News Digest — 6/22/21
Show Me The Money: Hamas Demands Immediate Pay-Off From Qatar
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar raised demands for the immediate transfer of Qatari cash to the Gaza Strip, threatening an escalation if that failed to happen, Kan News reported on Monday evening (21st).
Sinwar reportedly made the comments during a meeting on Monday (21st) with the UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland in the Gaza Strip. He called for the transfer of $30 million per month. Otherwise, Hamas would escalate the security situation through violent disturbances on the border and the launching of more arson balloons into southern Israel.
During the meeting, Sinwar stated that “there are no signs of a solution to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and the occupation is trying to extort us,” according to the report. He added that he would re-evaluate Gaza’s armed factions to decide the next steps.
An Israeli delegation is due to visit Egypt in the coming days to discuss ways of transferring money from Qatar.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said last month that the past arrangement that took shape in Gaza will not continue.
“I spoke with the Americans, the Egyptians and with many other representatives in the world, and clarified to them that alongside the entry of goods like food and medicines, which are needed for basic humanitarian existence, we will demand that recovery of the Gaza Strip be accompanied by long-term quiet and the return of the soldiers,” he said. “In addition, we will act to strengthen ties with the Palestinian Authority, which I hope will want to take responsibility for some of what is occurring in the Gaza Strip.”
Palestinians Attack Jews In Sheikh Jarrah, Pregnant Woman Hit By Rock
Clashes broke out on Monday evening (21st) in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, with Palestinians throwing Molotov cocktails, fireworks and rocks at Jewish homes, residents reported.
Twenty people were injured, including a pregnant Jewish woman who was hit in the head with a rock. Police officials said four arrests were made.
Jewish residents responded with pepper spray and stones. Video from the scene circulated on social media showing Jews and Palestinians throwing things at each other over a police barricade.
Police responded with non-lethal crowd-dispersal weapons.
The Sheikh Jarrah property dispute concerns a series of orders issued by Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court to evict Palestinian squatters from a building. The Jewish owners, who traced their ownership-claims with documents dating back to the Ottoman period, waged a decades-long legal battle to recover their property.
The Magistrate’s Court ruling was upheld on appeal by the Jerusalem District Court. Lawyers representing the Palestinians have filed an appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court.
Israeli High-Powered Laser System Intercepts, Destroys 100% Of UAVs Launched During Test
For the first time ever, the Israel Ministry of Defense, Elbit Systems and the Israel Air Force have successfully completed a series of interception tests employing an airborne, high-power laser system.
During tests, a high-power laser system was installed on an aircraft and tested in a number of scenarios. It successfully intercepted and destroyed 100% of the UAVs launched during the test.
This is the first phase in a multi-year program to develop an advanced airborne laser system that will add another layer to Israel’s multi-tier defense array, complementing the capabilities of the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow systems.
“All of the UAVs were intercepted and fell into the sea,” explained Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, head of military research and development in the Ministry of Defense.
“For the first time ever, we have developed such capabilities in the State of Israel and we are among the first in the world.”
“We intend to continue the development of this system, which strengthens our defense capabilities. We aim to develop an airborne high-power laser system which will be capable of intercepting IAVs, rockets, and any other threat to the State of Israel.”
According to Oren Sabag, General Manager of Elbit Systems, “the advantage of a high-power laser system is that it enables us to intercept threats far away from population centers and we increase the range with which we can thwart threats effectively.”
Israel is among the first countries in the world to demonstrate such capabilities.
Iran’s President-Elect Says He Won’t Negotiate Over Missile Program
Iran’s president-elect said Monday (21st) he wouldn’t meet with US President Joe Biden nor negotiate over his country’s ballistic missile program and its support of regional militias, sticking to a hardline position following his landslide victory in last week’s election.
Holding his first news conference since winning Friday’s (18th) election, Ebrahim Raisi, 60, a hardliner and strident critic of the West, said Iran’s foreign policy will not be limited by its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.
