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Latest News – 10 September

Updates from Israel and the Jewish World
compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

Netanyahu reveals site where Iran ‘experimented on nuclear weapons development’

In his latest dramatic revelation on Iran’s nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday exposed the existence of a secret nuclear facility in central Iran in which he said the regime had conducted experiments in the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The reveal, he said, was made possible by Israel’s raid on a warehouse in Tehran last year housing Iran’s secret nuclear weapons archives.

“Today, we’re revealing that yet another secret nuclear site was exposed in the archives that we brought from Tehran. In this site, Iran conducted experiments to develop nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said in a brief statement delivered to journalists at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Once Iran detected that Israel had learned about the secret nuclear site, located in Abadeh, south of Isfahan, the regime quickly destroyed it, Netanyahu said. The prime minister, who showed before and after photos of the site captioned June and July of this year, did not specify the nature of the experiments conducted there.

Analyst Ehud Ya’ari, of Israel’s Channel 12 news, said later Monday that the site was near one of the largest air defense facilities Iran has built in the past seven years, and not far from Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility and a yellowcake production facility at Isfahan.

“When Iran realized that we uncovered the site, here’s what they did: they destroyed the site,” Netanyahu said. “They just wiped it out. They wiped out the site… They destroyed the evidence or at least tried to destroy the evidence.”

In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused Netanyahu of seeking a war with his country, tweeting that “the possessor of REAL nukes cries wolf—on an ALLEGED ‘demolished’ site in Iran.”

At last year’s United Nations General Assembly, Netanyahu revealed the existence of a warehouse tied to Iran’s nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency earlier this month confirmed it had found residue of enriched uranium at the site and urged Iran to explain them. But the regime in Tehran has so far failed to do so.

“Last year, we exposed Iran’s secret nuclear warehouse in Turquzabad, which Iran used for storing materials and equipment for its secret nuclear program,” Netanyahu noted.

“Even before that, Iran knew that we were on to them, so they cleared the site. They cleared it of these capacities, they cleared them, and then they actually covered up the site. This is a [literal] cover-up. They put gravel on it to try and hide their traces. But they didn’t. The IAEA found traces of uranium that Iran hid in these sites.”

Iran’s behavior thus constituted a clear breach of the Islamic Republic’s commitments under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, of which it is a signatory. “That’s a direct violation of the NPT, the non-proliferation treaty,” he said.

“This is what I have to say to the tyrants of Iran: Israel knows what you’re doing, Israel knows when you’re doing it, and Israel knows where you’re doing it,” Netanyahu added, speaking first in Hebrew and then repeating his statement in English. “We’ll continue to expose your lies.”

Netanyahu, who delivered his brief remarks in Hebrew and then in English, went on to urge world powers to join sanctions the US has imposed on Iran since Washington unilaterally quit the 2015 pact. The other signatories — China, Russia, France, Germany, and the UK — are all steadfastly trying to salvage the deal.

“I call on the international community to wake up, to realize that Iran is systematically [violating the deal],” the premier said. “The only way to stop Iran’s march to the bomb, and its aggression in the region, is pressure, pressure, and more pressure.”

As Netanyahu left the room in Jerusalem’s Foreign Ministry, refusing to take reporters’ questions, he pointed to the photographs of the Iranian weapons site that appeared next to him, and quipped that “it’s important that there be cameras everywhere,” likely a reference to his efforts to fast-track legislation allowing surveillance cameras inside polling stations at next week’s elections.

That legislative initiative was derailed by opposition from Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party in a committee vote earlier in the day.

Responding to criticism that Netanyahu had revealed the existence of the third nuclear facility in Iran one week before the elections for political reasons, a diplomatic source said officials at professional levels recommended that he reveal the information immediately, following Monday’s press conference by the head of the IAEA.

He was also speaking days after US President Donald Trump said it was “possible” that he would meet with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. (the Times of Israel)

IDF: Shi’ite Militias fired rockets at Israel from Syria

Rockets were fired at Israel from the outskirts of Damascus by a Shi’ite militia operating under the command of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, the Israel Defense Forces said on Monday.

