Thursday, April 28, 2016

28-Apr-16: Terror-by-knifing attack foiled at Qalandiya; assailant, again, is a child

The attackers came equipped with these stabbing
implements - two identical kitchen knives
and a switchblade found on the body of the young male
[Image Source: Israel Police]
A violent attack at the Qalandiya security checkpoint yesterday (Wednesday) on Jerusalem's north side has cost a pair of Palestinian Arabs, a young married woman and her teenage brother, their lives.

Times of Israel reports that, while no Israelis from among the security personnel attacked suffered any injuries, the two assailants, armed with knives, were killed after attempting to attack the heavily-armed Israelis.

The attackers are identified as Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, a woman of 23, and her brother Ibrahim Saleh Taha, 16. Both are said to be from Surif, an Arab community located south of Jerusalem and north of Hebron. Ma'an News Agency says the woman is the mother of two children and pregnant with a third.

Surif is familiar to Israelis with a sense of history. It is home to most of the Arab mob who carried out a total massacre of the convoy of Jews (among them Frimet Roth's cousin Eliyahu Herskowitz ז"ל) known as the Lamed Heh. Its 35 members had set out on foot in January 1948 with the goal of relieving the Arab siege on the Gush Etzion communities. Those beleagured communities, numerically overwhelmed by the surrounding enemies, eventually fell to the invading the Arab Legion, the military arm of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on Friday May 14, 1948, some hours before Israel’s independence was declared in Tel Aviv. They remained, judenrein, under Jordanian military occupation for the next 19 years. The massacre and then capture of the Gush was "one of the major episodes of the State of Israel-in-the-making", playing a significant role in Israeli collective memory. Wikipedia reminds us that the post-1967 revival and massive flourishing of the Gush Etzion communities is regarded as deeply symbolic, linked in the Israeli psyche to the massive loss of life in Israel's War of Independence.

Ynet's report of yesterday's terrorist attack says the Arab couple
attempted to walk through a passage intended for vehicle entry and began speeding up in the direction of Border policemen stationed at the scene. The female assailant had her hand in her bag in which there was a knife. The male assailant's hand was held behind his back which aroused the security forces suspicion. The police called upon them to stop several times. However they continued to quickly approach in their direction. The police continued to call upon them to stop and throw down the bag the woman was holding. The woman stopped close to the Border policemen, both of them took several steps backwards and then suddenly they turned towards the forces, the woman took out a knife and threw it straight at the policeman closest to her. The policeman was not injured. The security forces acted quickly and shot them dead. A search of the area revealed that in addition to the woman's knife, the male had a similar knife in his belt, as well as a pocket knife.
As always, there's an air of Rashomon ("alternative, self-serving and contradictory versions of the same incident" embodying "multiple eye-witness testimonies of an event contain conflicting information") already evident in parts of the media.

Arabic-language audiences are getting a sadly-familiar-sounding narrative at considerable odds with the Israel Police and media accounts. An Iranian news source calls yesterday's thwarted terror attack a "massacre". A Gazan source refers to a "child martyr", and martyr-posters are, not surprisingly, online [here] already. Al Safir, a Palestinian Arab news outlet, calls what happened an "execution". So does this Gulf news source. For Aljazeera, it's about the woman's orphaned children, and the death of a younger brother. As far as we can tell, none of those Arabic reports shows the knives that were removed from the clutches of the attackers.

As usual, the events we see as terrorism are described by the Arab and Muslim media to Arab news consumers context-free form, devoid of connection to the ongoing wave of knifings, rammings, shootings, bombings. Forgotten for the moment are the multiple public acts of glorification of women, sub-teen and teenage children enjoying the acclaim of Arabs and Moslems from across the spectrum - and at the highest levels of Palestinian Arab power - for the violence of their usually-pointless murderous assaults on Jews. It's an ongoing tragedy for all concerned.

Haaretz says
Hassan Tahah, another sibling, told Haaretz that he doesn't believe his sister was planning to carry out an attack. "We have no details about what transpired and no one briefed us, but I don't believe this whole terrorist attack story," he said. According to him, his sister was on her way to a doctor's appointment, accompanied by his brother. "She was probably lost, or didn't understand what was going on at the roadblock, and the soldiers shot her and my brother," he said.
We wrote about another terror-minded sixteen year-old from Surif with a knife in the wake of an earlier attack ["23-Oct-15: Scenes from a stabbing/ramming/shooting war of terror"] some months ago. And for a sense of some of the numerous recent Arab-on-Israeli attacks at Qalandiya, click here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

26-Apr-16: A terror attack about which few people are likely to hear

Israeli security personnel at work in Jabel Mukaber after previous terror
attacks emanating from the neighbourhood, October 2015 [Image Source]
No victims were injured or killed. So a terror attack directed at civilians in the Israeli capital, Jerusalem, during one of its two busiest weeks for visitors in the year, is almost certain to go lightly reported if it has any impact at all on the global news cycle.

That's because it was stopped in time. And take a look (below) at who's involved.

