Boosted by nuke deal, Iran ups funding to Hezbollah, Hamas

Operating on assumption sanctions will be lifted, Tehran increases support to proxies, while freezing out Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.

Hezbollah fighters

Hezbollah fighters

The Times of Israel (Sep 22) — Since the deal was signed, Iran has significantly increased its financial support for two of the largest terror groups in the region that have become political players, Hamas and Hezbollah. In the years before the deal was signed, the crippling sanctions limited this support, which had significantly diminished along with Iran’s economy. But Tehran’s belief that tens, or hundreds, of billions of dollars will flow into the country in the coming years as a result of sanctions relief has led to a decision to boost the cash flow to these terror organizations.

This support, for example, has enabled Hezbollah to obtain highly developed new armaments, including advanced technologies that many militaries around the world would envy. Al-Rai, a Kuwaiti newspaper, reported Saturday that Hezbollah has received all the advanced weaponry that Syria has obtained from the Russians. The report cited a security source involved in the fighting in Zabadani, on the Syria-Lebanon border, where Hezbollah is fighting the al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State, and other groups. It is evidently the growing Iranian financial support that is enabling the Lebanese Shiite militia to purchase advanced weapons, including ones that were hitherto outside of its reach.

The increased Iranian financial support for Hezbollah in the wake of the deal is not unrelated to other political developments in the region. The growing sense of security in Iran with regard to its political status has also been bolstered by a Russian decision to increase its involvement in Syria, and may be what drove Iran to send hundreds of members of its Revolutionary Guard Corps to play an active role in the Syria fighting. Iran, along with Hezbollah and Moscow, has decided to dispatch sizable forces to the Syrian front in the past few weeks to prevent the collapse of Bashar Assad’s regime.

The Shiite-Russia axis has been anxiously watching the Islamic State creep toward Damascus in recent months, and saw the territory controlled by Assad, an important ally, diminished to the coastal region of Latakia south of the capital. The Iranians and Russians grasped that not only was Damascus endangered, but also access to the Alawite regions, from Homs to Damascus — thus the urgency for intervention, including with troops on the ground…

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Hamas raiding Gaza woodworkers to rebuild tunnels

Facing a shortage of building supplies amid increased Israeli scrutiny, group resorts to confiscation of materials as it races to replace network

A tunnel found in the Northern Gaza Strip by the Israel Defense Forces, August 3, 2014. (photo credit: IDF spokesperson/ Flash90)

A tunnel found in the Northern Gaza Strip by the Israel Defense Forces, August 3, 2014. (photo credit: IDF spokesperson/ Flash90)

Times of Israel (Sep 1) — Israeli officials accused Hamas on Tuesday of confiscating building materials sent into the Gaza Strip and using them to rebuild its attack tunnel infrastructure.

Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of Israeli government activities in the territories, accused the group of misappropriating supplies – particularly wood – for its terror activities.

“Members of Hamas took over warehouses of construction materials and confiscated (them) for the benefit of the group’s underground infrastructure,” Mordechai said in a statement.

In an unorthodox operation Monday night, members of Hamas’s military wing raided a large number of carpentry shops and woodworking factories throughout the Gaza Strip and confiscated enormous quantities of lumber, apparently to shore up tunnel building efforts, Palestinian sources said.

Hamas is suffering from a shortage of basic tunnel-building materials such as wood, which is used to line the inside of its tunnels. The seizure was apparently intended to replenish the organization’s supply.

The operation was not this first of its kind. Hamas has resorted to such action before, due to the increased Israeli scrutiny on wood and other building materials transferred into Gaza as the Palestinian enclave tries to rebuild following the devastation caused by 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.

In recent months Hamas operatives have began taking various steps to replenish tunnel building materials. In addition to the raids, the group has also cut down dozens of trees to manufacture planks. These are increasingly used to reinforce the insides of tunnels in the place of the concrete used before Protective Edge.

The shortages faced by Hamas in materials and machinery may slow its progress in the reconstruction of its vast tunnel network, which serves for both attack and defensive purposes. This is despite its massive investment in the enterprise, with hundreds of men working 24 hours a day to rebuild the infrastructure, most of which was destroyed by Israel in 2014.

Mordechai noted that Israel has allowed 1.7 million tons of construction material into Gaza since the end of last year’s summer conflict. The misuse of the resources by Hamas, he said, did not only increase the terrorist threat from Gaza but was also delaying any efforts to rebuild the territory.

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The Palestinians’ Real Strategy

Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades.

By Khaled Abu Toameh for the Gatestone Institute:

  • Marzouk’s remarks refute claims by some in the Arab and Western media that Hamas is moving toward pragmatism and moderation, and that it is now willing, for the first time, to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Many in the West often fail to understand Hamas’s true position because they do not follow what Hamas says in Arabic — to its own people. In Arabic, Hamas makes no secret of its call for the destruction of Israel.
  • The current strategy of the Palestinian Authority (PA) is to negotiate with the international community, and not with Israel, about achieving peace in the Middle East. The ultimate goal of the PA is to force Israel to its knees. For the PA, rallying the international community and Europe is about punishing and weakening Israel, not making peace with it.
  • Their strategy is no longer about a two-state solution so much as it is about inflicting pain and suffering on Israel. It is more about seeking revenge on Israel than living in a state next to it.
  • Hamas’s terrorism also helps the PA’s anti-Israel campaign in the international community. Each terrorist attack provides the PA with an opportunity to point out the “urgent” need to force Israel to submit to Palestinian demands as a way of “containing the radicals.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (r) meets with the Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar, July 20, 2014.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (r) meets with the Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar, July 20, 2014.

All signs indicate that the Palestinians are planning to step up their efforts to force Israel to comply with their demands. But as the Palestinians are not united, they are working on two fronts to achieve their goal.

One party, headed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), believes that, with the help of the international community, Israel will be forced to fully withdraw to the pre-1967 lines, including east Jerusalem, and accept the “right of return” for millions of refugees and their descendants to their former homes inside Israel.

The second party, represented by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and several other terror groups, continues to reject any form of compromise, and insists that the only solution lies in the elimination of Israel. Unlike the first party, this one believes that direct or indirect negotiations with the “Zionist enemy” are a waste of time and that terrorism is the only means for the Palestinians to achieve their goal.

The two Palestinian parties, the PA and Hamas, have been at war with each other since 2007, when Hamas seized full control over the Gaza Strip and forced the Palestinian Authority to flee to the West Bank.

But while the two rival parties are fighting each other, they are also working separately to overpower Israel.

