Thursday, March 13, 2014

IDF responds to heaviest rocket barrage from Gaza since 2012

From Ynet News*, 12 March 2014:

IDF attacks numerous terror targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire

Army hits 2 targets with artillery fire, 29 more in airstrike after Islamic Jihad fired dozens of rockets at cities and towns in southern Israel.

The IDF responded with force to a barrage of at least 60 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at the Israeli south on Wednesday, striking at least seven terror targets from the air and with artillery fire.

Thirty-one terror targets have been hit in the north of the Strip and in its south - two in an IDF artillery strike and 29 more in an Israel Air Force strike later on in the evening. Palestinian sources said IAF planes hit two Islamic Jihad bases, one of them in Rafah.

Residents in the Beit Hanoun area of Gaza said they saw an Israeli artillery strike hit a rocket launcher squad.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the rocket fire, but a 57-year-old woman from Sderot was lightly injured while running to take cover. The Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepted at least three rockets over Sderot.

This was the heaviest barrage of rockets fired from the Strip since the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.

The rockets were fired from both the north of the Strip and its south. Most of the rockets fell in open fields, at least eight fell inside southern communities. The Eshkol Regional Council reported on at least 15 rockets that fell in its area, including one that fell inside one of the towns but did not explode.

Rocket that fell in Sderot (Photo: Mattan Tzuri)
Rocket that fell in Sderot (Photo: Mattan Tzuri)

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said one rocket exploded near a gas station and another near a public library.

The Islamic Jihad's military wing claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, saying its a response to the death of three of their men, who were killed Tuesday in an IAF strike after firing mortar shells at IDF troops. Another Gaza militant group, the Popular Resistance Committees, said they fired several rockets as well.

"The Al-Quds Brigades responded to aggression by a salvo of rockets," a statement from the Islamic Jihad said.

"The Al-Quds Brigades will not break the truce (with Israel), but will retain the right to respond to the Zionist aggression at the right time and the right place," spokesman Abu Ahmad said.

The Islamic Jihad, that said it fired 90 rockets, took advantage of the stormy weather when the IDF's ability to identify and intercept rocket fire is lower.

Rocket that fell in Kfar Aza (Photo: Nili and Ze'ev Trechtman)
Rocket that fell in Kfar Aza (Photo: Nili and Ze'ev Trechtman)

Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who is currently in the United States, was receiving constant updates from Deputy Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot.

'Code Red' sirens were heard in throughout the western Negev communities, including Sderot, Netivot and in the Shaar HaNegev and Sdot Negev Regional Councils.

Security forces were scanning the area for rockets, and the level of alert has been raised. Residents in the area were instructed to stay in their shelters and secure rooms.

FM: Reoccupy Gaza

"It appears that a rocket salvo came in response to the preventative IAF strike yesterday. we will continue stopping attacks and hitting those who wish to harm us, and will act against them with full force," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Facebook shortly after the rockets barrage.

"The number of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip in the last year has been the lowest in a decade, but this is not enough for us. We will continue acting to ensure the security of the people of Israel both in the south and across the country," he added.

Speaking to Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, Netanyahu promised to "strike terror as hard as demanded in order to restore calm to the south."

"I was helping deliver Purim treat baskets to IDF soldiers serving on the Gaza border when I heard about the rocket attack," Davidi told Ynet, standing where one of the rockets hit his city.

"We are counting on the IDF and the Israel government to know how to hit back at the terrorists who try to disrupt our daily lives with terrorism," he added.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Channel 2 there was
"...I don't think we can ignore such an attack, a salvo of 50 rockets... After Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense, there is now no other choice but complete occupation of the Gaza Strip, and cleaning house there...There are many terror hide outs and thousands of rockets in the Strip, and every day (terror organizations in Gaza) increase weapons smuggling and self-production of bombs, and this is why we need to put an end to it...The Islamic Jihad is sending a message to (British premier David) Cameron, who visited the Knesset today and gave a speech in favor of an agreement between us and the Palestinians - 'we are on the map, and we will stop any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians..'..." ...

International condemnation

Britain, the United States, Australia and the UN all condemned the rocket attack.

"Let me (be) absolutely clear about these attacks from Gaza, we condemn them completely," said British premier David Cameron, who is currently visiting Israel.

"These attacks are completely indiscriminate aimed at civilian populations and that is a demonstration of how barbaric they are," Cameron added.

The US State Department also joined the condemnation, saying it is "reprehensible that dozens of rockets have been fired today alone."

"There is no justification for such attacks. We call for these terrorist attacks to cease immediately. Israel, like any nation, has a right to defend itself," State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored "the severe escalation of violence" and urged both sides to exercise maximum restraint to prevent further escalation.

