Posts Tagged ‘Hamas’

Israel, Jordan Ties Seen as Strategic, if Occasionally Rocky

July 24, 2017

JERUSALEM — A diplomatic standoff between Israel and Jordan over a deadly shooting at Israel’s embassy in the kingdom once again tests the strategic, if turbulent ties forged in a 1994 peace treaty.

In the past, Israel was willing to pay a high price to protect the relationship, including releasing an Islamic militant leader from prison in a deal with Jordan.

Jordan and Israel share a long border, various water and natural gas projects, and cooperate to stem Iran’s growing influence and the spread of Islamic State militancy in the region.

But the peace agreement remains deeply unpopular in the kingdom, where many citizens are of Palestinian origin and say normalization can only come after Israel reaches peace with the Palestinians.

Here’s a look at the Israeli-Jordanian relationship.

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ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION

Perhaps the most serious crisis came in 1997, during Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term as Israeli prime minister. At the time, agents of Israel’s Mossad spy agency tried to assassinate then-Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in Amman. Two agents entered Jordan using fake Canadian passports and poisoned Mashaal as he was leaving the Hamas offices in the Jordanian capital by placing a device near his ear. They were captured shortly after the attack. Outraged by the violation of his sovereignty, Jordan’s then-King Hussein threatened to void the still-fresh peace accord if Mashaal were to die. Israel ultimately dispatched an antidote that saved his life and the Israeli agents were returned home. Under pressure, Israel agreed to release the spiritual leader of Hamas, Ahmed Yassin, from prison.

JORDAN VALLEY SHOOTING

Earlier in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire at a group of Israeli schoolgirls on a field trip to a joint Israeli-Jordanian tourist resort along the border. A few days after the shooting, King Hussein traveled to Israel to comfort the families of the seven slain girls, in what was seen at the time as a touching gesture to Israel that helped solidify his image as a man of peace. The soldier was released from prison earlier this year, after serving 20 years.

CONTESTED HOLY SITE

A major holy site in Jerusalem, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, has been a frequent source of friction.

Jordan serves as Muslim custodian of the 37-acre walled compound, the third holiest site of Islam. Jews revere the esplanade as the site of their destroyed biblical Temples, and the holiest site in their religion.

Jordan’s ruling Hashemite dynasty, said to trace its ancestry back to Prophet Muhammad, draws much of its legitimacy from the role of protector of the site, which houses the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosques.

King Abdullah II has frequently protested Israeli measures, including restrictions on the access of Muslim worshippers and police raids of the compound to disperse Palestinian stone-throwers. Israel has defended its policies as needed security precautions.

Image result for King Abdullah II, photos

King Abdullah II with Rex Tillerson

In 2014, Jordan temporarily recalled its ambassador amid Jewish-Muslim tensions over prayer rights at the site. In a sign of the importance Israel places on its ties with Jordan, the Israeli government moved quickly to restore calm.

The following year clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces around the site quickly led to unrest elsewhere in Jerusalem, across Israel and in the West Bank that have continued intermittently till now.

Over the past week, Jordan was heavily involved in trying to defuse an escalating crisis between Israel and the Muslim world over metal detectors installed at the shrine. Israel set up the security measures in response to a shooting attack from there earlier this month that killed two Israeli policemen.

ISRAELI EMBASSY SHOOTING

On Sunday, an Israeli security guard at the Israeli Embassy in Jordan opened fire and killed two Jordanians, after one of them attacked him with a screwdriver. The Israeli guard was lightly wounded. The incident led to a diplomatic standoff, with Jordan saying it would not let the guard leave without an investigation. A day later, embassy staff remained in the compound, as Netanyahu tried to defuse the crisis and get the guard back to Israel. The incident came at the worst possible time for Israel, complicating efforts to find a way out of the standoff over the metal detectors at the Jerusalem site.

SECURITY TIES

Israel and Jordan share intelligence and have overlapping interests in southern Syria and elsewhere. Israel also considers Jordan an important land barrier on its eastern flank. The stability of the U.S.-allied kingdom is seen in Israel as a major security interest.

Previous crises have shown that both sides are willing to make gestures to maintain the relations.

“The incident in Jordan has a potential of disrupting the relations between the two countries,” said Oded Eran, a former Israeli ambassador to Jordan.