… These groups made it unavoidably clear that their real objective is not to “liberate” the West Bank, but to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. As one of them said, “We will continue to support any resistance action on the land of Palestine until it is liberated, from the (Mediterranean) sea to the (Jordan) river, and cleansed from all Zionist usurpers.”Hours after the West Bank attack, a senior Hamas leader, Musa Abu Marzouk, repeated that his movement was seeking to replace Israel with an Islamist state: “Hamas wants a state not only in the Gaza Strip, but in all of Palestine; we won’t give up our weapons and will continue to fight in order to liberate our land.”

Marzouk’s remarks refute claims by some Arab and Western media that Hamas has been moving toward pragmatism and moderation, and that it is now willing, for the first time, to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Many in the West often fail to understand Hamas’s true position because they do not follow what Hamas says in Arabic — to its own people. In Arabic, Hamas makes no secret of its call for the destruction of Israel. To Hamas’s credit, this message is often repeated in English and other languages.

While Hamas and its allies work toward destroying Israel through terrorism, the Palestinian Authority seems more determined than ever to step up its worldwide campaign to delegitimize and isolate Israel with the help of various international parties, such as the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Some senior Palestinian officials like to describe this campaign as a “diplomatic war” against Israel. They argue that this war has thus far proven to be much more “effective” than rockets and suicide bombings. “When we launch rockets at Israel, we don’t get any sympathy,” explained one official. “But everyone in the international community is now supporting our diplomatic efforts. That’s why we believe that what Hamas is doing right now is harmful to Palestinian interests.”

Shortly before the Israeli man was fatally shot in the West Bank, the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, revealed his plan to rally the world against Israel so that it would be forced to submit to the Palestinian Authority’s demands, above all a complete withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.

Erekat’s plan calls for working very closely with EU countries and members of the UN Security Council, to increase pressure on Israel to comply with the Palestinian demands. It also calls for recruiting international support for recognition of a Palestinian state and paving the way for it to join various international organizations and conventions.

In his plan, Erekat warns against endorsing any UN Security Council resolution that would include recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, or offer concessions on the “right of return” for refugees. He also repeats the Palestinian Authority’s rejection of the idea of land swaps between the future Palestinian state and Israel. In addition, Erekat emphasizes his opposition to the idea of creating a demilitarized Palestinian state or giving up any part of Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority’s current strategy is to negotiate with the international community, and not with Israel, about achieving peace in the Middle East. The PA knows that it is not going to get from Israel all that it is asking for. That is why the Palestinian leaders have chosen to negotiate with France, Britain, Sweden and the US. The Palestinians are hoping that these countries will give them what Israel cannot and is not prepared to offer at the negotiating table.

Even if Israel wanted to give one hundred percent of what it gained in 1967, the reality on he ground does not allow it. Since 1967, both Jews and Arabs have created irreversible “facts in the ground,” such as the construction of tens of thousands of houses for both Arabs and Jews. A full withdrawal would mean that tens of thousands of Jews and Arabs would lose their homes both in the West Bank and in Jerusalem.

The ultimate goal of the Palestinian Authority is, with the help of the international community, to force Israel to its knees. For the PA, rallying the international community and Europe is about punishing and weakening Israel, not making peace with it. The PA wants to see Israel degraded, isolated and turned into a rogue state. It wants to see Israelis brought before the International Criminal Court and expelled from as many international organizations as possible.

From talking to senior Palestinian Authority officials, one is left with the impression that their true goal is to see Israel in a state of surrender and defeat. Their strategy is no longer about a two-state solution so much as it is about inflicting pain and suffering on Israel. It is more about seeking revenge on Israel than living in a state next to it.

In many ways, the PA’s “diplomatic war” on Israel also helps Hamas. By constantly accusing Israel of “war crimes” and “atrocities,” the PA is helping Hamas justify its terror attacks against Israelis. The PA’s anti-Israel campaign also helps in creating sympathy and understanding for Hamas’s terror attacks.

Meanwhile, Hamas’s terrorism also helps the Palestinian Authority’s anti-Israel campaign in the international community. Each terrorist attack provides the PA with an opportunity to point out the “urgent” need to force Israel to submit to Palestinian demands as a way of “containing the radicals.”

This is how Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, although remaining sworn enemies, complement each other’s role against Israel.

And many in the international community seem to be helping these two Palestinian camps in their effort to undermine and destroy Israel.

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Young Palestinians graduate from Hamas’ military-style summer camp

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades gives 25,000 residents military training; Islamist group is militarizing Palestinian society, human rights activists say

A Palestinian boy attends the graduation ceremony in Gaza City Picture: Rex Features

A Palestinian boy attends the graduation ceremony in Gaza City
Picture: Rex Features

The Times of Israel (Aug 10) — Palestinian youths — many of them minors — and older residents of Gaza graduated late last week from what Hamas termed a “summer camp” in the Palestinian enclave.

In the camp, the youths learned skills ranging from traipsing down buildings to launching shoulder-fired missiles. According to AFP, during the camp some 25,000 Palestinians took part in combat training. The youngest were as young as 15; the oldest trainees are 60-years-old.

“The goal of these military training camps is to train the vanguard for liberation — spiritually, intellectually and physically — to be ready and able to play its role in liberation,” said a statement by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing in late July, when the camp opened.

GAZA-Young-Palesti_3400893kParticipants spent two weeks being “trained in military techniques and in firing live ammunition” as well as “first aid and rescue techniques.”

Hamas has long run summer camps devoted to sport and study of the Koran in Gaza but over the winter the al-Qassam brigades launched a new kind of camp, giving military training to 15 to 20-year-olds.

Human rights activists condemned it as a forced militarization of Gazan society and a violation of children’s rights.

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If Hamas is allowed to wage warfare through international courts then Islamic State will be next

A masked member of Hamas carries a model of a rocket as others carry symbolic coffins with Israeli flags during a rally (Reuters)

A masked member of Hamas carries a model of a rocket as others carry symbolic coffins with Israeli flags during a rally

International Business Times (July 14) — Islamic State’s brand of terrorism has recently shocked the world once again, with sickening videos showing the torture, drowning and shooting of prisoners, and an IS-inspired massacre of 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia for which the group proudly claimed responsibility.

No less horrendous is the IS strategy of purposefully blending its fighters within civilian populations, in Iraq and Syria, even using small children as human shields. It has been reported that in Raqqa, Syria, the group is encouraging all men to grow beards in order to make terrorists and civilians look the same.

These tactics create horrendous dilemmas for coalition forces, the UK among them, as they seek to target IS forces and jihadi leaders while trying to protect the lives of the civilians they are hiding behind. Having deliberately created these dilemmas IS has no compunction about accusing the coalition of waging war directly on the Iraqi people.