A number of rockets were launched from Syrian territory but failed to hit Israeli territory, the statement said. “The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsible for all events taking place in Syria.” The rocket fire comes more than a week after an Israeli airstrike hit a team of IRGC members with “killer drones” south of Damascus.

Last night the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that an airstrike targeted an IRGC and Shi’ite militia base near Albukamal in Syria. It is unclear if the alleged airstrike and the rocket fire are linked.

Shi’ite militias have played a key role in supporting the Assad regime over the last eight years. Some of these groups include locals but many also include volunteers from Lebanon or Iran and as far away as Afghanistan. These Shi’ite paramilitaries also include forces from Iraq who are linked to the Hashd al-Shaabi or Popular Mobilization Forces, such as Kata’ib Hezbollah. In ideology and outlook they are similar to Hezbollah and all are linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Since 2016 there have been increasing concerns that these groups are entrenching in Syria alongside Iranian IRGC positions and Hezbollah, creating a network of bases that stretch from Lebanon to Iran via Syria and Iraq. This is what is called Iran’s “land bridge” and many of the groups have openly threatened Israel. This includes Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, whose leader even went to southern Lebanon.

In recent years Israel has warned Iran against entrenching in Syria and Israel’s former chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot says more than 1,000 airstrikes have targeted Iranian targets in Syria. On August 24 Israel struck an Iranian “killer drone” team south of Damascus, killing two members of Hezbollah. On September 1 Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile at Israeli vehicles on the border and on September 9 in the morning Hezbollah said an Israeli drone crashed near Ramiya in southern Lebanon.

Shi’ite militias linked to the IRGC have a presence in Syria and the attempt by them to fire rockets at Israel is a major escalation. In May 2018 and January 2019 rockets were fired at Israel by Iran’s IRGC. An Iranian drone also penetrated Israeli airspace in February 2018.

Iran has been accused of transferring precision missile technology to Iraq and then via Syria to Hezbollah. Last week the IDF released details of an Iranian-supported Hezbollah factory in the Bekaa valley that converts rockets to precision guided missiles. In addition reports since last August have indicated Iran transferred missiles to Iraq. In June 2018 an airstrike targeted a base of Kata’ib Hezbollah near Albukamal in Syria on the Iraqi border. On September 3 Fox News revealed that Iran was building a base near Albukamal. This is one of many Iranian bases in Syria that also host Shi’ite paramilitaries and Hezbollah. (Jerusalem Post)

Israel’s High Court allows holding terrorists’ bodies as bargaining chips, reverses previous ruling

A new ruling by Israel’s High Court of Justice on Monday will allow the government to bury the terrorists’ bodies temporarily until a deal is reached with terrorist organizations, in which the bodies will be returned to the families and to the organizations they belong to in return for concessions to Israel.

Chief Justice Esther Hayut, along with Justices Neal Hendel, Yitzhak Amit and Noam Sohlberg gave the dramatic ruling. Justices Daphne Barak-Erez, George Karra and Uzi Vogelman opposed the ruling.

The judgment denied an appeal by the families of six terrorists whose bodies are currently held by Israel. The terrorists in question include the terrorist who murdered 13-year-old Hallel Ariel in her bed and those who murdered Rabbi Michael Mark and critically wounded his wife.

Hamas is currently holding two Israeli citizens, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, Lt. Hadar Goldin, of the elite Givati Reconnaissance Unit, and Cpl. Oron Shaul, of the Golani Brigade.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan applauded the High Court of Justice on the decision.

“I commend the High Court’s ruling, which corrected a mistake made in a previous ruling. A disgraceful terrorist deserves no dignity, neither alive nor dead,” he said.

“The government must be granted the opportunity to pressure terror organizations to return our soldiers’ bodies and our citizens, and not tie our hands in the war against the terrorists,” he added.

Meirav and Herzel Hajaj, parents of IDF soldier Shir Hajaj who was murdered by a terrorist in 2017 and representatives of the bereaved families’ organization “Choosing Life,” also spoke out in favor of the ruling.