“However, the two countries have an interest to let this incident be solved in a very amicable way, providing that the two states can keep the perception of guarding their national interest,” he said.

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Israel strikes Gaza after a missile was fired across the border from the Palestinian area

July 24, 2017

AFP

Image result for Israeli tank, photos

JERUSALEM (AFP) – 

Israel struck a position of Islamist group Hamas in Gaza on Monday, the army said, hours after a missile was fired across the border from the Palestinian enclave.

“An (Israeli) tank targeted a post belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the southern Gaza Strip” in the early hours of the morning, the army said in a statement.

A Hamas security source told AFP on condition of anonymity that five strikes hit an observation post of the group’s military wing near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.

The source said separate strikes hit farming land in central Gaza, with no injuries reported in either incident.

The Israeli strike came hours after a “projectile fired from the Gaza Strip” hit an open area inside Israel without causing any injuries, the army said.

Israel and Hamas, who run Gaza, have fought three wars since 2008.

Since the last one in 2014, a fragile ceasefire has been observed along the largely closed border.

Missiles and rockets are periodically fired at Israel, generally by hardline Islamist groups opposed to Hamas.

But Israel holds Hamas responsible for all rocket fire from Gaza regardless of who carried it out, and usually retaliates within hours.

Palestinian civilians urge ICC to speed up ‘war crimes’ probe

July 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | According to UN figures 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children, were killed in fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and other factions

THE HAGUE (AFP) – Palestinian lawyers and civil society groups Wednesday urged the International Criminal Court to speed up inquiries and open a full investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza, east Jerusalem and the West Bank.”Since two years Palestine is under preliminary examination,” said lawyer Gilles Devers, adding “in Gaza, we think two years is too long.”

The Palestinian Authority has formally asked the ICC to investigate Israel, which is not a party to the Rome Statute that governs the court, for alleged war crimes.

It has presented the court with a dossier alleging abuses during the 2014 summer Gaza war, and for the Israeli occupation and settlement of Palestinian territories.

In January 2015, the tribunal opened a preliminary examination into alleged abuses by all sides in the conflict. And an ICC delegation visited Israel and the West Bank in late 2016.

But Palestinian activists told reporters Wednesday the investigation has stalled, calling for both the ICC and the Palestinian Authority to speed up efforts.

Lawyers representing 448 named victims, and more than 50 Palestinian trade unions and organisations, were handing over Wednesday a thick dossier to the ICC prosecutor’s office which they said showed “clearly that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed.”

The Gaza conflict, in which according to UN figures 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children, were killed in fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and other factions, was clearly “a war crime” and the “ICC was competent” to handle it, said Devers, speaking in English.

Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had “an obligation” to move beyond a preliminary examination to a full investigation, he told reporters before meeting with representatives from her office.

The dossier has been drafted by more than 30 lawyers in the Palestinian territories, and it is the first time that Palestinian civil groups, including doctors, farmers, fishermen and teachers, have appealed directly to the ICC.

The group said it has taken the action because of “the lack of political will on behalf of the Palestinian Authority” which it said had not made an official complaint as a state member of the ICC.

Devers said the group was also hoping to persuade the ICC to open a full investigation “as a matter of urgency” into the situation in east Jerusalem.

Protests and scuffles between demonstrators and Israeli police have erupted in recent days outside the Haram al-Sharif compound, which includes the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The site is venerated by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam, and by Jews as the most sacred site in Judaism.

But Israel closed the ultra-sensitive compound on Friday and Saturday, after an attack by an Arab Israeli on Friday left two Israeli police dead, as has triggered Palestinian fury by installing metal detectors at its entrances.

The Blockade Of Qatar Is Failing — Qatar Could Seek Damages

July 19, 2017

In the grown-up world of geopolitics, the Saudi and Emirati-led move against Doha does not seem to be achieving its goals.

Image may contain: skyscraper, sky, ocean, outdoor and water
Food supplies and other goods are still flowing into Qatar’s docks and airports (Representational)

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It’s hard to imagine the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates thought it would go this way. Officials from their governments – as well as junior partners Egypt and Bahrain – described the punitive sanctions they collectively slapped on Qatar in early June as an unfortunate but necessary action, aimed at bringing the pesky Qataris to heel. It was as if Qatar, accused by its neighbors of fomenting extremism near and far, was an unruly child who needed to be disciplined.

