Friday, April 28, 2017

28-Apr-17: Calling the Jordanians to account for the cold-blooded murder of three Green Berets

Jim Moriarty salutes his murdered son's coffin [Image Source]
It's now clear we are not alone in struggling to achieve justice over the objections, double-talk and calculated indifference of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Regular readers of our blog know that we are battling to get Jordan to comply with its obligations under the 1995 Extradition Treaty it signed with the Clinton administration. Within that framework, we - and the FBI and the Department of Justice - want them to hand over our daughter's murderer, a Jordanian woman called Ahlam Tamimi, to the US authorities in order to have her face trial for serious offences. 

Tamimi was charged in July 2013 with a series of felonies arising from her masterminding the 2001 massacre-by-human-bomb at Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria. Our daughter Malki, 15, was killed in that grotesque act of savagery. Dozens more were killed or maimed. The charges against Tamimi were in a sealed criminal complaint that remained secret until unsealed nearly four years later, on March 14, 2017. We presume the Department of Justice was attempting to negotiate with the Jordanians during those four years. The Jordanians eventually refused and have come up with several reasons.

Jordan's brazen approach to the US demand includes claiming 22 years after it was signed that the extradition agreement is unconstitutional. Or that it was never ratified (does anyone actually know who has to ratify it? And why can they not ratify it today?). Or that it is somehow not applicable to Jordanians. Whatever, since Jordan is owned and operated by a family whose origins are Saudi Arabian and who dominate a society whose population overwhelmingly identify as Palestinian Arabs, no one expects a serious response. What's significant is simply that Jordan is saying "no"... and that Tamimi is regarded as a national hero in Jordan because - and not despite the fact that - she committed those 2001 murders.

There's no doubt the extradition treaty was regarded as binding at an earlier stage (and still is by the Americans). Under King Hussein, who is no longer alive, Jordan handed over to the US one of the plotters of the first World Trade Center terror attack from 1993 for extradition and eventual imprisonment inside America's justice system.

Here's how that extradition from Jordan was reported:
Bomb Suspect Extradited to the U.S. From Jordan | August 03, 1995 | Los Angeles Times | Robin Wright and Ronald J. Ostrow
WASHINGTON — In a closely held operation, the FBI on Wednesday brought back from Jordan a heretofore unknown suspect in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, government sources disclosed. Eyad Ismail Najim, a Jordanian national, allegedly rode with Ramzi Ahmed Yousef in the bomb-packed van when it was driven into the underground parking lot of the trade center in New York City... Like Yousef, he left the United States shortly after the bomb went off on Feb. 26, 1993. The explosion killed six, injured more than 1,000 and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. Yousef was brought back to the United States from Pakistan in another FBI covert operation last February. The two seizures of prominent suspects in the worst international terrorist attack ever to take place inside the United States rank among the biggest counter-terrorism successes ever achieved by U.S. law enforcement agencies. President Clinton is expected to issue a statement today heralding the U.S. victories against international terrorism, White House sources said.
Najim has been under sealed indictment since shortly after the other suspects were arrested and indicted, according to government sources. U.S. intelligence has long known where to find Najim but the FBI was unable to request extradition until a treaty was worked out with Jordan in March, the sources said. The final instruments of extradition were completed and exchanged last Saturday, allowing the FBI to proceed. The indictment had been sealed to ensure that Najim would not learn that he had been identified and try to flee again. While in Jordan, he was enrolled in school. Like many of the other trade center defendants, Najim is described as fairly young. "He thought he got away with it," one law enforcement official said. Najim was flown from Amman, the Jordanian capital, aboard a U.S. government plane and was expected to arrive at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., a former Air Force base, and then be taken to the FBI's New York office for processing.
Ismoil is imprisoned today at the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum (ADMAX) Facility in Florence, Colorado. He is due to be released on August 30, 2204 (not a typing error).

King Hussein's son, Abdullah II, has the powers of an absolute monarch. He could choose to see to it that his country complies with the extradition treaty. No constitution or law or customary practice would get in the way. So far, at least, he chooses to do nothing.

At the same time, he engages in self-congratulatory Tweets honoring his contribution to the fight against terrorists - like this:
Twitter source (April 5, 2017)
We were struck by the hubris, and asked him:
Twitter source (April 27, 2017)
No response of course. Nor did his foreign minister trouble himself to react to this:
Twitter source (April 28, 2017)

Recently we have had the honor of coming to know the father of one of three US Special Forces servicemen whose deaths while serving the United States on the territory of one its supposed allies in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan during November 2016 has barely been reported. We wrote about it at the time, and it turns out our predictions were not far from the mark: "18-Nov-16: American service personnel killings in the Mid East get scant reporting and even less comprehension".

The Hashemite royal couple visiting the Trump
White House, April 5, 2017 [Image Source
Jordan is holding the shooter and will not extradite him to the United States either.