“It’s absurd that the government must wait to hear from the High Court of Justice in order to enact basic security measures for the benefit of Israeli citizens. When the High Court of Justice does agree with the government’s policy however, the government must create true deterrence in the face of terror,” they said. (WIN)

Prompted by Iran, Palestinian Islamic Jihad plays lead role in Gaza escalation

by Yaacov Lappin JNS

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second-largest armed terror faction in Gaza, has in recent days taken a lead role in the latest escalation with Israel. PIJ, which is funded and orchestrated by Iran, has an interest in inflaming the security situation and destabilizing the region.

Unlike Hamas, PIJ has no responsibility for Gaza’s estimated 2 million people.

PIJ is challenging Hamas, which for the most part is not interested in an escalation or full-out war with Israel at this time, and is instead interested in reaching an arrangement to prevent an economic collapse of the Gaza Strip and avoid the risk of a popular rebellion against its Islamist militant regime.

It is therefore safe to assume that PIJ fired five rockets into southern Israel on Friday night, narrowly missing an Israeli family fleeing into a safe room in Sderot.

In retaliation, the Israel Air Force struck Hamas military targets in northern Gaza as part of Israel’s policy of holding Gaza’s ruling entity responsible for what occurs in its territory.

It also seems safe to assume that PIJ is the organization behind the armed drone attack on an IDF Humvee vehicle on Saturday, which caused light damage, but no injuries..

The drone dropped an explosive device on the border before flying back into Gaza. In response, the IAF targeted the squad, though apparently did not hit it. Later on Saturday, the IAF hit Hamas military targets, including naval attack bases, and Hamas’s “aerial array” (a reference to its drone program) in northern and central Gaza.

The latest escalation comes after some 6,200 Gazan rioters descended on the Israeli-Gazan border fence on Friday afternoon. They hurled explosive devices, grenades and firebombs at security forces. The IDF described that event as “especially violent,” adding that security fence sustained damage in several locations. Two Gazan youths were killed in Israeli fire, as the Israel Defense Forces sought to prevent any intrusions that would endanger southern villages and towns.

In the meantime, Israeli-government officials issued warnings about what would happen if the current violence continues. “The next round will be a general [broad conflict] round, and we are trying to prevent it. In this [next] round, the top terrorist leadership will be destroyed,” vowed Foreign Minister Israel Katz, as told to Kan Radio. “Hamas and PIJ are bringing their end closer, by linking up to Iran and [Quds Force commander Qassem] Soleimani, and by turning into an Iranian tool.” His statement comes as many southern Israeli civilians have expressed despair over the ongoing war of attrition that Gazan terrorists have been subjecting them to for more than 18 months.

PIJ has attempted to cover up the fact that it is doing Iran’s bidding in the region and denies placing Gazans at risk on behalf of a foreign, radical power.

Khader Habib, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official, stated in an interview to the Palestinian news website Donia al-Watan on Aug. 27 that his organization “does not take orders from Iran, but only support and makes decision independently,” according a report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Habib was responding to accusations from Israel last month that pointed fingers to his organization for firing rockets from Gaza on Aug. 25, as part PIJ’s response to Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria.

Such denials are hollow, and are designed to alleviate pressure from Gazans and Hamas.

However, some observers in Israel also believe that even if Hamas isn’t directly behind the latest attacks, it’s not very motivated to stop them either.

A rise in ‘controlled violence’

Col. (ret.) Reuven Erlich, director of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, told JNS on Sunday that although Hamas did not take a decision to escalate things into war, “it is not trying its best” to stop border attacks.

August saw four attempts by armed terror squads—none of them officially affiliated with any organizations—to infiltrate Israel, before being stopped by the IDF. Several members of the squad were killed in firefights and IDF strikes.

As for the ITIC’s assessment, it noted that at the present time, Hamas is not overly motivated to carry out effective measures to prevent the attempted penetrations because they are popular among the public. Moreover, Hamas considers them as a tool for exerting pressure for the lull ceasefire agreement.

