Sunday, February 07, 2016

07-Feb-16: In Germany, grappling with a new reality

German police arrest one of the suspects in Berlin
on February 4, 2016 [Image Source]
This past Thursday, police in Germany  - where about a million "asylum seekers" were received during 2015 - carried out raids on multiple sites, including refugee shelters. They arrested three Algerians thought to be connected to ISIS and suspected of "planning a serious act threatening the security of the state", in the words of a syndicated Agence France-Presse report.

The Berlin plot was widely speculated upon in the German news media over the following 24 hours,
with Bild reporting it as Alexanderplatz and Tagesspiegel claiming it was Checkpoint Charlie. Both cited unnamed security sources. [The Local, February 5, 2016]
Then an anti-climax:
Police confirmed to The Local on Friday that none of the people taken into custody on Thursday were arrested for planning an act of terrorism. A spokesperson for Berlin police said that the three people  - arrested in early morning raids in three German states - were all arrested on existing charges, not in connection with an ongoing investigation into the suspected planning of a terror attack... [The Local, February 5, 2016]
So the danger is not that great. But wait:
Islamic State militants have slipped into Europe disguised as refugees, the head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency (BfV) said on Friday, a day after security forces thwarted a potential IS attack in Berlin. Hans-Georg Maassen said the terrorist attacks in Paris last November had shown that Islamic State was deliberately planting terrorists among the refugees flowing into Europe. "Then we have repeatedly seen that terrorists... have slipped in camouflaged or disguised as refugees. This is a fact that the security agencies are facing," Maassen told ZDF television. "We are trying to recognize and identify whether there are still more IS fighters or terrorists from IS that have slipped in," he added... "We are in a serious situation and there is a high risk that there could be an attack. But the security agencies, the intelligence services and the police authorities are very alert and our goal is to minimize the risk as best we can," he said. ["German spy agency says ISIS sending fighters disguised as refugees", Reuters, February 5, 2016]
With Germany's most senior intelligence official now admitting that the flood of illegal migrants includes some unknown number of planted terrorists, other voices have been heard offering ideas for what ought to be done.
  • "The German Catholic Church called for a reduction in the influx of refugees arriving in Germany, saying the country cannot take in "all the world's needy," according to an interview published on Saturday..." [The Local, February 6, 2016
  • Jens Müller, the mayor of Bad Schlema in eastern Germany, asked about the phenomenon of young girls being harassed by "asylum seekers" housed in the town's refugee shelter, offered this clever approach: "That's easy, just don't provoke them and don't walk in these areas...It's technically not necessary for the girls to walk there. There are alternative routes for going to school... " [RT, February 3, 2016]
  • "[T]he construction of the refugee as rapist will expand and endure as a political tool for a European far-right eager to exclude foreign others and opportunistic politicians couching its misgivings about the immigration crisis in the language of feminism. The frames of political rhetoric create unfortunate choices everywhere, but in Germany the fight against misogyny is now being transformed into the exclusion and possible expulsion of desperate war refugees." ["The rapist refugee as Germany’s boogeyman", Aljazeera, February 5, 2016]

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

03-Feb-16: In Washington DC, victims of terror and the search for justice

Participants in the hearing
Responding to a perceived lack of adequate assistance for U.S. victims of terrorism outside the United States, the US Congress heard evidence yesterday (Tuesday) from the family members of several victims as well as from a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the National Security Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

From a report headed "Obama Admin Has Not Prosecuted a Single Palestinian Terrorist Who Killed Americans" [Washington Free Beacon, February 2, 2016]:
The Obama administration has not prosecuted a single Palestinian terrorist responsible for killing Americans abroad, despite a congressional mandate ordering the Justice Department to take action against these individuals, according to disclosures made by lawmakers on Tuesday.
Palestinian terrorists have murdered at least 64 Americans, including two unborn children, since 1993. Yet the U.S. government has failed to take legal action against those who committed the crimes, lawmakers disclosed during a Tuesday hearing on the Justice Department’s failure to live up to its mandate to bring these terrorists to justice.
Many of the terrorists continue to roam free across the Middle East, with one hosting a Hamas-affiliated television show in Jordan.
With criticism mounting from Congress and U.S. victims of terrorism, Justice Department officials say they are working to initiate cases, but warn that this could take “many years” to play out.
Arnold Roth was in Washington yesterday (Tuesday) to take part in the hearing. Click below to view his oral testimony:


Roth's comments start, first, at the 25m 00s mark and then at 1h 02m 15s. His twelve-page written testimony document is here.

The hearing, under the title Seeking Justice for Victims of Palestinian Terrorism in Israel”, took place in the Subcommittee on National Security of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It sought to examine the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT), an office that began operations inside the Department of Justice in May 2005. Its mission has included ensuring that when Americans are injured or killed in terrorist attacks overseas, investigation and prosecution remains a high priority within the Department of Justice (DOJ). 

From the WFB:
Justice Department officials who testified maintain that they are aggressively working behind the scenes to make cases against foreign terrorists who have killed and injured Americans. Brad Wiegmann, the deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s national security division, maintained that there are a number of “open investigations,” though he declined to provide further information.
“While I cannot discuss these investigations today or the facts of specific cases, it’s important to note the absence of public charges associated with a particular overseas attack does not mean that there are no charges, or that no such charges will be brought,” Weigmann said, noting that a prosecution could take place “many years” after an attack.
“I can certainly understand the frustration of some of the families that the Department of Justice has not prosecuted more cases involving terrorist attacks against Americans in Israel,” Wiegmann said...
Naturally we're hoping for some concrete outcomes. Updates when they come.

03-Feb-16: In Jerusalem, a shooting attack

Israel National News reports that two Border Guard officers, young women aged 19 and 20, were seriously injured this afternoon (Wednesday) in a terrorist shooting assault close to the Old City of Jerusalem's Damascus Gate. It happened around 2:00 o'clock. 
One of the young officers is said to be in critical condition. Both have been rushed to hospital for emergency care. 

There appear to have been three attackers, Arabs armed with concealed sub-machine guns, as well as knives and explosives. After they opened fire, nearby security personnel returned fire, killing the three. They are thought to have come to the site from the Jenin area in Samaria. Times of Israel says the current assessment is the attackers had no history of violent activities according to the Shin Bet. 