The allegations are of course ridiculous, but imagine for a moment that someone took them seriously. Imagine that IS hired lawyers to produce a report accusing the UK and the coalition of war crimes. Imagine that IS then presented such a report to the International Criminal Court (ICC), with encouragement from the UN.

This scenario would make a mockery of international institutions, turning them into weapons against democracies trying to defend themselves from terror. In an absurd pincer movement, a terrorist group could attack a state physically with bombs, while at the same time work to undermine its ability to defend itself by legal action in an international tribunal.

What seems like a ludicrous suggestion is actually happening with regard to Hamas and Israel.

Surreally, we see Hamas representatives actively participating in and supporting legal proceedings in The Hague, calling for the prosecution of Israel for war crimes.

In a statement published last week, Hamas was handing out marks to the UN Human Rights Council for its report on Gaza, pointing to its deficiencies and criticising what it deemed as “lack of sufficient warning” prior to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strikes, as well as the targeting of schools and hospitals.

Hamas, it should be recalled, is recognised as a terror organisation by the European Union, the US and here in the UK, and like IS has a gruesome track record of murdering civilians and hiding among them.

It acts in contravention of every possible law of armed conflict, uses UN installations as arms depots, hospitals as sniper positions and schools as rocket launching sites, its HQ is even located in the basement of Gaza’s main hospital.

Yet it would like to play in all fields, to have its cake and eat it too: It acts like a terror group in Gaza, murdering its opponents and amassing arms instead of building homes, yet goes to great pains (including a new English website and twitter feed) to present a respectable face abroad, as if it were an NGO concerned with human rights and a peaceful solution to Gaza’s problems.

Make no mistake, Hamas’ interest in using the international bodies concerned with human rights and international law should set alarm bells ringing. Its motive for seeking to target Israel in these fora is clear: to gain a tactical advantage on the battlefield during the next fight, while placing Israel’s military and political leaders at the risk of legal action.

Last week the Human Rights Council in Geneva, a body with an alarming track record of discrimination against Israel (it has passed more resolutions condemning Israel than all other countries combined) passed a resolution designed to put wind in the sails of this initiative.

Though directed against Israel, any democracy confronting the threat of terrorism should be wary of this campaign. When the instruments of law and justice become weapons in the hands of terrorist groups, the security of the family of nations is at stake.

If Israel is not protected from lawfare, then Britain and other Western democracies will fall victim to it soon after.

The author is spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London.

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Disregarding Reality, Yet Again: The Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry Report

Gaza City during an Israeli air strike, July 9, 2014. Photo: AFP

Gaza City during an Israeli air strike, July 9, 2014. Photo: AFP

Institute for National Security Studies (July 9)

  • The report by the Commission of Inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine the 2014 Gaza war concludes that Israel’s military operations violated the laws of armed conflict and expressed concern regarding the possible commission of war crimes. The report reflects a clear lack of consideration of the actual realities of warfare, drawing conclusions based on pronouncements that are factually and legally dubious.
  • During the war, the IDF fought against armed groups that employed an intentional strategy of systematic violation of the laws of armed conflict. Yet the report examines Israel’s actions in a detached and one-sided manner, without relating to the actions of its adversaries.
  • Numerous civilian casualties resulting from attacks on targets located in populated areas do not necessarily mean that the attack was disproportionate and therefore illegal. The commission’s analysis assumes the existence of some alternative course of action that was not followed. However, beyond the provision of warnings and the use of weapons that were as precise as possible, how could the extensive harm to civilians have been prevented, except by refraining from attack altogether?
  • But how – without these attacks – could Hamas have been prevented from continuing to fire at Israeli citizens? In the absence of answers to these questions, the commission’s assertions remain accusations with no basis in reality.
  • Based on Israel’s failure to issue significant indictments for acts of warfare, the commission concluded that “impunity prevails across the board” for violations of international law. This reflects a baseless assumption that the absence of indictments for war crimes is indicative of a cover-up, rather than indicative of the fact that war crimes were either not committed or could not be proven on a criminal level.

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Hamas Supporting Islamic State in Sinai in Order to Renew Arms Smuggling to Gaza

Smoke rises in Egypt's North Sinai as seen from the border of southern Gaza Strip with Egypt July 1, 2015.  REUTERS

Smoke rises in Egypt’s North Sinai as seen from the border of southern Gaza Strip with Egypt July 1, 2015. REUTERS

Reuters (July 9) — Israel accused Hamas on Tuesday of supporting last week’s assaults by Islamic State affiliates on Egyptian forces in the Sinai in hope of freeing up arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip.

The remarks followed Israeli allegations that Hamas members provided training and medical treatment for the Sinai insurgents – charges dismissed by the Palestinian Islamist group as a bid to further fray its troubled ties with Cairo.

Egypt said more than 100 insurgents and 17 of its soldiers were killed in Wednesday’s simultaneous assaults, carried out against military checkpoints around the North Sinai towns of Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah. Islamic State’s Egypt affiliate, Sinai Province, took credit for the attacks.

Rafah straddles the border between Egypt and Gaza and had long seen smuggling to the Hamas-controlled enclave. But Cairo has been cracking down on such activity and deems Hamas a threat to Egyptian interests.

An Israeli intelligence colonel responsible for monitoring the borders with Egypt and Gaza told Israel Radio on Tuesday that Hamas, short of weaponry after its war against Israel last year, supported the Islamic State in Sinai with the “objective of opening up a conduit” for renewed smuggling. “Why was it so very important for them (Hamas) to develop the connection with Sinai Province (IS in Sinai)? Because they need the raw materials that would enable the military build-up in Gaza.”

On Friday, Egyptian military sources said there was evidence that individuals from Hamas had participated in the recent Sinai battles. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Tuesday: “Hamas is fighting ISIS (Islamic State) in the Strip, but on the other side there is cooperation between Hamas elements from Gaza and ISIS in Sinai.”