“We call this controlled violence. It rises and falls. We’re seeing a rise now,” said Erlich. “Clearly, this is brinkmanship that can lead to a deterioration.”

Hamas hasn’t stopped contacts with Egypt, which is acting as an intermediary in seeking an arrangement, he explained, “but it is playing a dangerous game and not trying to prevent what others are doing.”

“Iran and the PIJ have a different agenda from Hamas—we’ve seen this in the past. Yet Hamas knows how to confront PIJ when it wants to. After ‘Operation Protective Edge’ [in 2014], we experienced three years of relative calm. PIJ has a separate agenda, but Hamas has the ability to force its strategy and policy on PIJ,” argued Erlich. “The question is: What is its level of motivation?”

Iran gives Hezbollah precision-guided terrorism

By Jed Babbin The Washington Times

The war between Israel and the Iranian-controlled Hezbollah terrorist network is continuous. It has flared into major conflicts several times since 1982.

The last round was fought for 34 days in 2006. Though Israel has prevailed in these conflicts, it has never truly succeeded in preventing Iran from rebuilding and rearming Hezbollah nor deterring Hezbollah from new rounds of war.

In late August, when an Israeli drone exploded near a Hezbollah office in Lebanon, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said the incident was an act of war. In response, Israel accused Hezbollah of accelerating the conversion of many of its crude missiles into precision-guided munitions (PGMs) and urged the Lebanese government to prevent Hezbollah from doing so and thus converting much of its arsenal to vastly more effective weapons.

Mr. Aoun has no power to do either because Hezbollah is a far greater political force in Lebanon than is his government and because Hezbollah answers only to the ayatollahs.

Hezbollah is believed to possess at least 130,000 rockets and missiles of various types. Many are the crude Katyusha-type rockets that Hezbollah often fires into Israel. It also possesses hundreds of more sophisticated short-range ballistic missiles that can be targeted with considerable accuracy.

Israel relies on its two anti-missile systems, Arrow and David’s Sling, to create its famous “Iron Dome,” protecting it from missile attacks. But, like any such systems, they can be overwhelmed if the enemy launches large numbers of rockets and missiles at once. Iran and Hezbollah have evidently embarked on a change in tactics aimed to do exactly that.

Iran has been building military bases and missile factories in Syria, close to Israel, for at least two years, and as usual building up Hezbollah’s capabilities at the same time. The tactical shift now obviously seeks the means of overwhelming Israeli missile defenses with newly-converted PGMs.

PGMs have been an important element of the American arsenal since the early 1990s. Their precision is enabled by guidance systems that home in on laser designators to hit within inches or rely on guidance from global positioning satellites and inertial navigation. These weapons provide an enormous advantage over “dumb bombs” because one relatively small missile or bomb can be relied on to destroy a target while a salvo of “dumb bombs” might not.

Our forces use PGMs to lessen collateral damage, including non-combatant casualties. But Hezbollah always intends the opposite, intentionally targeting civilians.

Launched in sufficient numbers to overcome missile defenses, PGMs of various ranges and payloads could give Hezbollah a precision attack capability it now lacks even with its more sophisticated missiles. With PGMs, Hezbollah could destroy key Israeli government buildings, inflict great casualties on Israeli reserves while they are assembled, and could even inflict great damage and disruption on Israel’s air forces.

In short, though Israel would likely prevail in the next round of war with Hezbollah the outcome would be very much in doubt. The principal question is whether Iran will believe — now or before 2021 — that a new Israel-Hezbollah war is in its best interest.

Iran knows that as long as President Trump is in office, we will support Israel to whatever degree necessary, intervening militarily if Israel were in real danger of defeat. Iran, others of our “allies” and adversaries, may be betting that Mr. Trump will be defeated in 2020 and that any Democrat successor would certainly be much weaker in Israel’s defense. It is equally likely that Iran’s internal politics demands a war before this year ends.

Hezbollah has often bragged that its longer-range missiles can hit Tel Aviv. Some could penetrate the “Iron Dome” defenses especially if their launch is coordinated with a mass launch of newly-created PGMs. If Iran launches Hezbollah into another round of war, the casualties inflicted on and damage to both sides will be enormous.

