Thursday, August 24, 2017

Palestinians: Taking Journalists Hostage - Khaled Abu Toameh




by Khaled Abu Toameh

We have before us a preview of the deadly drama of any future Palestinian state.

  • Hamas and Abbas have turned Palestinian journalists into weapons in their internecine war. Palestinian journalists are now being targeted not only for expressing their views and reporting in a way that angers their leaders; they are also arrested and tortured in the process of the settling of scores between Abbas and Hamas.
  • The Palestinians indeed live under two dictatorial regimes, where freedom of expression and freedom of the media are violated on a daily basis.
  • By taking journalists hostage, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas have demonstrated that they are operating more as militias than as governments. We have before us a preview of the deadly drama of any future Palestinian state.
Palestinian journalists have once again fallen victim to the continuing power struggle between the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has jurisdiction over parts of the West Bank, and Hamas, the Islamist movement that is in control of the entire Gaza Strip.

Neither the PA nor Hamas is any champion of human rights, especially freedom of the media. The two parties regularly crack down on their critics, including journalists who do not toe the line or dare to report on issues that are deemed as reflecting negatively on the PA or Hamas. 


The past few weeks have been particularly tough for Palestinian journalists. In this period, several journalists found themselves behind bars in PA and Hamas prisons, while others were summoned for interrogation and had to spend hours in interrogation rooms facing and detention centers.

To make matters even worse, a new Cyber Crime Law passed by the PA paves the way for legal measures against Facebook and Twitter users who post critical or unflattering comments about President Abbas and his senior officials. Critics say the law is a grave assault on freedom of expression and it will be used as a tool in the hands of Abbas and his henchmen to silence their critics or throw them into prison. In addition, the PA has blocked more than 20 news websites that are affiliated with Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan, an ousted Fatah leader who has long openly challenged Abbas.

The PA-Hamas war is hardly a secret. The two entities use every available method to bring each other down. Abbas's PA has not hesitated to take extreme measures against the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. These measures include depriving the Gaza Strip of medical supplies, electricity and fuel, as well as forcing thousands of PA civil servants into early retirement and cutting off salaries to thousands of others.

Hamas's retaliatory capacity towards the PA for these punitive steps is limited -- by Israel. Fortunately for Abbas and the PA, Israel is sitting in the middle between the West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Had Israel not been so situated, Hamas and its Gaza Strip followers would have marched into the West Bank and taken over Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority, and overthrown Abbas's PA.

In the absence of options, Hamas has sought help from Abbas's arch-enemy, the ousted Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan, who has been living in exile in the United Arab Emirates for the past six years.

Dahlan has caused Abbas many sleepless nights; Abbas has developed a particular paranoia against Dahlan. Abbas believes that Dahlan has only one goal: to remove him from power and end his regime. Abbas may not be wrong.

Hamas is now prepared to swallow a condition it has been trying to avoid for a long time: an alliance with Dahlan, a man it has despised for two full decades. What is Hamas hoping to gain from this reluctant alliance? Given Dahlan's strong ties with Egypt and some wealthy Gulf countries, Hamas is probably hoping for an end to its isolation in the Gaza Strip.

While awaiting the return of its presumptive "savior," Dahlan, Hamas, which is beginning to feel the impact of Abbas's sanctions against the Gaza Strip, has bared its fangs towards journalists, who are not known for their sympathy for the Islamist rulers there.

In a bid to exert pressure on Abbas to halt his punitive measures, Hamas's "Internal Security Apparatus" arrested Fuad Jaradeh, a correspondent for the PA's Palestine TV in the Gaza Strip. The charge? "Security-related offenses."

Palestinian journalists and family members take a different view of the incarceration, however. In their view, the arrest was aimed at pressuring Abbas to backtrack on his sanctions against the Gaza Strip. Abbas is indeed hoping that the sanctions will drive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to revolt and bring down Hamas.

The 82-year-old PA president remains mired in the humiliation he suffered when Hamas expelled the PA from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.

Abbas holds a personal grudge against Hamas because he also believes that before expelling the PA from the Gaza Strip, Hamas had planned to assassinate him by detonating explosives in a tunnel under his motorcade. The alleged plot was foiled when a Hamas official defected and revealed the plan to Abbas.

So, the Palestine TV correspondent, Jaradeh, was actually taken hostage by Hamas. Several operatives belonging to Abbas's ruling Fatah faction in the Gaza Strip were also targeted by Hamas, which detained some or summoned them for lengthy interrogation.

Enraged by the Hamas measures, Abbas ordered a crackdown on journalists employed by Hamas-affiliated media outlets in the West Bank. The result was that seven journalists found themselves in detention on charges of working for "hostile and unauthorized" media organizations.

This charge is transparently absurd, because Hamas-affiliated television stations and news websites have been operating under Abbas's PA for years. Besides, all the journalists rounded up by Abbas's security forces have been working in public and their identities are well known to his security forces.

The arrest of the seven journalists was a direct effort to squeeze Hamas into releasing the television correspondent, Jaradeh.

In other words, the Palestinian Authority took the seven journalists hostage in order to secure the release of its own newsman from a Hamas prison. The PA certainly did not awaken one morning and discover that there are Hamas-affiliated journalists and media organizations in the West Bank. It is not even charging the journalists with membership in Hamas.

As it turned out, the PA hostage-taking paid off, and Hamas was forced to release Jaradeh after 70 days in detention. In return, the PA security forces released six of the seven journalists, who were even allowed to return to their jobs and resume their work under the PA. Suddenly, these journalists were no longer a security threat and their working places were no longer "hostile" and "unlicensed."

After their release from Abbas's prisons eight days later, the journalists who had been held hostage talked about having undergone physical and verbal abuse.