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Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted

Hirsh_Top_WEB-1024x719Report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Executive summary:

  • The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted is a researched and documented narrative that relates the truth as it happened. Israel was the target of thousands of rockets and mortar attacks against its civilian population, with some Israeli areas targeted that had three times the population density of Gaza. Israel clearly acted out of self-defense.
  • Though the images of the moment may have reflected massive damage in Gaza, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, announced on November 6, 2014, that Israel had gone to “extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and prevent civilian casualties in the Gaza conflict.” A team of senior U.S. officers was sent to learn from Israel’s tactics. An analysis of UN satellite photos taken during the war shows that 72 percent of all damaged areas in Gaza were “within two miles of the Israeli border.”
  • While this was a war Israel did not want, it was a war that inadvertently preempted a terrorist massacre inside Israel’s heartland, principally through a network of sophisticated tunnels built deep under the border, and intended to stream hundreds, if not thousands, of dedicated terrorists, many on suicide missions, in the quiet of night, to destinations where they could kill as many innocent people as possible and leave Israel mauled as never before. This was potentially Hamas’ terrorist version of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Egypt and Syria launched a joint surprise attack on Israeli forces in Sinai and the Golan Heights.
  • Israel suffered 74 dead in the war. Had the Iron Dome system not intercepted 735 rockets fired from Gaza, the Israeli casualty count would have been incalculably higher. Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal of July 15, as did Israel, Palestinian wartime fatalities would have numbered less than 200, as opposed to more than 2,100 who died by the time Hamas agreed to a final ceasefire on August 27. Thus, Hamas was fully responsible for more than 1,800 Palestinian deaths.
  • Moreover, while UN and Palestinian sources claimed that 72 to 84 percent of Palestinians in Gaza killed during the war were civilians, there are strong reasons to argue that the percentage of civilian casualties was less than 50 percent, a low one-to-one combatant-to-civilian ratio that is unprecedented in modern-day warfare. In addition, we don’t know how many Palestinians in Gaza died as human shields or of natural causes during the 50 days of war, or how many were casualties of the 875 Palestinian rockets known to have landed inside Gaza.
  • Yet many in the international community uncritically accepted the narrative about the war advanced by Hamas and its allies. A discerning look at the facts of what happened, however, would lead to the conclusion that it is Hamas, not Israel, which should be in the dock for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Click here to read the full report.

Israel ‘exceeded legal standards’ in Gaza conflict, military group tells UN

Ex-generals, chiefs of staff, say IDF’s ‘scrupulous adherence’ to laws of war cost Israeli lives, army took ‘extensive measures’ to protect Gazan civilians

Infantry soldiers operating on the ground during Operation Protective Edge, July 20, 2014. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit / Flickr)

Infantry soldiers operating on the ground during Operation Protective Edge, July 20, 2014. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit / Flickr)

The Times of Israel (June 14) –A multinational military group comprised of former chiefs of staff, generals and politicians submitted a report to the United Nations on Friday indicating that Israel went to great lengths to adhere to the laws of war and to protect Palestinian civilians during last summer’s 50-day war with Hamas in and around the Gaza Strip.

The report was submitted to the official UN probe into Operation Protective Edge, the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry, which is expected to issue its own report in the coming days. The findings are set to be discussed at the end of the month before the council.

The High-Level International Military Group on the Gaza Conflict in 2014 held a fact-finding mission to Israel between May 18-22. It was sponsored by a pro-Israel group, was reportedly given unprecedented access to senior officials, and investigated allegations of war crimes and disproportionality.

The group found that “during Operation Protective Edge last summer… Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard.”

They wrote that “in some cases Israel’s scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli soldiers’ and civilians’ lives.”

The mission specified that, according to its findings, the summer conflict was “not a war Israel wanted,” and it exercised great restraint in the months preceding the war when its civilian centers, especially in the south, were targeted by sporadic rocket attacks from Gaza.

“The war that Israel was eventually compelled to fight against Hamas and other Gaza extremists was a legitimate war, necessary to defend its citizens and its territory against sustained attack from beyond its borders,” the group wrote, adding that even in that time of war, Israel took extraordinary measures to protect the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians.

“Each of our own armies is of course committed to protecting civilian life during combat. But none of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the IDF last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population in such circumstances,” the report read.

The 50-day war is said to have killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, many of them civilians, according to Palestinian sources in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip; and 73 Israelis, including 66 soldiers.

While acknowledging that some Palestinian deaths were caused by some errors and misjudgements during the war, the panel said Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups “as the aggressors and the users of human shields” were responsible for “the overwhelming majority of deaths in Gaza this summer.”

Israel said about half of those killed in Gaza were combatants and blamed Hamas for all civilian casualties, since it placed military infrastructure in residential areas.

The mission, sponsored by the Friends of Israel Initiative, was headed by the former chief of staff of the Bundeswehr and chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Klaus Naumann, and included 10 other generals, chiefs of staff, politicians and officials from Holland, Spain, Italy, Australia, Colombia, the US and the UK.

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New Poll Shows What a Majority of Palestinians Think About Peace With Israel

A Palestinian man waves his national flag and shouts slogans during clashes with Israeli forces at the Nahal Oz crossing with Israel, east of Gaza City, on Sept. 27, 2013. (AFP / Getty Images)

A Palestinian man waves his national flag and shouts slogans during clashes with Israeli forces at the Nahal Oz crossing with Israel, east of Gaza City, on Sept. 27, 2013. (AFP / Getty Images)

TheBlaze (March 26) — A majority of Palestinians say they support rocket attacks on Israel and nearly half favor renewing an armed intifada, according to a new public opinion poll.

The poll from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research released Tuesday found that 68 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza said they support launching rockets from Gaza at Israel if Israel does not lift its Gaza blockade.

The poll also found that 48 percent said they support returning to an armed intifada, or uprising, in the absence of viable peace negotiations.

Sixty-eight percent of Palestinians surveyed said they favored “popular nonviolent resistance.”

“A majority of 74 percent favors Hamas way of resisting occupation. … Furthermore, 56 percent favor the transfer of Hamas’ armed approach to the West Bank and 40 percent oppose that,” the center noted.

The survey interviewed 1,262 adults in person in the West Bank and Gaza between March 19-21, with a margin of error of 3 percent.

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Don’t trust the AP’s report on civilian deaths in Gaza

The APTN Building in London. Photo: Benjamin Holler.

The APTN Building in London. Photo: Benjamin Holler.

Algemeiner (Feb 15) — AP and other major media outlets (including the New York Times and Reuters) simply parroted the Hamas claim that most of the war dead were civilians. Sometimes they attributed it to the UN, which received its figures from Hamas. Why did this matter? Because every time a major media outlet reported that “a majority” or “a vast majority” or the “overwhelming number” of casualties were civilians, it reverberated around the globe like a missile—fueling anti-Israel and general anti-Semitic sentiment (and violence against Jews in Europe and elsewhere).

