s economy.

Practically speaking, the Palestinians would have to agree to allow the Israel Defense Forces to be stationed along the borders of a Palestinian state to keep terrorists from crossing into a new Palestinian state in order to infiltrate Israel.

Secondly, the Palestinians would have to pledge to make peace with the Jewish state once and for all and renounce all further demands in the future.

The Injustice of It All

But that’s not all. There are numerous other issues that are equally impossible to solve to the satisfaction of both sides. Here is an incomplete list:

  1. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab state since the city’s existence of 4,000 years. It has been the capital of the Jewish people whenever they were allowed to live in the Holy Land.Arabs never thought about Jerusalem being their capital until the Jewish people began returning in droves to the city in the early 1900s. Now the Palestinians claim their incontrovertible right to make the entire eastern part of Jerusalem their capital.
  2. There has never been an Arab democratic state. Ever! The Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is, as expected, a dictatorship under President Mahmoud Abbas. His elected term was over in January 2009, but he still rules. An Islamic dictatorial regime on Israel’s borders would not produce “two states for two peoples living in peace and security.”
  3. The other half of the so-called future Palestinian state was supposed to be Gaza, but when Hamas leadership was democratically elected, it quickly seized absolute control of the Gaza Strip and now rules it with a rod of iron. PA officials in Gaza were either killed, jailed or are living very quietly so as not to rouse the anger of their Hamas rulers. Today there are two “Palestines” with two rulers.
  4. Every place from which Israel has withdrawn—Gaza, Southern Lebanon, the Sinai Desert—is now jam-packed with terrorists looking to attack and destroy Israel.
  5. Israel learned a very strong lesson: When Israel’s military troops and civilian settlers cleared out of Gaza, to the last Israeli, it did nothing to help Israel gain favor with the U.N., the European Union or the rest of the world. Israel gained only one thing: terrorists.
  6. The Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, claiming that Zionism is racism. (Zionism is the movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in Israel.) Arab arrogance is astonishing. There are 23 Arab Islamic states, and no one anywhere in the world labels them as racist states.
  7. The Palestinians and other Arab states continue to educate their citizens—claiming Israel illegally occupies Islamic land—through their school textbooks, music, TV and movies and through idolizing suicide bombers by naming streets and squares after them. They brainwash children from kindergarten on up to believe all of the land now occupied by Israel belongs to the Arab people and will one day be conquered and returned to the people of the Quran.
  8. A large percentage of the funding from Western states that is given to the PA goes into the pockets of its leaders. Everybody knows it. No one does a thing about it. Corruption in the PA is over the top. Predictably, it leaves the common Palestinians in poverty.
  9. The U.N. has cooperated closely with the Palestinians, the General Assembly giving them status in a first step as a nonmember observer, while other U.N. branches have embraced them wholeheartedly into their various agencies. Therefore, there is little motivation for Palestinians to make any concessions toward Israel’s security needs or to stop the fierce hostilities against Israel in the U.N.
  10. For example, from its beginning in 2006 to 2010, the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed 48 percent of all its resolutions against Israel, the only country it has ever specifically condemned. (The UNHRC, of course, is dominated by Islamic states.) The council makes a yearly review of alleged human rights abuses of only one country in the world: Israel. Therefore, there is no motivation for Palestinians to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel; they are convinced that over time, the world will destroy Israel.
  11. The U.N. has created a special agency for Palestinians only (called UNRWA), giving hundreds of millions of dollars a year to them and hiring tens of thousands of Palestinians to work there. Why would the Palestinians give up the world’s bankrolling in exchange for renouncing its goal of destroying Israel?
  12. The world regularly blames Israel alone for the lack of progress in making peace with the Palestinians. Why would the Palestinians change their successful tactics one millimeter?
  13. Arabs have much larger families than Jews. One day they believe the Palestinians will take over Israel just through sheer demographics. (Popular saying: The Palestinians will destroy Israel through the Palestinian womb.) Why not just wait?