But in the grown-up world of geopolitics, the Saudi and Emirati-led move against Doha does not seem to be achieving its goals. Rather than isolating Qatar, it has deepened Qatari ties with regional powers Turkey and Iran. Oman and Kuwait, two other states in the Gulf Cooperation Council, have not joined in. Food supplies and other goods are still flowing into Qatar’s docks and airports. And, no matter the White House’s mixed messaging, American diplomats appear to be pushing for conciliation and compromise with Qatar rather than seeking Doha’s acquiescence to the Saudi and Emirati demands.

“As with their disastrous war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE radically overstated their prospects for success and failed to have a plausible plan B in case things did not go to plan,” wrote Marc Lynch, a Middle East expert at George Washington University. “The anti-Qatar quartet seems to have overestimated Qatari fears of isolation from the GCC and their own ability to inflict harm on their neighbor.”

 

A new Washington Post report this week added to the awkwardness facing the blockaders. According to unnamed U.S. intelligence officials, the UAE was behind a controversial late-May hack of Qatari government news and social media sites that helped trigger the crisis. The hack attributed false quotes to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, that had him celebrating Iran as an “Islamic power” and praising Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Image result for Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani,, photos

Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani

Despite Doha’s vociferous denials, the furor led Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to ban Qatari media, then later break relations with Doha and impose their trade and diplomatic boycott. U.S. officials “became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation,” my colleagues Karen DeYoung and Ellen Nakashima reported. “The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done.”

In a statement, the UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, rejected these claims. “The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article,” he said, before reiterating his country’s complaints about Qatar’s maverick foreign policy. “What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas … Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors.”

There is plenty of precedent for rumors and murky innuendo fueling tensions in this part of the world: A rupture in relations in 2014 saw false news reports proliferate about Saudi and Emirati citizens being banned from Harrods, the London department store owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Analysts explain that the current impasse is an extension of long-running disagreements and tensions with Qatar, which has irritated its larger neighbors by using its riches to play an outsized role on the world stage. At issue are squabbles over support for different proxies in conflicts from Syria and Libya, as well as the provocative work of Qatari-funded network Al Jazeera, which Riyadh and Abu Dhabi want to see shut down.

The Qataris have also charted a different diplomatic path from their neighbors, playing host to political offices for groups such as the Taliban and Hamas in a bid to mediate regional conflicts. “Against a backdrop of purring limousines and dhows moored in the bay, Doha has become home to an exotic array of fighters, financiers and ideologues, a neutral city with echoes of Vienna in the Cold War, or a Persian Gulf version of the fictional pirate bar in the Star Wars movies,” wrote Declan Walsh of the New York Times.

“It’s always been this place where waifs and strays and unwanted people ended up,” said David B. Roberts, the author of “Qatar: Securing the Global Ambitions of a City-State,” to the Times. “There was no overarching power on the peninsula, so if you were wanted by a sheikh, you could escape to Qatar and nobody would bother you.”

So the crisis among the wealthy Persian Gulf states rumbles on. Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson carried out a fitful round of shuttle diplomacy in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in an attempt to defuse the situation. The squabbling countries are all U.S. allies – Qatar hosts the United States’ largest military base in the Middle East – and Tillerson would prefer everyone calm down and get back to other issues, notably the fight against the Islamic State. But his efforts have yet to bear much fruit.

Tillerson made a public gambit in Doha, signing a memorandum of understanding in which Qatar pledged to do more to block funding for extremist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere. It quickly became a farce. “The Qataris boasted that they were the first in the region to sign such a pact and urged the Arabs allied against them to do the same,” my colleague Carol Morello wrote. “The four countries heading the embargo claimed credit for pressuring Qatar into signing, and simultaneously dismissed it as ‘insufficient’ to end their embargo.”

The Saudi Embassy tweeted, “President Trump: Qatar ‘Known as a Funder of Terrorism'”

On Monday, as the Emiratis were rejecting the hacking allegations, the Saudi Embassy in Washington tweeted lines from an interview with President Trump where he had lashed out at Qatar. It was yet another illustration of the dissonance between the White House and State Department over the crisis – and yet another reminder that the quarrel in the Gulf won’t stop anytime soon.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Al Jazeera

Qatar considers seeking damages over Gulf blockade

Economy minister discusses compensation with trade officials in Geneva as legal team prepares to study the sanctions.

