Saturday, May 31, 2014

In The News:

Hamas will not agree to the continuation of Palestinian security cooperation with Israel once it teams up with the Fatah movement led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government.

Senior Gaza official and deputy Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said Saturday that Hamas had reached no understanding with Fatah regarding the issue of security cooperation with Israel, and that the Islamist movement would not allow it to continue, Israel Radio reported.

Abu Marzouk said the Palestinian unity government would be unveiled early this week, on Monday or Tuesday. He added that Hamas had also removed its objections to Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki remaining in the post.

Meanwhile Saturday, top Hamas official Muhammad Nazal was quoted by the organization’s official organ as saying that Hamas would not abandon the path of “resistance,” or violence against Israel — a path the Islamist group shares with the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist organization Hezbollah.
Nazal said Hamas would remain committed to resistance “in all its forms” until Palestine becomes “free.”
Israel suspended peace talks with Abbas over the unity pact, saying it would not negotiate with a government supported by Hamas, which calls for Israel’s destruction.

According to the Israel Air Force chief, the IDF’s offensive capabilities will quadruple by the end of 2014. In a single day, Israeli planes can strike thousands of terror targets and exceed the IDF’s achievements during extended operations. 
Major General Amir Eshel, Commander of the Israel Air Force, spoke last week at the Tenth Annual Conference for National Security on the contribution of air power to Israel’s strategic capabilities. Maj. Gen. Eshel discussed the air force’s attack and defensive capabilities during times of war and routine operations.
“I believe our capabilities are only second to the United States  from both an offensive and defensive standpoint,” the IAF commander said, referring to a significant leap in capabilities over the past two years. The commander based his assessment on an evaluation of IDF abilities and conversations with officials from foreign militaries.
“We have an unprecedented offensive capability, which allows us to accurately strike thousands of targets in one day. We have doubled our abilities twice in the past two years. By the end of 2014, we will see an improvement of 400 percent to our offensive capabilities relative to the recent past, as a result of a long improvement process.”

To illustrate Israel’s advancements, the IAF Commander compared the air force’s new efficacy to other achievements in recent years. “The air force at the end of 2014, in less than 24 hours, can do what it did in three days during the Second Lebanon War, and can do in 12 hours what it did in a week during Operation Pillar of Defense.”
Maj. Gen. Eshel stated that “Israel can not afford lengthy attacks. We need to win quickly. A short time, in my opinion, is a few days. I do not believe in conducting long wars.”

The air force chief argued that accurate and quality firepower is the main variable in achieving victory. To do so, he said, “It’s not enough to have just technical ability – we need to adopt an approach. We’re talking about an operation with full power, all of the air force, all encompassing, from the opening of the offensive effort in order to strike as powerfully as possible and shorten the war.”

A recently released infographic from The Huffington Post underscores how deadly the plight of Christians in the Middle East has become in the last decade.
The populations of Iraq, Egypt, and Syria — arguably the Middle East's three most volatile countries in the 21st century — suggest that their turmoil has had especially devastating effects on the Christian population. Syria, for instance, boasted a population of one million Christians in 2010. Today, only 550,000 remain - a drop of nearly 50 percent.
Prior to the U.S. 2013 invasion of Iraq, the country was home to 1.5 million Christians. Today, only about 500,000 remain, just a third of the previous Christian population.
In Egypt, a country whose Copt population has lived for hundreds of years in the region and has long made up 10 percent of the nation's population, 93,000 of the 4.1 million people have fled the country since 2011.
That the population of these Christians has so dwindled is not surprising given the extent to which they have been targeted by Islamists within their countries.
On Christmas Day in 2013, nearly 40 Iraqis were killed after two car bombs targeted a church and a marketplace.
In Egypt, following the deposal of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, many of the Copt's countrymen themselves wrecked dozens of churches and institutions in Minya, turning the Christian population into scapegoats for Morsi's removal from power. According to a Human Rights Watch report following last summer's violence, 37 churches had been either destroyed or badly damaged, and at least five others were attacked, in fighting that left four people dead.
In Syria, many Christians have been subject to kidnappings and invasions in their village from extremist rebel fighters who have picked on the ancient communities, in some cases for their support of the Bashar Al-Assad government.
For more how the state of the region as a whole, take a look below. Their data is taken from Pew, the Associated Press, The New York Times, PBS, the Jerusalem Post and Voice of America.

47 years ago this week Israeli forces ended the division of Jerusalem.
The city had been split during the Arab siege of the capital in 1948 and it remained cut in half by an ugly wall as well as by dangerous no-man's-land zones.
The victory in the Six-Day War ended an illegal occupation of the eastern portion of the city as well as the walled Old City by Jordan that had lasted for 19 years but was not recognized by the world.

In breaking down the barriers, the Israelis not only reunited the city but opened access to its religious shrines—including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount—which had been off limits for Jews during the Jordanian occupation.

Highlighting a complicated scheme put forward by a Jerusalem architectural firm, the paper asserted that most Jerusalemites wouldn't even notice the difference if their city was re-partitioned.
On the surface the plan, which has been funded by a variety of left-wing sources, seems practical if complicated and expensive. But it is not only completely unrealistic; it is based on a fantasy that the real problem in Jerusalem is primarily one of engineering, aesthetics, and logistics.
Like every other element of other utopian peace plans that are sold to both the Israeli and Western publics as the solution that "everybody knows" must eventually happen, this vision of Jerusalem ignores the fundamental problem of peace: the fact that the Palestinians don't want it.
The conceit of the divided Jerusalem scheme is that the old "green line" that once cut through the city as well as the West Bank is alive and well. Since the second intifada, Jews largely avoid Arab sectors of the city and Arabs do the same in Jewish sections.
The only problem then is how to "soften" the appearance of a division so as to codify the reality of a divided city without actually reinstating the ugly and perilous military fortifications that served as the front lines for the Arab-Israeli wars from 1949 to 1967.
There is some truth to the notion that Jerusalem is currently divided in this manner. But it is a fallacy to assert that it is anything as absolute as the authors of the plan and their media cheerleaders claim. Contrary to the notion popularized by the terminology used by the media, there is no real east or west Jerusalem. The city is built on hills with much of the "eastern" section actually in the north and south where Jewish neighborhoods on the other side of the green line have existed for over 40 years.
The idea that this can all be easily sorted out by handing out the Jewish sections to Israel and the Arab ones to "Palestine" won't work.

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