Hamas has ordered its cells in the West Bank to launch suicide bombings against Israeli targets, specifically those in the “political and defense establishments,” according to Ynet on Thursday. The report follows a report from Monday in The Jerusalem Post that, according to a senior Palestinian official, “there are some voices within the leadership of Fatah calling for a return to the suicide bombings that characterized the second intifada.”
Ynet reported that it was already known that Hamas ordered sleeper cells in the West Bank to carry out attacks, but for the first time, Hamas has made those instructions public. Earlier in December, the IDF and Shin Bet discovered one of the cells, which reportedly was “close to launching a suicide bombing within the Green Line.” Shin Bet indicated that the cell was “controlled by Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip.” Thus far, Israel has arrested 25 Hamas operatives. Based on information collected from these arrests, Hamas leaders from Gaza and abroad have sent orders to “local commanders” to “escalate their activities — from encouraging protests and stabbing attacks to more dramatic and deadly assaults on Israeli civilians.” And according to the Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff, “Hamas sources also claimed that it was maintaining ties with members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.”
The current wave of violence has been triggered by incitement from Palestinian leaders across society who spread false claims that Israel seeks to change the status quo at the Temple Mount. The incitement has come, not only from Hamas, but also from the Palestinian Authority, its president, Mahmoud Abbas, and members of Abbas’s Fatah Party. In October, President Abbas declared, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem…With the help of Allah, every shaheed (martyr) will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.” On December 14, President Abbas called the wave of violence a "justified popular uprising.” On the same day, a new poll was released, showing that two-thirds of Palestinians support the stabbing attacks. According to the Associated Press, “Most Palestinians believe if the current individual attacks develop into an armed intifada, the violence might serve Palestinian national interests more than negotiations would.” Thus far, the violence has resulted in the death of 25 Israelis.
After reports emerged Wednesday that the United States will impose new sanctions on Iran after the Islamic Republic tested ballistic missiles in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Thursday that he is ordering his defense ministry to accelerate the development of his nation’s missile program.
Iran’s semi-official PressTV news reported that in his decree to Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan, “Rouhani ordered an acceleration in Iran’s program for production of “various types of missile” needed to improve the country’s defense capabilities.”
Rouhani, in his decree to Dehqan, called the purported plan by the White House a measure in line with hostile US policies to “illegally interfere in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s programs for boosting the defense power.” …
The Iranian president also warned that in case the US repeats such “wrong and interventionist” measures, the Iranian Defense Ministry must develop a new plan for expanding the country’s missile capabilities.
Rouhani said that Iran’s missile power, which he described as a means to protect the country’s sovereignty and a major deterrence against terrorism in the Middle East and the world, has never been up for negotiations, including in the nuclear talks with the P5+1 group – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – which resulted in the JCPOA in Austria on July 14.
Rouhani said that the development of ballistic missiles was “conventional and important” to his nation’s defense. He also claimed that Iran’s missile program is not covered by the nuclear deal. In a July Senate hearing, Secretary of State John Kerry said that Iran had agreed that non-nuclear sanctions imposed by the United States would not violate the terms of the nuclear deal.
Earlier this month, a United Nations panel found that Iran’s October launch of a ballistic missile violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, which prohibits Iran from undertaking “any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities.” Iran subsequently tested another ballistic missile in November.
The first launch prompted a group of eleven Democratic senators to write a letter to Kerry expressing their concern over Iran’s ballistic missile program. The administration’s slow response to the Iranian provocation prompted a pair of Republican senators to write to President Barack Obama earlier this month, emphasizing that the advanced missiles posed a threat to the United States and its allies.
When Iran scheduled ballistic missile tests a month after the nuclear deal was announced, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency claimed that such tests would reinforce Iran’s interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, the resolution that formalizes parts of the nuclear deal. That resolution also calls for Iran to refrain from testing ballistic missiles, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that his country was unwilling to “abide by any resolution” that would limit its capacity to develop or acquire the weapons it deemed necessary. (via TheTower.org)
As one year winds down and a new calendar year begins, it is customary to make “best of” lists. So, Mashable picked the 100 best iPhone apps of all time. Three Israeli-made apps — Waze, Meerkat and Yo – made the list. Waze ranks 22nd on the impressive list. “So good Google bought it,” reports Mashable about choosing the Israeli-made navigation application. “The app took mobile driving directions to the next level, using crowd-sourced data on traffic, gas prices and — most controversially — police speed traps. Even if you don’t use the Waze app, you’ve almost certainly felt its influence.” At No. 86 on the list is the Israeli-American video-streaming app Meerkat. The public Twitter-Meerkat breakup may have altered the original plans for greatness by the app’s designers but the Mashable digital media website explains that its editors were seeking pioneering apps as well amusing ones when choosing the Best 100 iPhone apps for their list. As such, Meerkat is included on the list. “When we set out to pick the 100 best iPhone apps of all time, our intention wasn’t to simply do a list of the most useful or entertaining apps currently available. Just as a great teacher in your youth may have helped shape who you are today, groundbreaking apps of the past have had tremendous impact on the iPhone experience, even if their influence may have since waned or faded entirely.” Mashable writes that Meerkat’s future remains to be seen but its presence will not be forgotten. “Will it survive? No one knows, but it will never lose its place as the app that put mobile-to-mobile video broadcasting on the map.” And at 91st place on the list, Israeli venture capitalist and entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg is credited with introducing “the quintessential ‘dumb’ app.” “The app quickly racked up more than a million users and inspired dozens of copycats (Yo Hodor, anyone?) while helping kick off a new trend of ridiculous and ridiculous-sounding apps,” write Mashable’s editors. But the Yo app wasn’t without benefits. “Today, you can use Yo to turn on your lights, remember where you parked your car, or follow your favorite sports teams, publishers and Instagrammers. There’s also an Apple Watch app, perhaps one of the few apps that really makes sense to have on your wrist,” reads the blurb about why Yo appears on the Best Of list. “Though the app wasn’t able to sustain its early virality, it proved that ‘dumb’ apps can have brains, too.” (via Israel21c)