The Times of Israel reported the developments in the past hour this way:
Three Palestinians from Nablus suspected of plotting a terrorist attack against Israelis were arrested overnight in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, the Shin Bet said Tuesday. The joint police and Shin Bet sting operation nabbed the three, who were allegedly planning a terror attack in Jerusalem over the Passover holiday. The Shin Bet said that the three had no weapons on their person at the time of their arrest, but “expressed the intention to carry out a terror attack in the immediate future.” The three were all residents of the West Bank city of Nablus, but were located in an East Jerusalem apartment at the time of their arrest. It was not immediately clear if they were simply passing through the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood or had been illegally living there for some time. “The three were arrested and handed over to security forces for questioning,” the Shin Bet said in a statement. The suspects reportedly did not have an arrest record nor were they known members of a terrorist organization... Police have beefed up security around Jerusalem’s Old City and on the Temple Mount in a bid to prevent disturbances at the flashpoint sites during Passover, when thousands of Jewish and foreign tourists visit.
(For more on the malign influence of the Jabel Mukaber neighbourhood in south-eastern Jerusalem, see our post from two days ago focusing on one small aspect of the lethal evil emanating from there: "24-Apr-16: Weaponizing children: Here's one way it's done in Jerusalem").

The Jerusalem Post adds several chilling details:
The three detainees have been transferred to the custody of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) for further questioning... Two of the suspects are minors – age 15 and 16 – and the other is a 23-year-old man. The three Palestinians were detained after the security forces obtained a tip indicating that an attack was imminent. The authorities say that the Palestinians planned on committing a combined assault against civilians involving an explosive device as well as gunfire. The attack was said to have been planned for the Passover holiday and was to be executed in a crowded area. The explosive device was slated to be provided by an unidentified co-conspirator and the weapon to be used for firing at civilians was an improvised assault rifle built in one of the Palestinian makeshift factories. After their arrest, the three Palestinians confessed to the plot, according to security services. The suspects said that they were inspired by last week’s bombing of a bus in Jerusalem which left 19 people wounded and one person – the bomber – dead.
(About that "inspirational" bombing, we posted this: "21-Apr-16: The Hamas jihadists claim the Jerusalem bus bombing as one of their own".)

Though armed attacks were thwarted this time, no one in this part of the world is under any illusions about the ongoing threats being blunted or even slowed down. We also don't yet know who else is involved - and there are always plenty of additional people involved when complex plots of this nature get uncovered and, thankfully, stopped before serious violence is done.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

24-Apr-16: What the fate of a pre-teen Arab girl says about the grip terror has on her society

Dima Al-Wawi: Tried and failed to kill Jews and now doomed to life
as a jihadist role-model [Image Source]
Many hundreds, maybe more, of news reports and Tweets today celebrate the release today of a twelve year-old girl, arrested and imprisoned by the Israeli authorities to a term of four and a half months. 

When she was arrested on February 9, 2016, all the news reports we saw agreed [for instance Al Araby and Times of Israel] that the child was 16. That was shocking enough for us to include her in a post here on our blog ["09-Feb-16: The unthinkable things Palestinian Arab society wants for and from its children"] in which numerous other children of about that age had been intercepted trying to murder Jews. 

This girl child is free again today. The relevant authorities here in Israel agreed to shorten her sentence by six weeks for reasons no one is talking about

The general flavor of today's reports and Tweets is captured by headlines like these:
We have written before about the exceptionally ugly process underway in which children are encouraged and incited to get involved in acts of terror against Israelis by the PA, Hamas and Palestinian Arab society. Not for nothing, we see these people as being in the grip of a death cult. 

There's no Arabic-language messsage today (as far as we can tell after searching around) that fails to sound a note of triumph. This rather sad-faced twelve year old girl is going to be paraded around as a hero whether she wants it or not. 

It does not have to be that way. After all, this child is more than just a prisoner who was freed. She pulled a knife on a couple of Israelis and tried to kill them. That's not a legal statement but a straight-forward observation of what happened. It's captured on video. She formed the intention, to the extent a child can, to murder.

To be clear about this, it's not only Palestinian Arab children who kill or try to kill. Sometimes - though not so often - it's because they really, really want to. Sometimes it's because people older and more powerful than them require that they do it. Civilized society has views on what that means and what we ought to do about it. 

For instance, the phenomenally-well-funded Human Rights Watch have this on their"Children's rights" page:
A symbol whether she wants to be or not [Reuters]
Millions of children... are forced to serve as soldiers in armed conflict... Young and immature, they are often easily exploited. In many cases, they are abused by the very individuals responsible for their care. We are working to help protect children around the world, so they can grow into adults.
And even when forced in the most violent way into joining the ranks of the jihadist terrorists, child victims - like thousands of Nigerian children [see "Boko Haram escapees find life at home can be filled with distrust, rejection", AP, today] - arouse mixed feelings, unjustifiably most of us would say, in their own community. 

But that's not how Palestinian Arab society views children and terrorism. 

We have noted before that, since they use the term "easily exploited", the people who run HRW are surely enraged by what's being done to Palestinian Arab children by the religious, educational and political leaders of their communities. But if they are, and if they know what has been done by her own society to this Al-Wawi girl and to hordes of others as young as she, we're surely not seeing any sign of it. Again we ask: If anyone knows of HRW condemnation of the fostering among Palestinian Arab children of martyrdom/murder as supreme values, please click here to enlighten us.

Some months ago, we quoted here [20-Oct-15: Children and what a soulless society can do to them] the words of an acclaimed leader of oppressed people:

 "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." - Nelson Mandela 1918-2013, addressing the launch of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, Pretoria, South Africa, May 8, 1995 [source]
In the hands of her father today: a future foretold [Telegraph UK]
The question needs to be asked: where is UNICEFOr Save the Childrenor Terre des Hommes, or the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement or even the dishonorable Amnesty International (on whom we have not yet entirely given up hope)? Or the other well-funded, high-profile public interest organizations that purport to care for the welfare of children but that take so little interest in the unfolding tragedy of the children of the Palestinian Arabs and the terror-obsessed jihadists cheating them of their future?

