Make Israel Great Again: Greater Israel

The ruling Israeli right-wing coalition, which sees Trump as a potential champion of Greater Israel, believes that the United States’ president will finally remove any outside constraints on settlement construction in the West Bank or the legalization of already existing settlements built without governmental approval. Settlement-friendly politicians in Israel are already working hard on such moves; a bill legalizing settlements built on private Palestinian land passed its first reading in the Knesset, despite the objections of the attorney general and a near certain rejection by Israel’s High Court of Justice. Some in Israel even view the next four years as an opportunity to annex the West Bank outright. This is a “tremendous opportunity to announce a renunciation of the idea of founding a Palestinian state in the heart of the land,” Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party, stated. “The era of the Palestinian state is over.”

At the same time, Trump himself toldThe Wall Street Journal of his desire to close the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians. “As a dealmaker, I’d like to do…the deal that can’t be made,” he said. “And do it for humanity’s sake.”

Within his own Likud Party, Netanyahu occupies the left-wing flank and is viewed by Likud Knesset members as being too gradual and cautious in his settlement policies. To Likud’s right, Naftali Bennett and his camp believe Netanyahu is blatantly half-hearted in his commitment to a Greater Israel. Bennett and his supporters have advocated annexing Area C of the West Bank, which under the Oslo Accords was to be gradually transferred to the Palestinians, and have maintained constant pressure on Netanyahu to adopt more expansionist policies.

Israel Says It Will Kill Assad if He Keeps Iran in Syria Newsweek

“If Syrian President Bashar Assad continues allowing the Iranians to operate out of Syria, it would be the end of him, the end of his regime,” Israeli Energy Minister and Cabinet member Yuval Steinitz  told Israeli news site Ynet in an interview, later clarifying his words.

“If Assad allows Iran to turn Syria into a forward operating base against us,” he said, “to attack us from Syrian soil, he should know that will spell his end.”

Israeli Military Admits to Supporting Al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria (LiveLeak)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Israel has been providing aid to Syrian rebels, thus keeping the Druze in Syria out of immediate danger. Israeli officials have previously balked at confirming on the record that the country has been helping forces that are fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“We’ve assisted them under two conditions”, Ya’alon said of the Israeli medical aid to the Syrian rebels, some of whom are presumably fighting with al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad. “That they don’t get too close to the border, and that they don’t touch the Druze.”

Al Nusra is Al Qaeda, and closely affiliated with ISIS. And remember, there have never been any “moderate Syrian rebels” … only Islamic Sunni jihadis.

As Vice President Joseph Biden admitted:

The fact of the matter is … there was no moderate middle … Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria … They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and … thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis.

Leaked NSA documents also show that Israeli special forces assassinated a top Syrian government official.

U.S. and Gulf Allies Supported Islamist Extremists in Syria, Qatar’s Ex-Prime Minister Admits, Bolstering Growing Evidence (Alternet)

An NSA secret document was released which revealed that the terrorists in Syria were directly under the command of foreign governments like Saudi Arabia and the United States and that the attack on Damascus International Airport was ordered by KSA and supported by the U.S., a Qatari official has admitted that the tiny Gulf nation colluded with other nations to wage war on Syria, support terrorists in the country, and even support al-Qaeda/al-Nusra.

The Qatari official, former Prime Minister Sheikh Hamid bin Jassim Bin Jaber al Thani, gave an interview with Qatari TV where he revealed what many have known for a long time. Indeed, Jassim would be in a position to know, since he oversaw those operations until 2013. During the course of the interview, Jassim revealed that Qatar, along with the United States, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, shipped weapons to terrorists since the moment the crisis “first started” in 2011.

NSA Document Says Saudi Prince Directly Ordered Coordinated Attack By Syrian Rebels On Damascus (theIntercept)

According to a top-secret National Security Agency document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the March 2013 rocket attacks were directly ordered by a member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Salman bin Sultan, to help mark the second anniversary of the Syrian revolution. Salman had provided 120 tons of explosives and other weaponry to opposition forces, giving them instructions to “light up Damascus” and “flatten” the airport, the document, produced by U.S. government surveillance on Syrian opposition factions, shows.

False Flag: How the U.S. Armed Syrian Rebels to Set Up an Excuse to Attack Assad (ZeroHedge)

A book called The Real Benghazi Story: What the White House and Hillary Don’t Want You to Know details the role Stevens fulfilled in Libya of brokering weapons exports from Libya to countries which backed the Syrian rebels.

