"Comfort, comfort my people says your God" Isaiah 40
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in the southern Israeli city of Sderot Monday morning following a weekend in which over 200 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. "Just as we are now finishing putting an end to the tunnels, and just as we are working and succeeding to stop the mass riots on the border fence, we have also ordered the IDF to defeat and top stop the kite terror and incendiary balloons,” he told reporters. We are at the height of that effort.”
"This will not be over all at once, in a single blow, and I do not have words to comfort those who suffered the most serious losses. This is something that is very hard to accept, but we know that we are in a long term battle for Zionism," Netanyahu said. "Right here, right now is the dividing line between Islamic terror and the Jewish State, and we are determined to win. This entails exchanging blows, and it will continue."
"There is nothing that we would consider a cease fire that excludes the incendiary kites and incendiary balloons," Netanyahu said. "I hope it will penetrate," Netanyahu said of Hamas, "but if it is not understood through my words, it will be understood by the IDF's actions."
Elsewhere, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov appeared to place at least partial responsibility for the weekend’s violence, which also included several strikes on Hamas military infrastructure in the Strip by the IDF, on the Islamist terror militia.
“I have to appeal to all Palestinians in Gaza,” Mladenov said during a press conference in Gaza City. “I have to appeal to all parents of children in Gaza today to step back and keep the protests peaceful. I appeal to the Palestinian factions to not provoke incidents at the fence, to stop firing rockets and mortars, to stop the incendiary kites and to give peace a chance.”
“This is a confrontation that nobody wants, nobody needs – a confrontation from which everybody would lose. Palestinians in Gaza for the last decade have lived in three conflicts. Israelis across the fence have lived with a constant threat of rocket attacks for the last decade. This cycle has to stop. It has to end. We are one step away from another confrontation, and everybody needs to take a step back.” He added in comments directed at Gaza residents that he understood “it’s very difficult to believe the international community or anyone else who comes and tells you that your lives will be improved.”
He then addressed the IDF soldiers directly, saying “I appeal to [Israeli] snipers not to fire at children,” Mladenov said. “I appeal to everybody to step back from the brink.”
“Parents should be able to allow their children to play freely in the streets,” Mladenov continued. “We in the international community have a responsibility to move immediately and live up to the expectation of providing not just assistance to the people of Gaza, but also charting a political way forward. Our allies in this are the Palestinian people themselves. Our partners are the Palestinian government and anyone who wants to see an end to this current escalation.”
However, Hamas leaders didn’t appear to be ready to end the conflict, making triumphant statements about the “success” they believe they had in the latest flare up of violence and vowing to continue along the same path in the future.
Meanwhile, IDF units deployed around the Gaza border region remained on alert Monday.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei held a meeting over the weekend with President Hassan Rohani and his cabinet in which he projected a united front between the various factions within the clerical regime ahead of a looming resumption of US economic sanctions. “I strongly believe that, if the government takes the necessary measures, it will be able to overcome problems and defeat the U.S. conspiracy," Khamenei said. The meeting came days after a senior advisor to Khamenei flatly rejected any possibility of compromise with the US or any backing down from the Islamic Republic’s commitment to its renegade nuclear program or other issues.
“We have come there without the Americans' permission and we won't heed their demands to leave," said Ali Akbar Velayati during his visit to Moscow, referring to Iran’s presence in Syria. "We coordinate the Iranian presence in Syria with Russia and Syria. I told the Russian officials: Now the Americans are telling you that the Iranians must leave Syria, and tomorrow they will ask you what you are doing in Syria. They are trying to split our alliance."
Meanwhile, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday: "The president has made it clear that we are there [in Syria] until the ISIS territorial caliphate is removed and as long as the Iranian menace continues throughout the Middle East."
In related news, the German intelligence agency of the state of Hesse recently published a report saying, among other things, that Iran was one of several rogue states attempting to acquire components and know how to construct nuclear weapons in violation of international agreements.