Mahmoud Hamamreh, one of the released journalists, recounted:
"Some of us were beaten and humiliated. We were held in tiny cells and treated as criminals. The officer in charge of the investigation told us that we were being held hostage until Hamas releases journalists it is holding."

Several journalists, allegedly affiliated with Hamas, speak at an August 16 press conference about the physical and verbal abuse they suffered while held in detention by the Palestinian Authority. (Image source: Roya News video screenshot)

Hamas and Abbas have turned Palestinian journalists into weapons in their internecine war. Palestinian journalists are now being targeted not only for expressing their views and reporting in a way that angers their leaders; they are also arrested and tortured in the process of the settling of scores between Abbas and Hamas.

The Palestinians indeed live under two dictatorial regimes, where freedom of expression and freedom of the media are violated on a daily basis. By taking journalists hostage, the PA and Hamas have demonstrated that they are operating more as militias than as governments. We have before us a preview of the deadly drama of any future Palestinian state.
  • Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10891/palestinians-journalists-hostages

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Hezbollah Threatens Key Israeli Nuclear Research Facility - Ari Lieberman




by Ari Lieberman


Genocidal enemies ratchet up tensions just across the Jewish State's border.




On August 13, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to bomb Israel’s Dimona nuclear research facility in the event of war between Israel and Hezbollah. Nasrallah made the threat via video linkup from an undisclosed hidden location while addressing a crowd of Shia supporters in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam. For all of his bravado, Nasrallah still finds it necessary to hide, and scurry from location to location for fear of being targeted by Israel.

This isn’t the first time that the terrorist leader issued such a threat. In February, he issued similar sinister pronouncements during a speech commemorating the 9th anniversary of the liquidation of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s chief special operations commander, who was eliminated in 2008 in a joint Mossad-CIA operation.

Nasrallah frequently issues threats to bomb civilian targets and other critical infrastructure in Israel. These threats are generally for internal public consumption but they are also directed at Israel as a form of psychological warfare. Nasrallah’s threats to target an ammonia storage plant in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, likely factored into the decision by Israeli authorities to relocate the facility to a safer location further south, away from densely populated areas.

Despite Nasrallah’s bluster, Israel takes the terrorist leader’s threats seriously. Like Hamas, ISIS and other terrorist groups, Hezbollah does not feel constrained by the laws of war. That means that in any future engagement with Israel, Hezbollah will violate the legal principles of “Distinction” and “Shielding” in that it will fire its guided and unguided missiles and rockets at Israel in indiscriminate fashion and will also deliberately utilize Lebanon’s civilian population as cover in an effort to shield itself from retaliation.

These nefarious tactics were employed by Hezbollah in 2006 and by Hamas in 2009, 2012 and 2014, without legal consequence to either organization. For example, during the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah fired rockets from the rooftop of a building housing a number of civilians in the southern Lebanese village of Qana. That rocket fire invariably drew Israeli counter fire, resulting in the deaths of some 60 civilians and an unknown number of terrorists. International outcry prompted a temporary halt of Israeli airstrikes which naturally benefitted Hezbollah. During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas utilized the basement of Al-Shifa hospital as a command and control center. Israel could have cut off the head of the snake with a couple of 1-ton bombs but that would have invariably led to enormous collateral damage – perhaps hundreds of civilian dead. Hamas was well aware of Israel’s weakness in this regard and its leadership continued to prosecute the war from Al-Shifa hospital, immune from aerial attack.

By contrast, despite the fact that Israel went above and beyond the requirements of international humanitarian law, often at risk to its own soldiers, the Jewish State was forced to contend with a plethora of legal complaints – including legal filings at the International Criminal Court – as a result of defensive actions undertaken by its armed forces. Western armies are often constrained by the laws of war and this is particularly true in the context of asymmetrical warfare where terrorist groups, operating under an immoral code, often utilize these known Western limitations to their advantage.

Nevertheless, in light of Hezbollah’s military build-up, its formidable rocket arsenal, genocidal threats and cynical exploitation of the civilian population, Israel may be compelled to relax the laws of war or at least argue that it is confronting a unique situation unparalleled in modern warfare, which dictates a reassessment of the doctrine of proportionality. That doctrine permits military action only if the military benefit derived from that specific action outweighs the collateral damage that would result therefrom.

Hezbollah possesses missiles that are within reach of all of Israel’s major population centers. The M-600/Fateh-110 for example, has a range of 300 km and can carry a conventional payload of between 500-650 kg. The missile is relatively accurate and has a 50-50 chance of landing within 100 meters of its intended target. Hezbollah is said to possess hundreds of these missiles, which can be fired from either fixed positions or from mobile platforms. Hezbollah is also said to possess the ability to manufacture surface -to-surface missiles, and with Iran’s assistance has constructed missile-building factories in fortified facilities 50 meters beneath the ground. Hezbollah is believed to possess at least two such factories in Lebanon.

Moreover, Hezbollah has constructed several missile launching facilities in and around the Syrian province of Qusair. Hezbollah took control of the region in 2013 and will likely use the area, which it treats as its own turf, as a platform to strike at Israel in any future conflict. Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal is believed to be 15 times greater than it was in 2006, dwarfing the collective inventories of all NATO countries, save for the United States.

The combination of such a lethal arsenal, cynically deployed amidst Lebanese civilian infrastructure, for use against Israeli civilian infrastructure, means that in the next war, Israel must respond with massive and overwhelming force. Israel’s terror-sponsoring enemies, chiefly Syria and Iran, should be on notice that the target bank will not be limited to Lebanon, and the world should be on notice that Hezbollah, and not Israel will bear full responsibility for all civilian casualties that ensue. The days where Israel is forced to fight with one hand tied behind its back due to the pernicious nature of its genocidal enemies, and overzealous application of the rules of war exclusively to one side but not the other, are over.


Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.

Source:http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/267666/hezbollah-threatens-key-israeli-nuclear-research-ari-lieberman

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Is Al-Azhar University a Global Security Threat? - Cynthia Farahat




by Cynthia Farahat

Students are taught the theological legitimacy of cannibalizing infidels, gruesome ways to torture non-Muslims to death, and the importance of raping and humiliating non-Muslim women.

Al-Azhar University, the world’s largest Sunni Islamic educational institution, is where many of the world’s most brutal terrorists received their formal religious training. This is to be expected, given the nature of the material taught there. Al-Azhar has thousands of affiliated mosques, schools, learning centers, and universities around the world, such as the Islamic American University in Michigan. The institution has also been unofficially controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood for decades.

Al-Azhar Mosque
According to the most recent data released by the Egyptian government, there were 297,000 students studying at al-Azhar University in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, there were 39,000 foreign students studying at al-Azhar. These students are taught the theological legitimacy of cannibalizing infidels, gruesome ways to torture non-Muslims to death, and the importance of raping and humiliating non-Muslim women. This explains why numerous Egyptian public figures and intellectuals have called for a terrorism investigation of al-Azhar University. For example, Egyptian historian, Sayyid Al-Qemany, called upon the Egyptian government to designate al-Azhar University as terrorist organization.

In 2015, El-Youm el-Sabi, an Egyptian newspaper, published an investigative report about the curriculum at al-Azhar University. According to the report, one of the books called, al-Iqn’a fi Hal Alfaz ibn Abi Shoga’a (Convincing arguments according to Abi Shoga’a), taught to al-Azhar’s high school students states, “Any Muslim, can kill an apostate and eat him, as well kill infidel warriors even if they are young or female and they can also be eaten, because they are not granted any protection.” On the treatment of non-Muslims, the report quotes the same book as saying, “to preserve one’s self from the evil of an infidel, any Muslim can gouge their eyes out, or mutilate their hands and legs, or sever one arm and one leg.”

Even Muslims aren’t safe from al-Azhar’s teachings. According to the same the report, another book states, “Any Muslim is allowed to kill a fornicator, a warrior, or a [Muslim] who misses prayer, even without permission of the [ruling] Imam.”

This is expected given the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood dominates the organization. Not only does the Muslim Brotherhood use the university to recruit hundreds of thousands of students to adopt ISIS-style beliefs, the Brotherhood used the organization to train young people for combat. For example, In 2006, a video leaked from inside al-Azhar showed 50 masked young members of the Brotherhood in black uniforms, performing a military exercises in front of the head of al-Azhar University, resulting in a government investigation and arrests in what later became known as, “the case of al-Azhar militia.” 

Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of the world’s most brutal Islamists either worked for al-Azhar, or graduated it from it. For example, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, is a graduate from al-Azhar.

Also, the first leader of al-Qaeda Abdulla Azzam (1941 –1989), studied at al-Azhar. The spiritual mentor for Osama Bin Laden (1957 –2011), and a leader of the international arm of al-Qaeda, Omar Abdel Rahman (1938 – 2017), known as “the Blind Sheikh,” was a scholar at al-Azhar. The Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin el-Husseini (1897-1974), studied at al-Azhar University. As well as, Abu Osama al-Masri the mastermind of the Russian plane crash over Sinai in 2015

Not only is al-Azhar involved in the spreading of the violent Sunni Wahhabi sect, the government funded institution uses Egyptian blasphemy law to imprison critics of its radical teachings, halting any hope for Islamic reformation. For example, the President of al-Azhar University recently declare that Muslim scholar Islam el-Behery, who was previously imprisoned in Egypt for blasphemy, “an apostate of Islam.” According to the al-Azhar’s Sunni theology, apostasy is punishable by death.

Al-Azhar is also responsible for the apostasy Fatwa that resulted in the murder of Egyptian secular figure Farag Fouda (1945-1992). After uproar in Egypt against the University for essentially placing a hit on Mr. Behery by calling him an apostate of Islam, it’s president was forced to resign, but the militant teachings remain untouched.

Al-Azhar was also responsible for the imprisonment of another very popular Muslim scholar, Sheikh Mohammed Abdallah Nasr, for adopting a non-theocratic modern interpretation of Islam, landing him an unprecedented 13-year prison sentence for blasphemy with hard labor. Incredibly, one of the formal charges in al-Azhar’s court case against Mr. Nasr, is that he criticized Khalid ibn el-Waleed (585 –642), a Muslim warrior and sacred Sunni figure for being a rapist and a cannibal. During a televised debate with radical al-Azhar University scholars, Mr. Nasr scrutinized el-Waleed, for decapitating a Muslim poet, Malik ibn Nuwayrah, cooking his head and eating from it, before raping Nuwayrah’s wife. Mr. Nasr’s criticism of the Muslim warrior and cannibal was among the official reasons for his conviction. Speaking to al-Azhar scholars Mr. Nasr said, “you wonder where terrorism is coming from? It’s from your religious heritage.”

Last month, China demanded from Egypt that it deport its students studying at al-Azhar. While neither Egypt nor China gave a reason for the unusual procedure, the obvious reason could be that China is proactively attempting to protect itself from possible terrorist recruitment at the al-Azhar. Al-Azhar University is a global security threat. The western governments and their Egyptian counterpart should investigate al-Azhar University and its affiliated institutions for possible ties to terrorism. If President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is serious about combating Islamic militancy, his government must immediately halt its funding of the university, and stop al-Azhar’s daily terror indoctrination of future potential Rahmans, Azzams and Shekaus.