The author, Aaron Klein, said a group called the February 17 Brigade worked with the CIA to provide security for a special operation in Benghazi and helped facilitate weapons transfers.

The exact nature of the U.S. involvement with the February 17 Brigade that guarded the U.S. special mission might have been unintentionally exposed when a Libyan weapons dealer formerly with the Brigade told Reuters in an in-person interview he had helped ship weapons from Benghazi to the rebels fighting in Syria.  Klein noted that no one seems to have connected the dots from what the weapons dealer said to the activities taking place inside the Benghazi compound and whether the Brigade serves as a cut out to ship weapons.

In the Reuters interview published June 18, 2013, Libyan warlord Abdul Basit Haroun declared he is behind some of the biggest shipments of weapons from Libya to Syria. Most of the weapons were sent to Turkey, he said, where they were, in turn, smuggled into neighboring Syria.

We know the terrorist groups forming the opposition to Assad had access to chemical weapons.  Is this enough evidence to prove the United States facilitated a false flag chemical weapons attack in order to justify military intervention, and finally defeat Assad, in support of Israel?

President Trump approved the bombing of the Syrian military base controlled by Bashir al-Assad supposedly to destroy the Syrian government’s ability to launch further chemical attacks on civilians.  “Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” Trump said in remarks from Mar-a-Lago, his family compound in Palm Beach, Florida. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

But Trump’s statements contradict the reality that rebel groups have been trained to secure, monitor, and transport chemical weapons. Included in the opposition to Assad are terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. Should we believe these rebels’ claims against Assad, especially given their access to chemical weapons?

Documents from Wikileaks show that the U.S. State Department wanted to help rebels overthrow Syrian Dictator Assad in order to strengthen Israel’s position against Iran. The State Department discussed how Iran and Syria trained forces in opposition to Israel. The fall of Assad, they said, would destroy the only Iranian ally in the region positioned to help Iran in the event of Israeli aggression to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

‘CIA created ISIS’, says Julian Assange as Wikileaks releases 500k US cables (WikiLeaks)

WikiLeaks diplomatic cables just released describe how what is now Islamist terrorism and ISIS originally began through a project between the government of Saudi Arabia and the CIA, when they created a Mujahideen force in order to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan as the United States then perceived the Soviet Union to be their biggest threat at the time.

Besides ISIS, these new WikiLeaks cables shed light on the election of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident and, interestingly, show how Henry Kissinger was conspiring with David Rockefeller in order to find a location to hide the Shah of Iran and his family at. Mexico, the Bahamas and Argentina were all slated as places for the Shah’s twin sister, Princess Ashraf.

Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton’s State Department (IBTimes)

Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure — derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

In the years before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributed at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation, the philanthropic enterprise she has overseen with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Just two months before the deal was finalized, Boeing — the defense contractor that manufactures one of the fighter jets the Saudis were especially keen to acquire, the F-15 — contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to a company press release.

Israel Reveals Size of Its War Against Iran in Syria and Says It May Soon Get Bigger (Newsweek)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would not interfere with the Syrian government’s rebound to power, but has warned that no Iranian presence would be tolerated. With little sign of Iran backing down from what it considers to be anti-terrorism mission—even after Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that all foreign powers should eventually leave Syria—Israel’s military leadership has suggested it may take action, and go even further than before.

After a Reuters report suggested that Iran had delivered ballistic missiles to Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq in order to defend against potential U.S. military action, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Monday: “As for the threat from Iran, we are not limiting ourselves to Syria. That should be clear.”

Trump’s First Foreign Trip: To Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican (ForeignPolicy)

In Israel, Trump will roll up his sleeves and dive into the spadework of brokering an Israel-Palestine peace deal, a task the former reality television host described as “not as difficult as people have thought,” yet which has eluded every modern president. A senior administration official said Trump and team were approaching their Middle East peace plans “with a lot of humility.”

Trump’s first foreign foray comes relatively late in the game, and he’ll depart from a tradition every president since Ronald Reagan honored: Making Canada his first or second foreign stop. 

July 17, 2018: In a video clip aired by Israeli television, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that Israel was responsible for US President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal.