UPDATE 8:00 pm Wednesday February 3, 2016: Sadly, Hadar Cohen, 19, from Or Yehuda, one of the Border Police officers injured in the shooting/stabbing attack, has died of her injuries after efforts to save her life at Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital, Mount Scopus, failed. Times of Israel says she entered the Border Police service just two months ago and was still undergoing training.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

02-Feb-16: Testifying at a Congressional committee hearing

Arnold Roth will be giving testimony today (Tuesday) before the US Congress in Washington DC at a hearing of the Subcommittee on National Security of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Some details, and live video streaming, here.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

30-Jan-16: Givat Ze'ev stabbing victim recovering slowly but well

We happened to be at the Givat Ze'ev shopping
complex the morning after the attack and snapped this view.  
This past Thursday, we posted here about another unprovoked Arab-on-Israeli knifing attack in Givat Ze'ev, a community located just a short distance past the Ramot neighbourhood of northern Jerusalem.

We had no information at the time about the identity of the victim. Victims of terror should never, ever be treated as statistics. So here's what we can now share about the victim of that attack.

His name is Menachem Mendel Rivkin and according to a Times of Israel report from Friday, he is a resident of Givat Ze'ev. As of yesterday, he was being treated in the intensive care unit of Jerusalem's Shaarei Zedek Medical Center for multiple stab wounds to the upper part of his body. Thankfully his condition has improved. He can now breathe unaided and is conscious and communicating with those around him.

Bir Nabala, the knifer's home-town
[Wikipedia]
His wife Brachi, interviewed on Israel's Channel 2 news:
“We left the car, we walked for maybe a meter. We parked right by the burger place, and suddenly my husband tells me ‘I’ve been stabbed’. I looked around and didn’t see anyone. It all happened in a few seconds... Everyone ran out to chase the terrorist, and so I stayed with [my husband], not quite sure what to do. I sensed he was losing blood and was not with me...”
The moments before and after the knifing, showing the attacker stalking the Rivkins, were captured on a security camera [here].

The stabber was chased and overpowered by civilian bystanders and then handed over to the authorities for interrogation. As we wrote on Thursday, he is a youth of 17, Abada Abu Ras, from the nearby Arab town of Bir Nabala. At Ma'an News Agency, they name him as "Obada Aziz Abu Ras, although the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said they could not confirm the young man's identity or where he was being detained." The only-too-familiar process of turning this thug into a hero deserving of emulation in Arab society is already well underway: see Alwatan Voice, Palestine News Network, PAnet and probably many more by now.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

28-Jan-16: Another Arab-on-Israeli knifing attack tonight at a gas station on Jerusalem's northern edge

An Israeli male, variously described in reports as being in his thirties, forties and fifties, is the latest victim of the Palestinian Arab stabbing season.

He suffered serious injuries tonight around 11:00 pm when a knife-wielding Palestinian Arab male teen attacked him at a food shop - from the description it sounds to us like the Nehama Bakery - adjacent to a well-known gas station on the main highway leading from the northern Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ramot towards Givat Ze'ev, a community of some 15,000 residents.

He is being treated at this hour in the emergency room of Jerusalem's Shaarei Zedek Medical Center where, according to Times of Israel, he is in moderate to severe condition.

Twitter, whose ability to showcase killers and jihadists en route to fame and martyrdom exceeds that of the news-reporting industry by far, has already identified him: Abada Abu Ras, 17, from a Palestinian Arab town, Bir Nabala.

Ynet says the attacker entered the restaurant and stabbed the man, evidently without knowing him, several times in the upper body. He then fled, dropping the knife, and was pursued by civilians incensed by the brazen act of terror. They caught up with him some 200 meters south of the gas stop. A second knife was found on his person, and this along with the robustly physical attentions of the five or six men who caught up with him, resulted in him being slightly hurt.

What happens next is knowable in advance. In that perverse society in the grip of rampant blood-lust, Abu Ras will be proclaimed a hero for plunging a blade into a Jewish chest or back, His name and face, along with the trade mark of the political group who claim him as their own, will be rapidly emblazoned across the Arabic social media, and on posters hung up in kindergartens, schools, supermarkets and places of moderate religious worship throughout the PA realm, and perhaps in Gaza too if it turns out he is affiliated with the Islamists of Hamas. He will then quickly be forgotten (replaced in Palestinian Arab public affections and attention by the next stabber, the latest car-rammer or human bomb) unless he then engages in prolonged self-imposed fasting in his prison cell, in which case his stocks as a hero will rise yet higher. He may then be freed in some deal.

We pray that the still-unnamed victim will receive the best of emergency care and achieve a speedy and complete recovery.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

27-Jan-16: Reality, invention, memory and media

Image Source
We're fans of the columns penned by the journalist and commentator Evelyn Gordon. This paragraph comes from one of her latest:
...[F]or anyone who’s still confused about the difference between a real siege and a fictitious one, here are two simple tests: First, in real sieges, people die of starvation, because the besieger stops food from entering; in fake ones, the “besieger” sends in 2,500 tons of food and medicine per day even during the worst of the fighting. Second, real sieges get swept under the carpet by the UN; only the fake ones merit massive UN publicity. And if you think I’m joking, just compare the actual cases of Madaya and Gaza... So next time you hear people talking about the “siege of Gaza,” remember Madaya. And then tell them to stop wasting their breath on fake sieges when people are dying in real ones. ["How to Spot a Fake Siege", January 25, 2016]
Being reminded of the difference between reality and ideologically-driven spin is especially relevant today, January 27. That's the date on which, annually, Holocaust Memorial Day is observed - at least in those places where it's remembered at all.

What's remembered, what's forgotten and what's willfully twisted and distorted is, of course, part of the reason the commemoration exists. How effectively is a matter worth thinking about.

Why was January 27 set aside? On that date Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi network of industrialized death camps, was freed in 1945 [source]. In our own family, that's more than a historical footnote since two of our children's grandparents were among the relative handful of Jews who were sent there and, despite the unspeakable horrors, survived to build families and productive lives.

During its five years of operation, Auschwitz became
"the site of the largest mass murder in history. An estimated 1.1 million people were killed there between 1940 and 1945, 90% of whom were Jews. The camp survived World War Two largely intact, and today it forms one of the most significant and disturbing locations on earth.at the concentration camp..."
Is Gaza equivalent to what Auschwitz was? (There's no shred of doubt in our mind, and there shouldn't be in yours, that the answer is: absolutely not - not even in the very smallest, most trivial sense.) Many will say it depends whom you ask. The very idea, ironically, stems from propaganda first pushed into the public sphere by the defunct Soviet regime
and from there spread to the Soviets’ Arab clients. It is now fully embedded in the Arab-Muslim world, where it grows and mutates in symbiosis with outright denial that the Holocaust occurred or a radical reduction of its genocidal scale, ferocity, and number of victims. Holocaust inversion has a graphic omnipresence in cartoons all over the Arab and Iranian press, where Israelis are regularly portrayed in Nazi regalia. Elsewhere in the Middle East and beyond, it has surfaced in the rhetoric of populist demagogues and the media... In Europe, Holocaust inversion is busy spreading beyond its original locus of infection and finding a home among intellectuals and activists, especially on the Left... [Martin Kramer writing in Mosaic Magazine, August 2014]
Anyone wanting to see for themselves how closely Gaza matches up to the libelous claims alleging it's a latter-day concentration camp can find no shortage of web-based reports depicting Gaza's luxe hotels, well-stocked supermarkets and glitzy shopping malls. Ditto a host of serious news analysis pieces (Washington Post, The Guardian, Honest Reporting, UK Media Watch and many others). It's there for anyone who wants to see.

