Children in Gaza are celebrated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, dressing up in terrorist attire, waving toy rifles, and chanting anti-Israel slogans. During the ceremony the children demonstrated how to fight the "occupation" with mock assault rifles and by throwing rocks.
Terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza launched an anti-aircraft missile at an Israeli Air Force helicopter last week, the first time they have fired such a weapon at an Israeli aircraft, Israeli defense officials said Tuesday.
The Strela shoulder-fired missile didn’t hit the chopper at which it was aimed, but the development marks a dramatic escalation in the intentions and capabilities of Gaza-based terror organizations. The missile most likely originated in Libya, and was captured by rebels who helped overthrow the Qaddafi regime.
Tens of thousands of anti-aircraft missiles went missing in the aftermath of the Qaddafi regime’s overthrow. Israeli intelligence has long warned that many of them made their way from Libya and into the hands of Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, a suspicion that has now been confirmed.
Analysts and policy-makers fear that in addition to targeting Israeli military assets, Palestinian terrorists armed with such shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles will attempt to destroy a commercial airliner. The concern has been a major source of Israeli reluctance to cede strategic areas in the West Bank which provide clear lines of vision to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.
Terrorists in Gaza have fired thousands of missiles, rockets and mortars at Israel, including 637 since January as compared to 653 for all of 2011. Last week witnessed an escalation in such attacks, with terrorists firing more than 60 rockets and mortars at Israel as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad joined forces to attack Israel.
Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, but hopes that peaceful Palestinian forces would rule the area were dashed when Hamas subsequently took power over the territory.
Hamas's rocket barrage against Israel on Monday marked an escalation in the group's ongoing war against Israel, both quantitatively in the amount of rocket fire, and qualitatively in Hamas's willingness to claim responsibility for the attack.
The attack has triggered broad concerns that the terror group is returning to its posture of late June 2012, when Palestinians launched over 80 rockets at Israeli towns and communities over a four-day period. The comparisons have some traction: June 20 was the last time any Palestinian group launched more than 30 rockets into Israel in one day, and that month was also the last time Hamas explicitly took responsibility for rocket fire.
The more troubling possibility, however, is that Hamas is reverting not to its June 2012 stance but to December 2008, when the group categorically refused to renew a long-standing ceasefire with Israel and subsequently fired more than 100 rockets and mortars at Israeli towns and cities. Israel eventually responded by launching Operation Cast Lead to halt the ongoing attacks. The war lasted weeks.
There are worrying parallels between Hamas's December 2008 infrastructure and strategy and its reinvigorated aggression:
(1) Militarized Civilian Infrastructure
Hamas has remilitarized civilian and religious infrastructure in Gaza. The IDF's response to Monday's attacks included targeting an example of that infrastructure, a mosque that had been turned into a Hamas post.
Before and during Cast Lead, Hamas transformed up to 100 mosques into depots and bases, and the IDF even discovered a Hamas map outlining how fighters should position themselves next to mosques, homes, and gas stations to achieve maximum carnage.
Hamas's military redeployment to mosques indicates that the group is again preparing to target civilians during hostilities with Israel.
(2) Political Leadership of "Resistance" Groups
Hamas has politically reunited what it terms "the resistance factions" behind it. The group launched Monday's attack jointly with the Iranian-aligned Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida emphasized through Palestinian outlets the "high-level of coordination between the resistance factions in the management of the confrontation with the Zionist occupation." Arab sources report that Hamas and PIJ have set up a joint “war room.”
Before and during Cast Lead, Hamas forcibly stamped out all political opposition, continuing a practice it had begun when it seized power by shooting out the kneecaps of political opponents and pushing them off buildings.