In recent weeks, Hezbollah has been conducting attacks such as firing anti-tank missiles into Israel. Its leader, Hassan Nasrullah, has said that it will attack deep into Israel and has “no red lines.” Israel has, so far, acted with restraint. When anti-tank rockets were fired into Israel during the Labor Day weekend, the Israelis responded proportionally with artillery strikes.

The Israelis’ greatest disadvantage comes from the fact that Hezbollah, like its terrorist cousins, hides and moves its weapons around in civilian homes, schools and mosques. As good as the Israeli intelligence services are, they can’t reliably locate enough of them to make pre-emptive strikes effective enough to prevent the mass launch of Hezbollah’s rockets and missiles.

Iran could decide to launch another war between Israel and Hezbollah reasoning that Israel’s scheduled general election on Sept. 17 would make it more vulnerable than usual.

Iran could calculate that the political convulsions caused by another Israel-Hezbollah war would disrupt that election sufficiently to cause the defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been Iran’s strongest opponent. Mr. Netanyahu, a strong ally of President Trump, has — since 2015 — been the strongest voice against Iran’s nuclear weapons program and former President Obama’s nuclear weapons deal with the ayatollahs.

It’s maddening that we have no way to influence Iran’s decisions other than increasing economic sanctions against it. At some point, perhaps when Iran orders Hezbollah to war, we will have to conclude that economic sanctions just aren’t enough.