The trouble is, reality is usually nuanced, often complex. It's clear that neither facts nor photos are enough to displace some people's prejudices and simplifications. Time has an effect too. The generation of Auschwitz survivors is, in the nature of things, approaching its natural end, making it that much easier for the deniers of the Holocaust's reality to attract audiences. And as the evidence sadly shows, there's a growing slice of humanity - among them a disturbingly large number of college students - who have been persuaded that not only did the Holocaust never happen, but it was the Israelis that did it with its principal victims being Palestinians.

"My visit to the Gaza concentration camp" [Source]
Don't be so quick to scoff. Fundamental mistakes of fact and of history are all around us; they are grist for the echo chamber that some parts of the mass media have become.

Khaled Abu Toameh, a journalist whose work we have quoted admiringly here several times refers to some vignettes (in an article he wrote for Gatestone Institute) that are so shocking that a person could easily think they were invented. They illustrate what he terms a "degree of incomprehension -- and professional laziness -- [that] is difficult to imagine in the Internet age". Some instances (all direct quotes):
  • When Israel assassinated Hamas's founder and spiritual leader, Ahmed Yassin, in 2004, a British newspaper dispatched its crime reporter to Jerusalem to cover the event... Well, our hero reported on the assassination of Ahmed Yassin from the bar of the American Colony Hotel. His byline claimed that he was in the Gaza Strip and had interviewed relatives of the slain leader of Hamas...
  • [A] Ramallah-based colleague... received a request from a cub correspondent to help arrange an interview with Yasser Arafat. Except at that point, Arafat had been dead for several years. Fresh out of journalism school and unknowledgeable about the Middle East, the journalist was apparently considered by his editors a fine candidate for covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Two Western journalists recently asked to be accompanied to the Gaza Strip to interview Jewish settlers living there. No, this is not the opening line of a joke. These journalists were in Israel at the end of 2015, and they were deadly serious. Imagine their embarrassment when it was pointed out to them that Israel had completely pulled out of the Gaza Strip ten years ago.
We could add several more from our personal experiences of meeting and being interviewed by literally hundreds of members of the brigade of what Khaled Abu Toameh calls "parachute journalists":
catapulted into the region without being briefed on the basic facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sadly, correspondents such as these are more the rule than the exception... Of course, the above tales hardly apply to all foreign journalists. Some correspondents from the US, Canada, Australia and Europe are both very knowledgeable and very fair. Unfortunately, however, these represent but a small group among mainstream media in the West... [But not] all foreign journalists. Some correspondents from the US, Canada, Australia and Europe are both very knowledgeable and very fair. Unfortunately, however, these represent but a small group among mainstream media in the West...
Those of us who care about truth, and its close companion, justice, understand that these are realities that must never be ignored. Khaled Abu Toameh expresses it sharply in the context of the journalism that we see practiced in this part of the world, which he correctly says
is not about being pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian. Rather, it is about being "pro" the truth, even when the truth runs straight up against what they would prefer to believe.
All the worthy memorials and monuments and anniversary events are helpless in the face of reportorial incompetence, massive ignorance, malevolence and fabrication. The deliberate rewriting of history absolutely matters.

So does forgetting the victims and their suffering and the lives they built afterwards.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

26-Jan-16: Two attackers stab women at neighborhood grocery store; instantly become figures of emulation

Beit Horon [Image Source]
If you drive from Jerusalem towards Ben Gurion airport and the coast, you generally choose one of two alternative routes. One is Route 1, the main highway now under massive reconstruction of the first ten kilometers that wend their way up and down the hills around the capital. The other is Route 443 that passes Givat Ze'ev and then Beit Horon.

Yesterday, in the small Beit Horon community (population: about 1,300, and a long Jewish history) that abuts the busy commuter route, a pair of Palestinian Arab men with terror on their minds made their way unhindered into the heart of the neighborhood - evidently via a breach in its periphery fence or by climbing over - towards the makolet, the local grocery store. This is the fourth attack in a week in which Arabs have brought their terror right inside Israeli communities; the others were in Tekoa, Otniel and Anatot/Almon.

They stopped briefly to place several home-made explosive devices just outside the shop. Just before or after that, they evidently spotted two women, one walking along the sidewalk, a second one in the nearby car park, and stabbed them both brutally. Security camera footage [here] shows them then being stopped at the entrance to the makolet by its proprietor aided by what he had at hand - a shopping cart. This worked. Sometime very soon after that, a security guard shot them both. They are now dead.

Members of the Israel Police bomb squad, called to the scene, neutralized the bombs, three of them. The stabbing victims were given emergency treatment and then rushed to hospital in Jerusalem. One is 23 years old, and was taken by ambulance to the Hadassah Medical Center hospital on Jerusalem's Mount Scopus in critical condition. The other, a woman said to be in her late fifties, has moderate injuries and is now at the capital's Shaarei Zedek Medical Center.

This morning, Tuesday, news reports say the younger of the two victims died of her injuries during the night. We still have no knowledge of who they are. That will surely come later today.

We know the attackers' names. Arabic-language news sources [here, for instance] say they are Osama Ibrahim Yousef Allan, 23, from nearby Beit Ur al-Tahta [بيت عور التحتى] and Hussein Mohamed Abu Ghosh, 17, from Qalandiya, an Arab neighbourhood from which a stream of killers, stabbers and would-be jihadists have emerged in recent months (most recently mentioned in our blog here, here and here.)

It's reported that they posted on Facebook in the hours before the murderous attack that they were "going to hunt porcupines". One of the thugs was immediately claimed [see poster] as "son, martyr, hero" by Fatah, the terrorist band headed by PA president Mahmoud Abbas. Their photos, part of the process of elevating armed thuggery to something higher and worthy of emulation, already began popping up across the Arabic media [here, for instance] in the hours after the terrorism.

Knowing how these matters work, there is no room for doubt that their stabbing of two unarmed women makes them heroes in the perverted society from which they emerged, starting at its highest levels. Their deaths at the hands of a security guard turns them in martyrs with custom posters for family and friends to admire.