Syrian Regime Accuses Israel of AirstrikesThe regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad accused Israel on Sunday of striking one of its military bases near the northern city of Aleppo. Opposition groups reported heavy damage and several casualties at the base while the IDF declined to comment on the accusations.
Here is a video giving some analysis of the situation in Syria
Iraq Rocked by Anti-Iranian ProtestsMassive street protests are taking place in Iraq, as citizens rise up in anger against the presence in their country of Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias as well as an ongoing economic and social crisis. Bases belonging to the militias have been attacked along with several other facilities belonging to the Iranian-collaborator regime in Baghdad. Scores of protesters and security personnel have reportedly been killed and wounded in the clashes. This is a developing situation.
Scottish Actor Hands BDS Campaign Another DefeatScottish actor Gerard Butler became the latest celebrity to shrug off pressure from the international movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel when he visited the Jewish State over the weekend, posting several selfies at famous Israeli landmarks and ordinary Israeli people to his Instagram account. His visit was reportedly personal, as he came to hang out with his friend, Israeli director Ariel Vromen.
Today’s video shows another way Israel is blessing their Palestinian neighbors
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from his trip to Moscow Thursday evening, telling reporters before boarding his aircraft that his main priority in Syria is the removal of Iranian forces from the country. “We did not have a problem with the Assad regime for 40 years,” Netanyahu said. “Not one bullet was fired on the Golan Heights. What bothered us in the beginning was Islamic State [near Israel’s border], and afterward Iran and Hezbollah were brought there. We will not accept Iran on our border, or anywhere else in Syria. But our emphasis is on two things: getting rid of the missiles and the proximity of Iranian troops to the border.” He added that during his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials, he’d received assurances that Iranian and Hezbollah forces had been moved several kilometres back from the Israeli border.
Meanwhile, Syrian refugees huddled against the Israeli border told reporters on Thursday that they would welcome Israeli protection from the oncoming Assad regime offensive, or if possible, they’d like to cross into Israel directly to avoid the offensive completely.
NASA Director Signs Agreement with IsraelIn the latest defeat for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, Jim Bridenstine, director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US, arrived in the Jewish State on Thursday to sign a cooperative agreement with the Israel Space Agency (ISA)."The fact that the head of NASA chose to hold his first visit outside US borders here in Israel says a great deal about the close alliance between the two countries and the tremendous appreciation that they have for Israel's vast technological capabilities in the field of space," said Israeli Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis.
Here is a video about Israel’s Space Progam
Sudanese Refugees Granted Temporary ResidencyThe Israeli Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority announced on Thursday that it is granting temporary residency to 300 Sudanese asylum seekers who fled genocide from the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur. The A5 humanitarian visa they will be granted will allow them to acquire documents to travel and drive, as well as acquire legal employment and health insurance.
Earthquake Preparedness Meeting HeldA meeting of government agencies on Thursday to assess the State’s preparedness for a major earthquake included some grim news and statistics, but also some hope for near-term improvements. A report issued in 2016 by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Home-Front Readiness Subcommittee included estimates that if a 7.5 magnitude earthquake were to occur, around 7,000 Israelis could die and many more would be injured and/or left homeless, with economic damages expected to range around NIS 200 billion.
Today’s video shows the US Lacrosse Team in Israel
Residents of the Gaza border region protested on Thursday against what they said was government indifference to the threats they are facing from their neighbours in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, especially the arson attacks by kite and balloon born incendiary devices which have burned thousands of acres of farmland and forests. Meanwhile, a Hamas delegation was in Cairo on Thursday to discuss the regional situation with Egyptian officials. The visit comes amidst a spike in tensions between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority which administers the Palestinian cities in the West Bank. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar told the Al-Jazeera network this week, in response to a question about what kind of aid package for the belegured residents of the Strip Hamas would be willing to accept, that “Any proposal that comes without a political price is acceptable. Hamas will not accept any deal that includes a political price. We will not give up one inch of Palestine in return for easing of restrictions.”