“We convinced the US president [to exit the deal] and I had to stand up against the whole world and come out against this agreement,” Netanyahu says in the video. “And we didn’t give up.”

US President Donald Trump’s decision to dump the landmark Iran nuclear deal has shocked the world, with America’s closest allies like France, Germany and the UK expressing concern over it while Iran’s foes Israel and Saudi Arabia welcoming the move.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said: “The US has announced that it doesn’t respect its commitments.”

In a joint statement after Trump’s announcement, May, Merkel and Macron emphasized their “concern” about Trump’s decision and said they would continue to adhere to the Iranian deal because it has made the world “a safer place.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised “courageous leadership” and “bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran.”

Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was on Trump hit list (WashingtonTimes)

The president has made close ties to the kingdom a priority since taking office. Trump made his first overseas trip as president to Saudi Arabia and has touted his arms sales to the kingdom.

It wasn’t just Trump who was taken by Saudi prince, bin Salman. Kushner also felt he had found someone who would help him with his problems. He not only stayed with the prince on Trump’s official visit, he’s been back. And if Donald Trump had come bearing gifts in the form of arms, Jared Kushner had something else.

A House Democrat on the intelligence committee is suggesting that the White House and top aide Jared Kushner maintained a “hit list” of dissidents for the Saudi kingdom to assassinate.

Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the supposed list included murdered Saudi dissident/journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Let me get to the point that is most disturbing right now,” Mr. Castro said. “The reporting that Jared Kushner may have with U.S. intelligence delivered a hit list, an enemy’s list to the crown prince, MbS, in Saudi Arabia and that the prince then may have acted on that and one of the people that he took action against is Mr. Khashoggi.”

The United States government in fact knows what happened to the missing man—and seems to have known something about his fate even before his disappearance. As reported by the Washington Post, “US intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture” Khashoggi. Source: Saudi Arabia’s Government Purge — And How Washington Corruption Enabled It

Read more: Tortured to death and fed to pigs, MBS had journalist Jamal Khashoggi killed and watched via Skype

Erdogan Says Turkey Will Start Operation in Syria Within Days (Bloomberg)

Turkey will start a new military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish militants in northern Syria within a few days, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, a move that could again escalate tensions with Washington. Turkish shares and the lira fell after the announcement.

Turkey has repeatedly threatened over recent months to extend its offensive against the YPG Kurdish militia east of the Euphrates River. The fighters, which receive support from the U.S. in their joint fight against Islamic State jihadists in Syria, are seen by Ankara as an affiliate of the pro-autonomy PKK movement, a designated terrorist group.

“We have made our warnings and completed our preparations,” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara.

Donald Trump demands former FBI chief James Comey is jailed (Telegraph)

Donald Trump, the US president, has called for former FBI director James Comey to be jailed, accusing him of revealing classified information and of lying to Congress.

In addition to suggesting the former intelligence chief be incarcerated, Mr Trump called him “slippery” and a “slimeball” and said he would go down as the worst FBI director in history, during a Twitter rant which spanned the course of two hours on Sunday morning.

He also challenged accusations made by the former FBI director in a tell-all book that is due for release this week.

Mr Trump wrote: “The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn’t they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe’s $700,000 & more?”

He added: “I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty. I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His “memos” are self serving and FAKE!”

And shortly after came: “Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”

The two men have been involved in a ferocious war of words since the president fired Mr Comey last May amid the investigation into his 2016 campaign and Russian meddling in the election.

It was Mr Comey’s firing that prompted the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Why China Wants Syria in its New Belt and Road (TheDiplomat)

China has been actively expanding its influence to the Middle East, and engaging war-torn Syria as part of its signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been a case in point.

On November 24, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Political and Media Advisor to the Syrian President Bouthaina Shaaban in Beijing. During the meeting, Wang offered to support Syria’s reconstruction.

Russia seen sending heavy naval firepower to the Mediterranean after threatening to strike the US (BusinessInsider)

The US and Russia have become engaged in an increasingly hot war of words over the warfare and suffering in Syria, and Russia was seen sending heavy naval firepower to the region around the same time it threatened to retaliate to any US strikes.

Russia has supported Syrian President Bashar Assad for years during his country’s seven-year-long civil war. Russia provides military support and airpower to help Assad cling to power as he fights off Islamist insurgents and a popular uprising in a war where his forces have reportedly killed the wide majority of the half million now dead.