Shlomit Kriegman Z"L
The IDF, immediately after the attack, set up roadblocks in the area and cordoned off nearby Beit Ur al-Tahta "with only those requiring medical attention permitted to enter or leave", in the words of a Haaretz report.

UPDATE Tuesday January 26, 2016 at 8:00 am: Israel National News says the woman murdered in Beit Horon yesterday is Shlomit Kriegman, 24, who "did her National Service with Bnei Akiva in Beit Horon. During the last year Shlomit lived with her grandfather and grandmother in the community." Her funeral will be at 1:00 pm today (Tuesday) at Jerusalem's Har Hamenuhot Cemetery. May her memory be a blessing.

Monday, January 25, 2016

25-Jan-16: Felons, funding, fooling, failing

Issa Karaka used to be a minister in the PA government. But when speaking
in front of the wall poster in the photo above, he already had nothing
whatever to do with the PA government. It's a joke. Read on to
understand what's behind the charade [Image Source
Aid to unfortunate people is at the top of very few lists of things people think a lot about.

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, in a recent opinion piece ["Why 2016 is the year to shake up humanitarian funding", Devex | Peter Maurer 22 January 2016], has some trenchant things to say about the price paid for this indifference:
According to the U.N., around 125 million people in the world today are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. The number of people dying in wars has risen dramatically during the past few years. More people have been forced to flee their homes than at any other time since World War II. The calamitous 5-year-old Syrian conflict is one of the major causes of the situation. Last year, the budget of the International Committee of the Red Cross was at a record 1.6 billion Swiss francs ($1.58 billion). This year, it will rise again to 1.7 billion. This figure is 50 percent more than it was five years ago. But while global generosity has never been higher, needs are still outstripping means to respond.
He then offers five concrete suggestions. All of them are based on serious common sense, with the aim of making the tragic current reality a little better. In the spirit of small steps usually making better sense than large speeches and bombastic plans, he offers this one that we especially like:
Energize funders by making them stakeholders.
Or, to say this in our words and not his, try to get the people who provide the aid to see themselves as involved in the outcomes. Logical consequence: if those outcomes turn out to not be there (what's called in business terms zero return on investment), the people providing the money are likely to stop giving. Or alternatively they may get involved in trying to change from outside what's done with their generosity so that it becomes (more) effective.

We write about money here often. Broadly, that means addressing two specific issues:
  • European Union funding: Its availability has evolved into one of the most effective ways for the Palestinian Arab elite to (a) make obscene personal fortunes for themselves and their children; and (b) fund terrorism among the people they rule. 
  • UNRWA, the bizarre refugee organization that does all it can to ensure the poor and homeless of one very specific sub-set of Arabs remain poor and homeless and has been doing so for seven decades.
What can money do? Quite a lot provided people's expectations are carefully managed, and there's competent and responsible leadership involved in its oversight, distribution and application. Which brings us to the Palestinian Arabs, where money has been poured and poured and poured for decades. What it has achieved and failed to achieve is poorly understood but vitally important.

An article in a major business newspaper yesterday looks at this vexed set of interlocking issues and comes up with what ought to - but will not - be startling revelations. We're referring to "Where Does All That Aid for Palestinians Go?", authored by a doctoral student in the law faculty at Tel Aviv University, Tzipi Hotovely. She's also Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the current Israeli government.

Her Wall Street Journal article starts with a nod to the essential role economic development has in bringing peace to troubled regions, and the importance of building "physical and social infrastructure that will enable the emergence of a sustainable, prosperous society". Beyond being good, will foreign and humanitarian aid help to bring peace? Yes, she suggests:
"...if it is spent to foster tolerance and coexistence. If it is used to strengthen intransigence it does more harm than good—and the more aid that comes in, the worse the outcome. This is exactly what has been transpiring over the past few decades. Large amounts of foreign aid to the Palestinians are spent to support terrorists and deepen hostility."
How? Let us count just some of the ways Ms Hotovely mentions - all direct quotes from her WSJ article:
  • Between 1993 (when the Oslo Process began) and 2013, the Palestinians received $21.7 billion in development assistance, according to the World Bank. 
  • [T]he disproportionate share of development assistance the Palestinians receive... comes at the expense of needy populations elsewhere. According to a report last year by Global Humanitarian Assistance, in 2013 the Palestinians received $793 million in international aid, second only to Syria. This amounts to $176 for each Palestinian, by far the highest per capita assistance in the world.
  • Syria, where more than 250,000 people have been killed and 6.5 million refugees displaced since 2011, received only $106 per capita.
  • A closer look at the remaining eight countries in the top 10 [aid recipient nations]... Sudan, South Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Somalia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo [reveals] that these countries have a combined population of 284 million and an average per capita GDP of $2,376. Yet they received an average of $15.30 per capita in development assistance in 2013. The Palestinians, by comparison, with a population of 4.5 million, have a per capita GDP of $4,900.
  • [T]hough the Palestinians are more than twice as wealthy on average than these eight countries, they receive more than 11 times as much foreign aid per person
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo is a case in point: Its 79 million people have a per capita GDP of $700, yet they receive only $5.70 in aid per person.
  • The Palestinian leadership has had ample opportunity to use these funds for economic and social development. Tragically, as seen in Hamas-run Gaza, it prefers to use the funds on its terrorist infrastructure and weaponry, such as cross-border attack tunnels and the thousands of missiles that have rained down in recent years on Israel.
  • Aside from funding terrorists and investing in hate speech, the PA stubbornly refuses to remove hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from “refugee” rosters, deliberately keeping them in a state of dependence and underdevelopment for no purpose other than to stoke animosity toward Israel.
  • The [Mahmoud Abbas] regime in Ramallah pays monthly stipends of between $400 and $3,500 to terrorists and their families, the latter of which is more than five times the average monthly salary of a Palestinian worker... Overall in 2012 foreign aid made up about a quarter of the PA’s $3.1 billion budget... [T]he PA’s annual budget for supporting Palestinian terrorists [in 2014]... amounted to some 16% of the foreign donations the PA received annually... More recent figures are inaccessible since the Palestinian Authority is no longer transparent about the stipend transfers.
  • ...Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah made assurances as recently as September 2015 that the PA will provide the “necessary assistance” to ensure these terror stipends [keep coming].
  • Embarrassed by public revelations of the misuse of the foreign aid, in August 2014 the Palestinian Authority passed the task of paying stipends to terrorists and their families to a fund managed by the Palestine Liberation Organization, also led by Mr. Abbas... This procedural ruse apparently calmed the consciences of donor governments that continue to transfer aid. It is difficult to think of another case in which such a forgiving attitude would be taken regarding foreign aid to an entity that sponsors terror.
(The PA prime minister, reacting in a Ma'an News Agency story, says it's all "fiction" and that the PA "operates on the principals of accountability and transparency, especially when it comes to public funds and foreign aid." That will almost certainly do the trick.)