Qatar’s defence minister says Doha could take its case before the World Court [Reuters]

Qatar has announced that it is considering legal action against four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, demanding compensation for losses incurred owing to the ongoing blockade.

Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s economy minister, met on Tuesday the heads of international trade organisations in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the case for compensation.

Qatar has contracted a specialised legal team to study the actions taken by the blockading countries against it, according to a statement from the economy ministry in Doha.

READ MORE: France calls for lifting of sanctions on Qatar citizens

Separately, Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, Qatar’s defence minister, said the country may even its case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, at The Hague.

Because of its financial reserves and as long as it can continue exporting liquefied natural gas, Qatar has avoided any crippling economic crisis because of the blockade.

But it has been forced to rely on planes to import food, after Saudi Arabia and the UAEblocked shipment of goods into Qatar.

Several other businesses were also disrupted, including the country’s national flag carrier Qatar Airways, whose flights to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain remain suspended.

Legal measures

The development comes a day after Qatar officials said the government was considering “legal measures” locally and internationally over the alleged hacking of the state news agency.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Marwan Kabalan of the Doha Institute said that over the past weeks, Qatar has been trying to use “different tools to undermine the blockade”.

The “balance of power” within the Gulf region is now “tilting towards Qatar”, particularly after the Washington Post revelation of UAE’s role in the hacking that precipitated the crisis.

Qatar Airways flights to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain remain suspended [Reuters]

With the Gulf crisis entering its eighth week, however, there is no sign of the dispute being resolved soon.

Earlier, Mohammed Cherkaoui, professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University in Virginia, told Al Jazeera that regional and international mediation have faced “several setbacks”. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar on June 5.

The quartet accuse Qatar of funding “terrorism”, an accusation Qatar rejects as “baseless”.

On June 22, the Saudi-led group issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country, as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions.

Qatar rejected the demands and the countries now consider the list “null and void”.

Kuwait is trying to mediate in the dispute, and countries such as the US and France have urged the parties to engage in direct talks.

Qatar and several countries have called for the lifting of the sanctions before face-to-face talks can proceed.

Daniel Hannan, a Conservative British member of the European Parliament who visited Qatar on Monday, said the continuing blockade on Qatar is not helpful in resolving the crisis.

“There is almost no situation in the world that isn’t made worse by an economic blockade,” Hannan told Al Jazeera.

Hannan said an “immediate lifting” of the sanctions could pave the way for talks, saying: “It is very difficult to negotiate with a gun to your head.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/qatar-weighs-seeking-damages-gulf-blockade-170718145928093.html

Qatar crisis: UAE denies hacking news agency

July 17, 2017

BBC News

The UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, denies it hacked Qatar’s news agency.

The United Arab Emirates has denied it was behind the alleged hacking of Qatar’s state news agency in May.

The Washington Post cited US intelligence officials as saying the UAE had orchestrated the posting of incendiary quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir that he insisted were fabricated.

The incident helped spark a diplomatic rift between Qatar and its neighbours.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told the BBC on Monday the Post’s report was “untrue”.

He also reiterated that the UAE and five other Arab nations had not written to Fifa to demand that Qatar be stripped of the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

Swiss news network The Local said a fake news story quoting Fifa president Gianni Infantino had been posted on a copycat website on Saturday.

The Washington Post’s story cited unnamed US intelligence officials as saying newly-analysed information confirmed that on 23 May senior members of the UAE government had discussed a plan to hack Qatari state media sites.

Screengrabs showing the allegedly fake news story were posted on TwitterQNA/INSTAGRAM
Screengrabs showing the allegedly fake news story were posted on Instagram

Later that day, the official Qatar News Agency quoted Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani as criticising US “hostility” towards Iran, describing it as an “Islamic power that cannot be ignored”, and calling Hamas the “legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.

Qatari officials said the agency had been hacked by an “unknown entity” and that the story had “no basis whatsoever”. However, the remarks were reported across the region and caused a stir.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt responded by blocking Qatari media.

