A Note of Optimism for Israel’s Future

Yossi Melman for the Jerusalem Post (May 26):

  • To Israel’s north on the Lebanese border, which will soon mark the tenth anniversary of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah is deterred. True, it has accumulated a huge arsenal of rockets capable of hitting almost any strategic and military site in Israel. Hizbullah also has gained impressive battlefield experience in Syria, but it is bogged down in the killing fields there.
  • In the Golan Heights, al-Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists on the Syrian side of the border have learned to live in co-existence with their Israeli neighbors. The terrorists have not changed their ideology or softened their hatred toward Jews and Israelis. But, like Hizbullah, they are preoccupied fighting other enemies more important to them and are deterred knowing that Israel would harshly retaliate.
  • To the east, Israeli-Jordanian relations have never been better, with improved security ties and intelligence cooperation.
  • In the south, the same is true of Egyptian-Israeli relations. The intelligence communities and militaries of the two countries cooperate in the war against the terrorists in Sinai who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Cairo and Jerusalem also see eye-to-eye with regard to how to deal with Hamas in Gaza.
  • Unlike in the past, Israel doesn’t face any threat or danger from Arab armies because of the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and because the armies of Iraq and Syria have disintegrated.
  • While Iran has a strong military force and missiles capable of reaching Israel, Iran’s Sunni Arab enemies have turned to Israel, which is reaching out with secret military and intelligence deals to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The writer was a senior correspondent for 27 years on national security, intelligence and strategic issues at the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.

Click here for full article.

The Meaning of True Independence

By Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, for Israel Hayom (May 13):

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  • For 68 years Israelis have fought again and again to defend their independence against enemies who would subjugate their country. No other nation has struggled so long and so hard, surrounded by such unyielding hostility.
  • Israel’s right to exist is not to be sanctioned by the peoples of the Middle East or by the leaders of the Western world. It is to be determined only by the Jewish people who, down the millennia, have fought, suffered and died for that inalienable right.
  • It means that Israel is not to have its borders imposed by international bodies or by foreign states, no matter how powerful they might be. It means that Israelis are not to be dictated to about where they can and cannot settle in their land.
  • It means that Israel is not to be told how it may or may not defend the lives of its people under the sovereign independence of the law. It means that Israel is not to be lectured or scolded about human rights by those that have no glimmer of understanding of what human rights truly are.
  • The civilized world has an obligation to respect this independence just as it respects the independence of other free, democratic nations.
  • Israel has shown mankind how a besieged nation – against all odds – can survive and flourish, decide its own destiny and unwaveringly retain its honor, its decency, its dignity, its integrity and its compassion.

Click here for full article.

Thoughts on Israel’s 68th Independence Day

Happy 68th birthday Israel!

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As Israel today celebrates its 68th Independence Day, I cannot help but think of its miraculous transformation from a third world desert on the brink of destruction to a diverse, modern, and prosperous high-tech society.

Israel has the greatest number of startups per capita in the world, and is second only to China in the number of foreign companies listed on NASDAQ.

The Israeli society is the true face of diversity in a region where little diversity exists. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population has increased over the past 50 years. 80% of Israeli Arabs do not want to live in any other country and Israel’s LGBT community is the 7th happiest in the world. Today there are more women who serve in Israel’s Parliament than in more than half of the Parliaments in Europe.

Besides overcoming unprecedented internal and external challenges, Israel has shown a longtime eagerness to help other countries by providing technological know-how and disaster relief.

If people would challenge themselves to look beyond the biased media and immoral politicians they would discover Israel for what she really is: a beacon of hope demonstrating that freedom and democracy cannot only survive but flourish in the most hostile environments.

Am Yisrael Chai!

Why Israel Should Keep the Golan Heights

By Steve Postal for the American Thinker (May 6):

golan heights

Main arguments discussed in the article:

  • Israel has a Stronger Claim to the Golan than Syria
  • The Great Strategic Value of the Golan…
  • …Has Only Appreciated Given Current Threats
  • Water Remains a Vital Concern
  • The Golan is now an Integral Part of the Israeli Economy
  • Israel is the Protector of the Golan’s Rich Archaeological Sites
  • To Whom Would Israel Give the Golan Back?