Australian Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma joined the condemnation, saying on his Twitter page that "such violence reprehensible and without justification."

*Mattan Tzuri, Yoav Zitun, Ilana Curiel, Elior Levy, Michal Margalit, Attila Somfalvi and AP contributed to this report.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Palestinian Antisemitism

Ma'an, an independent Palestinian news agency, has published a viciously Antisemitic article depicting Jews as the force of evil in the world, fulfilling their goals of world subjugation, according to the plan in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The article contends that Jews "are planning means to take over the reins of world politics, by spreading organized destruction throughout the countries." It blames the Jews for the French and Russian revolutions and well as other civil wars, initiated by Jews in order to weaken countries of the world, in order to rule over them

The Ma'an op-ed describes the Jewish tactic:

"The Jewish Masons have achieved their aims: They have gained world domination through their monopoly of the banking system, their control of the gold [trade], natural and industrial resources, water and food, as well as by destroying the economies of countries [to ensure] that they remain under their control... They have succeeded in creating new states at the expense of stable ones, by partitioning and drawing new international borders, through armed military invasion, the theft of native lands and the expulsion of their residents - as in the case of Palestine and its residents."
[From an article by Abd Al-Halim Abu Hajjaj,
 Ma'an, independent Palestinian news agency,
accessed March 11, 2014, posted Feb. 11, 2014] 

Ma'an News Agency is part of Ma'an Network, which currently lists the following as "partners and donors": The European Commission, UNDP, UNESCO, the Government of Denmark, the Government of the Netherlands, and UKaid, the UK Dept. for International Development, among others.

In 2013, Palestinian Media Watch exposed an earlier Antisemitic article published by Ma'an which described Jews as "cursed" by Allah, who "has stricken fear in their hearts and decreed humiliation and degradation upon them until Judgment Day."  

Three hours after PMW exposed the previous article, Ma'an removed it from their website and in place of the article posted an explanation claiming they did not have time to be selective because of the Gaza War:

"This article has been removed... It was published during the war against Gaza and [Ma'an's] staff was unable to examine it thoroughly because of the workload caused by the war. [The article] was published in the articles' section intended for [submissions by] readers. However, Ma'an will re-examine the policy of publishing readers' articles to avoid the occurrence of similar mistakes."
[Ma'an News Agency's website, posted Jan. 30, 2013]

In addition, at the beginning of every op-ed, Ma'an now adds the following disclaimer: "The opinions and statements in this article reflect the author's opinions, and not necessarily those of the website."

The following is the article in Ma'an presenting the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an authentic document delineating the Jews' plan to subjugate the world:

"The Protocols of the Elders of Zion - the swindlers of Zion - have revealed their schemes to subjugate the nations and gain control of the world. They are planning means to take over the reins of world politics, by spreading organized destruction throughout the countries and by corrupting people through the seizure of the banking system, the goldsmith profession and the control of capital, natural resources and the workforce, as well as by taking control of the media and the arts, and channeling them to serve their goals and realize their aims.
These protocols had been kept top secret... but fate willed them to be discovered in 1785 (sic, correct date is 1903) ...and together with them, the intentions, schemes and methods of the invisible hands of the Jewish illuminati who loan with interest (the members of the Jewish Masons). The leaders of the Jewish Masons organizations have woven schemes and planned the frameworks for the takeovers and revolutions by embezzling the nations and taking power over them using the capital that is in their exclusive possession...
They began to set the stage and [prepare] the conditions necessary for the outbreak of the French Revolution, and trained the people for the perpetration of violent acts and destructive riots throughout France... Then came the Russian Bolshevik Revolution, in 1917, which was planned by the Jewish illuminati, who molded the atheistic, materialistic way of thinking, and ordered Karl Marx, in 1848, to write the Communist Manifesto under the supervision of the Jewish Freemasons...
The Jewish Masons have achieved their aims: They have gained world domination through their monopoly of the banking system, their control of the gold [trade], natural and industrial resources, water and food, as well as by destroying the economies of countries [to ensure] that they remain under their control and in need of them - of their grain and money, which their governments take from them as long-term loans with exorbitant compound interest, which they cannot repay...
They have succeeded in creating new states at the expense of stable ones, by partitioning and drawing new international borders, through armed military invasion, the theft of native lands and the expulsion of their residents - as in the case of Palestine and its residents - or through civil wars and the overthrow of corrupt leaders - all this with the aim of keeping the countries in a circle of violence and schism, and in a whirlpool of struggle for power.
Allow me to confine myself to [quoting] only a few paragraphs from the first Protocol, to allow you to examine and understand the satanic ideology of the swindlers of Zion and to see how what is called 'autonomy' is [really] one of their ways to trap the spirit of freedom...
In the first Protocol, they say:... 'If you give any nation autonomy for a limited period of time, anarchy and disorder will soon befall it. From that moment on, the bitterness and struggle will grow among the groups and the masses, and the conflicts will intensify, leading to the outbreak of class wars. The nation will become divided internally, and multiple struggles will ensue. Within all this unrest and disagreement, the flames will ignite, and burn the governments to ashes...They will be unable to raise themselves up and extract themselves from their complications, and that will be our moment of opportunity, when they fall into our hands. Then the rule of capital will assume its role, and all the capital is in our hands. The rule of capital will be ready and will offer these new, unstable governments a hidden lifeline. They will have no choice but to take hold of it, whether willfully or out of constraint, because of their financial duress. If they do so, they will fall to the bottom, and if they don't - they will necessarily sink to the depths.' This is the text [of the First Protocol].
This is the Zionist scenario implemented on the Palestinian people in the framework of autonomy in Gaza and the West Bank..."
[From an article by Abd Al-Halim Abu Hajjaj,
 Ma'an, independent Palestinian news agency,
accessed March 11, 2014, posted Feb. 11, 2014]