Conclusion: No Peace Treaty

For just some of these reasons, the professor whose article appeared in the New York Times has come to a reasonable conclusion: The time for a peace treaty creating “two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security is past.”

He lays the responsibility for this calamity, unsurprisingly, at the feet of Israel, which because of its government’s obstinancy is producing “isolation, emigration and hopelessness.” Lustick suggests that Israel will have to give up its “Zionism dream” of being a Jewish state and just melt into the Middle East. He writes, “Israelis whose families came from Arab countries might find new reasons to think of themselves not as ‘Eastern,’ but as Arab.”

Lustick then drifts into La La Land, suggesting “masses of downtrodden and exploited Muslim and Arab refugees, in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel itself could see democracy, not Islam, as the solution.”

Lustick forgot that earlier in his article he had explained that one of the reasons for the inability to create two peace-loving states is that “strong Islamist trends make a fundamentalist [under Shariah law] Palestine more likely than a small state under a secular [i.e., democratic] government.”

Hence the question remains: Why would both Israel and the Palestinians agree to another round of emotionally draining talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when both sides know there is absolutely no chance of a peace agreement?

The answer is so very simple. Both Israelis and Palestinians fear the loss of financial help from the U.S. and the EU, not to speak of the world’s disapproval if they don’t enthusiastically and vigorously engage in peace talks.

But back to Professor Lustick’s warning that the Jewish state at some not-too-distant future is about to disappear.

Human Wisdom Says Israel Is Fated to Disappear

Lustick is right! According to human reasoning, Israel is on its way out. It’s one thing to have 42 million armed Arabs working toward your demise. It’s still another to have 1.6 billion Muslims whose Quran says to kill the Jews. It’s even a greater threat when the entire United Nations continuously bashes Israel by passing resolution after resolution against Israel’s “apartheid state,” designed to brand her a parasite nation.

But when almost all of the Western democratic states—Europe, Scandinavia and sadly even Great Britain—stand against Israel and launch serious sanctions to choke off her economy, the peril is undeniable.

But alas, that is not all. When Israelis watch the United States, the No. 1 world power and Israel’s most faithful ally, weakening as a nation before their very eyes, reality says hope seems lost. But God!

Why Did God Repeat Himself So Often?

I used to wonder years ago why God repeated Himself so many times through His prophets, saying in the last days He was going to bring the Jewish people back to their homeland, declaring He would save, heal and deliver them. He would open their eyes. He would forgive their sins. He would heal their backsliding. He would make them strong against their enemies.

There are literally hundreds of such Scriptures. As I heard an amazing Orthodox rabbi say last night at the Eagles Wings’ Day of Prayer in Jerusalem, “The Bible is more powerful than the New York Times!”

The reason for this repetition is obvious. God did not want us to miss His intentions for Israel. Without God’s miraculous intervention, without His protection, without His promise to preserve Israel from her enemies, there is absolutely no hope at all.

What About Israel’s Salvation?

Here in Israel we see a nation of Jewish people who are yet far away from their God and His Word. In the midst of this spiritual wasteland, the Messianic Jewish believers are giving their lives to see our people come to salvation. We don’t see it yet. Well, perhaps we see a cloud the size of a man’s hand. But you can be sure that it is entirely a walk of faith. Strong faith.

So we are greatly encouraged when we see how year after year, God protects this nation against all odds. It’s just as it was when Yeshua the Messiah told a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven. The Pharisees didn’t believe He had authority to do that. But then Yeshua said, “Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?”

If God has been displaying His amazing power by preserving the modern state of Israel through countless wars, physical and verbal attacks from every side, and the determination of the world body to sanction her out of existence, then we know He will forgive Israel’s sins and the day will surely come when “all Israel shall be saved.”

This article was originally posted on the Maoz Israel Report.

Source: STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

World Bank Report on Palestinian Economy May Contain More Assumptions Than Realities.