Cynthia Farahat is an author and Fellow at the Middle East Forum

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/08/is_alazhar_university_a_global_security_threat.html

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Two New Totalitarian Movements: Radical Islam and Political Correctness - A. Z. Mohamed




by A. Z. Mohamed

The main facet of this PC tyranny, so perfectly predicted by George Orwell, is the inversion of good and evil -- of victim and victimizer.

  • The attempt in the West to impose a strict set of rules about what one is allowed to think and express in academia and in the media -- to the point that anyone who disobeys is discredited, demonized, intimidated and in danger of losing his or her livelihood -- is just as toxic and just as reminiscent of Orwell's diseased society.
  • The main facet of this PC tyranny, so perfectly predicted by George Orwell, is the inversion of good and evil -- of victim and victimizer. In such a universe, radical Muslims are victimized by the West, and not the other way around. This has led to a slanted teaching of the history of Islam and its conquests, both as a justification of the distortion and as a reflection of it.
  • Thought-control is necessary for the repression of populations ruled by despotic regimes. That it is proudly and openly being used by self-described liberals and human-rights advocates in free societies is not only hypocritical and shocking; it is a form of aiding and abetting regimes whose ultimate goal is to eradicate Western ideals.

Political correctness (PC) has been bolstering radical Islamism. This influence was most recently shown again in an extensive exposé by the Clarion Project in July 2017, which demonstrates the practice of telling "deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them in order to forget any fact that has become inconvenient" -- or, as George Orwell called it in his novel, 1984, "Doublespeak."


This courtship and marriage between the Western chattering classes and radical Muslim fanatics was elaborated by Andrew C. McCarthy in his crucial 2010 book, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.

Since then, this union has strengthened. Both the United States and the rest of the West are engaged in a romance with forces that are, bluntly, antagonistic to the values of liberty and human rights. 


To understand this seeming paradox, one needs to understand what radical Islamism and PC have in common. Although Islamism represents all that PC ostensibly opposes -- such as the curbing of free speech, the repression of women, gays and "apostates" -- both have become totalitarian ideologies.

The totalitarian nature of radical Islamism is more obvious than that of Western political correctness -- and certainly more deadly. Sunni terrorists, such as ISIS and Hamas -- and Shiites, such as Hezbollah and its state sponsor, Iran -- use mass murder to accomplish their ultimate goal of an Islamic Caliphate that dominates the world and subjugates non-Muslims.

The attempt in the West, however, to impose a strict set of rules about what one is allowed to think and express in academia and in the media -- to the point that anyone who disobeys is discredited, demonized, intimidated and in danger of losing his or her livelihood -- is just as toxic and just as reminiscent of Orwell's view of a diseased society.

These rules are not merely unspoken ones. Quoting a Fox News interview with American columnist Rachel Alexander, the Clarion Project points out that the Associated Press -- whose stylebook is used as a key reference by a majority of English-language newspapers worldwide for uniformity of grammar, punctuation and spelling -- is now directing writers to avoid certain words and terms that are now deemed unacceptable to putative liberals.

Alexander recently wrote:
"Even when individual authors do not adhere to the bias of AP Style, it often doesn't matter. If they submit an article to a mainstream media outlet, they will likely see their words edited to conform. A pro-life author who submits a piece taking a position against abortion will see the words 'pro-life' changed to 'anti-abortion,' because the AP Stylebook instructs, 'Use anti-abortion instead of pro-life and pro-abortion rights instead of pro-abortion or pro-choice.' It goes on, 'Avoid abortionist,' saying the term 'connotes a person who performs clandestine abortions.'
"Words related to terrorism are sanitized in the AP Stylebook. Militant, lone wolves or attackers are to be used instead of terrorist or Islamist. 'People struggling to enter Europe' is favored over 'migrant' or 'refugee.' While it's true that many struggle to enter Europe, it is accurate to point out that they are, in fact, immigrants or refugees."
To be sure, the AP Stylebook does not carry the same weight or authority as the Quranic texts on which radical Islamists base their jihadist actions and totalitarian aims. It does constitute, however, a cultural decree that has turned religious in its fervor. It gives a glimpse, as well, into the intellectual tyranny that has pervaded liberal Western thought and institutions.

The main facet of this PC tyranny, so perfectly predicted by Orwell, is the inversion of good and evil -- of victim and victimizer. In such a universe, radical Muslims are victimized by the West, and not the other way around. This has led to a slanted teaching of the history of Islam and its conquests, both as a justification of the distortion and as a reflection of it.

As far back as 2003, the Middle East Forum reported on the findings of a study conducted by the American Textbook Council, an independent New York-based research organization, which stated:
"[Over the last decade], the coverage of Islam in world history textbooks has expanded and in some respects improved.... But on significant Islam-related subjects, textbooks omit, flatter, embellish, and resort to happy talk, suspending criticism or harsh judgments that would raise provocative or even alarming questions."
Thought-control is necessary for the repression of populations ruled by despotic regimes. That it is proudly and openly being used by self-described liberals and human-rights advocates in free societies is not only hypocritical and shocking; it is a form of aiding and abetting regimes whose ultimate goal is to eradicate Western ideals. The relationship between the two must be recognized for what it is: a marriage made in hell.

A. Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10883/political-correctness-radical-islam

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UN: N. Korea shipments to Syria's chemical arms agency intercepted - Yoni Hersch, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff




by Yoni Hersch, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff 

Two shipments of banned supplies from Pyongyang to Damascus intercepted in the past six months, independent panel of U.N. experts says • Panel investigating prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between rogue regimes.