Here is a first-person account, reproduced in full, written by Jim Moriarty, a man who served his country via three tours of duty as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam, and is today a Houston attorney and a bereaved and angry father. His son was one of the three murdered in Jordan.
Jordan must stand to account for deaths of U.S. soldiers | James R. Moriarty | Houston Chronicle (Associated Press) | March 30, 2017 
A Jordanian soldier killed my son Army Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty and two of his Green Beret brothers as they returned at midday to King Faisal air base in Jordan on Nov. 4, 2016. Since then, the government of Jordan has repeatedly misled the world about the incident, which I believe was nothing less than murder. 
Jordan quickly blamed my son and his fallen brothers, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Lewellen and Staff Sgt. Kevin McEnroe, for failing to properly stop at a guard gate as they returned to the base where they lived and worked. International news reports soon included the false Jordanian explanation. Then the Jordanian story changed. An "accidental" weapon discharge provoked the guard to open fire, officials said. An FBI investigation later showed that excuse to be false, too. 
Then three weeks ago, just hours before the Lewellen and McEnroe families and I went public in Washington with findings from our ongoing search for justice, Jordan's ambassador to the U.S. released a new statement. The ambassador for King Abdullah II - whose country receives more than $100 million per month in U.S. foreign aid - called the killings "tragic and very unfortunate" and "deplorable," but still claimed that "rules of engagement" were followed.
The letter infuriated our families. It also further united us. We reside in different geographical and political places, but our three families agree that honoring our sons' service and sacrifices must include finding the truth about what happened to them in Jordan and why. 
Because of the work of the U.S. Army and the FBI, we now know what happened to our sons. What we do not know is why it happened or when Jordan will be held accountable. On Feb. 28, the FBI showed us the haunting surveillance video of our sons' killings.
The video shows the truck driven by McEnroe slowly pulled up to the gate - just like any other day. The Jordanian soldier, wearing body armor and hidden in a concrete guardhouse behind camouflaged netting, opened fire without warning with an M-16 assault rifle. He was no more than 5 feet away. Bullet holes appeared in the view of the camera. Shattered glass flew.
The video also shows the chances of survival for McEnroe and Lewellen were almost zero. Caught completely by surprise attack, they died quickly in a hail of gunfire. My son Jimmy met a different fate. The Jordanian killer stalked him for minutes.
My son and another Green Beret, who would survive the attack, exited their trucks just in time to avoid being killed in the first bursts of gunfire. Armed only with pistols, they then spent the remaining six-and-a-half minutes of my son's life communicating with the soldier and other Jordanian soldiers in English and in Arabic. They soon realized they were in a fight to the death. The video shows Jimmy desperately waving and motioning to the five nearby Jordanian soldiers with whom they had worked that morning. Six other Jordanian gate guards did nothing to stop the assault.
The Jordanian soldier finally cornered the Green Beret survivor and my son. As the shooter came around a nearby truck, he caught the survivor by surprise. My son can be seen standing up in full view of the shooter and engaging him with his pistol. This move allowed the Green Beret to get to the Jordanian soldier's blind side and empty his pistol into gaps in his body armor, wounding him. My son took the bullets intended for the survivor and died moments later. The shooter, who was taken into custody by the Jordanian government, then was put into a medically induced coma. FBI investigators later conducted hours of questioning and the shooter gave yet another false explanation for the deaths: He heard "a loud noise" that he took for gunfire.
Americans are told that Jordan is our "ally." This incident raises troubling questions about that relationship - especially as Jordan refuses to accept responsibility for these deaths of U.S. troops or confirm what truly happened. Were I to speak directly with King Abdullah, I would remind him that my son called out in Arabic to his killer and other Jordanian soldiers, "We are Americans. We are friends." 
The time has come for the Jordanian government to finally account for these killings or risk its $1.6 billion foreign aid package. We want the killer of our sons prosecuted. We want the Jordanian government to apologize and publicly clear the names of our sons - and do everything possible to prevent such killings in the future. No more U.S. service members need to die at the hands of so-called American allies. 
King Abdullah II confers with the Chief Terror Officer of Hamas, Khaled
Meshaal, in Jordan [Image Source]
After a long period of asserting that the murderous attack by one of its soldiers was due to error by the Americans or, in a later variation, by the Jordanian, Jordan's version of events has just been re-adjusted once again:
After months of publicly defending the actions of a Jordanian guard who opened fire on a U.S. military convoy of Army Special Forces soldiers, killing three, Jordanian government officials have admitted that the shooter did not follow the military’s protocol and will face prosecution. Dana Daoud, a Jordanian Embassy spokeswoman, told The Washington Post that M’aarek Abu Tayeh — a member of the Jordanian king’s elite Hashemite force — will be “tried in a military court,” but she declined to comment on the nature of the charges against him or when a trial might occur... ["Jordan says guard who killed three U.S. soldiers did not follow rules of engagement", Washington Post, April 13, 2017]
Not much more needs to be said about Jordanian notions of justice that is not already obvious from previous encounters. 

We're thinking in particular about the shabby matter of Ahmed Daqamseha Jordanian armed guard who shot to death in cold blood seven Israeli schoolgirls. He was released prematurely last month to a well-publicized Jordanian celebrity's welcome: "12-Mar-17: What a Jordanian hero and his admirers tell us about the likelihood of peace".

To end, a handful of other recent posts of ours concerning the Jordanians, their idea of justice and their refusal to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, the happy, proud and celebrated killer of our daughter:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

27-Apr-17: The pleasures of television and other aspects of terrorist life behind Israeli bars

Palestinian Arab prisoners and their television [Image Source]
Over at Elder of Ziyon, there's a sharp and timely take-down [""Basic rights" demanded by Palestinian prisoners include satellite TV, university education, their own kitchens"] of the pompous demands being trumpeted by Al Jazeera on behalf of Palestinian Arab prisoners behind Israeli bars.

A group of those prisoners is in the midst of a hunger strike:
What are these "basic rights" that the prisoners are demanding? They include:
Adding satellite channels "tailored to the needs of prisoners" [Elder of Ziyon]
and a list of others claimed to be "basic rights". Here's another:
"Allowing prisoners to take photographs with their families every three months". 
Undoubtedly a core human rights value, no?

It's easy to overlook (because it gets consistently ignored in media coverage) the pro-terror culture that permeates Palestinian Arab society in general and especially its prisoner sub-class. A person needs, we think, to bear in mind that the claims made by them on behalf of the prisoners are about killers, about attempted killers and about accessories to murder. From the tone of the demands, you might get the impression that Palestinian Arab society sees them as unfairly-incriminated jaywalkers.

As it happens, we know something about the television access these convicts have under Israel Prison Service rules. We know because a year ago we asked the people in charge there. We wanted to get a better handle on how many different ways terrorists behind bars can watch the weekly television program created by our daughter's murderer, a woman called Ahlam Tamimi

We have mentioned Tamimi's pro-terror, prisoner-focused talk-show on this blog several times. It's called “نسيم الأحرار” [transliteration: “Nassem al-Ahrar”] meaning “Breezes of the Free”. She started presenting it in February 2012 via Alquds TV, one of two Hamas global satellite channels. She was its presenter until September 2016, but dropped out mysteriously and has not returned. We know now that her disappearance, for a time, was connected with efforts by the United States to have her arrested and extradicted to the US to face murder charges there. 