24-Apr-16: Weaponizing children: Here's one way it's done in Jerusalem

Honored guests at the Jebel Mukaber school in March: the man in the center
is the very proud father of a murderer whose victims we name here
[From the Facebook page of the Jabel Mukaber school]
In understanding what happened about two weeks ago in an elementary school in an Arab neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, it will help to know that an incredible proportion of Palestinian Arabs profess to be opposed to terrorism while at the same time saying (as we pointed out in "03-Nov-15: What do they mean when the Palestinian Arabs say they oppose terror?") that massacres of innocent civilians, and especially of Jews, aren't even terrorist acts to begin with.

Keep the mental gymnastics in mind as we take a look at what happened there about a month ago - but has only just now been reported.

The Jabel Mukaber elementary school [Facebook] is located in a part of Jerusalem that has that same name, immediately adjacent to the flourishing neighborhood of East Talpiot/Armon Hanatziv.

Family members of the honored jihadists at a Jerusalem elementary
school ceremony  [From the Facebook page of the Jabel Mukaber school]
For centuries, this was part of Turkey's Ottoman Empire holdings. It fell within the British Mandate from the early twenties until 1948. The name Armon Hanatziv is Hebrew for Governor's Palace, where the reference is to the head of the British occupation which took power after the Turks were defeated in World War One and chased away. Then it fell under Jordanian military occupation from 1948, when Jordanian forces invaded the infant state of Israel. The Jordanians ruled until June 1967 when the Jordanian monarch's military was repelled after launching another unsuccessful shot at conquering the Jewish state, Israel has been in charge since 1967.

The Jabel Mukaber school, for Arab children between kindergarten and grade 9, is funded, according to Ynet, by what it terms "Islamic officials". On the school's Facebook site, a series of photographs posted March 22 and March 24, 2016 [here and here - but we think both were removed within an hour of our uploading this post] mark a ceremonial visit to the school and its children by various family members of two young men, Baha Aliyan and Mohammed Ali.

A practical illustration of how the weaponization of children is
done: Jabel Mukaber school yard, March 2016, as children are taught
to pay homage to two dead jihadists, one who murdered 3 Jews and
one who was stopped in time [From the Facebook
page of the Jabel Mukaber school
Who were they? Aliyan was a central player in the murderous attack on Israelis traveling on a Jerusalem city bus six months ago ["13-Oct-15: A bloody day and the malevolence behind it"]. He and an accomplice boarded the crowded Egged 78 line bus in Armon Hanaziv, wildly shooting and stabbing passengers.

They murdered Haviv Haim, 78; Alon Govberg, 51; and Richard Lakin, a 76-year-old former American school principal and civil rights activist, who was shot in the head and stabbed in the chest and died after a two-week struggle with his critical injuries.

Mr Lakin's son Micha Avni was later quoted referring to the hideous Palestinian Arab incitement that is found on the Facebook platform, saying of his father that “He died as a result of the same incitement and hatred he fought against his entire life.” Some days after the murders, Micha Avni was among 20,000 other plaintiffs who brought
a class-action lawsuit... in New York State Supreme Court...  against Facebook accusing the social media platform of ignoring widespread Palestinian posts calling for violence against Jews, which was filed Monday [and claiming] that Facebook posts have inspired many recent terror attacks and that “Facebook’s algorithms and platform connects inciters to terrorists who are further encouraged to perpetrate stabbings and other violence attacks against Israelis [Times of Israel, October 27, 2015]
The Islamic school in Jabel Mukaber
honors the life of the thug who murdered
the author of this book [Image Source]
Mr Lakin, one of Aliyan's innocent victims, was the author of a book titled “Teaching as an Act of Love”? Subtitled "Thoughts and Recollections of a Former Teacher, Principal and Kid", it's still available from Amazon.

Did the Jabel Mukaber ceremony note this, and the tragic irony of the circumstances in which Mr Lakin met death? Not exactly. According to Ynet ["Families of Palestinian terrorists visit East Jerusalem school", April 24, 2016],
After his son's attack, Mohammad Aliyan launched a commemoration campaign in honor of his son, which included among other things encouraging children to read. During an event held in memory of the terrorist at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, Aliyan explained that "if the nation isn't educated, it won't be able to confront the occupation. Baha is an idea, and an idea will never die. Today, I have more than 1,000 Bahas. The students will carry out his legacy."
If Aliyan senior condemned the vicious orgy of violence which was his son's final act in life, or suggested the late Mr Lakin's book as something work reading, there's not a word of that in the Arabic text on the school's Facebook or in any of the several reports we have seen online about the ceremonial visit to the school. 

Aliyan's son was a killer, and the father - at a ceremony for elementary school children honoring him - speaks of his life as an idea that will never die. Idea? Of course: the Jabel Mukaber school's Facebook page praises the terrorists and their families, and thanks the families for their visit. The idea is clear.

Another jihadist was honored in the same event. Family members of Mohammed Ali, shot by Israeli forces after he carried out a knifing attack at the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem's Old City, also took part. (We think he's the 19 year-old stabber in the video and photos here.) We don't know if anyone call Ali's life or death an idea. But we do know he was killed while carrying out an attempted murder.