Tensions between Russia and the West are peaking after Russia’s threats to fight back against the US in Syria and the UK accused the Russian state of carrying out a nerve agent attack on a former spy in the British countryside.

Russia responds with veiled nuclear, death threats to UK nerve agent attack

British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of carrying out a nerve agent attack on UK soil against a former spy — and Moscow’s response has been extremely aggressive, with veiled nuclear and death threats.

After blowing a UK-imposed deadline to answer for the attack, which UK experts assess used a Russian-made chemical weapon, a Russian foreign ministry spokesman warned the UK not to threaten nuclear powers.

The UK also possesses nuclear weapons, but Russia has more firepower and newer nuclear systems than any other nation, and has frequently taken to threatening its neighbors and bragging about its capability to end life on Earth.

Additionally, Russian state TV broadcaster Kirill Kleimenov went on Russia’s popular Channel One to make veiled threats and insinuations that politically motivated murders in Britain would continue.

“The profession of a traitor is one of the most dangerous in the world,” Kleimenov said. “It’s very rare that those who had chosen it have lived in peace until a ripe old age.”

Outside of military threats, Russia has said it would respond in kind if the UK moves to expel Russian diplomats or scraps the media license for RT, a Russian-funded media organization.

“Not a single British media outlet will work in our country if they shut down Russia Today,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in response. International news outlets in Russia already operate under heavy scrutiny and cannot spread their news freely to the Russian people.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson out, CIA Director Pompeo to assume role (FoxNews)

Rex Tillerson is leaving his role as secretary of state, with CIA Director Mike Pompeo assuming the role, President Donald Trump announced, citing disagreements on Iran with the former Exxon Mobil CEO.

It was in the middle of the night in Nairobi, Kenya, that he was awakened by White House chief of staff John Kelly. While the White House says Kelly told Tillerson then that he was fired, a senior State Department official said that Tillerson was only warned that such a tweet may be coming.

“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!” the president wrote in a tweet.
Prior to his role as the CIA chief, Pompeo served as the Republican representative from the fourth district of Kansas.

Saudi Arabia Wants to Fight Iran to the Last American (NationalInterest)

Many observers have connected the dots and concluded that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is seeking to drag the United States into a war with Iran and Hezbollah. But that’s only half the story. Looking at the recent events through a broader geopolitical lens, a much more sinister plan emerges: a Saudi plan to trap the United States in a permanent standoff with Tehran.

As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in 2010, the Saudis “ want to fight the Iranians to the last American .” Why the Saudis would see this as attractive is clear. Why Netanyahu would like to go along with this also follows a certain logic. That is not the mystery in this drama. The mystery is why the president of the United States would go along with something that so clearly contradicts U.S. national interest.

It is not the Saudi crown prince that is acting irrationally. It’s the president of the United States.

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Israel navy intercepts activist boat trying to break Gaza blockade

By Afp

Israel’s navy on Sunday intercepted a Norwegian-flagged activist boat trying to break its more than decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip, the military and activists said.

“The activity ended without exceptional events,” a military statement said. “At this time the ship is being transferred to the port of Ashdod” along the coast of central Israel.

An activist group affiliated with the boat, the Al-Awda (The Return), said 22 people and a cargo of medical supplies were onboard.

A second boat that is part of the same group, the Swedish-flagged Freedom, is expected to arrive in the same area in the next couple days, according to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.

Four boats left from Scandinavia in mid-May and stopped in some 28 ports along the way, the coalition said. Two boats remained behind after a recent stop in Palermo.

Shortly before the Al-Awda, a fishing boat, was intercepted, the coalition released a statement saying the Israeli navy was issuing warnings to it.

“The Israeli navy claims our ship is breaking international law and threatens that they will use ‘any measures necessary’ to stop us,” it said.

“In fact, the only ‘necessary measures’ would be to end the blockade of Gaza and restore freedom of movement for all Palestinians.”

Israel has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2008 and says the blockade is necessary to keep them from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used for military purposes.

UN officials and rights activists have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian enclave of two million people run by Islamist movement Hamas.

From Wikipedia: The blockade of the Gaza Strip is the ongoing land, air, and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel and Egypt since 2007. One year after the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip by Israel, Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election, and Israel and the Quartet on the Middle East ceased providing aid to the Palestinian Authority and imposed sanctions against the PA, because Hamas would not agree to the conditions for continued aid: namely, the recognition of Israel, disavowal violent actions, and acceptance the previous agreements between Israel and the PA.