(We were instrumental in encouraging the US authorities to bring those charges, a process that began in 2012.)

The Tamimi show, now hosted by others, gets beamed by numerous satellite networks to every Arabic-speaking market in the world. It has a large viewing public around the globe, and it has helped to build the celebrity status this convicted murderer and fugitive from the FBI now enjoys.

But what people not realize is that, in addition to being seen on television, the program is live-streamed and streamed-on-demand by literally hundreds of web sites (here are some). So as a prisoner, you wouldn't need to have the television in your recreation room tuned to Alquds - which can be seen from practically anywhere in the world. (Tamimi's program is produced by Al Quds.) It's enough to catch it on one of those many websites and for that, you only need a smart cellphone. 

A Member of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, was caught smuggling a bundle of such phones into a security prison last year. Basel Ghattas from the Arab Joint List was caught red-handed and charged with smuggling phones into prison, smuggling documents and breach of trust for the benefit of convicted Palestinian terrorist prisoners. In March 2017, he resigned from the Knesset as part of a plea bargain which includes his serving two years in prison. Times of Israel reported at the time that the deal lets Ghattas avoid the significantly more serious charges of aiding the enemy and being an accomplice to terror and much longer time in prison. We were surprised that coverage of the charges against Ghattas made so little mention of the strategic value that smartphones have to prisoners wanting to access the Web in ways that the prison network might not enable.

Does the Israel Prison Service stop prisoners from getting and using smartphones behind bars? Yes and no. From a conversation with the official spokesperson of the IPS, it emerged that the prison authorities see a ban on smartphones as desirable but impossible to achieve. They know that smartphones are present among the prisoners and obviously in use, but could not estimate the size of the installed base. The result is that prisoners have access to far more TV programming than the official attempts to limit them would suggest.

So back now to the demands of those liberty-deprived "detainees". To what TV morsels do the cruel taskmasters of the prison service purport to limit them? Here's the list we were given (we added the interspersed comments and hyperlinks):
A tough life, right?

Our daughter's happy and proud killer demonstrates
prison-friendly cooking recipes for her world-wide audience
in a 2015 edition of her weekly Hamas TV show
The hunger-striking prisoners and their many media megaphones and helpers present their situation to the world in a manner so remote from reality that it is crucial Israel sets the record straight.

Sadly, that doesn't happen enough. Instead, as history has shown, the authorities for their own mysterious reasons time and again pander to the terrorists while they are behind bars and then - unjustifiably in our views - release even the most evil murderers among them in unbearably expensive 'deals' brokered with the enemy.

The terrorists are acutely aware of Israel's track record in such matters. They know what awaits them on arrest and conviction. Conditions for so-called security prisoners in Israeli incarceration - far more comfortable than most realize - have been criticized in surprising places (this article on the Al-Monitor site for instance).

There is an interview that takes place in a movie about which we wrote nearly a decade ago ["28-Jun-07: About sweet-faced young women"] called "Hot House". In it, the mastermind of our daughter's murder, speaking (astoundingly, with the permission of the prison authorities) from behind Israeli bars declared:
"I will be free from prison."
In view of the multiple terms of life-imprisonment to which a shocked bench of judges sentenced her, viewers may have thought her delusional. But it's evident, years later, that she understood the mindset of our leaders better than most of us did.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

26-Apr-17: Another Arab-on-Israeli stabbing today; same site as yesterday and assailant is related to yesterday's knifer

The lives of today's knifer, and his cousin from yesterday's knifing, are in
the hands of emergency surgeons at Rabin Medical Center today [Image Source]
If you saw our report yesterday about a stabbing attack on Israelis at Hawara Checkpoint in the Samaria District, you'll know that the assailant failed in his mission and ended the day yesterday in Beilinson Hospital being treated for serious bullet wounds. His name is Amjad Maher Jaafar (Haaretz gives his surname not as Jaafar but as Salah), his home is in Balata, a bustling neighbourhood (though often called a refugee camp) of the Palestinian Arab city of Nablus, and he is 17.

At about 1:30 pm this afternoon (Wednesday), there was another Arab-on-Israeli stabbing attack at more or less the same spot as yesterday's attack. 

Times of Israel says no Israelis are reported injured and that, according to an IDF spokesperson, the soldiers who came under attack responded with gunfire. The result is similar to what happened yesterday: the assailant took bullets in the stomach, was taken to Rabin Medical Center's Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva for emergency treatment (like yesterday's stabber), and is said to be in “serious condition, unconscious and on a ventilator”.

Here's what Ma'an News Agency, a Palestinian Arab mouthpiece, says about today's knife-man:
Locals identified the wounded Palestinian as 16-year-old Saleh Omar Saleh from Balata refugee camp in southern Nablus. According to locals, Saleh is the cousin of 17-year-old Amjad Maher Jaafar, who was shot multiple times in the stomach at the same location less than 24 hours earlier, after he too allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack on Israeli soldiers.
(In Arab society, the word "cousin" can have a broader meaning than we are accustomed to, and may refer to members of the same clan. And though we have no way of knowing at this point, reports in the Hebrew social media describes today's attacker being aged 20.)

Today's attempted stabbing extends a daily sequence that so far includes:
and in the previous week 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

25-Apr-17: A thwarted Arab-on-Israeli stabbing near Hawara Junction

At the scene shortly after the thwarted attack
There has been another Arab-on-Israeli stabbing today (Tuesday) around 3:00 pm, this time just outside the IDF's Military Intelligence base near the Hawara Checkpoint in the Samaria District.

A Ynet report says the attacker coming from the direction of Nablus brandished a knife as he charged at a group of soldiers from the Golani 51st Battalion standing in a square - Kikar Hahativa (כיכר החטיבה) or Brigade Square. The soldiers opened fire at the man before he managed to reach them. He was rendered unable to continue his attempt to cause serious harm and is injured - though his condition is not reported at this time. He received emergency treatment at the scene from IDF medics and was then evacuated to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva for further treatment.