Last and certainly not least, several representatives of the Palestinian Ministry of Education took part in the homage to a pair of terrorist thugs.

There's no rush among Israeli authorities to address the naked incitement-to-murder that's being drilled into the heads of many thousands of Palestinian Arab children in the suburbs of Jerusalem. Ynet asked the authorities what they were planning to about what we have just described:
The Jerusalem municipality responded by saying that the event took place at a private school that isn't regulated by the municipality or the Israeli Ministry of Education. Therefore, they don't have the ability to interfere with what is being taught there. There are many private schools in East Jerusalem which are not under the purview of the Israeli Ministry of Education, and they receive no funding from the ministry or from the municipality... School officials refused to comment. "Families of Palestinian terrorists visit East Jerusalem school", Ynet, April 24, 2016]
Sorry to have to point it out but that head-in-the-stand attitude is deadly, indefensible, and costs lives. Here, from a very brief scan of our own blog, are some recent acts of terrorist Arab-on-Israel murders in which the perpetrators were all residents of Jabel Mukaber - perhaps even graduates of the same school (we don't know):
For those with a mind for remembering such things, the vile killers of several rabbis in a synagogue in Jerusalem's Har Nof section came from Jabel Mukaber, a massacre of unarmed men at prayer that caused an eruption of celebration there in its immediate aftermath ["26-Dec-14: The ongoing search for Arabic-language outrage at the men with the meat-cleavers and knives"]. 

And zero condemnation.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

21-Apr-16: The Hamas jihadists claim the Jerusalem bus bombing as one of their own

Jerusalem: Not 1996, not 2001 - this week [Image Source]
When a Jerusalem bus went up in flames on Monday, causing serious injuries to passengers and damage to several vehicles, there was some question at first about whether to call it an accident, or - this being Jerusalem - to look for a terrorist behind the injuries and harm. The conclusions took time to emerge ["18-Apr-16: A Jerusalem bus has exploded"] as the security people gathered evidence and waited to interview some of the injured from the bus. But we now know.
A Palestinian militant from the occupied West Bank who was wounded when his bomb exploded on an Israeli commuter bus in Jerusalem on Monday has died, an Israeli hospital spokeswoman and a pro-Hamas website said on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem hospital where the wounded man was treated confirmed he had succumbed to his injuries. Israeli authorities have placed a gag order on the investigation and declined to release any details. The pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Centre identified him as Abdel-Hamid Abu Srour from the Ayda refugee camp near Bethlehem and said he was a member of the Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas militant Islamist group... Israeli medical sources said six people wounded by the blast were still being treated in hospital, the rest had been released by late Wednesday... ["Palestinian wounded in Jerusalem bus bombing dies, Hamas claims him", Reuters, April 20, 2016]
The "militant" is reported to be 19 and has permanently ceased to be an "activist". He will however remain a terrorist and, given the theological orientation implied by the Hamas connection, a jihadist. In Palestinian Arab society, he is now upgraded to "martyr". The shahid posters [click here - we won't reproduce it here] are already on the walls of Arab villages and cities this morning. They are indispensable to the ongoing efforts in every part of Palestinian Arab society to dredge up still more murder-minded bombers, stabbers, shooters and vehicle-rammers. (Small case in point: read what the mother of this week's bomber said, and knew, and didn't do: click.)

How young men and women with unlived lives and unattained achievements ahead of them choose unfathomable hatred as their path and endanger their own lives for the prospect of killing or maiming Jews doesn't get the attention it ought to. There is a process at work, as we wrote yesterday ["20-Apr-16: After Monday's Jerusalem bus bombing, questions (again) about education, children and money"]. That process is totally disguised by analysis like that on display in the same Reuters report, where readers are told
Factors driving the violence include Palestinian bitterness over stalled statehood negotiations and the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, increased Jewish access to a disputed Jerusalem shrine and Islamist-led calls for Israel's destruction.
How differently that bloodshed would look if the news reporting industry placed it in a franker context and with a more comprehensive listing of motivations.

Perhaps editors ought to be encouraged to start with the reality that Arab-on-Israeli terrorism began decades before Israel gained statehood in 1948, and much earlier than the creation of this thing Reuters calls West Bank settlements. Yes, there are many factors, but presenting the grievances as if they were recent is a distortion of the bigotry behind the savagery.

And perhaps those editors might, from time to time, show dancing in the streets where Palestinian Arabs live - dancing for joy, chanting their appreciation for a murderer, declaiming their bigoted hatred for other people whom they don't know but who fit a certain category. Like this Arabic-language video clip from Wednesday - four and a half minutes of video focused on open, undisguised and enthusiastic celebration of murder on the streets of Bethlehem. Yes, Bethlehem.

None of this influences the essentially humane approach of Israeli society which understands why a murderous fanatic like the freshly-deceased jihadist gets treated in one of Israel's best emergency hospitals, Shaarei Zedek Medical Center. Along with Hadassah's two Jerusalem campuses, it's one of the easiest places in Israel to snap photographs of Arabs and Jews mingling with almost zero friction, if that's the sort of message a news reporter ever wanted to convey.

