October 25, 2018

Haifa Terrorist Handed Life Sentence For Killing Man, Wounding Another

A terrorist who murdered an Israeli man and injured another during a 2017 shooting attack in Haifa was sentenced Tuesday (23rd) to life in jail and an additional 22 years.

Judges said Arab-Israeli Muhamad Shinawi shot Guy Kafri dead “purely due to his hatred of Jews,” who he said were “infidels.”

They added that Shinawi, a 22-year-old Haifa resident showed no regret for his actions during the trial.

The terrorist was ordered to pay $70,000 to the Kafri family as well as $33,000 to the man he wounded, Yehiel Iluz.

Iluz, 48, a senior judge on a Haifa rabbinic conversion court, was moderately wounded at 9:30 a.m. on January 3, 2017, in the first shooting on the city’s Haatzma Road.  A few minutes later, Shinawi opened fire at a Jewish woman, but missed. And a few minutes later, Guy Kafri, 47, a van driver from Haifa’s Nesher neighborhood, was shot and killed on the nearby Hagiborim Street.

Shinawi fled after the attack but eventually turned himself in to authorities and confessed.  He told investigators, he carried out the killing after his girlfriend called him a “Zionist Jew” and a “Jew lover.”

According to the Shin Bet security service, before the attacks, Shinawi adopted more radical Islamic beliefs, that considered Jews to be “unbelievers whose judgment is death.”  



New Report: Arbitrary Arrest And Torture Under The Palestinian Authority And Hamas

RAMALLAH – Security forces of the rival Palestinian governments routinely use torture and arbitrary arrests, among other tactics, to quash dissent by peaceful activists and political rivals, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday (23rd).

The charges come in a new report released by the New York-based watchdog, following a two-year investigation that included interviews with nearly 150 people, many of them ex-detainees.  It accused both the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Islamic militant Hamas in Gaza of using “machineries of repression” to stifle criticism.

Human Rights Watch also said the systematic use of torture could amount to a crime against humanity under the United Nations’ Convention against Torture, and called on countries that provide funding to Palestinian law enforcement to suspend their assistance.

According to HRW, the Palestinian leaderships in the West Bank and Gaza engage in similar tactics, in most cases without holding anyone to account.

Among the alleged abuses included: whipping people’s feet, forcing detainees into painful stress positions, hoisting up people’s arms behind their backs with rope and coercing suspects into granting access to their mobile phones and social media accounts.

The new reports draws on 86 cases which show that Palestinian Authorities routinely arrest people whose peaceful speech displeases them and torture those in their custody.

The two Palestinian factions split in 2007 after Hamas violently seized the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas.  For more than a decade, Hamas has maintained an iron grip on power and suppressed any signs of public dissent, including street protests and on social media.

Despite having Western backing, Abbas has also silenced dissent in the areas of the West Bank he administers, clamping down on journalists critical of him in news reports, and also on social media.  The clamp-down results in the jailing of anyone critical of his government on grounds of harming “national unity.”

Both Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority deny the accusations.

(hrw.org; ynetnews.com)


U.S. Base in Syria Counters Iran’s Expansion – Missy Ryan

The tiny U.S. military base at Tanf in southern Syria was established to roll back the Islamic State’s once-vast domain.  But its strategic position along a highway linking Damascus to Tehran has made the base an unintended bulwark against Iranian influence in Syria and, now, a potential locus in White House plans to confront Iran’s reach across the region.  Officials now say the U.S. will remain in Syria until Iranian forces depart.

Gen. Joseph Votel, who leads U.S. Central Command, speaking during a visit to the base Monday (22nd), said the U.S. presence there makes it harder for Tehran to build up its military presence in Syria.  As U.S. officials launch a newly intensified bid, led by the State Department, to hammer out a political end to the war in Syria, “We are trying to provide leverage for our diplomats as they pursue their objectives,” Votel said.  The garrison is manned by several hundred foreign troops and a similarly sized force of Syrian fighters.

The ongoing U.S. presence at Tanf “demonstrates that the United States is not about leaving the Middle East in general or Syria in particular until we have a security situation that meets our needs and the needs of our allies – Jordan, Israel, Turkey and Iraq,” a U.S. official said.



Iran Is Now Manufacturing, Upgrading Missiles In Iraq, Sources Say

Iran is building factories to manufacture and upgrade missiles in Iraq, in addition to its efforts in Syria and Lebanon, Israeli intelligence has discovered.

According to reports, Iran has already shipped missiles to Shiite militias in Iraq and helped Iraq set up missile factories in its territory.

This latest development has the potential to bring Iraq onto the Iranian axis of countries that pose potential threats to Israel.

Last month, reports revealed that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard had supplied the Iraqi Shiite militia Hashd al-Shaabi with mid-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel.

Earlier in October, reports revealed that the United States had decided to shut down its consulate in Basra, a key Shiite stronghold and the third-largest city in Iraq, after discovering a Revolutionary Guard plot to attack it.

On Sunday evening (21st), several speakers at a Jerusalem Institute of Security Studies devoted to the Iranian-Israeli conflict, warned that Iran was trying to threaten Israel on multiple fronts, including Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip.

Mossad Director Yossi Cohen stressed Sunday evening (22nd) that “if we don’t push Iran out of the Middle East….we will find ourselves in a position of Iranian forces spreading everywhere unchecked, even inside the Gaza Strip.”



Chinese Vice President In Israel To Celebrate Economic Ties

China Vice President Wang Qishan arrived in Israel on Monday (22nd) for a three-day trip that illustrates the warming ties between the two countries.

Wang is heading a delegation of ministers and deputy ministers from 13 Chinese government offices.  He was invited by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit and to co-host the Prime Minister’s Innovation Conference  held on Tuesday (23rd).

Wang, a confidant of President Xi jinping, is one of the most senior Chinese officials to visit Israel since the countries established diplomatic relations in 1992.  In 2000, China’s then-president, Jiang Zemin, became the first Chinese leader to visit Israel.

Wang toured the Old City of Jerusalem Monday (22nd) before meeting Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Israel and China have become close trade partners, with China showing interest in Israeli developments in agriculture, water and other environmental technologies.  Israel has also become a popular destination for Chinese tourists.

Bilateral trade between Israel and China grew by 30% in the first eight months of 2018 to reach $8.4 billion, compared to $6.6 billion in the same months in 2017.

In 2018, China became Israel’s second-most important export market, after the United States.

“For quite some time, China has not been ‘in the future’ – China is ‘in the present’ but we will make every effort…to maximize Israeli potential in that enormous market,” Israeli Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen told the news media.