Summary of the article:

On April 17, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a cabinet meeting on the Golan Heights, stating that the “time has come for the international community to finally recognize that the Golan Heights will remain under Israel’s sovereignty permanently.” He spoke these words from Ma’aleh Gamla, next to the ruins of historic Gamla, a Jewish city to which the Romans laid siege in 67 CE during the Great Revolt. His statement followed reports that the U.S. and Russia were working on a draft resolution to the Syrian civil war that would label the entire Golan Heights as Syrian territory.

Israel has a stronger claim to the Golan than Syria does, the Golan is of essential strategic value to Israel, and given the increased threats, that value has only appreciated. Syria gained independence in 1945. Before that, the Golan was part of the French Empire (1923-1945), and before that for approximately 400 years, part of the (Turkish) Ottoman Empire. So, Syria had control of the Israeli-administered part of the Golan for 22 years (1945-1967), while Israel has had it for 49 years.

Moreover, giving up the Golan would most likely result in it being controlled by forces hostile to Israel and the West. The Islamic State and other jihadist groups, in addition to forces aligned with the Syrian government (including Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards), are all vying for territory adjacent to the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. On April 22, the Islamic State captured the Salam al Jawlan Dam, 17 miles from Gamla. This victory puts the Islamic State closer to Israel than Tijuana, Mexico, is to San Diego, California.

Click here for full article.

The Arab Implosion Continues

By Walter Russel Mead for the American Interest (May 6):

arab spring chaos

  • Last weekend, protesters loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed Baghdad’s government seat and occupied the Iraqi parliament. At the other end of the Arab world, more than 80 migrants are feared to have drowned close to the Libyan coast. These are just two of many stories pointing to the implosion of the Arab republics and the comprehensive failure of postcolonial political development in the “modernizing” Arab states.
  • There are many consequences to this implosion: a power vacuum that leaves the Arab world open to intervention, most recently by Russia and Iran; cultural and social crises that made fanatical jihadimovements possible; economic crisis and vast migration; the accelerating collapse of order and security; and the inability of governments to control much of their territory and the rise of quasi-independent separatist militias.
  • The U.S. has tried its hand at nation-building repeatedly. We have met with no real success, and we have no real idea what to try next. So it looks as if for the foreseeable future, the rest of the world is going to have to deal with the consequences of Arab failure without being able to do much about the underlying conditions.
  • Among the likely consequences of this reality: There will be less attention paid to the Palestinian issue as larger and more immediate problems capture the world’s attention.
  • The Israeli argument that the Palestinians do not have, and cannot soon build, a functioning state structure capable of either making peace or of keeping radicals from attacking Israel after peace is signed will likely gain force within and beyond Israel.

    The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University.

Click here for full article.

IDF Intelligence: Threats and Opportunities for Israel on Many Fronts

By Yoav Limor for Israel Hayom:

  • According to four key Military Intelligence officers, tunnels in Gaza, a wave of terrorism across the West Bank, Islamic State attacks in Sinai, the Syrian civil war, Hizbullah’s improved arsenal, the future of Iran’s nuclear program and the stability of the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes are only a few of the challenges facing the Middle East, and Israel within it.
  • Gaza has never been quieter. Still, Hamas is pursuing a steadily intensifying armament effort, as evident by the terror tunnel recently discovered under the Israel-Gaza border. Egypt has turned its back on Hamas and now sees it as no better than Islamic State, and its Saudi and other Arab patrons have more urgent matters that require funding. Iran remains Hamas’ main sponsor.
  • In the West Bank, Abbas’ regime is fraying at the seams. With no apparent successor, a complex succession battle is almost certain. Hamas may try to seize the strategic opportunity presented by the leadership vacuum and seize control of the West Bank.
  • International efforts to end the fighting in Syria have led to a change in Israeli intelligence assessments. Instead of the prospect of prolonged bloodshed with no end in sight, there may be tangible chances of a diplomatic agreement that will end the fighting in a way that would make Syria a functioning nation again.
  • Any arrangement in Syria will have to include Russia as the keeper of Alawite, Iranian and Hizbullah interests, as well as its own. There are currently over 10,000 Shiite militia operatives fighting alongside the Syrian army, as well as 1,500 Iranian soldiers, thousands of Hizbullah operatives, and significant Russian forces.
  • While it is clear Islamic State will not be overrunning Syria, Iran will not be tightening its grip on it, either. Any future deal will include an Israeli demand to curtail the delivery of Iranian weapons to Hizbullah via Syria, delay the rehabilitation of the Syrian military, and devise a mechanism that would ensure calm on the Golan Heights.
  • The Syrian civil war has exacted a heavy toll from Hizbullah, with over 1,300 operatives killed and nearly 10,000 injured. Some 7,000 of its operatives are currently fighting in Syria. Nevertheless, Hizbullah is investing considerable resources in acquiring long-range missiles that could wreak havoc on Israel.