Israel National News says no Israelis are reported injured in the attack. The Palestinian Arab assailant has not yet been named.

Over at the Palestinian Arab news service Ma'an, they report rather laconically - as if there were no rich history oof daily stabbing attacks on Israeli civilians and military - that
A Palestinian was shot multiple times in the stomach by Israeli forces after he allegedly attempted to commit a knife attack on Israeli soldiers in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, with no Israelis being harmed in the incident. Israeli media sites reported that the Palestinian was in a critical condition.
There's a Palestinian Arab video clip [here], evidently taken from within a passing car, of the scene shortly after the attacker was stopped.

Hawara is where Hussam Abdo, the cognitively-challenged human bomb we mentioned in a recent post [here] was stopped by alert IDF service personnel in March 2004.

Monday, April 24, 2017

24-Apr-17: At Qalandiya Crossing, a woman stabber attacked an Israeli official this morning

The alleged stabber
Yet another Arab-on-Israeli stabbing attack today. This one, around 6:45 Monday morning at the busy Qalandiya security checkpoint close to Ramallah and to Jerusalem's northern suburbs, involves the sort of malice aforethought that is endemic among our neighbours.

First, about the victim: she's an Israeli woman of 28, an employee of the Ministry of Defense’s Civil Administration. Ynet says she was rushed by ambulance to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, to be treated for a shoulder stab wound after being attacked by an assailant armed with a knife.

The attacker, also a female, is uninjured even though she was stopped and apprehended. This, perhaps surprisingly, is not surprising. For all the bad publicity Israeli security personnel often get, in reality they take an amazing amount of care to minimize harm to those they are called upon to neutralize, even at the risk of physical harm - or worse - to themselves.

The attacker is
Asya Kaabana, 41, who lives in the Shechem (Nablus) area town of Duma, the Shin Bet security agency reported. Kaabana is married and a mother of nine children, and recently has had difficulties in her marriage, with her husband threatening to send her back to her family in Jordan. The Shin Bet also discovered that the terrorist fought with her husband on Sunday night over their children's education. This argument caused the woman to decide to carry out a terror attack, in the hopes Israeli security forces would shoot her, since, "she was sick of her life anyway"... [Israel National News]
According to a police spokesperson, she
The attacker's weapon [Image Source:
Israel Police]
came to the Qalandiya checkpoint... While waiting in line to be checked, the terrorist approached a female security officer, claiming to have a question she needed to ask her. At this point she apparently drew a knife that was in her purse and quickly approached the female security officer and stabbed her. Police and security guards that were on the scene overpowered her and neutralized her... [a different Israel National News report]
Duma, where the knifer lives, is the village where an Arab home was destroyed by fire in mid-2015, causing the deaths of three members of one family, the Dawabshas. Charges in connection with that fire and the deaths were brought against an Israeli adult and a minor in January 2016. But no convictions have yet been entered. A vague Wikipedia reference [here] says various media accounts have "attributed the wave of stabbing attacks by Palestinians from late 2015 through 2016 at least partly to the Duma arson killings as well as Israeli delays in pressing charges against any suspects". Could today's attack be part of the "revenge" campaign?

Over at the Ma'an News Agency site, they name the attacker as Asiya Kaabna, calling her a resident of the village of "Tayba", near Ramallah. Taybeh (a better spelling) is considered the last remaining all-Christian community under Palestinian Authority control, so - given that stabbing attacks by Christian are quite unusual - we doubt they have the facts right.

A not-so-minor side issue: if today's knife-woman is convicted by an Israeli court of a terrorism offense, those nine children at home, as well as the husband with whom she fought last night, are likely to benefit financially. 

That's thanks to the notorious Palestinian Authority "Rewards for Terror" scheme. It's been going for quite some years [see "28-Jul-11: Taxpayer-funded salaries to convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists. What a good idea."], it still plays a huge role in maintaining the extraordinarily high levels of Arab-on-Israeli violence [see "28-Mar-17: The US can end the Palestinian Arab bureaucracy of terror"] and while there's talk of curbing its lethal impact ["01-Mar-17: Washington may be launching a long-overdue assault on Abbas' lethal Rewards for Terror scheme"], it keeps showing tremendous endurance ["29-Jan-17: What's the exchange rate for American dollars into Palestinian Arab terror killings?"].

Sunday, April 23, 2017

23-Apr-17: The disturbing affair of the senior Hamas figure who was also a senior UNRWA figure and now isn't

This is a follow-on to several posts we made over the last two months concerning Hamas influence at senior levels of UNRWA management. 

For background, see "26-Feb-17: Hamas' new Gaza leadership, and what it says about educating towards a desperately worse future" and "27-Feb-17: UNRWA is shocked, shocked, to discover..." and "06-Mar-17: What has UNRWA known all these years about its staff terrorists?"

Now this:
The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees says a Gaza staffer suspected of being elected to the Islamic militant Hamas group's leadership no longer works for the agency. Agency spokesman Chris Gunness says Saturday Suhail al-Hindi is no longer employed by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. He declined to say whether al-Hindi had quit or was fired, saying the agency doesn't "discuss the terms of departure of individual staff members." In February, UNRWA suspended al-Hindi — the chairman of the agency's Palestinian workers' union — pending the results of an internal investigation sparked by Israeli accusations that the school principal was a member of Hamas' new political leadership. Al-Hindi denied links to Gaza's rulers. Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and most of Europe. ["UN Gaza staffer out after allegations of Hamas ties", Associated Press, April 22, 2017]
Reassuring that the personal interests of UNRWA managers with ties to the Islamist terrorists of Hamas are in such safe, considerate and delicate hands.

On the other hand, given how every penny of the billions spent annually by UNRWA are fund-raised from donor countries and organizations, isn't the public owed more than the spit-in-your-eye explanation offered by Mr Chris Gunness? As its official spokesperson, is "declined to say" a legitimate part of his job description?