Recent analysis had suggested that Hamas was distancing itself from Shiite-aligned Gaza factions and aligning with the Sunni countries fighting a proxy war in Syria against Iran. That analysis was never completely sound: Hamas leaders including Mahmoud al-Zahar gathered in Iran in September to coordinate moves against Israel with other groups, while leaders such as Khaled Mashal, who opposed Iranian involvement in Syria have been marginalized. Regardless of whether the analysis was misguided or Hamas has recalibrated, the result is the same.
(3) Explicitly Aggressive Military Posture
Hamas has militarily taken control of attacks on Israel, explicitly claiming responsibility for the escalation. The group had not claimed rocket fire since attacking Israel in June.
Before and during Cast Lead, Hamas repeatedly attacked Israel and rejected ceasefire offers. Hamas miscalculated, issuing "a united stance" that a long-lasting truce would not be renewed and taunting that Gaza would become "a graveyard for Israelis" if the IDF responded to rocket fire. The result was Cast Lead.
(4) Targeting Vulnerable Israeli Infrastructure, Including Children's
Hamas has returned to bombing vulnerable civilian infrastructure, especially infrastructure involving children. Monday's attacks scored a direct hit on a children’s petting zoo, killing several of the animals inside but fortunately not hitting any children.
Before and during Cast Lead, Palestinian groups had openly bragged about timing their attacks to when Israeli schoolchildren were traveling to school.
Jerusalem, Sept. 4 — In the Palestinian territories, crime – especially killing Israelis - pays.
Under a law passed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails are paid at least $250 a month. This is the amount given to security detainees sentenced to five years in an Israeli prison while a Hamas terrorist convicted of planning the 2002 Park Hotel massacre on Passover gets $36,000 annually, according to a report by The Times of Israel.
In the 2002 attack, a suicide bomber killed 30 people and injured another 140 as they sat down for a Passover meal in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya.
Altogether, the PA spends six percent of its budget doling out cash to those serving time for crimes ranging from security offenses to mass murder, the report states. The longer the sentence, the greater the compensation: Those serving life sentences get $12,000 annually.
Such payments were made part of PA law in 2003, according to the report; last year, PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad tripled the payments, which go to prisoners belonging to Iran-backed Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization, among other groups.
The PA earmarked $54 million of its budget annually for such payments as of May 2011. And it’s not just the convicts themselves who get paid; the Palestinian Authority hands out a total of $78 million of its budget to families of suicide bombers.
Other compensation includes $4,200 annually for prisoners sentenced to up to three years in Israeli jails and $6,000 annually for prisoners sentenced to three to five years in Israeli jails, with an additional $900 annually for wives of each prisoner and $150 per child.
Money is just one of the ways the PA government glorifies terrorists as part of the system’s ongoing culture of hate. Sports stadiums, schools and public squares frequently are named after suicide bombers, and PA-sponsored cartoons, TV shows and children’s programs are typical vehicles used to indoctrinate the Palestinian people.
The Algemeiner, August 2 - The State Department issued two reports this week, one on patterns on global terrorism and the other on religious freedom and oppression around the world. In both reports, one country took a preeminent and shameful place – Iran.
I would urge readers to take a look at these reports in detail. They are both available in full on the State Department’s website and they provide a graphic warning about the nature of this regime which is trying to acquire nuclear weapons.
The report on religious freedom made sobering reading. Iran’s population is 89 percent Shia Muslim and 9 percent Sunni. An estimated two to five million persons practice Sufism. The largest non-Muslim minority is the Baha’is, who number 300,000 to 350,000. Unofficial estimates of the Jewish community’s size varied from 20,000 to 30,000.
The report cataloged persecution by the regime of Baha’is, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sufis, Sunni clerics, Muslim converts to Christianity and even Shia religious leaders who did not fully support government policies or the supreme leader’s views.The regime also fosters open antisemitism.
Discrimination begins with the Iranian constitution and other laws and policies which severely restrict freedom of religion and a legal system which fosters religious abuse and discrimination. The constitution does not provide for the rights of Muslim citizens to choose, change, or renounce their religious beliefs. The government automatically considers a child born to a Muslim father to be a Muslim and conversion from Islam is deemed apostasy, which is punishable by death.