In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a unity government headed by Ismail Haniya. Shortly after, in June, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip during the Battle of Gaza.[2] Hamas seized government institutions and replaced Fatah and other government officials with Hamas members.[3] Following the takeover, Egypt and Israel largely closed their border crossings with Gaza, on the grounds that Fatah had fled the Strip and was no longer able to provide security on the Palestinian side.[4] Egypt was worried that Hamas control over Gaza would increase Iranian influence. Aboul Gheit explained that opening the Rafah border crossing would undermine the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority.[5]

Israel said that the blockade was necessary to protect Israeli citizens from “terrorism, rocket attacks and any other hostile activity” and to prevent dual use goods from entering Gaza.[6] In doing so it violated or failed to fulfil specific obligations it had committed to under the terms of various ceasefire agreements[7][8][9] on different occasions to alleviate or lift the blockade.[10] “Crossings were repeatedly shut and buffer zones were reinstated. Imports declined, exports were blocked, and fewer Gazans were given exit permits to Israel and the West Bank.”[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

The World Bank estimated in 2015 that the GDP losses caused by the blockade since 2007 was above 50%, and entailed large welfare losses. Gaza’s manufacturing sector, once significant, shrunk by as much as 60 percent in real terms, due to the wars in the past 20 years and the blockade. Gaza’s exports virtually disappeared since the imposition of the 2007 blockade. It stated that “solutions have to be found to enable faster inflow of construction materials into Gaza”, while taking into account “legitimate security concerns of neighboring countries.”

In May 2015, the World Bank reported that the Gaza economy was on the “verge of collapse”. 40% of Gaza’s population lived in poverty, even though around 80% received some sort of aid. It said the restrictions had to be eased to allow construction materials “to enter in sufficient quantities” and to allow exports. “The economy cannot survive without being connected to the outside world,” The World Bank said the tightened restrictions meant the construction sector’s output was reduced by 83%.

Throughout 2006, the Karni crossing remained only partially operational, costing Palestinians losses of $500,000 a day, as less than 10% of the Gaza Strip’s minimal daily export targets were achieved. Basic food commodities were severely depleted, bakeries closed and food rationing was introduced.

In 2016 most Palestinian parties welcomed Turkish initiatives to end the strict Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip by building a seaport for the movement of people and goods. This step was condemned by Fatah and the PA, a senior Fatah leader saying that his movement would not allow this to happen, while the Fatah Executive Committee said this was an Israeli trick to separate Gaza from the West Bank. In turn a Hamas official condemned the Palestinian Authority’s position; “This position proves that the PA is part of the Israeli-led siege which has been imposed on Gaza for ten years.”[33]

In 2017, the PA government imposed its own sanctions against Gaza, including, among other things, cutting off salaries to thousands of PA employees, as well as financial assistance to hundreds of families in the Gaza Strip. The PA initially said it would stop paying for the electricity and fuel that Israel supplies to the Gaza Strip, but later partially backtracked.

Freedom Flotilla II

Following the Gaza flotilla raid, a coalition of 22 NGOs assembled in July 2011 a flotilla of 10 vessels and 1,000 activists to breach the blockade.

The vessels docked in Greece in preparation for the journey to Gaza. However, the Greek government announced that it would not allow the vessels to leave for Gaza,[99] and the Hellenic Coast Guard stopped three vessels attempting to evade the travel ban and leave port. On 7 July, most activists left for home, leaving only a few dozen to continue the initiative.[100] On 16 July, the French yacht Dignite Al Karama was allowed to leave port after informing Greek authorities that its destination was Alexandria, Egypt. Instead, the yacht headed directly for Gaza. The Israeli Navy stopped the Dignite Al Karama about 65 kilometers off Gaza. After the boat was warned and refused to turn back, it was surrounded by three Israeli naval vessels and boarded by Shayetet 13 commandos, who took it over. The boat was then taken to Ashdod.[101] Ultimately, the Freedom Flotilla sailing did not take place.

Third Flotilla

On 4 November 2011, the Israeli Navy intercepted two vessels heading towards Gaza in a private initiative to break the blockade. Shayetet 13 commandos boarded the vessels from speedboats and took them over with no resistance. The vessels were then taken to Ashdod port.