When did you last see that sort of news story?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

20-Apr-16: Actions, words and honor in the dangerously complicated Middle East

The Getty Images photo from this morning in Riyadh shows the US president
shaking hands with Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdelaziz al-Saud,
Governor of Riyadh, as he arrives at King Khalid International Airport
in the Saudi capital
The president of the United States flew into Saudi Arabia today (Wednesday) for a brief visit. Mostly, it's about a one-on-one meeting with Saudi's absolute ruler, King Salman. But there's something else at work here for those sufficiently astute to notice it.

The background, rather well known in this part of the world, is the matter of stresses, strains and surprising changes in the relations that prevail between the US and the Saudis.

The triggers for the tensions are (a) Obama's stunning redesign on how Washington sees Iran, with massively negative reverberations for Israel and (b) the zig-zagging US policy in relation to the country formerly known as Syria -but today who knows?

Here's the description of today's Salman/Obama encounter as reported by an American network, ABC News:
Under crystal chandeliers, the Saudi monarch greeted Obama in a grand foyer at Erga Palace, where the two walked slowly to a reception room as the small of incense wafted. The two offered polite smiles as they sat down side by side for pictures at the start of their two-hour private meeting. "The American people send their greetings and we are very grateful for your hospitality, not just for this meeting but for hosting the GCC-U.S. summit that's taking place tomorrow," Obama said, referring to the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council summit. King Salman offered similarly gracious words for the president, who is paying his fourth trip here for face-to-face meetings and photos with royal rulers since becoming president. "The feeling is mutual between us and the American people," the king said through a translator.
The president was slated to spend little more than 24 hours in the Saudi capital before heading on to visits to London and Hannover, Germany.
Notice anything unusual there? No, neither did we until we saw a memo from Dr Harold Rhode a few hours ago.

We first quoted Dr Rhode in this blog two years ago ["06-Oct-14: Oh Jerusalem"] when he noticed what most others didn't about the backsides of Muslim worshipers praying outdoors on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. We won't quote his observation here but please click to see what he wrote. His insightful comments may add to your day. They did to ours.

Dr Rhode is an astute and uncommonly well-informed observer of life in the Islamic world, Serving as a professor of Islamic history at the University of Delaware in the early eighties, his career evolved into being an expert on the Islamic world for the US government. Between 1994 and 2010, he advised on Islamic Affairs in the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon's think-tank.

Dr Rhode evidently saw reports of the Obama visit to the Saudis earlier today, including these unobtrusive lines:
Dressed in a grey suit, Obama emerged at 1:14 pm (10:14 GMT) and descended the steps of Air Force One onto a red carpet at the Saudi capital’s King Khalid International Airport. Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz, the governor of Riyadh, greeted him. Unusually, Saudi state news channel Al-Ekhbaria did not broadcast Obama’s arrival, as it had done during his last visit – more than a year ago – to pay respects after the death of King Salman’s predecessor King Abdullah... [Agence-France Press, today]
Dr Rhode's observations (unpublished, as far as we know) are:
In the Middle East, actions speak louder than words. Direct verbal confrontation is frowned upon, so we must look to actions to understand what message people wish to convey. It is in this context that we must understand how deeply the Saudis humiliated Obama today by sending a lower-ranking official. Protocol would demand that the King to greet Obama, because Obama is a fellow Head of State. Thus, the Saudis signaled that they are humiliating Obama, both to the Middle East and the Muslim world in general. No words are necessary. Everyone there got the message.
Everyone got the message? Dr Rhode again:
I wonder whether the American officials responsible for Saudi Affairs understood this as a insult.  After all so much seems to go over their heads.
Later today, the Obama/Salman
get-together [Image Source]
AFP's reporting today focuses on the fence-mending character of today's tete-a-tete. They remind readers that the White House is emphasising "the strength of an alliance that has endured more than 70 years... [and] seeking to minimise the frictions."

But there's another side to this as Dr Rhode noted. AFP chooses to explain that via Mustafa Alani, a senior adviser to the Gulf Research Center. whom they quote today saying the Obama presidency has been “100 percent negative” for the region, a legacy of “keeping his distance.”

Obama met with Salman in Saudi Arabia  ["Obama Seeks to Bolster Ties With Saudi Arabia", Voice of America, January 27, 2015] at the state funeral of the previous ruler, the present king's half-brother, 15 months ago. At that distant time, King Salman
led an honor guard of senior Saudi princes and officials to greet the Obamas as they disembarked, including the crown prince and deputy crown prince and the kingdom's veteran oil minister Ali al-Naimi... 
Today's meeting of the two is likely to be the last formal meeting of the two heads of state during the Obama presidency. Given the difficulties the American side seem to be having with reading the map, this might not be so bad.

20-Apr-16: Parliamentary committee says UK govt doesn't fully know how taxpayer funds are spent

Session of UK parliamentary Public Accounts Committee
[Image Source]
A report [here] of the UK Parliament's Public Accounts Committee has concluded, according to a summary posted on the parliamentary website today, that the UK government - which in this case specifically means the UK's Department For International Development (DFID) and its Foreign Office - does not fully understand how taxpayers' money is spent when it intervenes in crises overseas.