Why Arabs Hate Palestinians

by Khaled Abu Toameh The Gatestone Institute

· You simply cannot burn pictures of the Saudi crown prince one day and rush to Riyadh to seek money the next. You cannot shout slogans against the Egyptian president one day and go to Cairo to seek political backing the next.
§ Remarkably, Turki al-Hamad, a Saudi writer, did what even some Western countries refuse to do: he dared to condemn Hamas and other Gaza-based groups for firing rockets at Israel.
§ “Palestinians bring disaster to anyone who hosts them. Jordan hosted them, and there was Black September; Lebanon hosted them, and there was a civil war there; Kuwait hosted them, and they turned into Saddam Hussein’s soldiers. Now they are using their podiums to curse us.” — Mohammed al-Shaikh, Saudi author, RT Arabic, August 13, 2019.
§ Many people in the Arab countries are now saying that it is high time for the Palestinians to start looking after their own interests and thinking of a better future for their children…. The Arabs seem to be saying to the Palestinians: “We want to march forward; you can continue to march backward for as long as you wish.”
§ “We should not be ashamed to establish relations with Israel.” — Ahmad al-Jaralah, a leading Kuwaiti newspaper editor, arabi21.com, July 1, 2019.
Is it true? If so, why? Sadly, the Palestinians are known for betraying their Arab brothers, even effectively stabbing them in the back. The Palestinians, for example, supported Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait – a Gulf state that, together with its neighbors, used to give the Palestinians tens of millions of dollars in aid each year.
This disloyalty is precisely how a growing number of Arabs, particularly those living in the Gulf states, have been describing the Palestinians for the past few years.
In recent months, however, Arab criticism of the Palestinians, mostly aired through traditional and social media, has further escalated, and sometimes turned ugly.
Some Arab writers and journalists expressed outrage over the Palestinians’ opposition to peace plans, particularly the US administration’s yet-to-be-announced “Deal of the Century.”
They accused the Palestinians of losing countless opportunities and said that the “Deal of the Century” could be the Palestinians’ “last, best chance to achieve a state.”
Khalid Ashaerah, a Saudi, denounced the Palestinians as “traitors” and expressed hope that Israel would be “victorious” over the Palestinians.
The Arab attacks on the Palestinians reflect an intense and increasing disillusionment in the Arab world with the Palestinians and anything related to them.
At the core of this deep sense of disillusionment is the Arabs’ belief that despite all they did to help their Palestinian brothers for the past seven decades, the Palestinians have proven to be constantly ungrateful toward the Arab and Muslim people and states.
Such a widespread view as that now being expressed in various Arab states accuses the Palestinians of betraying their Arab and Muslim brothers. As an Arab saying goes, it accuses them of spitting in the well they have been drinking from. The image refers to the financial aid that Palestinians have received for decades from many Arab states.
Until a few years ago, it was the Egyptians who were spearheading the anti-Palestinian campaign in the Arab world. Prominent Egyptian media personalities, journalists, writers and politicians seemed to be competing for a blue ribbon on who could attack Palestinians harder.
The Egyptians focused their criticism against the Palestinian terror group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip — a coastal enclave that has a shared border with Egypt. The Egyptian critics, who are mostly affiliated with the regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, see Hamas — an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood organization now outlawed in Egypt — as a threat to Egypt’s national security and stability.
These critics also seem incensed at Palestinian criticism of Sisi for having alleged good relations with Israel and the US administration.
The Palestinians seem to believe that Sisi is conspiring against them, together with Israel and the US administration. They point out, for example, that last May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Sisi “my friend.” Netanyahu had thanked Sisi after Egypt sent two helicopters to help extinguish wildfires in Israel. “I would like to thank my friend the Egyptian president, Sisi, for sending the two helicopters,” Netanyahu announced.
“Instead of defending their cause, the Palestinians are insulting Sisi and the Egyptian people,” a prominent Egyptian journalist, Azmi Mujahed, said.
“I have a message to send to the Palestinian beggars who sold their land and honor: You are cursing Egypt and its army and president. You are a group of despicable folks. Whoever insults our president insults all of us.”
The Egyptians’ attacks on the Palestinians reached a peak in 2014, when several prominent writers and journalists called on their government to expel Palestinians and launch a military strike against the Gaza Strip. The fierce attacks came amid reports that the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip were providing support to ISIS-inspired terrorist groups waging war on Egypt’s security forces right in its Sinai Peninsula.
Egyptian writer Lamis Jaber urged the Egyptian government to expel all Palestinians and confiscate their property. She also called for arresting anyone who sympathized with the Palestinians. “We give aid to the Gaza Strip, and in return they [Palestinians] kill our children. They are dogs and traitors.”
Jaber further pointed out that while Palestinian patients are being treated in Egyptian hospitals free of charge, the leaders of Hamas are enjoying themselves in “seven-star hotels” in Turkey and Qatar.
Jaber is just one of several leading Egyptians who have been waging a campaign against the Palestinians in recent years — a move reflecting Arab disappointment with Palestinians’ “ungratefulness” and “arrogance.”
The message the Egyptians are sending to the Palestinians is: We are fed up with you and your failure to get your act together and behave like adults. We are also fed up with you because after all these years of supporting you and fighting for your cause, in the end you are spitting in our face and offending our president.