Following the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état, Egypt’s military has destroyed most of the 1,200 tunnels which are used for smuggling food, weapons and other goods to Gaza.[153] After the August 2013 Rabaa Massacre in Egypt, the border crossing was closed ‘indefinitely’.

A UN OCHA 2015 report stated that “longstanding access restrictions imposed by Israel have undermined Gaza’s economy, resulting in high levels of unemployment, food insecurity and aid dependency,” and that “Israeli restrictions on the import of basic construction materials and equipment have significantly deteriorated the quality of basic services, and impede the reconstruction and repair of homes.”

The World Bank estimated in 2015 that the GDP losses caused by the blockade since 2007 was above 50%, and entailed large welfare losses. Gaza’s manufacturing sector, once significant, shrunk by as much as 60 percent in real terms, due to the wars in the past 20 years and the blockade. Gaza’s exports virtually disappeared since the imposition of the 2007 blockade. It stated that “solutions have to be found to enable faster inflow of construction materials into Gaza”, while taking into account “legitimate security concerns of neighboring countries.”

Between 2000 and 2018, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has documented 1,283 attacks on Palestinian fishermen, including 1,192 shooting incidents that led to the death of 8 fishermen and to the injury of 134 fishermen. During these assaults, 656 fishermen were detained, and 209 boats were confiscated.

On 1 December 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the electricity cuts were unlawful, and ordered the Israeli military to stop them by the following day. In its ruling, however, the court allowed Israel to continue reducing its diesel and gasoline shipments to Gaza.

The International Committee of the Red Cross  (ICRC) termed Israel’s blockade of Gaza “collective punishment” in violation of international humanitarian law. In 2010 it also called the blockade a violation of the Geneva Conventions and called for its lifting.

An Israeli government spokesman added in 2010 that the blockade is intended to bring about a political goal and that Israel “could not lift the embargo altogether as long as Hamas remains in control” of Gaza.[168]

Speaking in 2006, Dov Weisglass, an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, allegedly said that, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”[197] Although this quote is widely reported, the original quote appears to have been: “It’s like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won’t die.”[198] Weisglass has denied this report.[199]

According to US diplomatic cables obtained by the WikiLeaks organization, diplomats stationed in the US embassy in Tel Aviv were briefed by Israelis on the blockade of the Gaza Strip. One of the cables states that “as part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed (…) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge”

United States Although the United States officially supports the blockade,[204] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Israeli Minister of Defence Ehud Barak in February 2010 and urged him to ease the blockade.

In the September 2011 Palmer Report, the UN investigative committee for the 2010 Flotilla to Gaza said that the Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal under international law.[221][222] Later that same month, five independent U.N. rights experts reporting to the U.N. Human Rights Council rejected that conclusion, saying the blockade had subjected Palestinians in Gaza to collective punishment in “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law.”

Human Rights Watch argues that Israel is still an occupying power and is responsible for Gaza under the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, which seeks to protect the civilian population.[57]

Amnesty International said that “The blockade constitutes collective punishment under international law and must be lifted immediately,” and that as the occupying power, Israel has a duty under international law to ensure the welfare of Gaza’s inhabitants, including their rights to health, education, food and adequate housing.

The Islamic Action Front (IAF), a Jordanian Islamist group, criticized Egypt for the blockade and accused it of “collaborating” with Israel and the United States. “The Egyptian authorities are …increasing the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza by building the steel wall and closing the border crossings with Gaza,” said Hamzah Mansour, a member of the Shura Council of the IAF.[240]

Gideon Rose of the Council on Foreign Relations has written that the blockade serves a secondary aim, which is to undermine Hamas by making life unpleasant for Gaza’s residents.

2018 New Measures Tightening Israeli Blockade of Gaza, More Abduction of Civilians in the West Bank

While brutal force has been used to create Zionist Israel and sustain it thus far, Zionist claims to Palestine are false. Actually, from the five thousand years of known written history, there has been a continuous Palestinian-Canaanite presence in the Holy Land. Despite the Zionist false claims, the ancient Israelites ruled part of the land for only 85 years (during the reign of David, Solomon, and Solomon’s son).

After that, the Egyptians conquered Palestine-Canaan in 925 BC, followed by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, before the Arab Muslim rule, starting from 636 AD.