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is an Antisemitic forgery describing how Jews allegedly plan to subjugate the world under Jewish rule. It was published in Russia in 1903 and translated into multiple languages. In 1921, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was exposed as a false document.

Click to view Palestinian Media Watch's documentation of the Palestinian libelous presentation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an authentic document.

The situation for Jews in the Ukraine at this time

From the Executive Vice President of the Claims Conference, 11 March 2014:

Mihail Solomonovich, 82, had not left his one-room Kiev apartment since the recent unrest in the Ukrainian capital turned violent.  Frightened and alone, he was indescribably grateful when Alena Druzhynina showed up at his apartment with a food package from Hesed B’nei Azriel. She walked through the then-dangerously chaotic Independence Square area to make sure that Mihail received the food and comfort he needed from a friendly visitor.
Since unrest in Ukraine began in November, and especially in recent weeks as the government overthrow has led to an invasion of the Crimean peninsula, the Claims Conference has been closely monitoring the situation of vulnerable, elderly Nazi victims there. 

I am proud to report to you that our partners on the ground, the network of Hesed social service agencies and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), have demonstrated the depths of their commitment by doing everything necessary to continue providing the vital aid that is a lifeline for these Jews.
Homecare workers have stayed the night with their elderly charges. Staff and volunteers like Alena have contacted and visited Holocaust victims living in areas plagued by violence to deliver food, medicine and other critical supplies; they have done so on foot, and in mobile units packed with supplies. Emergency call chains have been activated, and security has increased at Jewish institutions throughout Ukraine. Planning has begun to alleviate the situations of elderly whose state pensions may be suspended due to Ukraine’s disastrous financial situation.
“When Mihail received the food package provided by Hesed, he said it was one of the most long-awaited and bright visits he ever had,” Alena wrote from Kiev. “[Solomonovich] lives alone in a one-room apartment and barely moves around, but his eyes were full of pride and gratitude,” she added.
To reach Mihail in Kiev, Alena wore protective gear and had to talk her way past barricades manned by vigilantes. She was accompanied on her mission by volunteers Masha, Marina, and Lena, who are members of the Jewish community.
“They were so inspired by the visit that they decided to visit Mihail on a regular basis,” reported Alena. “In two weeks they will be back.”
Claims Conference allocations currently assist approximately 24,400 Jewish Holocaust victims in Ukraine. There are currently 1,600 Nazi victims among the 4,000 Jewish elderly in Crimea who receive Hesed services funded by the Claims Conference, with a total of 17,000 Jews living in the region. They are mostly in and around the main urban centers of Simferopol, served by Hesed Shimon; Sevastopol, served by Hesed Shahar; Feodosia, served by Hesed Yahad; and Yalta, served by Hesed Naftul. Food and medicine deliveries have increased, and telephone assistance is available around the clock from these welfare centers. There are an estimated 350,000 to 500,000 Jews in Ukraine.