Does does this have any bearing on the years of UK taxpayer funds being handed over as aid to the terrorism-addicted PA regime ["13-Apr-16: Parliament will debate UK funding of the PA's Rewards for Terror scheme"]? Remember? Those millions of pounds of aid given annually to people about whom the Mail on Sunday published a blistering expose four weeks ago?
The scandal of how Britain fritters away billions in foreign aid – including paying salaries to convicted terrorists who have murdered hundreds of innocent people – is exposed today by a major MoS investigation. The shocking revelation that thousands of Palestinian terrorists, including men who have masterminded suicide bombings and murdered children, are given cash handouts from aid money will cause anger and disbelief, particularly in the wake of the Brussels massacres. Our probe exposed how huge amounts of taxpayers’ cash, that critics say should be spent in Britain, is being ‘squandered’ on wasteful schemes elsewhere by the Department For International Development (DFID) and Foreign Office. [Mail on Sunday UK, via the Daily Mail website, March 27, 2016]
It will be interesting to see how parliamentarians respond to self-justifying declarations from the UK's foreign aid bureaucracy like this one, quoted in the Daily Mail on March 26, 2016:
"DFID insists that the government is 'cutting wasteful programmes and making sure spending is in the national interest... Our aid programme is helping to create a more prosperous and stable world in which the UK can stand tall and flourish."
The man on the left, wearing a keffiyeh on which the Arabic words "Free
Palestine" are emblazoned, is Dr Alistair McPhail, the UK's Consul-General
to Jerusalem. The photo was published in 2014 [here] by Islamic Relief
Palestine, shortly after McPhail visited Gaza City to open a new laboratory
at Al-Azhar University, an Egyptian institution with a campus
in the Islamist-controlled Hamas enclave. The lab was part-funded
via British government foreign aid
We may soon get a better sense of how that whole stand-tall-and-flourish strategy is working out because, as we reported a week ago here, the full parliament, not just a committee, is going to be debating the issues raised by a petition [text here] triggered by the Daily Mail's expose. That's now due to happen on June 13, 2016. 

European - and British - foreign aid money, along with taxpayer funds from several other Western countries, have served as the indispensable fuel that has enabled more than a decade and a half of systematic Palestinian Arab acts of terror and murder. The connection between PA corruption, malevolence and mendacity through the Arafat and Abbas years has been there at all times for anyone who wanted to see. Now there's a chance for this to be stopped.

Please read and share our other recent pieces about this ongoing terror-funding scandal:
Also: one small reminder (among many) of how utterly confident British public servants can sound about funding dangerous causes of an Islamic nature, right up until the moment when their mistakes (read: incompetence, arrogance, perhaps willful avoidance of the issues) are demonstrated to them in ways they can no longer dismiss, see this post from nearly a decade ago: "4-Aug-06: BBC Exposes Hamas' UK Terror Financiers".

How much better is everything been done now, ten years later? We might learn.

20-Apr-16: After Monday's Jerusalem bus bombing, questions (again) about education, children and money

Handing out candies on an Arab street hours after a Jerusalem bus bombing
[Image Source]
The debris and wreckage has barely been cleared from southern Jerusalem's Moshe Baram Street in the aftermath of Monday's Egged Line 12 bus bombing and it's already possible to identify several clear lines of reaction.

Among Israelis, there's concern for the victims, several of whom are still hospitalized and wondering at what hit them and their loved ones: "11 still hospitalized, 1 critical, after Jerusalem bombing", Times of Israel, April 19, 2016; "Bus bomb survivor: I looked for my daughter, found her ‘all burned’", JTA, April 19, 2016; "Bus attack victim survived 2001 Sbarro's bombing", Israel National News, April 19, 2016. The current speculation, but not backed any official statements, is that the most severely injured of the victims now being treated intensively in a Jerusalem hospital, is the person who carried the bomb.

There's also growing Israeli anxiety at the prospect that bombings, and the hideous things that generally accompany them, are going to be come a larger part of our lives in the coming days and months. The Arab-on-Israeli violence of the past seven months has been rich in shootings, vehicle-rammings and stabbings with multiple murders and many maimings as a result, It's been clear from the outset that things will get more serious when the Arab leaders want them to.

From a page full of similar photos capturing the celebrations, marked by candies,
of Arabs in Jerusalem this past Monday [Image Source: Alquds News]
So how have the Arabs responded?

From the Islamist savages of Hamas in Gaza, they don't claim to have been behind it (though no one on the counter-terror side thinks bombings of this sort are beyond Hamas' capabilities or agenda), but they are perfectly comfortable with sitting back and watching it unfold. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, quoted here by Hamas, portentously described the attempt at a massacre of Jews as a “natural response to the Israeli crimes and in particular the executions and defiling of the Al-Aqsa Mosque”. Near-identical language is attributed to a Palestinian Arab "human rights" figure, speaking [here via an Iranian news site] seven months ago. We strongly believe statements of this sort ought to be believed. Nothing, given their education and cultural and ethical values, is more natural to terror-addicted Palestinian Arab "militants" than killing Israeli civilians in public places.