The report states: “Government rhetoric and actions, particularly since the June 2009 elections, created an increasingly threatening atmosphere for nearly all non-Shia religious groups, most notably for Baha’is, as well as for Sufi Muslims, evangelical Christians, Jews, and Shia groups that did not share the government’s sanctioned religious views.”
The government continued to imprison and detain Baha’is based on their religious beliefs. “In addition to killings, executions, and arrests, Baha’is suffered frequent government harassment and persecution, and their property rights generally were disregarded. The government raided Baha’i homes and businesses and confiscated large amounts of private and commercial property, as well as religious materials belonging to Baha’is. The government reportedly seized numerous Baha’i homes and transferred them to an agency of Supreme Leader Khamenei,” the report said.
Harassment and arrests of Sufis also continued during the year including some15 Sufi webmasters and journalists who reportedly still were being held at year’s end.
At least 300 arrests of Christians were reported during the year. Some were held in secret locations without access to attorneys. There were numerous incidents during the year of Muslim converts to Christianity facing harassment, arrest, and sentencing. Many arrests took place during police raids on religious gatherings, during which religious property also was confiscated.
The report on terrorism was equally illuminating. It found that Iran “increased its terrorist-related activity, likely in an effort to exploit the uncertain political conditions resulting from the Arab Spring, as well as in response to perceived increasing external pressure on Tehran.”
Daniel Benjamin, coordinator for counterterrorism, said in a briefing: “We are increasingly concerned about Iran’s support for terrorism and Hezbollah’s activities as they’ve both stepped up their level of terrorist plotting over the past year and engaging in their most active and aggressive campaigns since the 1990s.”
Benjamin added: “Iran is and remains the preeminent state sponsor of terrorism in the world … Together with Hezbollah, as they pursue destabilizing activities around the globe, we are firmly committed to working with partners and allies to counter and disrupt Iranian activities and to prevent Iran from sponsoring new acts of terrors. And we think that the international community is increasingly alert to this threat and will resist it.”
The report, which covers 2011, said Iran provided weapons and training to assist the Assad regime in Syria in its brutal crackdown that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians.
Iran also continued to provide weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including the Palestine Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of Hezbollah fighters at camps in Iran.
The facts are there for all to see. This is the truth about this regime.
Click here to read the original analysis.
Jerusalem, Aug 24 – Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired at least 12 more rockets and mortars at Israel on Wednesday. One injured a two-year-old child when the car she was traveling in was hit by a rocket and exploded in flames.
The latest onslaught brings the total number of attacks for 2011 to 490. Terrorists in Gaza, which is controlled by the Iranian-backed Hamas organization, have fired at least 170 rockets and mortar shells at Israel since last Thursday. At least two people have been killed and several others injured.
Israel has responded with measured, targeted strikes aimed at those firing the rockets. The Israeli Air Force bombed an Islamic Jihad rocket cell in Gaza City on Wednesday evening. Palestinians reported one dead and several wounded.
A ceasefire brokered by Egypt was supposed to have gone into effect on Sunday evening but has been repeatedly violated by the terrorists.
The Jerusalem Post reported that at least seven rockets landed near Ashkelon and in Ofakim on Wednesday evening. The rockets were believed to be fired by Islamic Jihad which was avenging an Israel Air Force airstrike earlier in the day in which a senior operative was killed.
Israel’s Arutz Sheva News reported that Gaza terrorists fired two rockets at the 200,000 residents of Beersheba at about 10:30 p.m. The Iron Dome anti-missile system managed to intercept one of the rockets, but the other exploded within the city limits causing no injuries.
The latest upsurge in violence began last week when terrorists infiltrated Israel from Gaza through Egyptian territory and launched a coordinated series of attacks on cars and buses killing eight and wounding over 30.