World Bank
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) and Salam Fayyad (center), former prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority, look over a map during their visit to the West Bank‘s Area C, outside Ramallah. A new World Bank report, entitled ‘Area C and the Future of the Palestinian Economy,’ blames Israel for shortcomings within the Palestinian economy. (U.N. Photo/Mark Garten)

A new World Bank report that blames Israel for shortcomings within the Palestinian economy may be based more on assumptions for the future than on current realities.

The 70-page study, entitled “Area C and the Future of the Palestinian Economy,” was published Oct. 8. Conducted over a period of three years, it posits that Israeli restrictions on travel and access to resources in Israeli-controlled territories cost the Palestinian Authority an estimated $3.4 billion.

Yet a close look at the report reveals it makes numerous assumptions about Palestinian aspirations and behavior patterns, establishes a series of questionable multipliers, and downplays the significance of complex political factors and security realities, according to Steven Plaut, professor of economics at the University of Haifa.

“I think the World Bank doesn’t fully understand the Israeli economy or the Palestinian economy. What’s worse, they have a political agenda. They produce findings to match their political agenda,” Plaut told JNS.org.

“I think they are making it up as it goes along,” he said.

According to the report, “The total potential value added for alleviating today’s restrictions on the access to and activity and production in Area C is likely to amount to $3.4bn or thirty-five per cent of Palestinian GDP in 2011.”

Area C represents areas that are under full Israeli military and municipal jurisdiction according to the internationally recognized Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 by Israel and the Palestinians.

“Unleashing the potential from that ‘restricted land’—access to which is currently constrained by layers of restrictions—and allowing Palestinians to put these resources to work would provide whole new areas of economic activity and set the economy on the path to sustainable growth,” says Mariam Sherman, who directed operations for the World Bank in the West Bank and Gaza.

The new World Bank findings strongly suggest Israel is to blame for Palestinian economic failings. The report focuses most heavily on three areas: agriculture in land Palestinians do not have access to, allocations of water resources and exploitable resources and tourism surrounding the Dead Sea.

The report postulates the Palestinian economy would grow if Palestinians had access to invest in Dead Sea mineral works and tourism, areas that are currently controlled by Israel and could potentially remain in Israel’s possession as part of any bilateral permanent peace agreement.

“Part of the problem is the starting assumption that in the near future, the Palestinians will have their own state,” Plaut told JNS.org. “Economic reports that are meant to prepare the Palestinians for statehood, as opposed to current economic realities, are not helpful.”

The report also looks at agriculture in Israel’s Judea and Samaria communities as an indicator of loss and potential for the Palestinian economy. The report suggests that if Palestinians had access to the fertile ground of Israeli communities—no different than the adjacent grounds of Palestinian-controlled areas A and B—the Palestinians would be able to develop similar agricultural production.

Yet in 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew residents from 21 Jewish communities in Gaza and turned over greenhouses that were producing millions of dollars in agricultural exports to local Palestinians. Rather than utilizing the existing infrastructure for economic output, Palestinians destroyed the greenhouses.

Today, the former Jewish communities of Gaza are known more for their use as launching pads for rockets against Israeli cities than for Palestinian agricultural output.

Many in Israel believe that should Israel withdraw from territories it controls in Judea and Samaria, those territories would suffer the same fate as the once-vibrant communities in Gaza.

Rather than holding Palestinians accountable for nontransparent governance, misappropriation of foreign donations and the consistent promotion of terror that has led Israel to taking severe security measures, the report blames Israel for the potential effect such measures might have on a Palestinian economy.

In response to the report, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor states, “It postulates an abstract economy which is detached from all political and security aspects, unrelated to regional and global trends, and therefore totally unrealistic.”

“Pretending that all these key factors do not exist, or do not influence heavily the Palestinian economy, makes for a particularly partial rendering of the actual situation,” Palmor says.

One particular security measure that drew the attention of the report is checkpoints—barriers designed to curb the flow of terrorists and weapons from Palestinian communities into Israeli villages.

“It’s not the checkpoints, it’s the terrorism,” Plaut told JNS.org. “If somebody doesn’t like the economic damage caused by checkpoints, then the first thing that should be done is to stop the terrorism.”