North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
|
Photo credit: Reuters



Yoni Hersch, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=44815

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Iran on the path of North Korea - Keyvan Salami




by Keyvan Salami

For the mullahs in Iran, the atomic bomb is the only guarantor of survival.

Iran can enrich uranium within five days if the U.S. imposes more sanctions on Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s atomic agency head, warned this week. He claimed that Iran could achieve 20% enriched uranium in five days -- a level at which it could then quickly be processed further into weapons-grade nuclear material.
“If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20%-enrichment in at most five days,”
Last week Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers "within hours" if the United States imposes any more new sanctions.

"If America wants to go back to the experience of imposing sanctions, Iran would certainly return in a short time -- not a week or a month but within hours - to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations," Rouhani told a session of parliament broadcast live on state television.

In response, Ambassador Nikki Haley said Iran should not be allowed “to use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage.”

The Obama administration argued that there was no better alternative to its controversial nuclear agreement with Iran. The argument was that the deal is good as it potentially delays Iran’s ambition to acquire nuclear weapons for at least 10 years; it requires Tehran to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent, disables the Arak facility from producing weapons-grade plutonium, reduces the number of centrifuges by two-thirds, converts the Fordow facility into a research center, and allows for unprecedented intrusive inspections.

In addition, the deal would lengthen, from a few months to a year, the timeframe in which Iran could reach the breakout point, providing the U.S. more time to act, even militarily. Finally, they suggested that a more prosperous and secure Iran might give up its drive to obtain nuclear weapons and may even become a constructive player in the community of nations.

Two years after the deal, the question is: will those claims still hold? Did the deal “potentially” delay Iran’s ambition to acquire nuclear weapons for at least 10 years? And did it make Iran “more prosperous and secure to give up its drive to obtain nuclear weapons and may even become a constructive player in the community of nations”?

The reality is that the deal not only has not curbed Iran’s ability to obtain nuclear weapons, it also granted billions of dollars to Iran’s malicious activities. Two years after the deal it is Rouhani who is confessing to this fact and saying that Iran is capable of reaching the same point and even “conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations” in a matter of few days.
“In an hour and a day, Iran could return to a more advanced [nuclear] level than at the beginning of the negotiations,” Rouhani told a parliamentary session.

At the same session, a new bill was passed, testament to hollow claims of Iran’s change of behavior, and “a constructive player in the community of nations.” 

In retaliation to new U.S. sanctions, with lawmakers chanting “Death to America”, the state’s military budget will be increased by almost $500 million, and $260 million will be pumped into the missile programmer alone.

A further $300 million will be added to Quds force’s budget. The bill charges the government to confront “threats, malicious, hegemonic and divisive activities of America in the region.”

One might argue that their action is in reaction to new U.S. sanctions. This might be true, yet it doesn’t change the fact that Iran has maintained its capability of advancing its nuclear program, as Rouhani acknowledged.

The Iran apologists’ take from Rouhani’s threat is more concessions and stop placing pressure on Iran. A realistic approach, however, would be to take Rouhani’s words seriously and put more pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program once and for all.

Iran is following the same path as North Korea, and the nuclear deal with Iran must not fool us into imagining they have stopped their ambition of becoming a nuclear power.

For the mullahs in Iran, the atomic bomb is the only guarantor of survival. That is why they would never relinquish their ambition of becoming a nuclear power.

The only means to stop Iran from is to support the Iranian people and their organized opposition for a regime change.

Keyvan Salami

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/08/iran_on_the_path_of_north_korea_.html

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2017 Palestinian Authority Budget Shows: Salaries, Benefits For Prisoners, Released Prisoners Several Times Higher Than Welfare For Needy - MEMRI




by MEMRI

Along with monthly payments from the PA, prisoners and released prisoners and families of martyrs and wounded also enjoy a long list of benefits and grants from the PA.

Introduction

Following the passage of legislation in the U.S. Senate suspending aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) because of the PA's extensive support for Palestinian prisoners and the families of Palestinian "martyrs" and wounded, it is being claimed in the PA that the payments and aid given to the prisoners and the families of martyrs are the same as welfare benefits given to needy families. This argument is based on the reasoning that in both cases, the family wage earner cannot work and the family is reliant on aid.[1]

However, a look at the payments to the Palestinian incarcerated and released prisoners and their families, and to families of martyrs and wounded clearly shows that these payments are in no way comparable to welfare allowances such as those provided to needy families.

The prisoners and released prisoners, who are considered a "fighting sector," and the families of the martyrs and wounded do not receive welfare; they are paid what is referred to as a "monthly salary" or a "monthly allowance." Needy families receive what is referred to as "monetary aid," which is paid out only every three months, or quarterly, as well as "non-monetary aid."

The payments to the prisoners and families of martyrs are much higher than those to needy families, which are paid out by the PA's Ministry of Social Development.  The maximum  monthly payment to a needy family is NIS 600 shekels per family – less than US $170 – while the maximum monthly payment to a prisoner is at least 20 times higher: it exceeds NIS 12,000 – currently about US $3,340. Furthermore, the monthly payments to prisoners and their families, released prisoners, and the families of martyrs and wounded are paid out regardless of the recipient's socioeconomic situation.

Furthermore, the prisoners and released prisoners receive a monthly allowance for themselves alone, not for their families, and its level increases in direct proportion to the length of their sentence, which obviously reflects the severity of the crime for which they are serving time. Thus, the highest payments go to prisoners who are responsible for terror operations in which people were killed (above NIS 12,000 monthly). Likewise, released prisoners who were incarcerated for over a decade also receive monthly salaries.