Two weeks later, the four countries cut all links with Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism and relations with Iran. The boycott has caused turmoil in the oil- and gas-rich emirate, which is dependent on imports by land and sea for the basic needs of its population of 2.7 million.

The US intelligence officials told the Washington Post it was unclear whether the UAE authorities had hacked the Qatar News Agency itself or paid a third party to do it.

The Guardian reported last month that an investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had concluded that freelance Russian hackers were responsible.

US intelligence agencies declined to comment on the Post’s article, but the UAE’s ambassador insisted that it “had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking”.

“What is true is Qatar’s behaviour. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Gaddafi. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbours,” Yousef al-Otaiba wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

Map

Qatar has acknowledged providing assistance to Islamist groups designated as terrorist organisations by some of its neighbours, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. But it has denied aiding jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda or so-called Islamic State (IS).

Mr Gargash told the BBC that Qatar’s denial had been contradicted by its agreement to review a list of 59 individuals and 12 organisations who the UAE has accused of supporting terrorism and wants arrested or expelled.

“What we know now is that Qatar is admitting that the list is worthy, that the list needs to be looked at, and that they need to change some of their laws to ensure that there is a proper process to cover this list,” he said.

Mr Gargash said Qatar’s neighbours were prepared to continue the boycott for months if it did not comply with the list of demands it was handed last month and agreed to international monitoring.

“I understand the concern of our allies,” he added. “But the issue is that we are being hurt, and the world is being hurt, by a state that has $300bn (£230bn) and is the main sponsor of this jihadist agenda.”

But, he added, the four states would not escalate the boycott by asking companies to choose between doing business with them or with Qatar.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-40630602

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UAE planted fake news story to trigger Qatar crisis, US report claims — Who funds Iran, Hamas, Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood?

July 17, 2017

AFP

© Bandar Al-Jaloud, Saudi Royal Palace / AFP | A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on December 5, 2016 shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (L) listening to UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (C).

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2017-07-17

The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of a Qatari government news site in May, planting a false story that was used as a pretext for the current Gulf diplomatic crisis, according to a Sunday report by The Washington Post.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, had been falsely quoted in May as praising Hamas and saying that Iran was an “Islamic power,” the Washington Post reported. In response, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar said in late May that hackers had posted fake remarks by the emir, an explanation rejected by Gulf states.

The Washington Post reported that US intelligence officials learned last week of newly analysed information that showed that top UAE government officials discussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day before they occurred.

The officials said it was unclear if the UAE hacked the websites or paid for them to be carried out, the newspaper reported. The Washington Post did not identify the intelligence officials it spoke to for the report.

UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba denied the report in a statement, saying it was “false,” the Washington Post said.

“What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Gaddafi. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours,” the statement said.

The US State Department declined comment in response to a Reuters query. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was previously known to be working with Qatar to probe the hacking.

The ongoing crisis has threatened to complicate the US-led coalition’s fight against the Islamic State (IS) group as all participants are US. allies and members of the anti-IS group coalition. Qatar is home to more than 10,000 US troops and the regional headquarters of the US Central Command while Bahrain is the home of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

President Donald Trump has sided strongly with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the dispute, publicly backing their contention that Doha is a supporter of Islamic militant groups and a destabilising force in the Middle East. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently concluded several days of shuttle diplomacy in the Gulf, but he departed the region without any public signs of a resolution.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

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US officials claim the UAE is behind the hacking of Qatar's news agency in May which sparked a diplomatic crisis. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Doha last week to try to resolve the crisis with Qatar's Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani (above together on July 11) 

US officials claim the UAE is behind the hacking of Qatar’s news agency in May which sparked a diplomatic crisis. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Doha last week to try to resolve the crisis with Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani (above together on July 11)

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4702232/UAE-hacking-Qatari-government-news-sites.html#ixzz4n4ogUZlX
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Hamas Celebrates Attack at Shrine Killing Israelis in “Religious War.” — Targeting Israelis Continues After Jerusalem Site Attack — Waqf official may have aided Israeli-Arab terrorists

July 15, 2017

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers are calling on Palestinians to attack Israeli forces in Jerusalem after a sacred site was closed following a deadly assault there.