In the same week the World Bank report was released, a Palestinian from the town of al-Bireh broke through security apparatus into the neighboring Jewish community of Psagot and shot a 9-year-old Israeli girl in the neck at point-blank range.

According to Plaut, Palestinians would be the first to benefit from a cessation of terror.

“If we talk strictly about economics, the policy that is best for Palestinians is free trade with Israel. Any barriers to economic trade hurt both sides. In the absence of terrorism, Israel has no reason to withhold the trading of resources or commodities,” he says.

While the World Bank report attempts to calculate the effects that Israeli security arrangements have on the Palestinian economy, it fails to consider the economic impact that expensive round-the-clock security measures have on the Israeli economy, Plaut believes.

“The costs are probably higher to Israelis, but Israel can afford it. Israel is a well-developed, prosperous country, whereas the Palestinian economy is underdeveloped,” he says.

In Plaut’s estimation, the primary recipient of blame for Palestinian economic incompetence should be the Palestinian Authority itself.

“If you would take away the foreign aid, the standard of living for Palestinians would drop down to third-world levels, similar to what we currently see in Jordan,” he says. “Palestinians in the West Bank, and particularly in Gaza, are living under a cleptocracy, governed by Fatah and Hamas. Economic prosperity for Palestinians is not necessarily an Israeli issue.”

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

ALEX TRAIMAN/JNS.ORG

Hamas Claims Responsibility for Tunnel Under Gaza-Israel Border.


Image: Hamas Claims Responsibility for Tunnel Under Gaza-Israel Border

An Israeli soldier exits the entrance of a recently-discovered tunnel dug by Palestinians beneath the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

GAZA CITY, Gaza — Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip claimed responsibility on Sunday for a tunnel that Israel said was found beneath the heavily fortified Israel-Gaza frontier.

A website for a Hamas radio station called al Aqsa said the group’s armed wing was responsible for what it called the “Khan Younis Tunnel,” named for a part of the coastal territory where the subterranean passage was found.

Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the Islamist group’s military wing, said in an interview broadcast by the station that the movement’s armed brigades “dug the tunnel, they were responsible for it.”

Ubaida said the tunnel had been dug in an effort to try and force Israel to release some of the thousands of prisoners it holds in its jails. In 2011, Israel freed 1,400 inmates for the return of soldier Gilad Shalit, who militants had captured and spirited across the Gaza border in 2006 through a tunnel.

Israel announced a week ago the discovery of the latest tunnel, which is 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in length, along the Gaza frontier, and accused Hamas of being behind its construction.

The Israeli military said the tunnel, dug in sandy soil, had been reinforced with concrete supports. Israel responded by halting the transfer of building material to Gaza.

For years, Israel had refused to allow these goods into the territory because it said militants would use them to build fortifications and weapons.

In 2010, as part of its easing of its internationally-criticized Gaza blockade, Israel gave foreign aid organizations the green light to import construction material for public projects. Last month, Israel resumed the transfer of cement and steel to Gaza’s private sector.

Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007, a year after winning a Palestinian election, from forces loyal to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas. The movement is shunned by the West over its refusal to renounce violence and recognize Israel.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Hamas Official: Gaza Tunnel Was Built to Kidnap Israelis.


Image: Hamas Official: Gaza Tunnel Was Built to Kidnap Israelis

An Israeli soldier stands at the exit of a tunnel discovered near the Israel-Gaza border on Oct. 13.

Thursday, 17 Oct 2013 03:40 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

A Hamas official has indirectly acknowledged his organization’s responsibility for digging a sophisticated tunnel under the Gaza-Israel border, saying it was built to facilitate the transfer of a kidnapped Israeli into Gaza and to help free Palestinian militant prisoners,The Times of Israel reported.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, indicated in a posting on his personal Facebook page that the jihadist group planned to exchange Israeli hostages for Palestinian militants serving prison sentences in Israel.