By the Time Jesus started his mission, the three population groups of Canaanites, Palestinians, and Israelites were melted together in religion and language. Most of them became Christians when Constantine converted in 313 AD. Then, most of them became Muslims in the 7th and 8th centuries AD.

So, Palestinian Muslims, Christians, and Jews are the ones who have the right to claim descent from ancient Israelites, Palestinians, and Canaanites, not Zionists from other continents.

Tightening the Israeli blockade against Gaza

Earlier Monday, the Israeli occupation government Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and War Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided to increase pressure on the Gaza Strip in response to the fire kites and balloons sent from the enclave to neighboring Israeli settlements.

The new measures include reducing the fishing area from 9 to 6 nautical miles and closing Karem Abu Salem crossing, which means that nothing can be imported or exported into/out of the Gaza Strip. All that is to be permitted into Gaza is urgent humanitarian aid in certain cases.

Read more at https://english.palinfo.com/35250

PPS: “Israeli Occupation Soldiers Abduct Seventeen Palestinians In West Bank”

July 10, 2018 2:26 PM IMEMC News

The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli occupation soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, seventeen Palestinians from their homes, in several parts of the occupied West Bank.

The soldiers stormed and violently searched dozens of homes, across the West Bank, interrogated many Palestinians and abducted at least sixteen.

The army also installed many roadblocks, especially in and around Hebron, in southern West Bank, stopped and searched dozens of cars, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.

Israeli Occupation Soldiers Abduct Six Palestinians In Jenin, Two In Qalqilia

July 10, 2018 1:53 PM IMEMC News

Israeli occupation soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, six Palestinians in the northern West Bank governorate of Jenin, and two in Qalqilia, also in northern West Bank, after invading and searching their homes.

The Jenin office of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said the soldiers invaded and ransacked many homes, interrogated several Palestinians in the city, in addition to Qabatia town, Sanour and al-‘Arqa village, and abducted six.

It said the soldiers abducted Hisham Omar Zakarna, from Qabatia, in addition to Laith Fuad and Tareq Ziad Gharbiyya, from Sanour village.

The soldiers also abducted two former political prisoners, identified as Mohammad Walid Jalamna and Ghassan Adnan al-Atrash, in Kharrouba neighborhood in Jenin city, in addition to Mahdi Hamad Abu al-Hasan, 24, from Marah Sa’ad neighborhood.

The soldiers also invaded the Eastern Neighborhood in Jenin, and the al-‘Arqa village, west of the city.

In related news, the soldiers invaded homes in Qalqilia city, in northern West Bank, and abducted Noureddin Ahmad Daoud, 30, and Nasr Talal Jayyousi.

Israeli Occupation Soldiers Abducts Two Palestinians, Injures One, In Hebron

July 10, 2018 12:38 PM IMEMC News

Israeli occupation soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, two young Palestinian men, and injured another, in the southern West Bank governorate of Hebron.

Media sources in Hebron city said dozens of soldiers invaded Jabal Abu Rumman and al-Hawouz areas, searched homes and abducted Saif Abu Amsha.

They added that the soldiers also shot Mohammad Ali Abu ‘Aisha, 24, with a live round in his leg, before he was rushed to a local hospital, suffering a moderate injury.

Furthermore, the soldiers invaded and violently searched several homes in the ath-Thaheriyya town, south of Hebron, abducted Sharhabeel Nassar al-Makahrza, and confiscated two cars owned by his family.

The soldiers also installed roadblocks closing the northern entrances of Hebron city, in addition to Halhoul and Sa’ir town, before stopping and searching dozens of cars while inspecting the ID cards of the passengers.

On Monday evening, the soldiers abducted a young Palestinian man, who remained unidentified at the time of this report, after stopping him at the Container military roadblock, north of Bethlehem.

The army claimed the Palestinian was not carrying any form of identification, and was “concealing a knife.”

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Donald Trump’s Ties to Hamas

By Dan Williams, Reuters

Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist militia rules the Gaza Strip which is currently under a 12-year Israeli-Egyptian land, sea and air blockade that has reduced its economy to a state of collapse. The Gaza Strip was under direct Israeli military occupation from 1967 until 2005.

A senior White House adviser, who began efforts to rebuild Gaza’s economy five months ago, said that escalating conflict in the Palestinian enclave between Hamas militants and Israelis is driving foreign investors away.