Hamas described the closure of the site — known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount — in a statement Saturday as a “religious war” and Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called on the Palestinian “uprising” to target the Israeli army and West Bank settlers.

Israel made the rare move after three Palestinian assailants opened fire there Friday, killing two Israeli police officers before being shot dead. The attackers were devout Muslim citizens of Israel.

The Muslim-administered site is revered by both Muslims and Jews. Israel says it won’t reopen before Sunday.

Hamas has staged a rally celebrating the attack.

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Waqf official may have aided Israeli-Arab terrorists in Temple Mount attack — report

Police checking if perpetrators had help from Jordanian group that administers site, Channel 10 says; officers raid Umm al-Fahm homes of shooters, break up mourners’ tent

 July 14, 2017, 9:14 pm
WhatsApp Image 2017-07-14 at 11.47.26

Border Police officers walk on the Temple Mount after a shooting attack in the area left three people injured, two of them seriously, on July 14, 2017. (Israel Police)

Israel Police made a number of arrests in the wake of the deadly terror attack at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Friday morning, which claimed the lives of two Israeli police officers, and officers were on the hunt for additional suspects who may have helped the three Israeli-Arab perpetrators, police said.

Raids were also conducted on the homes of the terrorists, all from the northern Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm, and a mourners’ tent for the terrorists was broken up.

Channel 10 reported Friday that among those detained were at least one official from the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, the Jordan-based organization that administers the Temple Mount, on suspicion that the shooters received help from inside.

The channel said the official was seen on security footage behaving suspiciously.

Police also said they arrested one person, a 22-year-old from the northern city on suspicion he was directly involved in the attack.

הפיגוע בהר הבית: כוחות היס”מ פירקו את סוכת האבלים באום אל פאחם @samiaah10

Police have not indicated what kind of assistance they believe the Waqf official provided, though Channel 10 said he may have helped the shooters stash the weapons used in the attack. A gag order was imposed on further aspects of the investigation relating to the Waqf.

Channel 10 noted the situation was complicated by the fact that the custodian group answers to Jordan, not Israel.

No automatic alt text available.

Channel 2 news said more vaguely that it was possible that the terrorists had received help from inside the compound, and that this was one of the reasons why police had ordered the closure of the area, for the first time in decades, will they carried out security checks.

The terrorists, Muhammad Ahmed Muhammad Jabarin, 29, Muhammad Hamad Abdel Latif Jabarin, 19 and Muhammad Ahmed Mafdal Jabarin, 19, used two Carlo-style submachine guns and a pistol to carry out the attack. One of them also tried to stab an officer after being apprehended.

A pistol and one of two Carlo-style submachine guns used in a shooting attack that left two Israeli seriously wounded near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on July 14, 2017. (Israel Police)

A pistol and one of two Carlo-style submachine guns used in a shooting attack that left two Israeli seriously wounded near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City on July 14, 2017. (Israel Police)

After the shooting, the terrorists fled toward the Temple Mount and other officers gave chase. The police then opened fire, shooting the terrorists dead inside the complex.

Read the rest:

http://www.timesofisrael.com/police-arrest-suspects-in-temple-mount-attack-raid-homes-of-israeli-arab-terrorists/

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Security tight, holy site shut after Jerusalem attack

July 15, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Mike Smith | A member of the Israeli security forces stands guard in Jerusalem’s Old City on July 14, 2017 following a shooting

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Security forces locked down parts of Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday and an ultra-sensitive holy site remained closed after an attack that killed two police officers and heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions.Three Arab Israeli assailants opened fire on Israeli police Friday in the Old City before fleeing to the nearby Haram al-Sharif, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, where they were shot dead by police.

Israeli authorities said they had come from the flashpoint holy site, which includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, to commit the attack.

Israeli authorities took the highly unusual decision to close the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for Friday prayers, leading to anger from Muslims and Jordan, the holy site’s custodian.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signalled it is to remain closed until at least Sunday while security was assessed.

He also spoke of increasing security at entrances to the holy site when it reopens — likely to be a controversial move.

On Saturday, there was restricted access through Damascus Gate, the main entrance used by Palestinians into Jerusalem’s Old City, with only residents with identification being allowed to pass.

Around 20 Palestinians waited at police barriers near Damascus Gate to see if they would be let through.