“We will have interaction with the world. We will not tie the Iranian people’s interests to the nuclear deal,” he asserted.
The judiciary chief, who described himself as “a defender of human rights” despite his known involvement in the 1988 mass execution of some 5,000 people, made the comments in his first press conference in Tehran.
“The US is obliged to lift all oppressive sanctions against Iran,” he said.
He said his government’s priority would be improving regional ties and called on Saudi Arabia to immediately halt interfering in Yemen.
“Saudi Arabia and its allies should immediately stop their interference in Yemen,” he said, adding that “Iran wants interaction with the world…my government’s priority will be improving ties with our neighbors in the region.”
The victory of Raisi, the protege of Iran’s supreme leader sanctioned by the US in part over his involvement in the mass executions, came amid the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history. Millions of Iranians stayed home in defiance of a vote they saw as tipped in Raisi’s favor.
Of those who did vote, 3.7 million people either accidentally or intentionally voided their ballots, far beyond the amount seen in previous elections, suggesting some wanted none of the four candidates. In official results, Raisi won 17.9 million votes overall, or 62% of the total 28.9 million votes cast.
Raisi’s election puts hardliners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program, at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at 60%, its highest levels ever, though still short of weapons-grade levels.
Representatives of the world powers party to the deal returned to their capitals for consultations following the latest round of negotiations on Sunday (20th).
Jews Must Fight Back Against Their Demonization – Amb. Ron Dermer Interviewed By Elie Cohanim
→ “International media coverage of the conflict in May between Hamas and Israel played right into the hands of Hamas, whose strategy is to essentially not only target our civilians, but embed their own civilians and essentially turn them into human shields.”
→ “And the media went for it. Unfortunately, I think it’s not gullibility. I think it’s more malicious. I think it’s an attempt to cast Israel as the evil actor in this equation, as a force for evil”
→ “The demonization of Jews is a very old problem. And many people believe that if we just educate people about the facts, that the Jew-hatred will end. I don’t believe that.”
→ “People thought that those decades after the Holocaust were new normals, but they weren’t….What we have is the demonization of Israel, a return to the norm of anti-Semitism.”
→ “The difference now is that the Jewish people have a state, the Jewish people have sovereign power. We have a shield, we have a refuge, we have a voice and we’re going to use it.”
→ “Jews have to begin to fight back against their own demonization. If we don’t stand up for ourselves…no one is going to stand up for us.”
Ron Dermer is former Israeli Ambassador to the US (2013-2021).
Ellie Cohanim is former US deputy special envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
Report: Germany Set To Ban Hamas Flags Amid Rise In Anti-Semitic Incidents
Germany is set to ban Hamas flags amid a rise in anti-Semitic attacks following a recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip.
According to the Deutsche Welle news agency, the decision comes amid a rise in incidents that occurred in anti-Israel demonstrations last month.
“We do not want the flags of terrorist organizations to be waving on German soil.” Thorsten Frei, the deputy parliamentary spokesperson for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party reportedly said.
The spokesperson added that the move is intended as a “clear signal to our Jewish citizens.”
The move was originally proposed by the CDU despite concerns raised from the center-left Social Democratic Party, a coalition partner to Merkel’s party, over constitutional issues.
The Social Democratic Party, however, later relented and gave its approval for the move.
The European Union considers Hamas a terrorist organization, as does Israel, the United States, Canada, Japan and Egypt.
Last month saw a number of rallies in Germany held by pro-Palestinian demonstrators as Israel fought an 11-day war against Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
Some of the demonstrators shouted anti-Semitic slogans during the rallies, while others burned Israeli flags, and in one instance, rocks were thrown at a synagogue, prompting Merkel to condemn the actions as “unacceptable.”
Some 200,000 Jews currently live in Germany, with local community organizations reporting a 15% rise in anti-Semitic crimes.