March 16, 2018

IDF tanks pound Gaza after bombs explode along  border

Several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were detonated adjacent to the Israel-Gaza border fence Thursday morning (15th).  No injuries were reported, and IDF tanks returned fire at Hamas targets inside the Strip, including at least one Hamas lookout point.

The incident was the latest in a series of bombings along the border fence in recent weeks.



Israel isn’t at the center of the Middle East’s problems – Joshua S. Block

U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told the recent AIPAC Policy Conference, “There are probably 10 major problems facing the Middle East and Israel doesn’t have anything to do with any of them.”  Yet every month the UN Security Council holds “an Israel-bashing session.” Haley suggested the UN focus on the real pathologies of the Middle East, such as “Iran or Syria or Hizbullah, Hamas, ISIS, or the famine in Yemen.”

If we look objectively at the reality on the ground, the roads that connect many of the Middle East’s trouble spots lead to Tehran.  Ambassador Haley is right. Peace only has a fighting chance when “all sides will be dealing with realities not fantasies.”



Amb. Dermer: U.S. Jerusalem recognition is “shock therapy” for Palestinians – Herb Keinon

President Donald Trump’s recent moves on Jerusalem constituted “shock therapy” against Palestinian rejectionism, which is the real obstacle to peace, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said in Washington.  Dermer was speaking at an event in the Senate Tuesday (13th) where former Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold gave a presentation on “Jerusalem: What’s at stake.”

Dermer said, “The Palestinians try to deny any historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem because to admit this connection is to admit that the Jewish people aren’t foreign colonists in the Land of Israel”  The minute the Palestinians recognize a Jewish connection to Jerusalem, he said, the whole edifice of Palestinian rejectionism would begin to collapse because it would mean that the Jewish people are in Israel “not merely by might, but by right.”

Dermer said he does not understand why the world tolerates Palestinian denial of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, as it did when it adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2334 in December 2016, stating that the Western Wall is occupied Palestinian territory.  “To advance peace, you must confront this Palestinian rejectionism.”

Gold, the head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said U.S. recognition effectively put to rest the idea of internationalization of Jerusalem.  It also corrected decades of diplomatic distortions at the UN and fulfilled the Jerusalem Embassy Act from 1995, which was supported across the American political spectrum.



Hariri: Lebanon plans to boost army presence on southern border

Lebanon plans to increase its military presence along its southern border with Israel, Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Thursday (15th) at a meeting in Rome, where he is seeking financial support for his armed forces.

“We will be sending more LAF (Lebanese Armed Forces) troops to the south and we stress our intention to deploy another regiment,” he said, adding that Israel “is our primary threat in the area.”



PFLP to boycott Abbas

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) announced on Wednesday (14th) that it would boycott the meeting of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), which will convene on April 30 following the order of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Rabah Muhanna, a member of the political bureau of the PFLP told the PA-based Safa news agency that the organization expected that the PNC meeting would strengthen unity in the Palestinian camp, but in practice it should not take place under the current circumstances.  In any event the PFLP will not attend.



U.S. monitoring possible North Korean military base in Syria – Adam Kredo

The U.S. is monitoring information indicating that North Korea may be running a large underground military base in Syria that could be used for advanced weaponry and nuclear-related work, according to U.S. officials.  “Long tunnels have been built during the last seven years in a deep valley in Qardaha under the supervision of North Korean experts,” the Syrian Zaman Al Wasi outlet reported.



Report: Iran sets up new drone base in Palmyra following Israeli strike

Iran has moved its drones in Syria from the T-4 military air base to the Palmyra air base after an Israeli airstrike in February, the Syrian Zaman Al Wasi reported.  Israel’s airstrikes on the Iranian drone base on Feb. 10 killed 7 Iranians, including pilots and experts, and wounded 3 Syrian troops.  75% of the base and its military equipment were destroyed, including four launch bases for Iranian drones.



In warning on nukes, Saudi crown prince likens Iranian leader to Hitler

WASHINGTON – Likening the Iranian leader to Hitler, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said a nuclear Iran would require his country to acquire a nuclear weapon.

“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we would follow suit as soon as possible,” Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview with the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes” due to air Sunday (18th).

Bin Salman said Iran posed a threat because of what he said were its expansionist policies, likening the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to Adolf Hitler.



Austrian chancellor decries anti-semitism and his nation’s Holocaust past

JERUSALEM – Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria said there is “no place for anti-Semitism” in his country in a speech in which he promoted Holocaust education and commemoration.

His speech earlier this week earned praise from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish groups.

Kurz also acknowledged his country’s “shame” at its Holocaust legacy, and said that “Austria will fight anti-Semitism every day.”



Einstein’s violin sells for $500,000 at New York auction

A violin owned and played by famed theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, catalogue estimate $150,000, sold for $500,000 at a New York auction Monday (12th).

Einstein began playing at age 6, and said years later, “life without playing music is inconceivable to me.”