… 2. Last month, the highly-regarded Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center released its latest report on the subject of civilian casualties. Their experts are taking the time to go through the deaths, one by one, and their final tally won’t be available for months—if not years. Indeed, after Operation Cast Lead [2008-9], as I’d reported, “nearly two years passed before a Palestinian minister inadvertently let slip that the IDF figures then were correct,” according to Eado Hecht, an independent defense analyst who has taught military theory and history at the IDF Command and General Staff College. (Hecht currently works with the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, one of Israel’s leading think tanks.)

However, in the Meir Amit center’s January report, they announced that 1,600 of the 2,140 Gazans who were killed have been identified as such: 55% are combatants, and 45% non-combatants. For the other 540 people, they do not yet know which category to put them in. The center also says that Hamas is obfuscating the actual lists and affiliations, partly because of objective technical difficulties (poor paperwork and a lack of access to some of the bodies), and partly deliberately as part of its propaganda campaign against Israel.

The article in AP is focused on “a particular subset of the fatalities—those killed while inside houses ostensibly targeted by the Israelis,” defense analyst Hecht told me on Friday. “I write ‘ostensibly’ targeted by Israelis because something in the order of 2,600(+) Palestinian rockets and mortar bombs were fired deliberately (most of them) or by mistake into Palestinian residential areas. The deliberate fire being against Israeli soldiers in that area—but without warning local civilians to move out. So of the 247 houses struck, how many were clearly struck by Israel and how many by Palestinian fire.”

… 3. AP then credits “preliminary” UN figures that at least 66% of the total dead were civilians. Really? And where did the UN get that number? We know the answer [from Hamas]. And why didn’t AP do their readers a service by at least including the 45% figure from the Meir Amit center that contradicts the UN/Hamas?

… 5. One other thing I noted in my article last summer (which I’m delighted that more than 114,000 people felt worthy of viewing—thus supporting this kind of media criticism): A groundbreaking study ignored by my colleagues came out in June of 2014, a month before the Israel-Hamas war started. A prominent group of American public health experts found that civilian casualties constituted 85% to 90% of the 248 armed conflicts in the world since the end of World War II. While even one civilian casualty in Gaza is a tragedy, given the complexities and civilian-shielding in Gaza, what the IDF has accomplished there will be a model for future warfare. Might not AP consider such statistics when they write articles such as Friday’s? Given the rise in anti-Semitism around the world just since the summer’s war, such stats might give some historical context that might even lessen the Jew-hatred—or at least not expand it.

6. I’ll close with more from my communication today with defense expert Hecht. “UN figures are not really UN figures,” he says, which I also reported back in August. “They are Hamas-controlled figures passed on to the UN.”

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Threat of violence silences Palestinian journalists

Note: “The resistance” is a Palestinian code-word for terrorist organizations.

Palestinian journalists hold placards during a demonstration in support of reporters detained by Hamas in Gaza and to ask for their immediate release in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Jan. 27, 2013.  (photo by Getty Images / Abbas Momani)

Palestinian journalists hold placards during a demonstration in support of reporters detained by Hamas in Gaza and to ask for their immediate release in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Jan. 27, 2013. (photo by Getty Images / Abbas Momani)

Al Monitor (Feb 7) — GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — How loud is the voice you hear when you sit down to write a press report? How small is the prison cell you imagine yourself ending up in once you publish your article? The man you imagine pointing a gun at your head, is he wearing a mask? These are thoughts that lead one to delete the most important and powerful piece of information from an article. Some thoughts even lead you to delete the article entirely.

A late 2014 study by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms found that 80% of Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza practice self-censorship of their writing.

Journalist Ghazi Bani Odeh, who conducted the survey, “The Official Media and Freedom of Expression,” told Al-Monitor that attacks and harassment, and thus fear of them, are the main causes leading journalists to censor themselves.

He told Al-Monitor, “There is no difference between the violations [against journalists] committed in the West Bank and those committed in Gaza, as journalists are equally suppressed, thus leading them to examine every word they write.”

The Internal Security forces under the Gaza Ministry of Interior sent young journalist Youssef Hammad a notice requesting him to appear at its headquarters Dec. 30, 2014. Hammad, who works for Al-Watan Radio and some local websites, told Al-Monitor of his visit: “They threatened me. They said it was the last warning and that if I ever criticize Hamas again in my articles, they will break my knees.” 

Hammad said that previously he had received a notice from the Government Information Office run by Hamas. “They asked me about an investigative report I wrote about the conflict in mosques between Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. This shows that there is no freedom of expression or freedom of the press. There is no security apparatus in the world that believes in these freedoms,” he stated.

Hammad said he tries to resist censorsing himself, “But when I remember two years ago, when the security forces attacked me at a march [I was covering] and left me with a head injury, I control myself when I write. It’s a self-defensive reflex.”

Mohammed Othman, a freelance journalist who writes for Al-Monitor, was physically assaulted and threatened at the headquarters of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) on Jan. 5. According to Othman, he had published a report about the killing of people accused of collaborating with Israel during the 2014 war. After publication of the report on the web, which contained information provided by a PRC​ spokesman, the spokesman asked Othman to withdraw the statements. When he refused, he was assaulted. Othman said, “Due to pressure and fear for my safety, Al-Quds TV decided not to publish the video of the interview [with the spokesman] after I was attacked.”

According to the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedoms, in January there were three episodes involving journalists being detained by West Bank security forces and two involving Gaza security, in addition to two attacks in Gaza resulting from lawlessness. One of the latter incidents involved the journalist Maha Abu Omer, who was severely beaten by an unknown man while walking down the street.

Fathi Sabah, who writes for Al-Hayat, said that self-censorship is the name of the game for every Palestinian journalist. According to him, there is a policeman in the mind of every reporter in the West Bank or in Gaza.

“I think that self-censorship is constantly present when a journalist writes about domestic affairs and deals with sensitive issues such as family honor, incest, [social] division or political, administrative and financial corruption plaguing authorities and government departments and structures,” he told Al-Monitor.

Sabah said journalists practice self-censorship amid a great deal of frustration and despair, which sometimes curbs their desire to work. This raises the issue of the point of writing: What is the point if not to make an impact or contribute to changing situations for the better.

“Journalists here fear the threats of parties, officials and families given the absence of the rule of law, the lack of respect for human freedom and the spread of chaos and lawlessness,” Sabah said. He admitted that he practices self-censorship whenever he writes about certain issues related to the resistance, especially after he received several anonymous threats by phone and on Facebook, including death threats.

Khalil Shaheen, director of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Unit at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, said that journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have faced actual shootings and beatings, in addition to threats, throughout the eight-year Hamas-Fatah split, leading them to apply some sort of self-control in their work.