Click here for full article.

Honor crimes – one of the world’s most urgent human rights disasters

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I recently watched “Honor Diaries,” (see official trailer above) a heartwrenching documentary about honor crimes – one of the world’s most urgent and widespread human rights disasters.

  • More than 140 million women & girls are living with the consequences of female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • 6,000 women & girls undergo female genital mutilation EVERY DAY
  • More than 60 million girls worldwide are child brides
  • In Afghanistan, 87% of women face violence or forced marriage
  • In Pakistan, 90% of women experience domestic violence
  • In Egypt, more than 99% of women have experienced sexual harassment
  • In the UK, there are about 3,000 honor attacks EVERY YEAR

The fact that people in the West largely refuse to discuss this issue due to political correctness is a moral disaster that will haunt us for generations.

Watch this documentary and share the information:
http://www.honordiaries.com/

Terror attacks in Brussels – it’s time to wake up and identify the enemy: radical Islam

Today radical Islamic terrorists targeted the men and women of Brussels as they went to work on a spring morning. In a series of co-ordinated attacks they murdered and maimed dozens of innocent commuters at subway stations and travelers at the airport.

The terrorists do not care about the identities of the innocent victims – we are all guilty in the eyes of these terrorists for not submitting to their ideology.

Even though radical Islamic terror attacks have become all too common, many of our leaders refuse to correctly identify the perpetrators out of fear and political correctness. We can no longer afford either. Whether or not we’d like to admit it, radical Islam is at war with us and the first step to defeating an enemy is to identify it.

I believe that freedom will always defeat tyranny, but for that to happen the West and other like-minded societies have to join together and fight this ideology together.

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Does anti-Israel mean anti-Semitism?

I received this comment in response to another blog post:

“Seriously, if you can’t make a distinction between having a negative opinion of Israel (the state and their policies) and having an anti-Semitic opinion, how do you expect to be taken seriously?”

Let me give you three quick points.

1. Israel, a liberal democracy, is always found at the top of the most negatively viewed countries in the world. In a BBC survey of 22 countries, only Iran and Pakistan are viewed worse than Israel, with North Korea tying Israel in 3rd place.

2. Journalists and politicans often justify this view by saying that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the world’s most dangerous conflict. However, when you rank the number of fatalities since 1950 (the modern State of Israel was established in 1948), the Arab-Israeli conflict is found in 49th place.

3. Moreover, at the UN, 40% of the Human Rights Council resolutions are against one country: Israel. That must mean Israel is the most evil country in the world, right? Well, if you compare the number of condemnations to the number of deaths caused by a country; Israel gets several thousand percent more condemnations than she should. For example, North Korea has killed 2.25 million people, but has only received 10 condemnations. Israel has caused 46,000 deaths, but has received 223 condemnations. Go to 1:10 in the video below to see more examples.

What is the common thread? Why is Israel judged so unfairly? You guessed it, anti-Semitism.

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Jordanian Security and Prosperity: An Essential Aspect of Israeli Policy

pp-300x215Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman for BESA Center-Bar-Ilan University (Dec 27):

  • Israel has a strategic interest in, and long-standing commitment to, the safety, security, stability and prosperity of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In current times, the relationship is buttressed by a broad-ranging series of cooperative ventures in the strategic, security, diplomatic, economic and energy fields.
  • The stability and prosperity of Jordan has been a central element of Israeli national security policy for three generations. In 1958, David Ben-Gurion facilitated steps taken by the West to help the Kingdom resist the pressures of Nasserist radicals. In 1970, Golda Meir – in close coordination with the U.S. – was willing to risk war in order to compel Soviet-backed Syrian forces to reverse their invasion of Jordan. (This move was successful).
  • Similarly, Yitzhak Shamir reached understandings with King Hussein during the Desert Storm crisis of 1990-1991, despite Jordan’s ambivalent position towards Iraq at the time. The peace treaty with Jordan of 1994, under Yitzhak Rabin’s leadership, brought into broad daylight what already had been an enduring relationship.
  • A persistent and profound recognition of mutual interests (and mutual enemies) has led both countries – regardless of who has been in power in Israel at any given time – to seek strategic understandings and remove causes of tension.
  • Israeli assistance to Jordan – above all, helping Jordan cope in recent years with the immense influx of Syrian refugees – remains crucial. Significant segments of Israeli society are aware of, and engaged in meeting, this challenge. Several Israeli NGOs as well as youth movements are playing a role – never overt, but still symbolically significant – in providing elementary support for the more-than-one-million Syrian refugees in Jordan.

    Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror is former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister. Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman is former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at the National Security Council.

Click here for full article.

Will the West Defend Its Own Values Against Radical Islam?

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Ha’aretz 21 Dec)

  • The report published by the chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) asserts that Iran lied when it claimed it had never tried to develop nuclear weapons. It is certain that Iran conducted a full and organized military nuclear program up to 2003 and continued to pursue aspects of it at least until 2009.
  • The U.S. Administration says its moves regarding Iran are aimed at helping the moderate Rouhani fight the extremists. Yet Rouhani is part of the leadership of the Islamic Republic. In the eyes of Supreme Leader Khamenei, Rouhani’s whole mission is to mislead the Americans and get the sanctions lifted. At the end of the day, helping Rouhani means helping Khamenei.
  • The nuclear agreement with Iran, the recognition of Iran as a key actor in the region, particularly in Syria, and the easing of pressure on Iran’s lackey, Assad, have sown despair and anxiety among Sunni pragmatists. A large portion concluded that under these conditions they had no future in Syria, and the result was the huge wave of migrants now flooding Europe.
  • The strategy toward radical Islam must begin with recognition of the threat and with preparedness to take realistic measures to counter it. The West must stop treating representatives of Islamic extremists, Muslim Brotherhood organizations, and supporters of the Iranian regime as its allies. This policy weakens the pragmatists and encourages radicalization.
  • Finally, the West must make clear that it is committed to its own values and prepared to defend them. Settling for airstrikes, while using the ridiculous excuse that ground activity is what ISIS wants, displays weakness and confusion and plays into the radicals’ hands.
  • The admired Polish king and commander, John III Sobieski, went boldly into the decisive battle at the gates of Vienna in 1683, and his victory saved Europe and enabled the flourishing of Western culture. Can the West regain its resolve this time as well?

Click here for full article.

Israeli Defense Minister: Don’t Be Fooled by Iran’s ‘Charm Offensive’

Defense News:

  • Since the founding of the State of Israel, we have had 67 years of continuous security and diplomatic challenges stemming from a vehement opposition to our very existence by our neighboring Arab states and their supporting organizations.
  • As the star of pan-Arabism/Arab nationalism faded, radical Islam (both Shia and Sunni) rose in its place. This new ideology is driving the current wave of terror that aims to harm Israel and its citizens. This wave of terror has turned Israel into the front line of the free world.
  • The battle against radical Islamic terror will be the greatest challenge facing the family of nations, under the leadership of the United States, in the coming years. Israel, the sole democracy in the Middle East, is an inseparable part of this family of nations and will push for greater cooperation, in both intelligence and operational capacities, among the free world’s countries.
  • If the terrorists and their operators will not be stopped at their points of origin, they will reach the capitals of every nation in the free world where they will brutally murder citizens.
  • The nuclear agreement signed with Iran will not reduce the threat of this regime on the entire free world. On the contrary. The merciless Iranian regime, that typifies Israel as the “Little Satan” and threatens to obliterate it from the map, holds equal discontent toward the United States, termed the “Great Satan.” As Iran gains power in the post-agreement era, Israel is faced with an additional substantial challenge.
  • It is essential to say, in the most clear-cut manner, that Iran is completely and utterly on the dark side. Not only that, but they sit at the helm of the forces of evil. We should not be fooled by their deceitful charm offensive. Iran remains a huge threat to the Western world and the security of its citizens.

    Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya’alon is Israel’s defense minister.

Click here for full article.

Netanyahu: Palestinians, Not Israel, to Blame for Diplomatic Stalemate

Haaretz — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday it is time for the international community to understand that it is the Palestinian Authority, and not Israel, who is at fault for the diplomatic stalemate. Netanyahu’s remarks follow criticism of his government’s policies by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry published in the issue of the New Yorker magazine the day before.