Hamas "welcomes the Jerusalem operation", while warning that exploding the bus is “just the beginning”. But in reality, it's just another chapter. The beginning was generations ago, and the interruptions have been few and short.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad called the terror attack "a qualitative development in form and substance of the blessed intifada" [here, via Khaled Abu Toameh].  Fatah, headed by the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and the largest faction in today's PLO, called it [here in Arabic] a "Nabil Massoud martyrdom operation" though no one appears to have been martyred, and even though Fatah calls itself secular as opposed to the Islamists for whom martyrdom is a supreme religious value. But who are we to judge other people's theologies? Fatah called the bus bombing attack
"a new focal point in the history of the conflict with the occupation, and the beginning of a new phase of confrontation with him six months after the outbreak of the Jerusalem uprising... Martyrdom operations are the military option supported by all the Palestinian people and its different components... among our strategies to defend our people... It is a confirmation of the victory of the resistance option and the failure of the settlement project, a painful blow to (PA/Israel) security coordination,.." [Al Resalah (Arabic), April 19, 2016]
Video of the first dramatic minutes after the explosion were captured by Arik Abuloff, a firefighter of the Israel Fire and Rescue Service, via his helmet-mounted wearable video camera

Towards the end, we see Abuloff entering the destroyed hulks of the two buses, searching for victims and to see if the cause of the explosion could be identified. The official count of injured people is 21 , two of them seriously, and that the conflagration was caused by a bomb detonating on board one of the two buses, setting the adjacent bus on fire. A third bus near by, and a car, also went up in flames.

We mentioned Khaled Abu Toameh a moment ago. He has an overview of the Arab reaction to Monday's barbarism ["Celebrating Terrorism, Palestinian Style"], Khaled Abu Toameh on Gatestone Institute website, April 19, 2016] which, like most of his published analysis, is among the most valuable things a person wanting to understand the Arab perspective from an Arab cultural standpoint - but free of any addiction to jihadist thinking.
The Palestinian jubilation over yesterday's terror bombing in Jerusalem, the first of its kind since the suicide bombings during the Second Intifada more than a decade ago, is yet another reminder of the growing radicalization among Palestinians... The public statements of the Palestinian leaders and groups after the Jerusalem terror attack are yet another sign of how they continue to incite their people against Israel. These are the type of statements that prompt Palestinian men and women to grab a knife (or in this case an explosive device) and set out to kill the first Jew they run into... The major obstacle to peace with Israel remains the absence of education for peace with Israel. In fact, it is safe to say that there never was a real attempt on the part of Palestinian leaders and factions to prepare their people for peace with Israel. On the contrary, the message they send to their people remains extremely anti-Israel. [Abu Toameh, yesterday]
Caption in Arabic informs that these happy campers living in
Nahr al-Bared, a Lebanese "refugee" camp are celebrating the news of
a bus filled with Jews being bombed in Jerusalem [Image Source]
In his customarily mild way, Abu Toameh notes that the public manifestations he mentioned call into doubt
the Palestinian leadership's and people's willingness to move toward peace and coexistence with Israel... Within hours of the attack, Palestinian factions seemed to be competing with each other over who would issue the most supportive statement of the terror explosion... Palestinian factions rushed to issue statements applauding the "heroic operation" and urging Palestinians to pursue the path of armed struggle against Israel. The Palestinian jubilation over the terror attack, the first of its kind since the suicide bombings during the Second Intifada more than a decade ago, is yet another reminder of the growing radicalization among Palestinians. This radicalization is mostly attributed to the ongoing anti-Israel incitement and indoctrination by various Palestinian factions and leaders... Hamas leader, Hussar Badran, also praised the terror attack. He said his movement was determined to pursue the resistance to "expel the occupation from our Palestinian lands." When Hamas leaders talk about "expelling the occupation from the Palestinian lands," they mean that Israel should be eliminated and replaced with an Islamist empire. [Abu Toameh, yesterday]
That last point is little appreciated or understood outside of the neighbourhood where we live. Occupation is a code word for these people.

Again: "The major obstacle to peace with Israel remains the absence of education for peace with Israel"Education means not only, but mainly, children

It's a constant wonder to us that the very-well-funded children's rights industry, a classification that includes multi-million dollar/euro global behemoths like UNICEFDefence for Children InternationalUNESCOChild Rights International Network, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Washington-based Jerusalem FundSave the ChildrenArab Council for Childhood Development and others remain unmoved, and uncriticized, in the face of their complete failure to address what Abu Toameh has just mentioned. The news media look the other way, the funders keep giving without pausing to think what they are enabling, and the managements go merrily down the path of ignoring - and therefore de facto supporting - a process we have called the Palestinian Arab weaponization of their own children.

What will it take for this scandal to be addressed in a responsible and child-sensitive, education-focused way? Why does nothing constructive continue to get done about it for decade after decade? Anyone seriously suggesting these things are unknown is blowing smoke. They're known, and they're ignored.

Are you paying attention, UNICEF?

Monday, April 18, 2016

18-Apr-16: When the hopelessness of life in Gaza gets cycled back into the news again, keep this tunnel in mind

Truckloads of cement shipped to Gaza via Israel,
November 25, 2014 [Image Source: Getty]
Why are so many Gazan Palestinian Arabs still homeless? Because that's what Hamas wants, and what Hamas wants, Hamas - with its total, iron-fisted control of resources inside the Gaza Strip - gets.

This morning (Monday), Israeli officials revealed that, about ten days ago, the IDF
had found a concrete-lined tunnel stretching hundreds of meters from Gaza into Israel, reminiscent of dozens of tunnels destroyed by the army during a 50-day war with Hamas-led fighters in 2014 launched in part to thwart the underground passages. Speaking to reporters in his Jerusalem office, Netanyahu warned Hamas against trying to harm Israeli citizens and vowed that Jerusalem will continue to invest heavily in mechanisms to detect tunnels dug from Gaza into Israel. “The government is investing a fortune in thwarting the threat of tunnels. This is an ongoing effort; it does not end overnight; we are investing in it and will continue to invest steadily and firmly,” he said. [Times of Israel, April 18, 2016]
(And a second tunnel discovery may be on the way.)