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“The tunnel which was revealed was extremely costly in terms of money, effort and blood. All of this is meaningless when it comes to freeing our heroic prisoners,” wrote Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, on his personal Facebook page.
After the Israel Defense Forces found the new tunnel on Sunday, Maj. Gen. Shlomo Turgeman, head of the IDF Southern Command, stated that had if Hamas used the tunnel to carry out a terrorist attack against Israel, the Israeli response would “leave Gaza looking very different.”
No explosives were found in the tunnel, leading Israeli military officials to conclude that it was dug for the purpose of kidnapping more Israelis.
“It would not have been possible to free hundreds of our prisoners without the Shalit tunnel,” Marzouk said, referring to the June 2006 abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006 near Israel’s border with Gaza.
Shalit was smuggled under the fence through a tunnel dug in advance by Hamas. He was freed in an October 2011 deal between Israel and Hamas, in which Jerusalem released 1,027 Palestinian security prisoners.
The prisoner exchange divided terror Israeli terror victims and their families, the Jerusalem Post reported at the time.While the Shalit family, government officials and others argued that the deal was the only way to bring a kidnapped Israeli home, many terror survivors said the prisoner releases would embolden terrorists and encourage more violence.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Israel Freezes Gaza Supplies After Discovery of ‘Terror Tunnel’.


JERUSALEM — Israel froze the shipment of building materials into Gaza after discovering a sophisticated “terror tunnel” into the Jewish state from the Palestinian territory, a defense official said.

“Due to security reasons, [the army] decided to stop for now the transfer of building materials into Gaza,” Guy Inbar told AFP Sunday.

Inbar, spokesman for the Israeli defense ministry unit responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, did not say how long the ban wou d remain in force.

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Last month, Israel permitted cement and steel deliveries into the Gaza Strip for use by the private sector for the first time since 2007.

It had banned such transfers for fear the Islamist militant movement Hamas which rules Gaza would use construction materials to fortify its positions and build tunnels for attacks on the Jewish state.

Israeli officials said on Sunday that a tunnel running 450 meters (yards) into Israel and allegedly intended as a springboard for militant attacks had been uncovered by troops.

Exposing the tunnel “prevented attempts to attack Israeli civilians and soldiers,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in a statement.

Yaalon said it was “further proof” that Hamas “was continuing to prepare itself for confrontation with Israel and terror activities”.

Israel and Hamas reached a truce, brokered by Egypt, after a deadly confrontation in November.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the army “for exposing the Gaza terror tunnel” at a weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday.

“It is part of our aggressive policy against terror,” he said.

According to the army, the tunnel, which was discovered last Monday, was “approximately 18 meters underground and extends 1.7 kilometers.”

“The tunnel was built with approximately 500 tons of cement and concrete,” the army said. It had lighting and a rail for a small trolley, “probably intended to transfer terrorists or soldiers from side to side rapidly.”

Its statement made mention of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by Palestinian militants and transferred to Gaza via a tunnel in 2006 and held for five years.

The army said work on the tunnel probably lasted over a year.

An AFP correspondent said the tunnel’s walls were reinforced with cement and a man could stand upright in it.

Israeli nongovernmental organization (NGO) Gisha, which lobbies for freedom of movement for Palestinians, urged Israel to lift the building material freeze, saying it would affect civilians and humanitarian projects in blockaded Gaza.

“Israel has the authority and the obligation to take measures to protect the lives of its soldiers and citizens,” it said.”However, it is not clear how blocking the entrance of construction materials, including those intended for international projects, promotes that goal.”

The NGO said the freeze “raises the specter of a punitive act.”

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© AFP 2013
Source: NEWSmax.com

Palestinian Riots Explode In West Bank On Second Intifada Anniversary.


Riots in Israel mark anniversary

Marking thirteen years to the second Palestinian uprising (intifada), Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli security forces in the West Bank, in Jerusalem and on the Gaza Strip border. Protesters hurled stones and burned tires in clashes across the West Bank.

palestinians-riot-in-gaza-west-bank-second-intifada-september-26-2013In Hebron, some 300 protesters threw rocks at IDF soldiers, an IDF spokeswoman said. Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported that the IDF used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowds.