“Israel has driven Gaza to a state of desperation. Hamas will be rewarded with aid,” President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner said, according to The New York Times. He said Hamas leaders have shown “a clear intent for a peaceful relationship with their neighbors” and they want foreign financial aid.

“You have to figure out which cards to play at which time,” Kushner said. “Getting a positive outcome there could set the momentum for the rest of the process.”

Kushner and Greenblatt have been tasked with reviving the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. They are expected to present a plan about what Trump has referred to as the “deal of the century”.

President Donald Trump accused Israel of starting the aggression and said the Palestinians were merely responding to attacks.

“The occupation must stop this aggression first to reach a truce with the Palestinian factions in Gaza,” he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said “one Israeli sortie killed two Palestinian teenagers. Our message to Hamas is that we can and will enhance the intensity of our effort.”

A 15-year-old Palestinian who tried to climb over a fence into Israel was shot dead. Over 130, mostly unarmed, Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since demonstrations began on March 30. Israel says it is defending its sovereign border.

Israel freed a Turkish woman accused of ties to Hamas following a request by U.S. President Donald Trump, an Israeli official said, after the Washington Post reported the deal as part of a failed White House bid to get Ankara to release an American detainee.

Israel arrested Ebru Ozkan while she was visiting as a tourist last month. On July 8, it indicted her in a security court for ties to the Palestinian Islamist group, charges her lawyer denied and which angered Turkey. She was deported a week later.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Trump had asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a July 14 phone call to let Ozkan go in a “trade” for Andrew Brunson, a U.S. pastor who has spent 21 months in Turkish detention.

“I can confirm that there was such a request by President Trump,” an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity, without elaborating.

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem had no immediate comment.

Brunson, who denies charges of links to a group Ankara says was behind a failed 2016 coup, was moved to house arrest on Wednesday – prompting the Trump administration to threaten sanctions against fellow NATO-power Turkey.

At the time of Ozkan’s release, another Israeli official told Reuters that among the reasons was that, upon review, prosecutors deemed her case too weak to warrant pursuing. But her Israeli lawyer, Omar Khamaisi, said that the indictment against his client had yet to be withdrawn.

Arriving in Istanbul on July 16, Ozkan said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and been “kind enough to be very interested in my case”. Khamaisi said he was unaware of the reported diplomatic deal around her release.

Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special representative for international negotiations, held a conference on rebuilding Gaza’s economy in the White House in March, but Palestinians began protesting days later, with more than 140 of them reportedly killed by Israeli snipers.

Trump entrusted Kushner, who had no prior diplomatic experience, with the hefty task of forging peace in the Middle East. Kushner has made more than a dozen trips to the region over the past 18 months but still has not introduced a peace plan.

“We have the plan ready—mostly ready—and when the time is right, we’ll bring it out,” Kushner said before the conflict in Gaza approached the brink of war.

Congress, meanwhile, is poised to approve $3.3 billion in new defense assistance to Israel, a new high.

Israel’s land, sea and air blockade of Gaza, along with mismanagement by Hamas, which has governed the 141-square mile territory since 2007, has led to a 46 percent rate of unemployment and widespread poverty.

Residents only have electricity for four hours a day and less than 10 percent have access to safe drinking water. The United Nations says the territory is basically uninhabitable.

Alarmed by the BDS movement’s progress, the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC and other conservative pro-Israel groups support bills in each chamber that would impose criminal penalties, including hefty fines, on U.S. companies that participate in Israel boycotts promoted by the United Nations and other international organizations.

BDS — for boycott, divest and sanction — the economic pressure campaign has sizable public support in the European Union and in recent years has picked up steam across the United States.

Support for Israel has skyrocketed among Christian evangelicals, who overwhelmingly vote Republican.

According to the January Pew poll, nearly 8 in 10 Republicans sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians, which is equal to the number of evangelical Christians who feel the same way. No other religious denomination comes close in their support for Israel.

Netanyahu wants to see a single state over most or all of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank that does not grant Palestinians equal rights under the law.

“Greenblatt and Kushner are mere spokespersons for the Israeli occupation,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri wrote on Twitter, blasting the US officials for their support for Israel.

In an earlier post on Twitter, Abu Zuhri called Greenblatt a “liar” for previously blaming Hamas for destroying Gaza’s electrical grid, which he said was destroyed by the Israeli army.

Copyright 2018 Thomson Reuters.

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