“They stop writing about sensitive issues, and they no longer pursue investigative journalism. Moreover, there is a kind of indifference because of fear of abuse, but there are rare journalists who have always rejected any tendency toward control for the sake of adventure,” he said.

Individual self-censorship might be a choice, but it is currently a pervasive type of control. It is so prevalent that journalists who do not censor themselves might be taken for troublemakers or nonprofessional journalists.

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17,000 teens graduate Hamas military training camp

Palestinian youths hold weapons during a military-style graduation ceremony.  (photo credit: REUTERS)

Palestinian youths hold weapons during a military-style graduation ceremony. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Jerusalem Post (Jan 30) — Hamas held “graduation ceremonies” on Thursday for 17,000 Palestinian youths who attended its “Vanguards of Liberation” training camps in the Gaza Strip.

During the week-long camps, the youths, aged 15 to 21, underwent military training that included handling different types of weapons, as well as sniping.

The training was organized and held by members of Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam.

Hamas said that the youths would form the nucleus of a future “liberation army.”

A spokesman for Izzadin Kassam said during the ceremonies, which were held in Gaza City and Khan Yunis, that the youths were trained to use light and heavy weapons, and that they were taught how to lay in ambush.

“Today, these youths are soldiers in the Gaza Strip,” the spokesman said. “Tomorrow they will liberate the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem. The Zionist enemy needs to know that we are coming soon to liberate our Aksa Mosque and prisoners.”

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said during the graduation ceremony in Khan Yunis that the “Palestinian resistance was founded to defend Palestinians and the dignity of all Arabs and Muslims.”

The new recruits would operate rockets in the next battle against Israel, he added.

Another Hamas official, Khalil al-Haya, said that the Hamas training camps were aimed at sending a message to the world that the Palestinian “resistance is capable of defending its people against conspiracies.”

Hamas was preparing a new generation of Palestinians for war with Israel, Haya said.

“We raise the new generation on resistance and not security coordination [with Israel].”

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Egypt prepares to destroy an additional 1,200 homes in Gaza

If you replace the word “Egypt” with “Israel” in that headline it would be on the front page of every newspaper in the world. But since it doesn’t say Israel, the media and the political elite couldn’t care less.

184975_345x230Ma’an News Agency (Jan 1) —  An Egyptian committee has finished surveying the homes of individuals living between 500-1,000 meters of the Gaza border in preparation for the extension of a buffer zone on the border to a width of 1,000 meters, Egyptian military sources said Friday.

The move comes after the destruction of hundreds of homes inside the 500-meter area previously, as part of a wider effort to ensure that the joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip be fully carried out.

The technical engineering committee that carried out the survey examined around 1,200 homes in the area in preparation for their demolition in the 13-kilometer long stretch of border territory.

Work on the buffer zone on the Egyptian side began in Feb. 2014, but was at the time slated to extend only about 300 meters in urban areas and 500 in rural areas.

After a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai in October, however, the military stepped up the campaign to build the buffer zone amid accusations of Hamas support for the group that carried out the attack, which Hamas has strenuously denied.

Both sides of the border are densely populated as the city of Rafah originally extended in both directions, a growth that was the result of the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula for more than a decade following the 1967 war.

In the early 2000s Israeli authorities demolished thousands of homes in Palestinian Rafah in order to create a 300-meter buffer zone on the Egypt border, but after the pull-out in 2005, many moved back into the area.

The Egyptian government, which has actively destroyed smuggling tunnels underneath the border and directly targeted Hamas since a military coup in summer 2013, has now promised to uproot as many as possible to ensure the creation of a buffer zone on its side.

The border area used to be host to hundreds of tunnels which Gazans used to import goods to get around the seven-year-old Israeli siege of the territory.

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Shin Bet: Hamas terror attack plot at Jerusalem soccer stadium thwarted

jerusalem soccer stadiumThe Jerusalem Post (Nov 27) — The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the IDF thwarted a large, transnational Hamas terrorism network that was preparing to carry out an array of attacks against Israelis, the domestic intelligence agency announced on Thursday.

In recent weeks, some 30 Hamas members have been arrested in raids led by the IDF’s Duvdevan undercover unit.

Two M-16 rifles, ammunition and bomb-making equipment were seized.

The network planned to target the Teddy soccer stadium and the light rail system in the capital, to carry out car bombings and kidnappings of Israelis in Judea and Samaria as well as overseas, the Shin Bet said.

The nerve center of the network was situated in Hamas’s headquarters in Turkey, the Shin Bet added.

Additional intended targets included infiltrations of Israeli communities, shooting and bombing attacks against Israeli traffic and military targets in the West Bank, and setting up terrorist cells in Jordan to carry out cross-border attacks into Israel.

The plot, uncovered in September, involved the assembly of multiple terrorist cells in the West Bank, as well as the training of Hamas members overseas.

Members of the network planted two bombs in Samaria on August 31. Neither of the attacks, which involved time-detonated explosives, resulted in injuries.

The second explosive was timed to kill emergency responders, according to the Shin Bet’s investigation.

Following that attack, the agency arrested dozens of suspects, and learned during subsequent interrogations that some had joined Hamas as far back as 2012, in Jordan.

“They received military training, and were given missions. At the start of 2014, they moved in and began taking action. Their missions included meetings with operatives, preparing [terrorist] infrastructure, and gathering intelligence on targets,” the Shin Bet said.

In Jordan, the network sought to recruit students who were friends of Hamas operatives.

The network identified students who supported the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and had highly developed skills in various areas.

Eventually, recruiters turned to selected prospective operatives with formal requests to join Hamas. Those who accepted came under the command of Hamas’s Turkey-based headquarters, which oversaw their military training.

They were trained under the supervision of Hamas’s overseas and Gaza-based branches, in Jordan, Turkey, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

Recruits reached Gaza through smuggling tunnels from Egypt, and were instructed in weapons, terrain analysis, navigation and how to keep information secret.

In Turkey, they learned about various “spheres of operations, aimed at carrying out terrorist attacks within Israel, the West Bank and overseas,” the Shin Bet said.

In Jordan, training included weapons handling, bomb-making and briefings ahead of attacks.

At the end of their training, recruits joined various terrorist plots, in line with guidance from senior Hamas members in Turkey.

Instructions arrived from Hamas commanders in Turkey to field operatives, via “forward operatives in Turkey and Jordan, who were responsible for executing the plans.”

Subsequently, Hamas operatives arrived in the West Bank to carry out the attacks, as well as coordinate the smuggling of weapons and money.

The operatives received instructions to recruit local terrorist cells and train more operatives, as well as to locate sites for bomb-making labs and apartments that could serve as operations centers.