An IDF soldier was lightly injured in Beit Ummar near Hebron from rocks, but did not need to be taken to hospital for treatment, the IDF said. Near Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, some 100 protesters clashed with security forces, throwing makeshift grenades, according to Army Radio.

Some 80 protesters clashed with security forces in Kafr Qaddum, and have already been dispersed by the IDF.

In Nablus, Ma’an reported two Palestinians were injured at Huwara checkpoint, near the Itamar settlement. Several others suffered tear-gas inhalation, Ma’an reported. In Beit Furik east of Nablus, hundreds of Palestinians marched toward Itamar before clashing with IDF soldiers who fired tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets, Ma’an reported.

At least three Palestinians were injured in clashes outside Ofer prison in Qalandiya, Ma’an reported, where some 80 protesters threw rocks at security forces and burned tires.

Additionally, some 150 protesters demonstrated in Beitunia west of Ramallah, some 120 protested in Prigat junction, and some 250 rioted in Palestinian refugee camp Jalazone north of Ramallah, an IDF spokeswoman said.

Earlier in the day, the IDF dispersed a gathering of some 300 Palestinians near the Gaza border fence.

In central Gaza, protesters burned effigies of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, as well as a model of the Jewish Temple. In Jerusalem, 13 Palestinians have been arrested in clashes with Israel Police in the Old City. One policeman was hit in the face by rocks, and received treatment on the scene, Army Radio reported.

Following the morning prayers at the Temple Mount stone throwing broke out outside of the old city’s Damascus Gate, in the east Jerusalem neighborhood Ras al-Amud, near the Rockefeller Museum and near the Church of All Nations, according to Israel Radio.

Palestinian militants and youth groups have called for a general uprising
 in response to the entry by Jewish groups under police escort to the Temple Mount, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews.

Police threw stun grenades to disperse small crowds of youths outside Jerusalem’s medieval walls.

Earlier on Friday police limited the entrance for Muslim worshipers to the Temple Mount to men over the age of 50 with Israeli IDs and in an attempt to prevent riots. On Tuesday the holy site was closed after police received threats of rioting by Palestinians at the compound.

Palestinian protests over a visit to the al-Aqsa mosque compound by then opposition leader Ariel Sharon in September 2000 spiraled into deadly clashes and a five-year Palestinian uprising, known as the second Intifada.

Palestinians oppose Jewish worship at the plaza, which overlooks the Western Wall, seeing it as a first step toward restricting access to the area for Muslims and a deepening of Israeli control over the Old City. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed US-brokered peace talks in late July, ending a three-year stalemate.

But friction on the ground has risen during the High Holy Days, with Palestinian leaders complaining about swelling numbers of Jewish visitors, saying some of them try to defy an effective ban on praying on the vast esplanade.

Third intifada?

“The uprising [in 2000] erupted when al-Aqsa mosque was stormed. They [the Israelis] are now raiding al-Aqsa every day,” a senior official with the Islamist Hamas group, Mushir Al-Masri, told thousands of supporters at a Gaza rally.

“We call upon our people to revolt against tyranny and aggression. Let a third Intifada be declared because this is the best way to teach the aggressors a lesson,” he said, adding that “every Jew” would be extracted from Jerusalem.

In a speech at the United Nations on Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a public appeal for a halt to the al-Aqsa visits.

“There must be an end to the near-daily attacks on the religious sites in Occupied Jerusalem, at the forefront of which is al-Aqsa mosque, where the continuation of such attacks will have dire consequences,” he said.

Allies of Netanyahu have been among the most vocal advocates of Jewish prayer at the 35-acre site and the government has done little to stem the flow of visitors to the area.

Religious Jews revere the compound as the location of their ancient biblical temples. For Muslims, it is the place where Prophet Mohammed is believed to have ascended into heaven – the third holiest site in Islam.

Israel captured the site, along with the rest of east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Six Days War. The Jewish state then annexed east Jerusalem as part of its capital in a move never recognized internationally. source – Israel and Stuff.

by Geoffrey Grider

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