We addressed the matter of the PA's "procedural ruse" in a post published here some seven months ago: "02-Jun-15: The obvious, petty lies that keep European money flowing into the hands of the PA's terrorists". 

In it, we referred to original research by the indispensable Palestinian Media Watch showing that in August 2014 the Mahmoud Abbas-dominated PA announced the closing of its Ministry of Prisoners Affairs, the agency which for years funneled monthly salaries to terrorists. Evidently under pressure from Western donors, the Abbas regime overnight created a replacement for the PA ministry: a brand-spanking new PLO Commission of Prisoners Affairs – independent (wink wink nod nod) of the PA and set up to pay those very same salaries to the same people and for the same sickening reasons. 

That new PLO entity is of course new in name only. It has the very same mission and responsibilities and pays exactly the same amounts of salaries to terrorists/prisoners. The PA minister of prisoners affairs, Issa Karake, overnight changed hats to become its director. PA/PLO/Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas retains, as he did up until that moment it took over, "overall supervision of the PLO Commission". 

The minister in question, Issa Karake, whose hate-filled, terrorism-encouraging utterances we have quoted in this blog numerous times, is central to this flim-flammery. Used to be minister for prisoners; now he's not; instead he's commissioner for some PLO business unit which is a completely different and perfectly legitimate thing. The European suckers will swallow it without a problem because it's what they need from us. And so on. 

(But someone forgot to tell the Arabic-language media about the rules of the charade, as we showed here.)

Here's what we wrote at the end of our June 2015 post:
This vexed issue of foreign taxpayers delivering up unspeakably large amounts of money to politicians prepared to lie right into the faces of the donors is a key factor in the enduring nature of terrorist savagery, Palestinian Arab style.
Deputy Minister Hotovely ends her WSJ piece with some unasked-for, but quite cogent, advice:
Donors to the Palestinians who support peace would do well to rethink the way they extend assistance. Money should go to economic and civic empowerment, not to perpetuate a false sense of victimhood and unconditional entitlement. It should foster values of tolerance and nonviolence, not the glorification and financing of terrorism.
There's zero basis to expect an outpouring of tolerance or non-violence from any Palestinian Arab sources any time soon. Certainly not so long as Abbas and his wealthy cronies keep ruling the roost. And even more certainly while they keep educating their children in the values of bigotry, hatred and self-destruction.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

24-Jan-16: Sunday night Gazan rocket explodes in southern Israel

Last night's Gazan Fell Short rocket was quickly followed this evening (Sunday) by another Gazan rocket flung in the customary terrorist way in the general direction of anything Israeli.

This evening's missile got as far as southern Israel's Sha'ar HaNegev region, home to some 6,000 long-suffering, rocket-weary residents. There, its approach triggered rocket alert sirens from the Color Red/Tzeva Adom in-bound rocket detection system, sending many residents and their families rushing to bomb shelters.

It appears the rocket exploded harmlessly in an open area, causing neither injuries nor property damage.

This, it is important to remember, was never the intention of the terrorists who fire off such rockets; their goal is to cause pain, death, fear and disruption to Israeli life. Many thousands of such rockets have been despatched into, and in the general direction of, Israel since Hamas grabbed control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. They have no discernible military objective, but serve strictly terrorist goals.

24-Jan-16: Saturday storms and deaths

Palestinian Arab girl with knife: Her mother says she's
small and how could she stab anyone [Image Source: Security
camera footage from yesterday's attack
]
Though the region is passing through a period of intense cold and stormy weather, and with snow on the way tonight in Jerusalem, the capacity of Palestinian Arab society to churn out mindless acts of self-destruction in the name of a profound hatred goes on undiminished.

Here's how Saturday looked.

At about 8 in the morning when the sun was still shining, though weakly, a Palestinian Arab child of 13 was killed after attempting to stab an Israeli security guard at the entrance to Anatot, better known to Hebrew speakers as Almon, on Jerusalem's northern periphery. The official statement issued by the Israel Police spokesperson and quoted by Haaretz, says laconically the girl fought with her family before leaving home with a knife. It names her as Rokya Abu Eid (Ma'an names her as Ruqayya Eid Abu Eid) and says her family previously lived in the Yatta refugee camp near Hebron, but are now living in the village of Anata (population: about 10,000). Haaretz says the girl "ran toward the security guard with a knife. The guard shot her, and paramedics pronounced her death shortly after..." The New York Times, under a headline that conveys the editors's skepticism ["Palestinian Girl With Knife Killed by Israeli Guard, Police Say"] says, quoting Israeli sources, that the girl
quarreled with her family on Saturday morning and then left her home with a knife “intending to die.” She arrived at the settlement about 8 a.m., the police said in a statement, and ran toward the civilian guard at the entrance, who opened fire. Grainy security camera footage from the scene appeared to show a girl with a knife in her hand chasing a guard... [New York Times, January 24, 2016]
A pity the "intending to die" part didn't get into the headline but the "girl with knife killed... police say" did. Note that a British source, Telegraph UK, says
Her mother, Reeda Abu Eid, said there had been no trouble before her daughter left the family home, a tent in the Palestinian village Anata... "Ruqayya is a small girl, how could she stab someone?"
How indeed.

Tragically, small girls and small boys have killed, injured and maimed dozens of innocent Israelis in the past four months of terror attacks ["01-Dec-15: The pride of Palestinian Arab society: Monstrous mothers, sacrificed children"].

Yatta happens to be where the not-so-large fifteen-year-old male child charged with murdering Dafna Meir ["18-Jan-16: Multiple Arab-on-Israeli attacks and a Jewish mother is murdered at her front door"] last week by plunging a knife into her head came from. Incidentally, while Haaretz makes no mention of Israeli casualties in yesterday's knifing attack by the 13 year old child, this Iranian news-source report says "Several Israeli soldiers sustained injuries in Saturday’s purported stabbing attack." This might be true, though it's unlikely the Israeli injured would have included IDF personnel.

In southern Israel, in the midst of freezing rain and bitter cold around 10:40 pm last night (Saturday), men with rockets inside the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip launched yet another of the many thousands of rockets in their possession in the general direction of anything Israeli. This was another notable failure, a Fell Short, meaning their missile failed to get even as far as the Gaza/Israel fence and exploded somewhere inside Gaza, perhaps on top of some hapless Gazan family's home or their heads. While there are currently no reports of Palestinian Arab deaths, injuries or property damage emanating from Gaza, it has been clear in the past that embarrassing casualties or damage to property resulting from Fell Shorts tend not to be reported.