The unwillingness of UNRWA management in general, and particularly Gunness, to own up to the malign influence of terrorists on Hamas' operations and on its outcomes (especially on children educated in the UNRWA schools) over a period of generations is something that in a fair-minded and ethical world would be addressed by the people to whom UNRWA owes an accounting.

How many other senior Hamas terrorists hold down jobs in UNRWA, Mr Gunness? Does it not matter?

23-Apr-17: Tel Aviv tourist precinct: Arab assailant stabs four

The attacker is on the left [Times of Israel video grab]
What's being described as a terror attack began with an assault today (Sunday afternoon, 2:05 pm) inside a Tel Aviv seafront hotel.

At this point, we know of a total of four people injured when a Palestinian Arab male, about 18 years old and according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua employed somewhere nearby, attacked them with wire-cutters. You can see the first stages of the assault in the photo at right.

He launched his assault in the hotel lobby on Hayarkon Street in Tel Aviv's tourist precinct, according to Ynet which has security camera footage of the initial stages of the attack on its site at this hour. The photo above comes from different security cam footage on the Times of Israel site. From our viewing, it appears to be inside the Leonardo Beach Hotel (other reports quote other hotels).

With three victims down, he then fled outside and into the street where he stabbed another person before being stopped and arrested by police.

Israel National News says those hurt are a man in his 70s, two men in their fifties and a woman in her fifties. All are lightly injured and all were treated at the scene before being taken to Ichilov Hospital by Magen David Adom ambulance.

The attacker, a resident of Nablus, is evidently unhurt but likely to be offended by what Israel's justice system has in mind for him.

Friday, April 21, 2017

21-Apr-17: In Gaza, human bombs both unwitting and committed

"Female cancer patients in the Gaza Strip go on hunger strike in protest 
of an Israeli decision not to allow them to travel through the Erez crossing 
to seek medical care in Israel" (December 22, 2016). 
Were the sisters described in our post protesting? [Mohammed Asad
Middle East Monitor]
It's too early to know all the facts, but something happened on Israel's border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Wednesday) that highlights the hideous things the Islamist terrorists of Hamas do. And not only to their enemies.

Here's how Associated Press reported it:
Two Palestinian sisters from Gaza were caught trying to smuggle explosives hidden in medicine containers into Israel as they were headed for cancer treatment at a Jerusalem hospital, authorities said, accusing Hamas militants of trying to use the women to carry out an attack. Ragheb Atallah, the patient's husband, said his wife, Basema, 55, has gone for treatment of colorectal cancer in Jerusalem more than 10 times since July and has never had a problem before. He said his wife was unaware that she may have been smuggling anything illegal into Israel. "Someone asked them to take a bottle of medicine on their way for a patient there," he said. "The bottle was closed and they did not know what is inside. It seems there was something and this caused disruption," the husband said Thursday.
Ragheb Atallah said his wife was released and has been given permission again to go to the hospital, but her sister, 57-year-old Ibtessam Eid, remained in Israeli custody...
Despite the hostilities [with Hamas], Israel continues to allow thousands of Gazans to enter its territory for medical care or to travel to neighboring Jordan and other destinations. All travelers are subject to strict security checks, including in some cases lengthy interrogations by Shin Bet agents before they receive travel permits. Israel says the strict policies are necessary because Hamas tries to exploit civilians entering Israel by giving them weapons, cash or other equipment for militant activity... ["Israel: Gaza sisters smuggled explosives on way to hospital"Associated Press - Josef Federman, April 20, 2017]
Hussam Abdo, human bomb - before and after his oversize winter jacket 
was very carefully removed by IDF soldiers, March 2004 
Let's note that the idea of innocent civilians being dispatched on life-threatening missions - whether they know it or not - is part of the Palestinian Arab terrorist ethos and nothing new.

To name just two previous instances:
Also relevant but much less innocent: the case of Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Bis, 21 (also called al-Biri, Albes, and al-Bass), a Gazan woman whose massively-burned body - the result of either an accident at home with a gas stove or deliberately burned by her family for the usual reasons - was restored and saved by Israeli doctors via intensive skin graft therapy in the two months from December 2004. She wrote a grateful-sounding thank you note to the hospital staff, and then "repaid" their kindness six months later by attempting to pass through the Erez Crossing on Israel's Gaza border while wearing an explosive belt. Her Fatah handlers instructed her to explode herself inside Beer Sheva's Soroka Medical Center hospital when she went there for a half-year follow-up appointment. Fortunately she didn't get that far. Alert Israeli security at the crossing sensed something very wrong and did not let her pass. She tried to trigger the bomb in front of the Israeli cameras but the Hamas technology was a dud and she lived, and was arrested, tried and convicted. She remained in an Israeli prison until released in the catastrophic Shalit deal of 2011. 

Wafa al-Bis back home in the Gaza Strip and planning to explode
a second time [Image Source]
Safely back in Gaza, she made headlines immediately after returning by telling little children from a Gaza school (very likely an UNRWA school) who visited her at home that "she hoped they would follow her example" and "Gd willing, we will see some of you as martyrs".

According to an Al Ahram report at the time, the little kiddies responded heartwarmingly: "We will give souls and blood to redeem the prisoners. We will give souls and blood for you, Palestine." Wafa al-Bis has repeatedly said she wants to try the human bomb thing again.

Seriously sick Gazans could go to Egyptian doctors or to the lavish medical centers of the astoundingly rich Gulf states. Instead, they keep crossing over into Israel when facing life-threatening illness or injury - 30,000 of them in 2016 alone [source]. The one aspect of this that's seriously confounding - given how much satanic hatred is relentlessly pumped into these people by their Hamas ideological overlords - is that Israel keeps agreeing to it. But anyone who understands the life-affirming sentiment that is deeply embedded in Jewish society and in Israel in particular will get it.

We are passionately opposed to the use of the expression "suicide bomber". We explained why in a previous post: see "30-Jun-15: We need to be calling them what they are: human bombs". This week's Basema Atallah affair underscores the point. A suicide bomber she certainly was not, as far as can be ascertained at this stage. But could she have ended up being a human bomb? Absolutely yes, and with all the consequences.