In August, the Shin Bet thwarted an earlier large-scale plot, headed by senior Ramallah- based Hamas commander Riad Nasser, who is under arrest.

That plot was also directed by Hamas’s Turkey-based headquarters, specifically by Saleh Aruri, who commands the movement’s “West Bank sector.”

Hamas funneled more than NIS 1m. into that network and purchased weapons, before the Shin Bet thwarted the initiative.

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Why Abbas Will Not Condemn Terror Attacks

Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades. He studied at Hebrew University and began his career as a reporter by working for a PLO-affiliated newspaper in Jerusalem. Abu Toameh currently works for the international media, serving as the ‘eyes and ears’ of foreign journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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

  • Secretary of State Kerry’s “peace process” actually put Israelis and Palestinians on a new collision course.
  • Not a single Palestinian Authority official has denounced the wave of terror attacks on Israel. They, too, are afraid of being condemned by their people for denouncing “heroic operations” such as ramming a car into a three-month old infant.
  • Kerry and other Western leaders do not want to understand that Abbas is not authorized to make any concessions for peace with Israel. For Abbas, it is more convenient to be criticized by the U.S. and Israel than to be denounced by his own people. Ignoring these facts, Kerry tried to pressure Abbas into making concessions that would have turned the Palestinian Authority president into a “traitor” in the eyes of his people. Abbas knows that the people he has radicalized would turn against him if he dared to speak out against the killing of Jews.

The recent spate of terror attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the West Bank did not come as a surprise to those who have been following the ongoing incitement campaign waged by Palestinians against Israel.

This campaign escalated immediately after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s last failed “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians. Kerry’s “peace process” actually put Israelis and Palestinians on a new collision course, which reached its peak with the recent terror attacks on Israelis.

Kerry failed to acknowledge that Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas does not have a mandate from his people to negotiate, let alone sign, any agreement with Israel. Abbas is now in the tenth year of his four-year term in office.

Nor did Kerry listen to the advice of those who warned him and his aides that Abbas would not be able to implement any agreement with Israel on the ground. Abbas cannot even visit his private house in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and he controls less than 40% of the West Bank. Where exactly did Kerry expect Abbas to implement any agreement with Israel? In the city-center of Ramallah or Nablus?

What Kerry and other Western leaders do not want to understand is that Abbas is not authorized to make any concessions for peace with Israel, and has even repeatedly promised his people that he would not make any concessions for the sake of peace with Israel.

In a speech in Ramallah on November 11, marking the tenth anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, Abbas declared: “He who surrenders one grain of the soil of Palestine and Jerusalem is not one of us.”

This statement alone should be enough for Kerry and Western leaders to realize that it would be impossible to ask Abbas to make any concessions. Like Arafat, Abbas has become hostage to his own rhetoric. How can Abbas be expected to accept any deal that does not include 100% of his demands — in this instance, all territory captured by Israel in 1967?

Abbas himself knows that if he comes back with 97% or 98% of his demands, his people will either spit in is face or kill him, after accusing him of being a “defeatist” and “relinquishing Palestinian rights.”

This is precisely why Abbas chose to walk out of Kerry’s nine-month “peace process.” Realizing that Israel was not going to offer him 100% of his demands, Abbas preferred to abandon the peace talks last summer.

… During the past few months, Abbas, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have radicalized Palestinians to a point where it has become laughable even to talk about any peace process with Israel.

Abbas is well aware that his people will condemn him if he ever returns to the negotiating table with Israel. That is why he has now chosen a different strategy — to try to impose a solution with the help of the United Nations and the international community.

Abbas wants the international community and UN Security Council to give him what Israel cannot and will not offer him at the negotiating table.

The incitement campaign against Israel is reminiscent of the atmosphere that prevailed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip immediately after the botched Camp David summit in the summer of 2000. Then, Yasser Arafat also walked away from the table after realizing that Israel was not offering him all that he was asking for, namely a full withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.

Upon his return from Camp David, Arafat also unleashed a wave of incitement against Israel; eventually the incitement led to the eruption of the second intifada in September 2000.

Now Abbas is following in the footsteps of Arafat by stepping up his rhetorical attacks on Israel. This time, Hamas and other terror groups have joined Abbas’s incitement campaign by openly calling on Palestinians to use cars and knives to kill Jews in order to “defend” the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Abbas’s refusal to condemn the recent terror attacks on Israel may be attributed to two motives: fear of his people, and the belief that violence will force Israel to make far-reaching concessions. By refusing to denounce the attacks, and even praising the perpetrators as heroes and martyrs (as he did in the case of Mu’taz Hijazi, the east Jerusalem man who shot and wounded Jewish activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick), Abbas is indicating his tacit approval of the violence.

Not a single Palestinian Authority official, in fact, has denounced the wave of terror attacks on Israel. They, too, are afraid of being condemned by their people for denouncing “heroic operations” such as the stabbing murder of a 26-year-old woman or ramming a car into a three-month-old infant.

Victims of what official Palestinian Authority media organs call "heroic operations": Left, Dalia Lamkus, 26, run over and then stabbed to death by a terrorist on Nov. 10. Right: Three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun, murdered on Oct. 23 when a terrorist rammed a car into her stroller. Several other victims were killed or injured in these attacks.

Victims of what official Palestinian Authority media organs call “heroic operations”: Left, Dalia Lamkus, 26, run over and then stabbed to death by a terrorist on Nov. 10. Right: Three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun, murdered on Oct. 23 when a terrorist rammed a car into her stroller. Several other victims were killed or injured in these attacks.

Abbas is hoping that the terror attacks will keep the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the top of the world’s agenda at a time when all eyes are turned toward the threat of the Islamic State terror group in Syria and Iraq. He also knows very well that the people he has radicalized would turn against him if he dared to speak out against the killing of Jews.

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Hamas among richest terror groups worldwide – second only to ISIS

Forbes Israel ranks 10 wealthiest terror organizations; Palestinian group comes ahead of Hezbollah, Al-Qaida and Taliban.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshal speaks during a speech held in Doha, Qatar, Augst 28, 2014. Photo by AP

Hamas leader Khaled Meshal speaks during a speech held in Doha, Qatar, Augst 28, 2014. Photo by AP

Haaretz (Nov 12) — Hamas is one of the two richest terrorist organizations in the world, second only to the Islamic State group, according to Forbes Israel.

To finance their operations, terrorist groups sometime use methods similar to those used by criminal organizations, such as drug trafficking, robberies and extortion, but also raise money through charities, donations and, in some cases, government agencies, according to the report. A terrorist organization, like any other large organization, has a business model to finance its activities: from maintenance, salaries and trainings, to acquiring of weapons and vehicles.