“This is not security. This is punishment,” said Bader Jweihan, a 53-year-old accountant for a bus company who was trying to get to work but was refused entrance there.

“They want to punish the Arab Jerusalem citizens.”

Musa Abdelmenam Qussam, 73 and with poor eyesight, was being helped by one of his grandsons as he walked with a cane and sought to enter through the police barrier.

The owner of a book wholesale shop in the Old City, he said he usually prays at Al-Aqsa every day.

“This mosque is not only for Muslims. Tourists come,” he said after being denied entrance.

“This city is for all the world. It must be open.”

– ‘Stressed me a little’ –

Jaffa Gate, heavily used by tourists and near the Old City’s Jewish Quarter, was open but with a heavy police presence.

A group of tourists from Poland said they were concerned when they heard about the shooting on Friday but wanted to continue their visit.

They were on their way to do some shopping in the Old City and visit the nearby Garden of Gethsemane, where Christians believe Jesus prayed the night before his crucifixion.

“It stressed me a little,” said Ewa, who did not want to give her last name or age.

At Lions Gate near the site of the attack, police guarded the entrance and restricted access, checking IDs.

The attack and aftermath was one of the most serious incidents in Jerusalem in recent years.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Netanyahu spoke by phone on Friday as tensions rose in the wake of the incident.

Israeli authorities also detained Jerusalem’s top Muslim cleric, grand mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, as crowds gathered at the gates of the Old City after the attack, his son said.

He was released later Friday after being questioned, according to another of his sons.

With Al-Aqsa closed, crowds gathered at Old City gates and held Friday prayers there.

The mufti had criticised the closure of Al-Aqsa before being detained.

“I have very little information about it, but it doesn’t mean you should close the mosque for prayers,” he had told journalists at the Lions Gate entrance to the Old City.

– Dispute over mosque closure –

The Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians fearing Israel may one day seek to assert further control over it.

It lies in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

It is considered the third-holiest site in Islam and the most sacred for Jews.

Jews are allowed to visit but not pray there to avoid provoking tensions.

A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has claimed the lives of at least 281 Palestinians or Arab Israelis, 44 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP toll.

Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.

Others were shot dead in protests and clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

The violence had greatly subsided in recent months.

by Mike Smith
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2 Israeli Police Officers Killed in Attack in Old City of Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — In an extraordinarily brazen assault early Friday, three Arab citizens of Israel armed with guns and knives killed two Israeli police officers guarding an entrance to Jerusalem’s holiest site for Jews and Muslims, an emotional and volatile focal point of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Security camera footage showed the armed assailants emerging to attack from within the sacred compound in the Old City of Jerusalem that Jews revere as the Temple Mount and Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Police officers pursued the assailants, who fled back inside the compound and exchanged fire; all three assailants were killed.

The police identified the slain officers as Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Hayil Satawi, 30, who was married with a 3-week-old son; and Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Kamil Shnaan, 22, the son of a former parliamentarian. Both officers were members of the country’s small Druze community and came from towns in northern Israel.

Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, identified the assailants as residents of Umm el-Fahm, a large Arab town in central Israel, near the border with the West Bank: Muhammad Ahmed Jabarin, 29; Muhammad Hamid Jabarin, 19; and Muhammad Ahmed Mufdal Jabarin, 19. It was not immediately known if the three were related, but their names indicated that they belonged to the same large clan.

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Despite Arab Anger, Qatar to Continue Support for Gaza

July 11, 2017

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Qatar will continue to support development projects in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, a Qatari envoy said Tuesday, defying a boycott by powerful Arab neighbors imposed in part over its support for the Islamic militant group.

Mohammed al-Amadi, the head of Qatar’s Gaza Reconstruction Committee, made his promise as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in the region pressing for an end to the Gulf crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar last month, accusing the energy-rich sheikhdom of supporting Islamic extremists, including Hamas, across the region. Qatar denies the charges.

“My current visit is to emphasize to the Palestinian people that we are still here to continue projects and launch new ones,” al-Amadi said at a ceremony to sign a contract for building eight residential buildings. He stressed that the timing of the visit was “calculated.”

One of the main goals of the Saudi-led isolation of Qatar is to convince it to cut ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, the historical parent of the militant Hamas group.