In related news, the Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center, representing terrorist victims’ families, received a temporary injunction Thursday from Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Drori to seize two Norwegian-owned ships which activists are preparing to use in an upcoming attempt to break the Gaza blockade, should the IDF capture them intact, and sell them with the money going to families of Hamas’ victims.
“Flotilla organizers sail here on ships every year to try to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and to violate the sovereignty of Israel,” said Shurat Hadin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. “Every year they are stopped by the IDF and their ships are towed to the Ashdod Port and they are sent home as if nothing occurred. No longer. This time, the ships will not be returned to their owners, but will be turned over to terrorist victims. For the first time, the flotilla organizers will learn that there is a price to pay for their provocations, for systematic violations of international law and for supporting a terrorist organization.”
A federal judge in the South American nation of Argentina issued a request to Russian officials on Wednesday to honor an international arrest warrant for senior Iranian diplomat Alí Akbar Velayati, who was in Moscow Wednesday for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin despite being wanted in connection with the 1994 bombing attack against the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires. Russia did not honor the Argentinian request and Velayati issued a triumphant press statement hailing the close strategic ties between the two countries.
In related news, aelf-described “human rights group” Amnesty International took a break from its obsessive criticism of Israel this week to issue a statement condemning Iran for publicly flogging a man accused of having consumed an alcoholic beverage at a birthday party in 2008. "The circumstances of this case are absolutely shocking, representing another horrific example of the Iranian authorities’ warped priorities," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther.
China Pledges Massive Aid Package to Arab StatesChinese President Xi Jinping told officials and leaders of Arab countries this week that his government is prepared to provide as much as $20 billion in development loans for “projects that will produce good employment opportunities and positive social impact in Arab states that have reconstruction needs,” he said. “Chinese and Arab peoples, though far apart in distance, are as close as family. China welcomes opportunities to participate in the development of ports and the construction of railway networks in Arab states” as part of a “logistics network connecting Central Asia with East Africa and the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean.”
Israel Hosts World Lacrosse ChampionshipThe World Lacrosse Championship (WLC) got underway in Israel on Wednesday, with opening ceremonies in Netanya. Thousands of players, coaches, officials and fans have arrived in the Holy Land to take part in the tournament. In other sports news, NBA star Draymond Green has received a great deal of hate mail online following his recent tour of Israel as a guest of the Friends of the IDF.
“You got played,” wrote Shaun King, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist and political commentator, on Twitter. “Flashing a toothy grin w/ a sniper rifle in Israel on a trip sponsored by Friends of the IDF is so horribly offensive. They’ve recently slaughtered 100s of unarmed Palestinians w/ those rifles.”
Netanyahu Brings Cancer Patients to FIFA Match in RussiaIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, were the guests of Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday evening for a viewing of the FIFA World Cup semifinal in Moscow, brining with them two guests of their own. “We decided to bring two wonderful children who are bravely battling cancer,” Netanyahu said, adding the name of the guests, 18-yearold Mika Lipsker from Katzir and 13-year-old Alon Izraev from Petah Tikva. “It is very exciting for us that we can make this dream come true for them [the kids].”
Irish Senate Votes to Join BDS MovementFollowing a vote by the Irish Senate Wednesday to pass legislation criminalizing trade with Israeli companies operating in eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, Alison Kelly, Dublin’s ambassador to Israel, gave an interview with the Jerusalem Post. “One of the points I always make to the Israelis is that I represent the government and the government opposed the bill in January and it opposed it today.” “The Irish government has consistently opposed the policy of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions in relation to Israel and we regularly say this publicly.”
She added that “The government opposed the bill for legal and political reasons but support for it in Ireland is a sign of the deep concern at continued settlement activity, which we believe seriously jeopardizes the prospect for peace and the two-state solution. We firmly oppose all settlement construction. Events on the ground at the moment in Gaza, the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and announcement of settlement construction renders the task more difficult in opposing the bill…we will continue to work to foster and to build wider links and to improve positive engagement with Israel in spite of the issues on which we disagree.”
Today’s video shows yet another way that Israel is blessing the world