The richest terrorist organization today – and in history – is the Islamic State. According to Forbes, the Islamist group, also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, has an annual turnover of $2 billion. Hamas comes in second, with a yearly revenue of $1 billion.

As for the rest of the list: Colombia’s FARC is ranked third with $600 million; Hezbollah is fourth with $500 million; fifth is the Taliban with $400 million; Al-Qaida and its affiliates with $150 million; Pakistani-based Lashkar e-Taiba with $100 million; Somalia’s Al-Shabaab with $100 million; Real IRA with $50 million; and, closing the top-ten list is Boko Haram, with $25 million annual revenue.

The U.S. Treasury estimates that ISIS earns $1 million a day from the sale of crude oil from fields it captured in Syria and Iraq. According to Forbes Israel, however, the figure is closer to $3 million a day. The money flow enables ISIS to expand its operations in the Middle East, recruit foreign fighters and train them, among other things.

The report describes Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in 2007 as the point from which it entered “the big league.” Today, Hamas is now no longer only dependent on donations, but is able to collect taxes from both civilians and businesses. But that’s not all. The report says Hamas also takes a cut out of all international aid donated to Gaza by Arab and other foreign countries.

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Caroline Glick: Terror decentral

Caroline Glick is the Senior Contributing Editor at the Jerusalem Post and writes two weekly columns that are regularly syndicated.

jerusalem terror attackJerusalem Post (Nov 7) —  In the postmortems of the terrorist car attacks in Jerusalem, it is easy to see the writing on the wall. Ibrahim al-Akary, the terrorist who on Wednesday ran over crowds of people waiting to cross the street and catch the Jerusalem Light Rail, was the brother of one of the terrorist murderers freed in exchange for IDF hostage Gilad Schalit.

He had placed the photograph on his Facebook page of Moataz Hejazi, the terrorist killed by police after shooting Yehuda Glick outside the Begin Heritage Center last Wednesday.

A few days before Abdur Rahman Slodi got into his car and mowed down three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and a dozen other pedestrians two weeks ago, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas exhorted the Palestinians to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, by all means possible.

Slodi had served time in prison for terrorist offenses and was active on social media where he expressed murderous hatred for Jews and a desire to kill them.

So yes, the writing was on the wall. But unfortunately, the writing is on all the walls, or Facebook walls. It is not at all clear how Israeli security services could have known to distinguish these men from the thousands of other Palestinians and Jerusalem Arabs who hate Israel, support the murder of Jews and identify with various terrorist organizations.

On Thursday security forces arrested several people in villages around Hebron with suspected ties to Akary. So he may not have been acting on his own. But all the same, neither he nor Slodi seem to have been directed to carry out their attacks by a cell commander who himself was directed by a higher level terrorist operative.

Rather, in all likelihood, something triggered both men to carry out attacks in a wholly independent or semi-independent manner.

The question is, what was the trigger and how was it pulled? The Israeli media are obsessed with the question of whether or not we are experiencing an third Palestinian terrorist onslaught, or intifada. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch insists that we are not. Others insist that we are. Whatever we want to call it, we are seeing a new form of Palestinian terrorist warfare against Israel, which in many key aspects mimics the larger jihad carried out by al-Qaida and its affiliates and spin-offs.

…  Ideology is not something that people pick up or discard quickly or easily. For a person to be attracted to the jihadist cause he has to undergo indoctrination over a significant period of time.

You cannot incite a person to strike if he hasn’t already been indoctrinated in a manner that makes him amenable to your incendiary call to action.

And this brings us back to the Palestinians and the trigger for the attacks conducted by independent or semi-independent terrorist operatives.

With the exception of Pakistani students in madrassas, few societies have undergone the mass indoctrination that the Palestinians have undergone over the past 20 years of Palestinian Authority rule. From the cradle to the grave, and most significantly in the school system, Palestinians are indoctrinated to hate Jews and seek the violent destruction of Israel. They are told that it is an Islamic duty to fight Jews and destroy Israel.

This is as true in regular PA schools as it is in schools run by the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA).

We are experiencing today in Jerusalem a decentralized terrorist campaign rooted in the 20-year indoctrination of the Palestinians.

Yes, Hamas and Fatah still operate terrorist cells and units that are members of terrorist hierarchies.

But at the same time, they have used a model similar to al-Qaida’s in developing semi-independent and wholly independent networks of operatives and operational cells. These independent cells are highly motivated and are willing to wait until they receive generalized signals from their leadership to strike.

…  On Thursday Fatah’s Facebook page was full of images calling for Palestinians to run over Jews.

As Palestinian Media Watch reported, one used a play on words between the Arabic acronym for Islamic State and the Arabic word for running something over, thus positively associating the terrorists who run over Jews with members of Islamic State.

Hamas – Fatah’s partner in the PA’s coalition government – was similarly quick to praise Akary and call for more such attacks.

In dealing with this burgeoning, decentralized terrorist campaign, aside from taking action to protect bus stops with various barricades, Israel needs to go after the triggers.

It needs to break up the indoctrination system.

And it needs to destroy the Palestinian leadership’s ability to communicate their incendiary messages.

Since UNRWA schools operating in Jerusalem engage in anti-Semitic indoctrination, Jerusalem municipal authorities must give them the choice of using Israeli textbooks or shutting down. If Israel wishes to assert its sovereignty, UNRWA schools would be a good place to start. Beyond that, preachers in mosques who incite murder and call for the destruction of Israel should be arrested.

As for the PA’s communications networks, all of the radio and television signals operating in the PA come from the Israeli electromagnetic spectrum. It is time to shut them down. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Wednesday, Abbas is directly inciting the murderous attacks on Jerusalem through the PA media organs. The way to protect Jerusalem is to remove him and his Hamas partners from the airwaves.

There has been a lot of talk over the years about providing positive and negative incentives to convince the Palestinians not to engage in terrorism.

But now is not the time for incentives. The population mobilized through incitement has become too fanatical to engage with reason.

The terrorists who take the wheel and run over pedestrians know that they will more than likely never come home. And they don’t care.

They certainly don’t care that Israel will destroy their homes. And they also certainly won’t be impressed by discounted mortgages if they integrate into Israeli society.

In the long term, it is imperative that Israel provide incentives to both the Jerusalem Arabs and the Palestinians to integrate peacefully with Israeli society. But before the government can seriously engage in this task, it needs to destroy the triggers of this terrorist onslaught. It is not enough to complain about Palestinian indoctrination and incitement. It is time for Israel to end them.

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