In addition to their salaries, prisoners receive additional payments, such as a monthly allowance of NIS 400 – over US $110 – at the prison canteen, a NIS 400 clothing allowance every six months, and more. Israeli Arab prisoners and released prisoners, who are not residents of the PA in any way, also receive a monthly salary from the PA that is NIS 500 higher than the salary of prisoners who are PA residents.

Along with monthly payments from the PA, prisoners and released prisoners and families of martyrs and wounded also enjoy a long list of benefits and grants from the PA. A comparison of the benefits for prisoners, released prisoners, and the families of martyrs with those for needy families shows that the prisoners and released prisoners receive a variety of significant benefits whose monetary value is much higher than that of the welfare benefits provided to the needy.

This report will examine the significant gaps between the PA's payments to prisoners and their families, released prisoners, and families of martyrs and the wounded and its welfare allowances to the needy, as shown by statistics in the 2017 Palestinian budget book[2] and by statistics from the PA Ministry of Social Development, which handles welfare and aid to the needy,[3] as well Palestinian laws and government decisions over the years.

Palestinian Budget Book: Payments To Prisoners Are A "Monthly Salary," Not Social Welfare 

The issue of payments to prisoners and their families, and to released prisoners, appears in the section of the PA 2017 budget book concerned with the budget for the PLO institutions, under the "Plan for Protection and Care for the Prisoners and Their Families and Support and Training for Released Prisoners."[4]

The payments to the prisoners and their families, and to released prisoners, are defined in the budget book as a "monthly salary" (in Arabic, rateb shahri).[5] Conversely, needy families receive only a quarterly allowance, and the aid they receive is defined in the budget book as "monetary and non-monetary aid."[6]

The budget states that "an incarcerated prisoner receives a monthly salary,"[7] "released prisoners who served 10 years or more will receive a monthly salary equivalent to that of a civil servant," and that unemployed released prisoners who served five years or more would receive "a basic salary."[8]

It should be noted also that families of martyrs also receive their payments monthly. The definition of this type of payment in the budget book varies; in some places, it is referred to as "monthly monetary allowances" (mukhassasat maliyya shahriyya),[9] in other places as salaries (rawatib),[10] and in still others as aid (musa'ada ).[11]


2017 Budget for the Plan for Protection and Care for the Prisoners and Their Families and Support and Training for Released Prisoners (2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 658)

Salaries Are For Prisoners And Released Prisoners – Who Are Considered A "Fighting Sector" – Regardless Of Their Individual Economic Situations 

According to Section 2 of the Amended Palestinian Prisoners Law No. 19 (2004), "the prisoners and released prisoners are a fighting sector and an integral part of the fabric of the Arab Palestinian society."[12] This perception of Palestinian prisoners is reflected by the fact that the monthly salaries and most of the benefits for both incarcerated and released prisoners are designated almost exclusively for the individuals themselves; the economic situation of their families is not a factor, and the payment of the salaries is not conditional upon the family benefiting from them.[13]

The monthly salary is paid also to unmarried prisoners who have no families to support and who cannot show that they have dependents. If a prisoner has a family, he will be paid more, even though, as noted, the salary goes to him and him alone. Married prisoners receive an extra NIS 300 per month; prisoners with children under 18 receive an extra NIS 50 per month per child.[14]

Likewise, released male prisoners who were incarcerated for over 10 years and released women prisoners who were incarcerated for over 5 years are entitled to a monthly salary "providing that they were imprisoned for opposing the occupation," regardless of their economic or family situation. They will receive a monthly salary even if they have no dependents and ample resources.[15]

As noted, the monthly salaries to prisoners are paid to the prisoners themselves, and they can use them as they see fit; it is up to them whether or not to transfer the funds to their families. In this way, even when the prisoner has dependents, there is no guarantee whatsoever that he will make his salary available to his family. 

In sharp contrast, the budget of the Ministry of Social Development allocates its resources to the needy in Palestinian society in accordance with need – to residents requiring help with food, the disabled, victims of domestic violence, the elderly, and so on.[16]

Thus, because the PA provides funds to prisoners and released prisoners regardless of whether they have dependents or not, with no regard for their personal economic situations and no guarantee that the funds will help support their dependents, it is hard to accept the PA's claim that its salaries to prisoners are equivalent to social welfare payments to the needy.


Items in 2017 budget book pertaining to monthly salaries for prisoners, and other payments (2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 652)

The Monthly Salary Of A Prisoner Increases In Accordance With The Severity Of His Crime – Not His Socioeconomic Situation 

The salaries, as noted, are paid to the prisoners themselves while they are incarcerated. The most significant criterion for the amount they receive is the length of their prison sentence, not their socioeconomic situation or their family situation. Obviously, the sentence depends on the severity of their offense, so the worse the offense, the higher the salary. In this way, the PA offers economic incentives for serious offenses involving endangering human life and murder.[17]

A prisoner serving up to three years for, say, possessing ammunition receives a basic monthly salary of NIS 1,400 (about US $390). A prisoner serving 10 to 15 years for, say, causing bodily harm or injury with a weapon receives a basic salary of NIS 6,000 (about US $1,700), and a prisoner serving 30 years or more for multiple offenses, including murder which alone gets him a 20-year sentence, receives a basic salary of NIS 12,000.[18]  

The basic monthly salaries for prisoners, as per Government Decision No. 23 of 2010, are:

"Up to 3 years: NIS 1,400 (about US $390)
3-5 years – NIS 2,000 (about US $555)
5-10 years – NIS 4,000 (about US $1,111)
10-15 years – NIS 6,000 (about US $1,666)
15-20 years – NIS 7,000 (about US $1,944)
20-25 years – NIS 8,000 (about US $2,222)
25-30 years – NIS 10,000 (about US $2,777)
30 years and up – NIS 12,000."  (about US $3,333) [19]


Table of monthly salaries for prisoners (in NIS) (source: Al-Waqa'i Al-Falastiniyya, Volume 90, p. 106, March 30, 2011) 

Maximum Welfare Allowance For The Needy – 5% Of Maximum Salary Of Palestinian Prisoner

In accordance with Palestinian Government Decision No. 23 of 2010, the minimal salary received by a Palestinian prisoner is NIS 1,400 monthly. This sum increases in accordance with the prisoner's family status, his sentence, and where he comes from geographically. 