And in passing, we noticed that a photo in a Daily Mail UK October 20, 2011 article about Wafa al-Biss has this completely absurd caption:
"Waving a Palestinian flag at her house upon her release, Al-Biss has been in prison since 2004 after a failed suicide attempt"
[Image Source: Daily Mail]
Ms Al-Biss was imprisoned because she failed in an attempt to carry out an explosive act of mass killing. She was evidently indifferent about whether she would survive. That makes it murder, not suicide. And attempting suicide was not what got her sent to an Israeli prison.

In addition to being a human bomb, and probably against her will and without actual knowing, it's clear Mrs Atallah was also used by the bomb makers as a human shield. The news industry generally has a hard time owning up to how Hamas does this routinely (see for instance, "Myth of Hamas’s human shield. Gazans deny being put in line of fire" [Belfast Telegraph, July 21, 2014]).

The cancer patient was almost certainly asked by Israeli security whether she had agreed to carry something through the security barrier on behalf of someone else on the Gaza side. If that happened, the husband's version means she gave an untruthful answer. (Whether or not she knew she was carrying bomb-making materials is irrelevant.) Should she be allowed back into Israel for more life-saving treatment? Given the existential dangers, is it more humane to say yes? Is it less humane to say no?

And to end, some food for thought from six months ago: 
Dozens of female cancer patients in Gaza began a hunger strike today to protest Israeli authorities’ banning them from obtaining travel permits to travel to receive treatment. During a protest attended by dozens of cancer patients in front of the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Gaza this morning, the Aid and Hope Programme for Cancer Patient Care in Gaza condemned senior health official Bassam Al-Badri for humiliating and offending cancer patients. Al-Badri had previously directed offensive and false accusations against the female cancer patients barred from travelling, claiming they purely sought media attention... In a statement she read on behalf of the Aid and Hope Programme, Al-Tatri condemned Al-Badri for also accusing the cancer patients of spying and working for the occupation, as well as exploiting the issue of cancer patients...  A large number of these cancer patients announced they were going on hunger strike as of this morning in an attempt to gain the attention of officials and the world and raise the issue of their suffering... ["Gaza women cancer patients start hunger strike to protest Israel treatment ban", Middle East Monitor, December 22, 2016]
Were the two Gaza sisters in this protest? No idea. The Israelis seem to have given them great attention and help. About Hamas, it's not so clear.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

19-Apr-17: At Gush Etzion, yet another Arab-on-Israel vehicle ramming attack; the assailant is dead

The vehicle-ramming attacker's knife [Image Source]
(If you came here via our tweet, we found something depressing, but also informative, in an Arabic news report at the bottom.)

An Israeli male suffered mild injuries today in another Arab-on-Israeli vehicle ramming terror attack close to the Gush Etzion Junction south of Jerusalem today (Wednesday) a little after 4:00 pm. We have reported on many Gush Etzion Junction attacks since the current wave of terror attacks (sometimes called the Stabbing Intifada) got underway roughly 19 months ago.

Today's attack involved a Mazda 5 wagon with white PA plates that, driving from the south in the direction of Jerusalem, crashed into the rear end of an Israeli bus at the hitch-hiking post just north of the junction, according to Ynet, striking a man aged about seventy who evidently had just gotten off the bus and was standing next to it.

The victim was described as conscious but disoriented with head injuries. He was treated by medics on the spot before being taken for emergency care to Jerusalem’s Shaarei Zedek Medical Center hospital. His injuries are said not to be life-threatening.

The attack vehicle and the bus it rammed. The
driver was shot by alert IDF forces stationed
near the scene and died of his wounds later
in hospital. [Image Source]
Times of Israel says the driver of the attack vehicle was shot by IDF soldiers stationed near the scene of the ramming, and was rushed for emergency care to the same Jerusalem hospital - Shaarei Zedek - as his victim. He was received there in critical condition after getting initial treatment at the scene by IDF medics and pronounced dead shortly afterwards, according to an army spokesperson. His identity was given as Sahib Mousa Mashahrah, 21, from the village of al-Sawahreh. In his car, police found a large knife (photo above) of the sort that has played a role in many recent knifings of Israeli victims.

Ma'an News Agency, reporting in English, said
photographs of the scene published by Israeli media showed that the Palestinian vehicle had seemingly collided with the back of a bus. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed later in the afternoon that the Palestinian succumbed to wounds sustained when he was shot by soldiers at the scene, identifying him as Suhaib Moussa Mashour Mashahra, 21, from the Jerusalem-district village of al-Sawahira.
In its Arabic version, the same Ma'an suggested that the circumstances - the Arab vehicle crashing into the back of an Israeli bus - indicated that it was probably not an attack but a mere accident. And that the driver is a martyr.

The existence of the knife next to the driver's seat goes unmentioned.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

18-Apr-17: So what, in reality, is Marwan Barghouti?

Barghouti, convicted on multiple counts of murder by shooting,
is a candidate for the next Nobel Peace Prize [Image Source: Arab media]
There are serious efforts underway this week to re-engineer the public image of the convicted Palestinian Arab felon, Marwan Barghouti.

Those efforts, based on disinformation, partial information and lots of spin, are directed at concealing the facts of his crimes and imprisonment and putting some wind into the sails of this ambitious man's on/off political career.

Outrageously, the key thing to know about Barghouti, according to one of the world's most influential newspapers which provided him yesterday ["Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons", New York Times, April 17, 2017] with an invaluable op ed platform to megaphone his extreme views, is that
Source: New York Times
In the following 24 hours, the Times found itself in the midst of a storm of protest. We have little sympathy for how the NYT's public editor summed things up today.

A side issue: Barghouti's English is poor. Yet "his" op ed, datelined Hadarim Prison, is a slickly-written piece of eloquent self-promotion. We think there's a teensie-tiny possibility it was written by professional pubic relations people in his name. Ah, but truly, who pays attention to such trivia when the cause is so compelling?