According to Ofer Glanz, FSU regional director for the JDC, Hesed Shahar in Sevastopol is fully functioning today. “Hesed director, Alla Krasnovid, continues to operate the Hesed, offering not only material support but also emotional support to the Jewish community by calling people, supporting them in different ways and ensuring some level of stability at ‘ground zero’ of this crisis,” Ofer wrote in an update after visiting Ukraine. “Same for Victoria Plotkina from Simferopol who continues a family legacy which started with her grandparents working with Agro Joint in the early years of the 20th century and today offering comfort, security and social responsibility to the Jewish community members. These are the real heroes of this crisis.”
The Hasadim are providing additional food supplements and subsidies to ensure critical necessities are met, including food cards to purchase provisions, additional food packages and fresh food sets, hot meals, and meal delivery. Additional medicine subsidies and supplements will be available as prices have risen and some medications have become scarce.
The elderly Holocaust victims in Ukraine are our responsibility, and we will find a way to fulfill our obligation to them no matter the circumstances. I know you join me in thanking and commending the Hesed and JDC staff and volunteers in Ukraine who are spending long hours and braving dangerous conditions to help this vulnerable and frightened population.

May the coming weeks see de-escalation, calm and peace for our brethren in this dangerous part of the world.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The true face of Iran (and the pitiful grovelling of the EU)

In recent hours, in California:

...and in Eilat:

In the meantime, in Iran:

Iran's Two-faced Regime Exposed Again, but is Anyone Paying Attention?

According to UN Security Council Resolution 1747, Iran is banned from trading in or sending weapons across, international borders. Yet, as the latest arms shipment intercepted by Israel shows, Iran systematically violates this resolution. Will diplomats prefer to look the other way?
In recent days, Israel's intelligence services and navy intercepted a cargo ship in the Red Sea, off the coast of Sudan and Eritrea, which was found to be carrying an Iranian weapons delivery to terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
Iran's attempt to get 40 powerful medium-range rockets, 180 mortar rounds, and nearly half a million bullets to Gazan terror groups like Islamic Jihad would have affected the security of millions of people in southern and central Israel.
The shipment serves as the latest example of the dangerous, destabilizing and violent foreign policy pursued by the Iranian regime.
Israeli naval commandos inspect one of the missiles found aboard the Klos-C cargo ship, which was found to be smuggling missiles from Iran to the Gaza strip, via Sudan, March 5, 2014. (Image source: Israel Defense Forces)
Under the leadership of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran is pursuing two utterly contradictory tracks when it comes to its dealings with the world:
On one hand, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani continues to engage the international community in a diplomatic process over Tehran's nuclear program. He has achieved many successes in a charm offensive designed to rebrand his country as a reasonable and more moderate international player.
Simultaneously, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and its overseas special operation unit, the Quds Force, are strengthening, financing, and arming terrorist organizations all over the Middle East.
With thousands of operatives active throughout the region and beyond, the Quds Force is following an ambitious program to arm Hezbollah, the murderous Assad regime in Syria, Shi'ite armed organizations in Iraq, and fanatical armed groups in Gaza.
A second function of the Quds Force is to subvert Sunni states that stand in the way of the Iranian agenda for Middle Eastern hegemony.
Iran is stirring up Shi'ite unrest in the Gulf state of Bahrain, supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen, and arming Sudan's repressive government.
In addition, the Quds Force promotes the spread of Khomenist ideology in an effort to "export" the Islamic Revolution as far and wide as possible.
The Quds Force, headed by a mastermind named Qassem Suleimani (who answers directly to Khamenei), uses banks and front companies to pay for and manufacture weapons, before attempting to transit them to proxies.
According to UN Security Council Resolution 1747, Iran is banned from trading in, or sending weapons across, international borders. Yet, as the latest arms shipment intercepted by Israel demonstrates, Iran systematically violates this resolution.
The Quds Force is a part of the IRGC, a vast organization that has some 130,000 members among its ranks. Its goal is to ensure the survival of Iran's Ayatollah regime. The IRGC is a parallel military power – it has its own air, ground, and navy forces, separate from the Iranian military.
When the regime feels the need brutally to suppress internal dissent, it can call the Basij (a volunteer paramilitary force that receives orders from the IRCG) and its two million volunteers to the streets of Iranian cities.
But Ayatollah Khamenei is now trying a new way of keeping the streets free of protesters by allowing Rouhani to pursue talks with the West. This, Khamenei evidently hopes, will put a lid on growing disquiet over the country's economic troubles, many of them caused by international sanctions.
At the same time, he is permitting the IRGC and Quds Force to continue their global terrorism exportation program -- an effort combatted around the clock by Israel's intelligence agencies. The intercepted weapons ship is just one of many arms transfer attempts being blocked by Israel.
Israeli defense officials describe these efforts as a "war between wars;" today, this mostly covert battle is a central component in maintaining Israeli security.
Israel's efforts rely on a range of classified intelligence means, and are highly impressive, but cannot stop all of the weapons Iran is sending to the region.
Will the international community take note of the latest example of Iran's attempt to put deadly weapons in the hands of war criminals in Gaza, who target Israeli civilians indiscriminately? Or will diplomats prefer to look the other way?