From an Arab source, a reminder of the preparations for the next war that are a fundamental part of life for those Gazan Palestinian Arabs. Yet another tunnel collapsed in the southern end of the Gaza Strip during Saturday, west of Khan Younis. (The last one was just a week ago: "15-Jan-16: A tunnel collapses in Gaza".) The sole named casualty this time is described as a "Hamas-affiliated militant" Ahmad Ashour al-Najjar, 26. He died in the collapse of what Hamas calls a "resistance" tunnel. Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the name Hamas uses to refer to its terrorists, "confirmed in a statement that al-Najjar was a member of the group". Ma'an offers as background that
A number of Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in the vast tunnel networks that lie below the besieged enclave, which are largely used for smuggling in the coastal enclave's south and military purposes in the north. The Hamas movement which governs the strip is reportedly reconstructing a vast tunnel network intended to be used for carrying out attacks on Israeli military targets and civilians
In Abu Dis, on Jerusalem's northern margin, a Palestinian Arab male of 18 died when the explosive he was carrying went off. There's some doubt whether those explosives were strapped onto him and somehow exploded prematurely or whether he fell or slipped in trying to hurl the bomb at his target. In any event, no one other than the human bomb himself was hurt. His goal, it appears, was an assault on a manned IDF checkpoint at one of the entrances from East Jerusalem. The young dead man has a name, Muhammad Halbiya, according to one source; Nabil Halabiya, according to another. Haaretz says he will be buried this morning, to be followed by three days of public mourning. Whatever the matter to which he himself felt he was dedicating his life, his death plainly failed to achieve it.

Abu Dis has been in the news in recent weeks because of a bomb factory uncovered there by Israeli security ["24-Dec-15: Another terror outrage narrowly averted - and Shalit Deal releasees are again at the heart of the darkness"] and also because of a shooting attack on one of the security checkpoints in the area ["12-Jan-16: Tuesday terror attacks: one by shooting, one by knifing"], perhaps the same one as in yesterday's self-explosion, perhaps a different one.

No sign of the storm abating.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

19-Jan-16: Children with knives and what they destroy

The victim's family arrive at the cemetery for Monday's funeral [Image Source: Reuters]
Anyone paying attention to the nature of the many Arab-on-Israeli attacks launched on Israel's streets and inside its shops and homes and buses these past four months (in particular) will be struck by an aspect that continues to go largely un-noted by the mainstream news reporting media: the age of the attackers. Many of them are children. (Click for some recent posts about child-executed terror attacks against Israelis.)

An individual believe by authorities to be the killer of Dafna Meir z"l was arrested overnight (early Tuesday morning), according to Times of Israel:
The suspect, said to be 15 years old, was arrested by IDF troops and agents from the Shin Bet security service in a village near Otniel, where he was hiding out, and was taken in for interrogation. He is suspected of entering Meir’s home and killing her before fleeing the scene. Three of Meir’s six children were home when she was killed, and one, 17-year-old Renanaa, gave security forces a description of the terrorist. Police officers and IDF soldiers set up roadblocks in the area surrounding the settlement as they launched a manhunt for the stabber, who was believed to have escaped to a nearby village, possibly Khirbet Karme, located just north of Otniel, on foot. According to reports Tuesday morning, he did not possess a permit allowing him to work in Otniel, despite early assessments to the contrary.
Haaretz says the finding and arrest of the boy, said to be named Marawad Badr Abdallah Ada'is, was done by soldiers in the Duvdevan unit
an elite special operations force within the Israel Defense Forces, directly subordinate to the Judea and Samaria Division. Duvdevan are particularly noted for conducting undercover operations against militants in urban areas. During these operations, Duvdevan soldiers typically wear Arab civilian clothes as a disguise... [Wikipedia]
The knife-wielding attacker who seriously wounded a pregnant Israeli woman in Tekoa yesterday is allegedly fifteen. Other recent Arab-on-Israeli knifers have been as young as 11. [See "11-Oct-15: Weaponizing children".]

The Arab home front generally provides a reliable cover for fugitive killers of Jews, hence the need for expert undercover security people to go right inside those towns and villages and extract the alleged killers and terror-minded thugs who can be expected to otherwise remain clutched close to the nurturing bosom of Palestinian Arab society. As for outrage and condemnation, there may be some Palestinian Arab voices but no one hears them and they don't get reported - assuming they exist.

The moral depravity that brings government officials and ordinary folk to stand with, instead of against, the wielders of kitchen knifes and axes is mirrored by the strategic silence of the world's well-funded children's rights industry UNICEFDefence for Children International, Human Rights WatchUNESCOChild Rights International Network, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Washington-based Jerusalem FundSave the ChildrenArab Council for Childhood Development to name just a few donor-supported, PR-savvy entities who have seem to have collectively lost their voices, their senses and their moral compasses when it comes to what Palestinian Arab society is doing to their own children. And to ours. 

(We no longer mention Amnesty International in that list. Amnesty's increasingly explicit identification with the practitioners of the Palestinian Arab brand of terror makes plain their abandonment of principle and betrayal of their supporters' values. There's no longer anything to expect from them.)

The arrest, in the wake of an intense manhunt, came some hours after the funeral of his victim:
Hundreds arrived at [Jerusalem's] Givat Shaul cemetery on Monday morning to accompany Dafna Meir, who was murdered by a terrorist in her home, on her final journey. Meir, 38, is survived by her husband Natan and their six children: Renana, 17, Akiva, 15, Ahava, 10, Noa, 11, Yair, six, and Yaniv, four. The four older children are Dafna and Natan's biological children, and the two younger ones - Yaniv and Yair - are brothers that the couple adopted. At their mother's funeral, the children could not stop crying... [Ynet, January 18, 2016]
Image Source
Children with knives: it's a phenomenon worth pondering as Red Hand Day, February 12 each year, approaches. So too is the choking silence that accompanies the devastation it brings. (If you visit the Red Hand Day website, notice that it is published in four languages but Arabic is not one of them.)

Given what a heavy toll the reality of killers-who-are-children exacts from Palestinian Arab society, it's surely top of the list of matters to which the lavishly-funded editors of Ma'an News Agency will be turning their journalistic attention and moral fury today. Let's just not stop breathing while we wait.

Monday, January 18, 2016

18-Jan-16: May it be Your will...

Source: Kolech
Dafna Meir was stabbed to death Sunday at the door of the Otniel home she and her husband Natan made for their family of four biological children and two additional children they fostered. The killer is still on the run.

Mrs Meir was a nurse - which in Israeli hospitals always means nursing patients who are Jewish, Moslem, Christian and whoever else needs nursing - and a guide to many. She also managed to write a blog (in Hebrew, naturally enough), Women's Ways.