Barghouti has an interesting group of admirers who help his self-promotion process move forward. Here are just a few.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu, the South African church leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, regularly sings Barghouti's praises. On one view, this is exceedingly odd, given how the Nobel committee specifically noted Tutu's own "nonviolent path to liberation" in its citation. So then is Tutu unware of Barghouti's lethal criminality, as widely outlined in the media for anyone who cares to look (for instance Dr Emmanuel Navon's cogently argued "Desmond Tutu is Wrong about Marwan Barghouti")? No, it does not seem that he is unaware. Instead, like many at that extreme end of the political spectrum, he seems to feel criminality of Barghouti's kind just doesn't count. And to show he means it, he has lately been touting the deeply offensive notion that Barghouti ought to get the same rich prize that Tutu himself did ["Bishop Tutu Nominates Jailed Palestinian Leader Barghouti for Nobel Peace Prize", Michael Friedson, June 8, 2016].

Al Jazeera, referring to the noble hero of the South African struggle to defeat apartheaid, calls Barghouti "the Palestinian Mandela". So do the Ma'an News Agency and a commentator at The Guardian. On the other hand, Le Monde, in the course of an interview with Barghouti, calls the comparison "debatable".

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, an Argentine human rights activist who received the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize and is a leader of the non-violent Latin American Christian group Servicio Paz y Justicia, is another supporter of a Barghouti Nobel [May 2016 source]. So is the parliament of Tunisia [source]. And so are sixteen mayors of towns in France [source] including Valenton and Bergerac (unfortunately we don't know the names of the other metropolises).

A cluster of Belgians, all of them involved in their country's national politics, followed suit and wrote to the Nobel committee in May 2016, improbably calling Barghouti "a peace activist":
“Peace requires the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and of the political prisoners, and more generally the freedom of the Palestinian people living for decades under occupation.”
Thinking logically, we might have surmised that the Belgians meant to exclude homicidal thugs from the list of those to be freed because what possible basis can there be to label such felons "political prisoners"? But then they do seem serious about wanting Barghouti to go to Oslo. So evidently they - like Tutu - don't see a conflict between being (a) a convicted murderer and (b) a peace activist. Sort of like being both a cheese-burger addict and an activist for veganism.

But for those to whom facts and realities still mean something, here's a brief excursion through the contemporary reports that accompanied his journey into the Israeli penal system. To emphasize the point, we refer to news reports carried by Haaretz which is much closer to Tutu's views than to ours.

The capture:
Wiretapping revealed that Barghouti was hiding in a safe house. The commander of the army’s Ramallah Brigade... told Haaretz: “When the intelligence arrived that he was in a building in the heart of a Ramallah neighborhood... an armored brigade surrounded the site and the baton was passed to me. The Duvdevan unit was under my command. We understood that he was in the building. One of the soldiers saw him through the window, taking cover close to what looked to us, at least, like an old woman who was lying on a bed. We removed everyone from the building... ["Will Marwan Barghouti be the Palestinian Nelson Mandela?", Haaretz, July 5, 2016]
The conviction
The Tel Aviv District Court convicted former West Bank Tanzim commander Marwan Barghouti in the deaths of five people on Thursday. Barghouti was convicted of three terror attacks in which the five were murdered, as well as in another charge of attempted murder, membership in a terror organization and conspiring to commit a crime. However, the court acquitted him of 33 other murders with which he was charged, noting that there was no evidence that he was a full partner to those incidents...  The court ruled that Barghouti was directly responsible for a January 2002 terror attack on a gas station in Givat Zeev in which Israeli Yoela Chen was murdered. The attack, the judges said, was carried out at his direct order in revenge for the assassination of Raed Carmi. Barghouti had admitted his responsibility for this attack. The attack in which a Greek monk was murdered in Ma'aleh Adumim on June of 2001 was also carried out at the instruction of Barghouti, the judges said. The former Tanzim leader, the court ruled, also approved the March 2002 attack at Tel Aviv's Seafood Market restaurant in which three people were murdered, as well as a car bomb attack in Jerusalem... [He] was charged with leading dozens of terror operations against Israeli targets since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising, including suicide and shooting attacks that led to the death and injury of hundreds of Israeli citizens and Israel Defense Force soldiers. According to the charge sheet, Barghouti headed the Fatah, Tanzim and Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade terror groups in the West Bank and was subordinate to Arafat... The state prosecutor said Barghouti funded and planned terror attacks and is not the political activist he claimed to be... Barghouti's supporters in the European parliament were expected to show up for the ruling... ["Barghouti Convicted in Deaths of Five People", Haaretz, May 20, 2004]
Barghouti was sentenced by judges Sarah Sirota, Amiram Benyamini and Avraham Tal to five consecutive life terms plus an additional 40 years. The judges observed that
Barghouti used to receive reports of the attacks carried out by his associates only after they were completed. This was an effort to preserve his image as a political leader not involved in armed attacks against Israelis... [Haaretz, June 6, 2004
And some occasionally overlooked points, via JTA:
When Israeli authorities chose to put Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti on trial in a criminal court rather than a military court, prosecutors may have set the stage for an even bigger prize: Yasser Arafat. That possibility was given a boost last week with Barghouti’s conviction on five counts of murder, for Israelis killed in three separate shooting ambushes... The judges said Barghouti could be convicted only in cases where it was proven that he had prior knowledge of imminent terrorist attacks and that he approved the attacks... [He] was acquitted on 21 other counts of murder for lack of evidence. Both outcomes bolstered the argument for putting Palestinian terrorists on trial in regular Israeli courts rather than in military courts, where the standards of evidence are not as strict. Barghouti’s conviction shows that there is sufficient evidence to put terrorists behind bars using standard criminal procedures, and his acquittal on the other counts lends legitimacy to the argument that even Palestinian terrorists will get fair trials in Israel... ["Barghouti conviction could foretell Arafat trial", JTA, May 24, 2004]
Some additional overlooked dimensions:
  • Marwan Barghouti publicly boasted of his role in igniting what many call the Second Intifada in 2000. We published his direct quotes (translated to English) here. This may come as a surprise to those who think of Ariel Sharon visiting the Temple Mount in September 2000 as being the real story. 
  • He personally laid out $500 [source] for the making of the explosive-filled guitar case that was brought to, and exploded inside, Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria destroying it on August 9, 2001 and killing fifteen innocent people including our daughter Malki. The bombmaker was Abdullah Barghouti, a clansman.
  • When another clansman Bilal Barghouti, a senior Hamas operative, was on the run from the Israeli security forces because of his involvement in the massacre at the Sbarro pizzeria (he was later convicted for his part), Marwan Barghouti sheltered him for a time in his home. Bilal Barghouti said for the record that, during his stay there, "he saw a number of weapons, and when he left the house Barghouti armed him with a gun for his use." [Source: CAMERA] Marwan Barghouti is an unindicted accessory after the fact to the Sbarro murders.
Leader and parliamentarian, battler for non-violence and peace, candidate for the world's most important reward for bring peace to the world. And also a cold-blooded thug closely directing other thugs, a man happy to appear in public gripping a sub-machine gun and the man who claims credit for the blood-drenched Intifadeh years from 2000 onwards.