For Israelis, this is a major story: concrete proof of where the Islamists of Hamas are focusing efforts; validation for the restrictions imposed lately on cement shipments into Gaza; a taste of what might be around the corner this summer; and a sign that the exceptionally thorny matter of how you detect an enemy's attack-tunnels might have a technological solution.

The IDF is still not saying whether the tunnel was destroyed, sealed off or preserved, and the military censor is making efforts to ensure its location remains a secret, Times of Israel speculates today that wherever it is, there's no sign that the tunnel emerged inside the Israeli communities closest to the southern Gaza Strip, namely Holit or Sufa. It must be seriously long.

The Guardian ["Israeli military uncovers first Hamas tunnel into Israel since 2014 war", April 18, 2016] says the tunnel runs some 30-40 metres below the surface of the ground, and is equipped with rails to facilitate further excavation, concrete-slab walls, communication lines and air supply. It quotes an IDF spokesperson saying it extends several hundred metres into, and under, Israel and is large enough for a person to stand upright.

Signs of an impending tunnel discovery (or two) have been around for the past month, There were reports during March of Israeli bulldozers barreling into Gaza near the southern city of Rafah and taking up positions on the Hamas side of the border, leading to unsubstantiated speculation that a tunnel or two had been found. An Iranian news report on March 19, 2016 sticks to megaphoning the misery of Gaza's teeming masses without any hint of where the cement that is being withheld from Gazan home-builders is actually going:
Israeli bulldozers and military vehicles have reportedly intruded into the Palestinian border town of Rafah in the blockaded Gaza Strip, locals say. Witnesses said four bulldozers and vehicles belonging to the Israeli military conducted an incursion into the southern town in Gaza, where Egyptian forces demolished over 1,000 homes earlier this week to create a so-called buffer zone. Egyptian officials said Tuesday that the country’s military had razed to the ground at least 1,020 homes in Rafah, near the border with southern Gaza Strip, in the second phase of an operation to create a buffer zone with the Israeli-besieged territory... The Gaza Strip has been under Israel’s blockade since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty. [PressTV - Iran, March 19, 2016]
Then just four days ago, another IDF entry into Gaza was reported ["Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by drones, level land in Gaza"] by Ma'an News Agency
Several Israeli bulldozers entered into the southern Gaza Strip early Thursday and leveled land near the borderline, locals said. Witnesses told Ma'an that four Israeli military bulldozers entered dozens of meters into the eastern Rafah district and leveled lands near the border fence. They added that Israeli drones were flying above the area at the time. No shooting was reported.
An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into the reports.
Locals have reported incursions into the Rafah district by Israeli bulldozers and drones on a near-daily basis in the past ten days... The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported at least 30 incidents of Israeli military forces opening fire in the "buffer zone" in the first week of April alone, in two cases injuring Palestinians were were as far as 350 meters away from the border... [Ma'an, April 14, 2016]
Naturally, the people from OCHA maintain a long-standing UN tradition of seeing no evil, hearing no evil and reporting no evil even as massive attack-tunnel construction - and cement pilfering by Hamas officials - goes on month after month right under their noses.

The Guardian skips the part about how Hamas operatives in Gaza seize construction materials and cement before they reach the hands of those building replacement homes for the thousands destroyed in the summer 2014 war with Israel. It is a little less shy about Hamas' attack tunnel agenda:
Hamas has made no bones about its ambition to construct offensive tunnels. Its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, recently told a rally of supporters inside Gaza: “Our message to the prisoners is a message inked in blood. The rifle and the tunnel are our commitment...”
[A] senior Israeli commander said Hamas was intensifying its tunnel-digging efforts. “Hamas is digging tunnels for purposes of offence and defence,” a senior Southern Command officer said, noting that efforts to dig underground paths into Israel began before the 2014 Gaza hostilities and continued afterwards. “The working assumption is that other invading tunnels exist. We are active anywhere there is such concern,” they said. The issue of new Hamas tunnel-digging activities came under renewed scrutiny after Christmas when residents in Israeli communities on the Gaza border said they believed they had heard the sounds of what they thought was digging. [The Guardian, April 18, 2016]
Other media channels, mainly Israeli of course, don't share The Guardian's pickiness. See "Accusing Hamas of Pilfering, Israel Halts Cement Deliveries to Gaza" [Haaretz, April 4, 2016]. And this telling quotation from a UN official in a Times of Israel news report of the same date:
The United Nations also condemned the “deviation of materials” in a statement released on Monday, but refrained from naming Hamas as responsible. “Those who seek to gain through the deviation of materials are stealing from their own people and adding to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza,” said Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process. “The people of Gaza depend on the entry of construction material to repair and reconstruct their damaged and destroyed houses following the 2014 conflict and to enable much-needed infrastructure and development projects,” Mladenov said, referring to the devastating 50-day war fought between Israel and Hamas in summer 2014. This freeze is not intended to be enduring, and will only remain in place until the issue can be more thoroughly explored, a COGAT spokesperson told The Times of Israel... ["Israel halts cement to Gaza, to keep it out of Hamas’s hands", Times of Israel, April 4, 2016]
There's also some excellent background in an analysis piece by Liel Leibovitz ["Some concrete facts about Hamas | Guess how many skyscrapers the terror organization could’ve built instead of tunnels", The Tablet, July 23, 2014] penned right after the Hamas catastrophe of two summers ago.