Qatar has been the largest single donor to Gaza over the past five years, disbursing about $500 million for housing, reconstruction, infrastructure development, and health projects.

Al-Amadi stressed that his country doesn’t support Hamas, but the massive projects are widely seen as indirectly aiding the group. Qatar also hosts exiled Hamas leaders.

Qatar notes that its aid to Gaza is coordinated with Israel, which controls most land crossings into the blockaded territory, and the rival government of President Mahmoud Abbas, who still claims authority over Gaza after losing control of the territory a decade ago.

Nickolay Mladenov, a U.N. envoy who attended the cer that its aid to Gaza is coordinated with Israel, which controls most land crossings into the blockaded territory, and the rival government of President Mahmoud Abbas, who still claims authority over Gaza after losing control of the territory a decade agoemony, thanked Qatar for its role in alleviating the humanitarian crisis.

His office released a report predicting a bleak future for Gaza, 10 years after the Hamas takeover and a subsequent blockade by Israel and Egypt. The countries say the restrictions on the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza are needed to prevent Hamas from arming.

The U.N. had warned five years ago that Gaza would be “unliveable” by 2020 due to the deterioration of the economy and natural resources. Tuesday’s report says things have only gotten worse.

“Today’s update shows that unfortunately things have speeded up and have deteriorated more quickly than expected,” Mladenov said.

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Tillerson Tries Shuttle Diplomacy in Qatar Dispute

KUWAIT CITY — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday with Qatar’s foreign minister, outlining ways the tiny gas-rich state could fortify its fight against terrorism and address terrorism funding issues, said R.C. Hammond, Mr. Tillerson’s spokesman.

On Wednesday, in his first effort at shuttle diplomacy, Mr. Tillerson will take this memorandum to leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to see if it will be enough to end a standoff that has led four Arab nations to blockade Qatar for more than a month. But as temperatures here hovered around 120 degrees, the chances that anything might cool down appeared dim.

The dispute began a month ago when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain announced an embargo against Qatar to punish it for what the four nations called its support for terrorism. The four have since created a list of demands for Qatar to meet before the embargo would be lifted, including shuttering the news network Al Jazeera and abandoning ties with Islamist organizations, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood.

But few in the region believe the Qatari government will accede to most of the demands. So far, one result of the dispute has been to push Qatar closer to Iran, which has stepped in with planeloads of fresh vegetables and other support.

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Gaza may already be ‘unlivable’: UN official

July 11, 2017

AFP

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© AFP/File | Palestinian women bake bread next to their makeshift home in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on April 19, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – The Gaza Strip may already be “unlivable”, a United Nations official warned Tuesday, after a decade of Hamas rule and a crippling Israeli blockade.

Robert Piper, the UN’s top humanitarian official in the Palestinian territories, told AFP in an interview to mark a new report on living conditions in Gaza all the “indicators are going in the wrong direction”.

“We predicted some years ago that Gaza would fast become unlivable on a host of indicators and that deadline is actually approaching even faster than we predicted — from health access, to energy to water,” he said.

A 2012 UN report predicted the Palestinian enclave would be “unlivable” by 2020 if nothing was done to ease the blockade.

Piper pointed out that power supplies were down to as little as two hours a day in Gaza, where medical care had been slashed and youth unemployment was over 60 percent.

In such circumstances “for most of us that unlivability point has already been passed”, he said.

“And yet somehow the Gazans soldier on.”

The Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas seized Gaza in 2007, leading Israel to impose a crippling blockade which critics say punishes all of the two million residents indiscriminately.

Since 2013 Egypt, the only other country with which Gaza shares a border, has largely closed off its crossing and destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels that provided a vital lifeline for the economy while also allegedly being used by Hamas to smuggle weapons.

The new UN report, “Gaza — Ten Years Later,” says more than 95 percent of Gaza’s water is now unfit for drinking, while electricity supplies have reached critical levels in recent months — falling to only a few hours a day.

The secular Palestinian Authority, which runs the internationally recognised government in the West Bank, has recently begun a campaign to squeeze Hamas — including cutting funding for electricity and allegedly reducing the number of permits given to sick Gazans seeking medical treatment outside the enclave.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, the most recent in 2014.

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Nikki Haley