We don't think it's all that difficult to distinguish between Barghouti the plastic-coated fantasy and invention of parts of the media, and Barghouti the loathsome killer of innocents. In the end, it seems to come down - tragically - to whom and what you want to believe.

18-Apr-17: In Gaza, a decade of darkness and a never-ending blame-game

Image Source
Times must be getting really tough down there in the Gaza Strip now that one of the most highly publicized of the plagues traditionally blamed on the "Zionist entity" has become (not for the first time) the subject of bitter mutual accusations between the two rival Palestinian Arab statelets - the PLO-controlled PA, and the Islamist thugocracy of Hamas.

Below is an extract from an Albawaba news report ["Gaza thrown into darkness as Hamas-Fatah spat worsens"] datelined April 16, 2017. (Albawaba is based in Jordan, with offices in Dubai, and calls itself "the largest independent producer and distributor of content in the Middle East...
providing first-rate coverage of the Middle East from a local perspective.")
Gaza was plunged into darkness late Friday as the territory's Hamas-run power authority cut electricity across the besieged enclave in protest against the Palestinian Authority. Hamas, who control Gaza, and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, have for years blamed each other for an electricity crisis in the besieged coastal enclave.
Gaza's power alternates on eight-hour cycles, with those who can afford it using generators in the down times.
On Friday, Gaza's power authority cut electricity in the coastal territory from 7 pm until 11 pm in protest against the PA's recent decision to cut public sector salaries for Gaza employees and tax disputes over the import of fuel. The PA responded by saying Hamas was attempting to create a "new crisis" in Gaza, according to Ma’an News Agency.
Earlier in April, a decision by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to impose pay cuts on its civil servants in Gaza sparked widespread anger. Tens of thousands took to the streets in Gaza to protest the 30-percent pay cut, with demonstrators calling on PA president Mahmoud Abbas to sack his government. The PA says it was forced into the move because its budget has been hit by falling foreign aid. PA salaries in the West Bank, however, remained untouched.
Gaza's sole power plant is on the verge of shutting down as Qatari and Turkish fuel supplies run out. Gazan authorities have no other choice than to buy additional fuel from the PA, but say recent tax hikes make it unaffordable.
In January, thousands of Gazans took the streets to protest chronic power shortages in one of the largest unauthorised protests in Gaza since Hamas took power in 2007. Hamas security forces quickly suppressed the demonstration and blocked journalists from filming. A day earlier, a local comedian was arrested for making a satirical video criticising power cuts. "There is no work, no (border) crossing points, no food, no water and also no electricity," Adel al-Mashwakhi said in the video clip, which amassed over 250,000 views.
But with that explanation, be assured dear readers that there is no Palestinian Arab that cannot - by hook, crook or outright fabrication - be blamed on the Zionists. Here's how the Albawaba piece ends:
In 2015, the United Nations warned that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current political and economic trends caused by Israeli policies continue.
From our 2008 post: We wondered then whether the Reuters
photographer, depicting Gazan legislators working
by candle-light as clearly-visible daylight is shut out
by curtains, had a moron for an editor. [Image Source
To put that last claim into some perspective, please take a look at some relevant earlier posts of ours: "05-Mar-17: What Gaza's Pal Arabs think about the electricity problems in Gaza"; "30-Apr-15: What Gaza's oppressed know that reporters don't, and why it matters"; "28-Oct-12: What lies behind ongoing efforts to paint Gaza as a region under Israeli siege?"; and from nearly a decade ago when Hamas' silly games were not so different from today's: "10-Feb-08: The lies that pictures can tell".

That 2008 post, replete with some very revealing news photographs that tried to pin serious malfeasance on Israelis for "cheating" the Gazans of electric power, is worth going back to review.

Whatever has changed in the world of the Palestinian Arabs, one aspect has not: they continue to live in the dark, shutting out the light by whatever means and relying on the great news factories of the world to magnify and spread their baseless fury at Israel.

UPDATE Thursday April 20, 2017: The capacity of the two Palestinian Arab statelets - PLO/Fatah/PA and Hamas - to ride roughshod over the welfare of the people whose lives they dominate is a reality that gets almost no serious media attention. A report today by Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, updating the dire situation in Gaza ["Gaza hospitals on verge of blackout amid energy crisis"] says:
Hospitals in the Gaza Strip could face blackouts within days as an energy crisis continues to throttle power supplies in the Palestinian enclave. Israel and Palestinian officials estimated Thursday that hospitals would finish their reserve fuel for generators within 48-72 hours. On Sunday Gaza’s only functioning power station stopped working after running out of fuel. The crisis was compounded by a technical fault shutting down a power line between Egypt and Gaza that had provided over six hours of electricity a day. Gazans now have just four hours of electricity, followed by 12-hour blackouts, down from two eight-hour periods of electricity a day when the plant is operating normally and supplies are coming in from outside the enclave... On Wednesday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov called on Palestinian leaders to put aside their internal squabbles and solve the energy crisis.
And who cares? Certainly not the people who control the people.