“We are besieged with repeated polls in the Palestinian Authority that about 75 percent of this population rejects the solution of two states for two peoples and about 80 percent are in favor of continued stabbings,” Netanyahu said in the course of a visit to the Israeli army’s southern command headquarters.

Netanyahu blamed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for stirring up animosity towards Israel. In reacting to the polling data, Netanyahu made reference to Abbas’ repeated claims in recent months that Israel is attempting to violate the status quo at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount – a charge that the Israeli government vigorously denies – and that Israel’s killing of stabbing suspects amounts to extra-judicial executions.

“That’s not surprising because Abu Mazen [Abbas] is continuing constantly to stir things up with false propaganda about Al-Aqsa, false propaganda about executions and by rejecting any genuine attempt at coming to negotiations,” he said.

Click here for full article.

Hamas and the Islamic State: Growing Cooperation in the Sinai

Washington Institute for Near East Policy (Dec 15) — Hamas has been increasing its clandestine military cooperation with the Islamic State’s “Sinai Province,” culminating in a prolonged secret visit to Gaza this month by IS Sinai’s military chief Shadi al-Menai. Menai has been at the top of Egypt’s most-wanted list. Over the past two years, IS Sinai has helped Hamas move weapons from Iran and Libya through the peninsula, taking a generous cut from each shipment.

In Sinai, a thousand heavily armed Bedouins affiliated with IS still pose a serious threat to Egyptian troops and government offices. Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate officials are convinced that Hamas is engaged in a sustained effort to undermine government control over the Sinai, even as it publicly seeks a rapprochement with Cairo. Hamas cooperation with IS Sinai also opens the door to IS gaining more ground among the Palestinians.

CROSS-BORDER SMUGGLING AND TRAINING

Over the past two years, IS Sinai helped Hamas move weapons from Iran and Libya through the peninsula, taking a generous cut from each shipment. Hamas relies on Bedouin guides to avoid detection by the Egyptian army and reach the few tunnels that have survived Cairo’s aggressive flooding and closure campaign. In this manner, IS Sinai acquired the advanced Kornet antitank missiles it has used to sink an Egyptian patrol boat off the coast of al-Arish and destroy several tanks and armored carriers stationed in the peninsula’s northeastern sector. Hamas has also provided training to some IS Sinai fighters and assisted with the group’s media campaign and online postings.

The writer is an international fellow with The Washington Institute and a Middle East commentator for Israel’s Channel Two television.

Click here for full article.

Poll: Young Palestinians Support Current Protests, Armed Struggle

Arab World for Research & Development in Ramallah (Dec 14) — An online study of Palestinians age 16-35 by Arab World for Research & Development in Ramallah, conducted Dec. 1-7, asked:

Do you believe that the current protests represent a popular intifada (with wide participation) or are they being carried out by a small number of participants? Popular intifada – 26%; Small number of participants – 70%.

Do you support or oppose the continuation of the protests as is? Support – 57%; Oppose – 28%.

Do you support or oppose attacks against Israeli civilians inside the Green Line? Support – 49%; Oppose – 36%.

Which of the following methods do you personally support to end the occupation? Armed struggle – 53%; International advocacy – 16%; Non-violent protest – 11%; Negotiations – 8%.

Click here for full survey.

International Defense Experts Back IDF’s 2014 Gaza Campaign

Report by international High Level Military Group blasts UN commission, says Israel set a standard no other army could match

idf-troops-in-gaza-960x543Times of Israel (Dec 14) — Armies of the world would be rendered far less effective if they were forced to operate under the same restrictions as the IDF during last summer’s Gaza campaign, a group of former military and defense leaders from nine countries claim in a new report released Friday.

  • Armies of the world would be rendered far less effective if they were forced to operate under the same restrictions as the IDF during Israel’s 2014 Gaza campaign, a group of former military and defense leaders from nine countries said in a new report released Friday.
  • The High Level Military Group (HLMG) – made up of retired generals and defense officials from Germany, Colombia, India, Spain, Australia, the U.S., France, the UK and Italy – found that Israel not only abided by the laws of armed conflict, but far surpassed their requirements.
  • The report found that the UN accepted Hamas’ figures for combatant vs. civilian casualties, while the HLMG found Hamas’ numbers to be rife with inconsistencies, such as the “inclusion of duplicate names, incorrect ages, combat-related deaths caused by Hamas or its affiliate organizations, such as in the case of misfired rockets, and deaths not related to the hostilities but classified as such.”
  • Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said that commissions investigating the conflict should have looked to see that everything feasibly was done to avoid the deaths of non-combatants, and that the standard of zero civilian deaths is an impossible one.
  • The HLMG laid the blame for the vast majority of civilian casualties at the feet of Hamas, which instituted a deliberate policy to cause as many Palestinian civilian deaths as possible in order to wage a PR war against Israel. The report noted that Israel tried multiple times to end the conflict through diplomatic means, only to be rebuffed by Hamas at every turn.