Now it seems that it is the Saudis’ turn to “tell it like it is” to the Palestinians. Like their Egyptian colleagues, many Saudi writers, bloggers, activists and journalists have taken to social media to denounce the Palestinians in an unprecedented manner. Some Saudis, for instance, are describing the Palestinians as terrorists and accusing them of selling their land to Israelis.
These denunciations are coming not only from Saudis, but from a growing number of Arabs in other Arab and Muslim countries, particularly in the Gulf.
Like the Egyptians, the Saudis seem enraged by the recurring Palestinian attacks on the royal family in Saudi Arabia, especially Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In the past two years, Palestinians have burned Saudi flags and photographs of bin Salman during demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Why? The crown prince is seen by Palestinians as being “too close” to Israel and the US administration.
Like the Egyptians, the Saudis feel betrayed by the Palestinians. Saudi Arabia for years has given the Palestinians billions of dollars in aid, but this has not stopped the Palestinians from bad-mouthing Saudi leaders at every turn.
The Saudis are now saying that they, too, are fed up. Their outrage reached its peak last June, when Palestinians assaulted a Saudi blogger visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Palestinians spat in the face of the blogger, Mohammed Saud, and accused him of promoting “normalization” with Israel by visiting the country.
Since that incident at the holy site, many Saudis and citizens of Gulf states have been waging daily attacks on the Palestinians, mostly on social media.
Saudi blogger Mohammed al-Qahtani wrote:
“To all those in Israel who are listening to our voice: We call for transferring the custodianship over Al-Aqsa Mosque from Jordan to the State of Israel so that the despicable assault on the Saudi citizen, Mohammed Saud, will not recur.”
This is an extraordinary statement from a Saudi writer, and would have been totally unthinkable just a few years ago. A Saudi national is saying that he prefers to see an Islamic holy site under Israeli custodianship (rather than Jordanian custodianship) because only then will Muslims feel safe to visit their mosque.
Other Saudis seem extremely unhappy with the Palestinians’ relations with Iran. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two terror groups controlling the Gaza Strip, receive financial and military aid from Iran and political backing from Turkey. The Saudis and other Gulf states see Iran, not Israel, as the major threat to their stability. Because of that, these states have come closer to Israel in recent years. Israel and they have a common enemy: Iran.
Remarkably, a Saudi writer, Turki al-Hamad, did what even many Western leaders refuse to do: he dared to condemn Hamas and other Gaza-based groups for firing rockets at Israel. Al-Hamad, denounced the Palestinians for allowing themselves to serve as puppets in the hands of Turkey and Iran. Commenting on a recent barrage of rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip, he said: “Iran and Turkey are facing a crisis [an apparent reference to economic and political crises in Iran and Turkey] and the Palestinians are paying the price.” In other words, the Palestinians have chosen to align themselves with two countries, Iran and Turkey, that support the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.
Another Saudi writer, Mohammed al-Shaikh, repeated the old-new charge in the Arab world that wherever the Palestinians go, they cause trouble.
“Palestinians bring disaster to anyone who hosts them. Jordan hosted them, and there was Black September; Lebanon hosted them, and there was a civil war there; Kuwait hosted them, and they turned into Saddam Hussein’s soldiers. Now they are using their podiums to curse us.”
In another comment on Twitter, al-Shaikh called for banning Palestinians from performing the Islamic hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. His comment came after a video surfaced showing Palestinians, during the recent hajj, carrying Palestinian flags and chanting, “With blood, with soul, we redeem you, Al-Aqsa Mosque!”
The Saudis have strict rules banning political activities during the hajj. Al-Shaikh apparently viewed the Palestinians as using the pilgrimage to Mecca to stage a demonstration, stir up trouble during the hajj and embarrass the Saudi authorities.
“The dogs of Hamas,” al-Shaikh said after viewing the video, “should be banned from performing the hajj next year because of their obscene behavior.”
Fahd al-Shammari, a Saudi journalist, attacked Palestinians by calling them “beggars without honor.” He went as far as saying that a mosque in Uganda is more blessed than Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is a Jewish holy site.”
The Palestinians can only blame themselves for damaging their relations with the Arab states. Biting the hand that feeds you has always been a policy for which the Palestinians have paid a heavy price.
Burning photos of Arab leaders and heads of state on the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip has proven to be a big mistake. You simply cannot burn pictures of the Saudi crown prince one day and rush to Riyadh to seek money the next. You cannot shout slogans against the Egyptian president one day and go to Cairo to seek political backing the next.
Many people in the Arab countries are now saying that it is high time for the Palestinians to start looking after their own interests and thinking of a better future for their children. They no longer see the Palestinian issue as the main problem in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Arabs seem to be saying to the Palestinians: “We want to march forward; you can continue to march backward for as long as you wish.”
What they see is Palestinian stagnation, mainly thanks to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders, who are too busy poisoning their peoples’ minds and ripping each other to shreds to have time for anything positive. The Palestinians may just wake up one day to discover that their Arab brothers can truly no longer be duped.
Ahmad al-Jaralah, a leading Kuwaiti newspaper editor, was even more blunt, saying:
“The Palestinian cause is no longer an Arab concern. We fund the Palestinians, and they respond by cursing us and behaving badly. The Arabs and Muslims no longer applaud the Palestinians. We should not be ashamed to establish relations with Israel.”