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US Creates Government Group to ‘Drive Daily Progress’ on Change in Iranian Regime Behavior

August 22, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Israel and the US agree on Iran. Meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US National Security Advisor John Bolton in Jerusalem. Illustrative. Photo: Amos Ben Gershom GPO

The United States is determined to push for what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called “major changes” in the behavior of the Iranian regime—including their nuclear and missile activities and their support for terrorism—and so he recently announced the formation of the Iran Action Group at the State Department to focus on this effort. “Our hope is that one day soon we can reach a new agreement with Iran,” said Pompeo in a Department press release on August 16.

“But we must see major changes in the regime’s behavior both inside and outside of its borders. The Iranian people and the world are demanding that Iran finally act like a normal nation. The Iran Action Group will drive daily progress on these objectives and I hope do much more.”

Pompeo said that the Group would be “key” to working with other nations on countering the Iran threat, and they join what is already a robust effort. Just this week National Security Advisor John Bolton visited Israel with Iran on his mind. And Brian Hook, the new head of the Iran Action Group, was in London last week for “productive discussions” with European allies on Iran. “We will continue to build on those areas where we are in agreement with our allies and partners around the world and we will work to find consensus on those areas where we are not,” said Hook, in a separate press release last week. As Bolton saw firsthand, Israel already agrees. … Continue Reading

UN Chief Lists Int’l Troops as Means to Protect Palestinians the Same Day Gazans Riot against Israel

August 19, 2018 Peace and Conflict

United Nations vehicle. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

In the wake of months of arson attacks against Israel by kites sent from Gaza, hundreds of rocket attacks from Hamas on Israeli civilians and regular Gaza border riots, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listed international troops as an option to defend the Palestinians—from Israel. The Ma’an News Agency said that a report published on Friday by Guterres provided four possible methods to protect Palestinians—which the UN chief acknowledged is “highly complex.” One such option was armed UN peacekeepers or troops from “like-minded states” under a UN mandate to provide “physical protection.” Other options included additional aid and UN observers.

Yet the same day the report was released, it was Israel who was once again in need of self-defense. The IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed reported that “thousands of Palestinians rioted along the security fence with Gaza, hurling several firebombs” and explosive devices on Friday, along with multiple infiltrations into Israel by suspects who quickly retreated back into Gaza. This is nothing new. Israel has spent months defending their border with Gaza from hordes of violent Palestinians interspersed with Hamas terrorists. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said that it’s not Israel who is threatening the Palestinians—it’s their own leadership, including the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority (PA). … Continue Reading

Israel Lightens Restrictions on Gaza to Emphasize ‘Calm Is Better than Violence’

August 15, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Illustrative example of goods shipped to Gaza. Photo courtesy of the Israel Tax Authority.

With multiple days of general quiet on the Gaza border, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced on Facebook on Wednesday the re-opening of the Israel-Gaza border crossing back to its normal function “as a clear message for Gaza population: calm is better than violence.” Lieberman’s statement, posted in Arabic and translated into English on the Facebook page of Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) authority that works with the Palestinians on the ground, said that Gazans would “win” when Israelis have calm and “lose when #chaos prevails.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed in a series of posts on Wednesday that the Kerem Shalom border crossing would “be re-opened this morning for full activity” and that the fishing zone of Gaza’s coast would be expanded out to nine nautical miles.

The relaxing of restrictions comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the closing of the Kerem Shalom crossing in July in an effort to curb Hamas terrorism with economic sanctions. For months, Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip have been launching attacks at Israel in the form of rockets, fire kites, and attempts to breach the border crossing to invade Israel. In recent weeks, there have been multiple upticks in rocket violence, prior to the latest period of calm. … Continue Reading

Gaza Unleashes Rockets at Israeli Civilians, IDF Responds

August 8, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Hamas firing rockets at Israel again. Illustrative results of Gaza attack. Photo Courtesy of IDF Spokesperson.

The day started ominously, with Hamas terrorists abandoning outposts to apparently escape potential IDF fire, and like the calm before the storm, the rain of rockets followed. More than 70 rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip in a six-hour stretch starting on Wednesday, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed, with rocket sirens warning of potentially more attacks. The tweet featured a graphic showing 19 different Israeli towns in which rocket sirens had sounded in the onslaught—and the rockets were hitting civilian targets.

Magen David Adom paramedics tweeted about multiple injuries occurring in the town of Sderot at multiple sites, while the IDF Spokesperson posted a video showing a playground damaged by rocket fire as one example of the day’s hits.

“Tonight, Hamas fired rockets at this playground in Sderot, Israel, which is home to 25,000 people. They’re innocent mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. The Hamas terrorist organization looks at Sderot from the Gaza Strip and sees 25,000 targets,” tweeted the video caption. The IDF did not take the barrage lightly, responding in force against Hamas.

… Continue Reading

Israel Threatens War with Iran if Critical Naval Waterway Blocked

Could Israel fight Iran at sea? Naval ship off the coast of Israel. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

With rhetoric between the United States and Iran soaring, the Iranians are making threatening to blocking key shipping lines—and Israel is now on record as threatening to militarily fight back if Iran carries through. “If Iran tries to block the Bab-el-Mandeb, I am convinced that it will find itself facing a determined international coalition to prevent this. This coalition would also include the State of Israel and all its arms,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday in comments released by his office, referring to the waterway known as the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a key artery for international oil shipping.

The Iranians have focused their threats on the closer and more significant Strait of Hormuz that links the Persian Gulf with the rest of the world. However, CNBC reported that Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have already attacked Saudi oil tankers in the Bab-el-Mandeb, through which 5 million barrels of oil are shipped per day. While that’s less than a third of what goes through Hormuz, the Bab-el-Mandeb strait is also more critical for Israel, as it links the Red Sea coast in Israel’s south to the Indian Ocean and is therefore the naval gateway for Asian trade with the Jewish State. Netanyahu specifically mentioned that Houthi attack in his comments, which were delivered to an Israeli naval officers’ graduation ceremony.

Meanwhile, the US believes that Iran is about to launch significant naval wargames in the Strait of Hormuz. According to a report from Fox News, the US expects the drill to involve 100 gun boats and get underway this week. … Continue Reading

Iranian Parliament Advisor: ‘Liberation’ of Israeli-Controlled Golan ‘Can Be Achieved’

July 29, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Iranian intentions revealed? Iran already invaded Israel from Syria with a UAV. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds up piece of Iranian UAV in February. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben Gershom GPO

An Iranian official on Sunday declared on Twitter that the Golan Heights controlled by Israel at their northern border could now be conquered by Syria, giving voice to some of Israel’s greatest concerns about Iranian and Syrian intentions in the strategic area. The tweet, originally posted in Arabic and translated by the Microsoft software on Twitter, included a map that specifically highlighted the Israeli-controlled Golan region and follows the Syrian regime’s recent victory over rebels on the Syrian side of the border.

“We congratulate the Syrian people and the Syrian armed Forces and the President of Syria on the occasion of the liberation of Quneitra from the terrorists of Nusra Front and Zionists,” tweeted Special Aide on International Affairs of the Islamic Parliament Hossein Amir Abdollahian, referring to the libel that Israel is actively assisting terrorist forces in Syria.

“This victory means that the liberation of the occupied Golan Heights can be achieved with the determination and will of the Syrians.”

Israel has repeatedly raised concerns about Iranian forces in Syria and lately emphasized the need to maintain the status quo in the north determined by the ceasefire that ended the last war between the Jewish state and Syria more than forty years ago. … Continue Reading

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