There, she published a prayer she had composed while studying for an exam in the Neurosurgery department at Beer Sheva's Soroka Hospital where she worked. That prayer has today been rendered into English (sincere thanks to Rochel Sylvetsky-Tabak)
and was originally published earlier today on the Israel National News site.

We hope it is copied and conveyed widely.
May it be Your Will, Creator of the world, He Who manages it with mercy and loving kindness, to grant me the ability to give medications to Your people in need of salvation, and also to the members of other nations who are in the devoted care of your faithful messengers, who continue their holy work day and night, on the Sabbath and holidays, without letup.
Grant that I understand, remember and realize, that the medications are a gift from You, and their efficacy is Your message to us.
Grant that I view and feel joy at their beneficial influence of the medications I, mercifully, can give those who are ill.
Grant me the ability to concentrate when giving out these medicines, to understand the way each acts on disease.
Grant that I notice in time any of my errors or those of my colleagues when handing out medications, and that I act quickly to correct the errors before the medication enters the body of the patient.
Grant that I act with modesty, learn and teach others about the successes and failures in giving medication.
Grant that I give medications to the sick from a position of good health and that I remember to be grateful that I myself do not have to take them.
Grant that I learn to have empathy, although in good health, with the patient's suffering and help him with all my ability every day and every hour, using the tools that You have given me.
Amen.
May her memory be as a blessing.

And see "Sometimes I feel we are in a game of Russian Roulette" which Dafna Meir Z"L wrote recently about her thoughts on security and danger. That too was translated by Rochel Sylvetsky-Tabak.

18-Jan-16: A pregnant Jewish woman stabbed in Tekoa today

There has been another stabbing attack this morning on a Jewish woman by a knife-wielding Palestinian Arab assailant.

Today's attack happened a little after 10 am in Tekoa, a thriving Jewish community in the Gush Etzion area on the southern edge of Jerusalem, and the victim is pregnant. Times of Israel reports that the stabber was shot dead by security forces at the scene, a clothing warehouse (but there are reports that he may still be alive). His victim is a woman of about 30 with serious wounds to the upper body, including damage to a lung evidently pierced by the attacker's blade. She has been rushed to Shaarei Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for emergency care. Tekoa residents have been told to remain in their homes (as of the time we are writing this - Monday morning) and to lock their doors until further notice.

The often-vile reporting of the Ma'an News Agency manages to get five paragraphs into its story, headlined "Palestinian shot, injured after allegedly stabbing Israeli woman" before disclosing that
the Israeli who was stabbed and injured is a pregnant women in "moderate to severe" condition. The Palestinian shot and injured has yet to be identified.
A pity to be giving this any attention, but the oh-so-clever people at Ma'an are the annual recipients of millions upon millions of Euros to lubricate the path forward for their very specific kind of agenda-driven, incite-over-insight news reporting. European tax-payers ought to be more aware of the role their tax money pays to make this a daily reality.

UPDATE: January 18, 2016 at 8:00 pm - The victim of the knifing attack in Tekoa is Michal Froman, the daughter-in-law of the late and renowned peace advocate Rabbi Menachem Froman, a saintly figure "who believed a common faith in God could enable coexistence". The Jerusalem Post says the terrorist who carried out the attack was shot and wounded and being fixed in a Jerusalem hospital like so many previous murder-minded Palestinian Arab attackers. Times of Israel notes that he is a child of 15:
Othman Muhammad Sha’alan, 15, came in [to the clothing shop located in a Tekoa warehouse] shortly after 10 a.m., when she opened the store, in an industrial area on the edge of the settlement, southeast of Jerusalem... Officials said the attacker sneaked into the settlement via a hole in a fence and then made his way to the nearby store... The teenage assailant then pulled out a blade from his pocket and stabbed Froman in the back... Shortly after fleeing the scene, the 15-year-old stabber was shot by an armed civilian and taken to a hospital for treatment.
Thankfully, the unborn child of today's knifing attack victim is evidently unharmed.

18-Jan-16: On a death in a settlement house

Source: BBC [Archived]
Many Israelis will be
reflecting in sorrow today as the young murdered mother we described in yesterday's post is buried later this morning in the soil of Jerusalem.

Others will be thinking about the shabby journalistic values that lie behind the headline on the BBC report of her death at the hands of a terrorist.

The word "terrorist" is of course politely omitted from the report, as is the custom at the politically-correct BBC. So is any meaningful description of her foreshortened life. The headline is silent as to who "stabbed to death" this loving and inspirational Jewish woman, described in the body text as simply "a mother in her late 30s".

What's not missing is the implied justification for her brutal and cruel slaying, done in front of three of her young children: she was a resident of an "Otniel settlement house". Case proven and closed,

News consumers and news producers for whom "settlement" says everything they need to know about the ongoing war of terror being waged against Jews in their homeland won't give the matter a second thought. They will very likely be unaware of the positive meaning the expression "settlement house" has had for more than a century. The BBC's editors surely had no positive intentions in choosing that odd way to characterize an act of primal savagery whose name they don't even dare to pronounce.

18-Jan-16: Multiple Arab-on-Israeli attacks and a Jewish mother is murdered at her front door

Kiryat Moshe's Harav Reines Street in Jerusalem [Google Maps]
Sunday was a hard day here, and made harder still by the way life-and-death events affecting Israelis are being routinely swept under the carpet or simply ignored by the vast swathes of the global news-reporting industry.

The day's first notable violence came early Sunday morning here in Jerusalem. What could easily have become a repeat of a terrible tragedy that struck this city 14 months ago ["19-Nov-14: In the wake of Tuesday's murderous attack on Jewish worshipers in Jerusalem"] was averted. The line between what might have been and what was, and the impact on many lives, is terrifyingly thin.

Three Palestinian Arab men were stopped and arrested outside the Heichal Yaakov synagogue on Harav Reines Street in the capital's Kiryat Moshe quarter soon after dawn - peak hour in many synagogues - after arousing suspicions among people who watch for precisely such threats. The three turned out to be armed with crude but lethal knives and according to an Israel National News report
are believed to have planned to carry out an attack on the synagogue as it was packed with worshipers attending morning prayers.
After interrogating them, the police say they are open to a far milder interpretation: that the weapons were for car-theft purposes, but that the investigation remains ongoing [Times of Israel, January 17, 2016].

The would-be knife-attacker: Unharmed though
her lethal intentions were thwarted,
perhaps postponed
A stabbing attack was thwarted at the western entrance to Kiryat Arba, near Hebron a little later in the day. A Palestinian Arab woman - named in Arab media as Nivin Muhsin al-Jaabari, and said to be 18,.was intercepted with a knife secreted in her handbag. Forced at gunpoint to crouch on the road and remove her coat, her concealed weapon was revealed, and she was arrested; no one was hurt.