A comparison of prisoners' salaries and Ministry of Social Development welfare allowances to the needy shows that the prisoners receive much more money; prisoners receive a basic monthly salary ranging from NIS 1,400 to NIS 12,000, while welfare recipients receive only a quarterly allowance ranging from NIS 750 (about US $209) to NIS 1,800 (about US $500),[20] or about NIS 250 ($70) to NIS 600 ($166) per month (according to the budget book these allowances are paid to 118,000 families).[21]

The minimum PA welfare allowance of NIS 250 a month is about 18% of the minimum monthly salary of a Palestinian prisoner. The maximum welfare allowance of NIS 600 a month is about 5% of the maximum monthly salary of a Palestinian prisoner. To a maximum prisoner salary of NIS 12,000 a month, supplements are added in accordance with the prisoner's family status and where he lived before his incarceration. The maximum welfare payment of NIS 600 a month is about 43% of the minimum prisoner salary.

Further proof that many needy families receive no aid from the Social Development Ministry, which is in charge of helping the poor, is that these families receive aid from the local councils. This aid is provided at the councils' discretiom and not as part of a national plan to combat poverty.[22]


Item in 2017 budget book pertaining to financial aid to needy families (2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 383)

Payments To Families Of Martyrs And Wounded – 5.6 Times Higher Than Welfare Allowances For The Needy 

The families of martyrs and wounded who reside inside and outside PA territory are also entitled to receive a monthly allowance; the minimum allowance is NIS 1,400. The family of a martyr who was married receives  an additional NIS 200 a month for each child. A supplement of NIS 400 for the widow is paid if she is not working.[23] Even without the supplement for the widow, the minimal welfare allowance, of NIS 250 per month, is about 18% of the minimum allowance to the family of a martyr. The maximum welfare allowance, which is NIS 600 a month, is about 43% of the minimum allowance for the family of a martyr.

As for the  Foundation for the Care of the Families of Martyrs, the PA budget book states explicitly that "the PLO's Institute for Care for the Families of Martyrs as the body "responsible for ensuring a dignified life to the families of all those martyred and wounded as a result of being participants or bystanders in the revolution."[24]  But the striking difference between the allowances to the families of the martyrs and wounded and the welfare payments to the needy, along with the fact that all families of the martyrs and wounded, without exception, automatically receive an allowance while the needy must apply for an allowance and may be rejected, together create a situation in which the PA and the Palestinian institutions provide a significant economic incentive for carrying out hostile operations against Israel. 


Budget of Plan for Care for the Prisoners and Their Families and Support and Training for Released Prisoners (2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 628)

Additional Payments For Prisoners Only – Prison Canteen And Clothing Allowance

In addition to the salaries paid to the prisoners, and the significant benefits to which they are entitled, the prisoners receive from the PA a monthly allowance of NIS 400 for the prison canteen, and a clothing allowance of NIS 400 every six months. These funds are for the individual prisoners alone.[25]
 
Additional Payments For Israeli Arab Prisoners 

The PA also pays a monthly NIS 500 supplement to Israeli Arab prisoners. The Palestinian authorities are under no obligation to care for prisoners who are citizens of Israel.[26] Thus, PA support for Israeli Arab prisoners is incentivizing Israel's own citizens to carry out crimes that will land them in prison.  

Additional Benefits 

In addition to the basic monthly salary, incarcerated and released prisoners and the families of martyrs and wounded also receive many additional benefits. These benefits, especially those received by the incarcerated and released prisoners, are much more generous, varied, and substantial than those given to the needy. Whereas the Ministry of Social Development provides relatively limited aid to a broad range of recipients, including women, children, the elderly, orphans, the disabled, and needy families, the Prisoners and Released Prisoners Authority and the Foundation for the Care of the Families of Martyrs provide substantial benefits, with a higher monetary value, to each and every member of a smaller sector.
The following are some of the benefits granted to each group:

Incarcerated And Released Prisoners And Their Families[27]
Incarcerated Prisoners:
  • Free legal representation in the Israeli court system and legal accompaniment by lawyers from the Prisoners and Released Prisoners Authority.
  • Free health insurance
  • Free dental care
  • Treatment by PA doctors
  • Monthly prison canteen allowance of NIS 400
  • Biannual clothing allowance of NIS 600
  • Free daily newspaper, communication services.
  • Aid for home renovation.
  • Option for completing high school studies
  • Free academic studies at Al-Quds Open University
Released Prisoners:
  • One-time release grant
  • Unemployment benefits for a period of six months
  • Monthly salary equivalent to civil servants' wages, for prisoners incarcerated for 10 years or more
  • Basic monthly salary for prisoners incarcerated for 5 years or more
  • Employment in civil service
  • Subsidized dental care
  • Subsidized fertility treatments
  • Free health insurance
  • Free academic studies
  • Free professional training courses
  • Free psychological and professional help for job hunting
  • Business development loans provided by Switzerland and the EU
  • Aid for home renovation
Prisoners' Families
  • Free studies at state universities for prisoners' children
  • Free health insurance
  • Visits to prisons for family members, organized by the Prisoners and Released Prisoners Authority
Families Of Martyrs[28]
  • Financial aid (in addition to monthly allowanced paid to 35,000 families; allocated to 375 families)
  • Free health insurance
  • Free academic studies for children of martyrs (provided for 700 students)
  • Aid for elementary school education for children of the martyrs and wounded allocated to 38,200 students)
  • Grant from Saudi Arabia for the purpose of making pilgrimage to Mecca.
Needy Families[29]
Aid provided by the Ministry of Social Development:
  • 80,000 schoolchildren received exemptions from paying enrollment fees and received free textbooks
  • 5,000 families received emergency financial aid
  • Free food packages
  • Free health insurance (provided to 120,000 families)
  • Food coupons and special food subsidies (provided to 216,000 individuals)
  • Economic empowerment programs (for 1,000 families and 1,500 individuals)
  • Economic development loans (provided to 250 individuals),  discounts, adjustments, and professional training for the disabled
  • Economic aid for orphans
  • Aid package for 50 prisoners (apparently criminal rather than security prisoners)
  • Workshops for children
  • Rehabilitation programs for drug addicts
  • Support and guidance for women who are victims of domestic violence
  • Support for the elderly
  • Support for charity organizations
  • Five percent of civil service posts reserved for the disabled

Benefits for released prisoners in 2017 budget (Palestinian Budget Book, p. 653)


Payments To Prisoners And Released Prisoners Are Based On Special Government Laws And Decisions Concerning Prisoners 

According to the 2017 budget book, the payments to prisoners are based on special government laws and decisions for prisoners, not laws and decisions connected to welfare and social affairs. These include the Prisoners and Released Prisoners Law No. 19 of 2004; the 2013 Amendment to Law No. 19 of 2004; the Law for Supporting the Prisoners in Israeli Prisons No. 14 of 2004; government decisions Nos. 19, 21, 22, and 23 of 2010; government decision No. 15 of 2013, and more.[30]
 
Using Budgets For Prisoners And Released Prisoners For Political Purposes 

A number of sections of the budget for supporting the prisoners, released prisoners, and their families have nothing to do with welfare payments to the prisoners themselves, and everything to do with advancing the political struggle to free the prisoners and pressuring Israel in local and international forums. These sections cover research and statistics about the prisoners; documentation and reportage on news about them; publishing monthly reports, posters, and pamphlets; holding press conferences; liaison with international elements dealing with Palestinian prisoners' affairs; and international campaigns for obtaining the prisoners' release.

These sections of the budget have no counterpart in the Ministry of Social Development budget, which does not run international campaigns for supporting the needy sectors of the Palestinian public but focuses on providing aid to these sectors locally.[31]
 

[1] For example, 'Issa Qaraqe, head of the Prisoners and Released Prisoners Authority, who holds the rank of minister in the Palestinian Authority, called it "social and humanitarian assistance," saying: "This assistance has never encouraged terrorism, the opposite is true. This social and humanitarian assistance creates a kind of stability in the Palestinian society. Cutting the assistance is what will lead to extremism." The Jerusalem Post (Israel), August 6, 2017. See also an article by Daoud Kuttab: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international-affairs/332407-palestinian-family-support-is-a-social-safety-net.
[2] Pmof.ps.
[3] Mosa.pna.ps.
[4] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, pages 646-658.
[5] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, pages 648, 652-653.
[6] Mosa.pna.ps.
[7] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, pages 652.
[8] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 653.
[9] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 622.
[10] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 624.
[11] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 622.
[12] For the Amended Palestinian Prisoners Law No. 19 (2004), see cda.gov.ps.
[13] For more on how the payments are made, see Government Decision No. 23 from 2010, Al-Waqa'i Al-Falastiniyya, Vol. 90, page 103-107, March 30, 2011.
[14] On the supplements for women and children, see Government Decision N. 23 from 2010, Al-Waqa'i Al-Falastiniyya, Vol. 90, page 103-107, March 30, 2011.
[15] See Article 8, Government Decision No. 15 from 2013 regarding guaranteeing the livelihood for released prisoners. muqtafi.birzeit.edu.
[16] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 383.
[17] See Government Decision No. 23 from 2010 on monthly salaries for prisoners: Al-Waqa'i Al-Falastiniyya, Vol. 90, pages 103-107, March 30, 2011, muqtafi.birzeit.edu.
[18] Israeli Penal Code, 1977.
[19] Al-Waqa'i Al-Falastiniyya, Vol. 90, page 106, March 30, 2011.
[20] On the amounts of the salaries paid to the Palestinians in Israeli prisons, see Al-Waqa'i Al-Falastiniyya, Vol. 90, page 106, March 30, 2011;  on the amounts paid to the needy, see 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 383; website of the Ministry of Social Development:  Mosa.pna.ps.
[21] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 383; see also Mosa.pna.ps.
[22] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book.
[23] 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 648; see also study on payments to the families of the wounded and martyrs by Nizar Khalil Al-Mukh of Al-Quds Open University, dspace.up.edu.ps.
[24] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 622.
[25] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 652.
[26] See Government Decision No. 23 from 2010 on monthly salaries for prisoners: Al-Waqa'i Al-Falastiniyya, Vol. 90, page 103-107, March 30, 2011.
[27] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 650-658.
[28] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 622-625.
[29] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 384, 387-390, 392-393.
[30] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, page 648.
[31] See 2017 Palestinian Budget Book, pages 656-657.


MEMRI

Source: https://www.memri.org/reports/2017-palestinian-authority-budget-shows-salaries-benefits-prisoners-released-prisoners

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