See also Text: An Assessment of the 2014 Gaza Conflict – High Level Military Group (Friends of Israel Initiative)

See also The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted – Hirsh Goodman and Dore Gold, eds. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Click here for full article.

Palestinians’ Biggest Tragedy: Failed Leadership

By Khaled Abu Toameh for the Gatestone Institute (Dec 12):

  • It was recently reported that the commander of the Islamic State (ISIS) branch in Sinai held talks in the Gaza Strip with leaders of Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezaddin al-Qassam Brigades, about expanding their cooperation.
  • President Abbas does not seem to care whether the Palestinians of Gaza are turned into hostages and prisoners. He is probably hoping that the crisis will drive Palestinians to revolt against the Hamas regime, paving the way for his PA to return to the Gaza Strip.
  • Instead of trying to solve the Gaza crisis, Abbas is too busy waging a diplomatic war against Israel. He wants to file “war crimes” charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court — ignoring the fact that he and Hamas are responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza.
  • The Palestinians ignore the fact that their biggest tragedy over the past few decades has been (and remains) their failed and corrupt leadership that is willing to sacrifice them for its own interests.
Left: The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Right: A Gazan man works in a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border, which was flooded by the Egyptian army.

Left: The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Right: A Gazan man works in a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border, which was flooded by the Egyptian army.

Since June 2013, the Rafah border crossing, the sole crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, has been closed for most of the time.

Since the beginning of 2015, the Egyptian authorities have opened the Rafah terminal for a total of only 21 days.

Last week, the Egyptians opened the border crossing for two days, allowing a few hundred Palestinians to cross in both directions.

Last year, by contrast, the terminal was open for a total of 123 days, and in 2013 for 263 days.

These figures indicate that the Egyptians have stepped up security measures along their shared border with the Gaza Strip over the past few years.

In addition to the continued closure of the Rafah terminal, the Egyptian army continues to destroy dozens of smuggling tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. In recent weeks, the Egyptians have been pumping seawater into the tunnels, causing most of them to collapse.

The Egyptians have good reason to be concerned about the smuggling tunnels — especially in light of increased Islamist terror attacks against Egyptian soldiers and civilians in the Sinai Peninsula. Reports about cooperation between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and the Islamist terror groups in Sinai, have also prompted the Egyptians to keep the Rafah terminal shut for most of the time.

Click here for full article.

Expert: Palestinian Terror Is Directed from Above

After 20 years interviewing Palestinian terrorists in jails, Likud MK Anat Berko tries to explain the motivations of the current attackers.

mom-e1445889104288The Times of Israel (Dec 8) — Young Palestinians, many of them teenagers, are setting out to stab random Israelis, frequently losing their lives in the process. What are they hoping to achieve? MK Anat Berko (Likud) spent two decades as a criminologist specializing in suicide terrorists. So great were her listening skills that prisoners would talk to her for hours, hug her, cry and even give her their babies to hold.

Berko says the attackers are committing these acts for the sake of “glory” on social media and in Palestinian society, and they compete over who can be the biggest hero. The terrorists do not think death is the end, but fully believe they will enter paradise. Berko says many young Palestinians live in communities with a tremendous amount of social pressure, prohibitions and shame. In paradise, they can experience all the things that are forbidden in real life.

Berko says there is a normalization of violence in Palestinian society, with children’s television praising martyrs while al-Qaeda and Islamic State have upped the ante for brutality among would-be terrorists.

NOT LONE WOLVES

“I don’t accept the idea that these are lone wolves. This wave of terror is directed from above. The incitement is insane. It’s on TV, satellite broadcasts, in mosques, on the street and in schools, including East Jerusalem, in schools that we actually pay for. It’s so bad that it’s a surprise that not everyone is a terrorist. If you look at the website of the Palestinian Authority, they speak of all of Palestine, pre-1948, not just pre-1967.”

Click here for full article.