Another attempted stabbing attack took place during Sunday afternoon at the Samaria Regional Brigade Junction, better known here as Bahad 3. Wikipedia explains that Bahad [in Hebrew: בה"ד‎] stands for Basis Hadrakha meaning training base. There are several Bahads around the country; Bahad 3 is a school for infantry.

Alert soldiers opened fire before he could harm any of his intended victims. The attacker is now dead. An Associated Press bulletin names him as Wissam Qasrawi, 21, from a village called Mesilyeh near Jenin.

By far the most serious of today's Arab-on-Israeli violence is the murder of an Israeli woman, the mother of six children, in a horrific stabbing attack at the door of her home in Otniel, a town in southern Har Hevron.

The victim of today's murder in Otniel, and her husband
We now know the murdered woman is Dafna Meir, 39 (though it's striking that her name is absent from many of the non-Israeli news reports - like that of AP - that mentioned the killing). She was a hospital nurse who, with her husband, adopted two children to add to the four to whom she gave birth.

Her killer is on the loose, and a major manhunt is now underway. Says the BBC, without ever resorting the use of the word "terror":
Security forces are hunting for the attacker using helicopters and military vehicles.
Roadblocks have been set up, residents were told to lock themselves inside their homes and flares lit the night sky as the manhunt went on.
Witnesses to the attack, quoted by Israel National News, say the killer worked in the town "and used his familiarity with the community to carry out the attack." From other sources, we understand he worked in construction. His victim will be remembered as a woman of principles and constructive activism - as well as fierce and heroic determination:
Initial investigations indicated that Meir wrestled with the attacker in an effort to protect the three of her children who were in the home during the attack. The stabber fled the scene without continuing the attack and before he could reach the children. Media reports said her teenage daughter witnessed the attack and described the terrorist to authorities... [Times of Israel, January 17, 2016]
Mrs Meir, of blessed memory, will be laid to rest later today (Monday) in Jerusalem's Har Hamenuchot cemetery, just a short walk from Kiryat Moshe where Sunday's violence began,

Friday, January 15, 2016

15-Jan-16: A tunnel collapses in Gaza

If you trust the news reporting of Ma'an News Agency, you will believe that there was an innocent building collapse in the Gaza Strip today. If so, you will have missed the story's significance.
Hamas fighter killed in accident in southern Gaza tunnel JAN. 15, 2016 11:56 A.M. | GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A member of Hamas' armed wing was killed by an electric shock in a tunnel near Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, the Gazan Ministry of Health said. Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said that 22-year-old Bassam Ayyoub al-Akhras, a member of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, received the shock while working in the tunnel. He added that al-Akhras came from the al-Shabura area of Rafah.
Gaza's tunnel networks are notoriously dangerous. The Institute for Palestine Studies reported in 2012 that Hamas authorities had counted 160 deaths inside the tunnels since the Israeli blockade began in 2007, and in August 2014, al-Jazeera reported that figure to be as high as 400.
While the tunnels are used by Hamas as a source of tax revenue and inflow of weapons, they also supply highly-demanded necessities for Gaza's 1.8 million residents under the blockade, including food, medicine, as well as infrastructure materials like concrete and fuel.
Ma'an is notorious for adopting the stance of objective news reporter while sticking religiously to interpretations that advance the military and terror objectives of the two Palestinian Arab regimes (the one in Ramallah, the other in the Gaza Strip).

The dead man is a terrorist, proudly claimed as such by Hamas, as the story makes plain. Tunnel collapses are far from a rare thing. The background is entirely terrorism-linked, as a detailed Wikipedia overview ["Palestinian tunnel warfare in the Gaza Strip"] makes plain.

But not to Ma'an which pretends tunnels are for food and medicine and that's all a person needs to know. That a member of a terrorist organization, sworn to carry out acts of savagery, is down there is in Ma'an's view a matter of no concern.

Reminder: Ma'an receives millions of dollars a year from Western sources that include the governments of Denmark, Sweden and the United States, and from Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, and other "charities".

Thursday, January 14, 2016

14-Jan-16: In Indonesia's capital, a mall and a Starbucks now under terror attack

From Australia's Channel 9 News:
A massive police operation is now underway in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta following a series of deadly explosions that has left at least seven dead. Several blasts rocked the area around a popular shopping centre, the Sarinah at the crossroads of Thamrin Road and Wahid Haysim Street, as suicide bombers and gunmen carried out attacks on a Starbucks café and a nearby police post about 10.30am local time (2.30pm AEDT). Jakarta police spokesman Colonel Muhammad Iqbal said the explosions had killed seven people, including four of the attackers.
Video from the scene shows at least one attacker detonating a suicide vest near the shopping centre, exploding as he approaches the building. Indonesian media has reported that three suicide bombers targeted the Starbucks in the shopping centre, while two gunmen attacked the police station, triggering a gunfight.
It is understood some of the attackers are now holed up in a nearby building, with police surrounding them. There has been at least one fresh explosion nearby as dozens of counter terrorism police moved in on the building. Counter terrorism police are searching several nearby buildings, including a McDonald’s, and occasional gunshots are still ringing out. Local authorities have confirmed a police officer died during the attacks.
Police crouch outside the Starbucks an hour ago [Image Source]
It's summer in the southern hemisphere and Australians travel in large numbers to holiday in Indonesia. Over at The Age (Melbourne), they are reporting on
at least seven explosions... in Central Jakarta on Thursday, including two suicide bombings... Explosions occurred near Sarinah, a shopping mall in Central Jakarta, near office buildings and fast food outlets... There are other unconfirmed reports of similar explosions in Cikini (Central Jakarta), Kuningan (South Jakarta), Simatupang (South Jakarta) and Slipi (South Jakarta), as well as reports of gunshots in the area of Palmerah (West Jakarta). 
CNN are quoting
one analyst (who) likened the timed attacks to the Paris massacre where ISIS struck several locations at the same time.
The disingenuous BBC, caught up as usual in a bout of self-muting corporate bashfulness about calling this attack what it is and what everyone knows it is, is currently confining itself to such purely-functional descriptors as "series of bomb blasts", "further explosions", "gunfire", "suspected attackers" (because you wouldn't want to prejudice the potential legal case against the men hurling the bombs and firing the automatic rifles by making assumptions, Heaven forbid). The editors at the BBC leave it to a local political figure, the Indonesian president Joko Widodo, to extract them from their politically-correct know-nothingness by providing a quote, naturally inside a pair of quotation marks, that this is an "act of terror". Thank you, Mr Widodo, and good luck in the challenging days undoubtedly lying ahead.

(Some of our previous Indonesia-focused blog posts are here.)