Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Senior Palestinian Official Dies After Clash With IDF, ISIS Now In Sinai

Senior Palestinian Official Dies After Clash With IDF

A senior Palestinian official died en route to a Ramallah hospital Wednesday after he was struck in the chest by an IDF soldier, Palestinian reports said. The IDF said it was looking into the incident.

Ziad Abu Ein, who headed the PA government agency that fights against the security barrier and settlements, was involved in a scuffle with Israeli troops near Turmusaya, south of the Shiloh settlement in the northern West Bank, during which he inhaled tear gas and was hit by a soldier’s rifle butt, witnesses said. Abu Ein collapsed at the site and was evacuated by ambulance, but he died before he reached the hospital.

A top Fatah leader told The Times of Israel that the Palestinian Authority would cease all security coordination with Israel in the West Bank in the wake of Abu Ein’s death. There was no immediate announcement of such a decision by Abbas’s office.

Jibril Rajoub said the PA had no choice but to respond given that Israel had “crossed a red line.” He said the cessation of security coordination was open-ended. The PA will also now immediately apply for membership in international organizations, Rajoub said, referring to the dozens of United Nations and other forums which the PA has long threatened to seek to join in unilateral moves opposed by Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned “the brutal assault that led to the martyrdom” of Abu Ein, calling it “a barbaric act that cannot be tolerated or accepted,” the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said. “We will take the necessary measures after the results of the investigation into the incident,” Abbas said and announced a three-day mourning period for Abu Ein.

“The Israel government bares full responsibility for the killing of Minster Abu Ain and the systematic crimes committed against the Palestinian people,” said Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian peace negotiator. “This new assassination will have severe consequences.”

Abu Ein, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, was extradited from the US to Israel for a 1979 terrorist bombing that killed two Israeli teens. He was released during a 1985 prisoners swap that saw three IDF soldiers captured in Lebanon set free. He has also served as deputy minister for prisoner affairs.

An Al-Arabiya reporter said that Abu Ein had told him at the start of the clashes that he would “embarrass Israel today.”
Footage from the demonstration showed Abu Ein lying on the ground and clutching his chest before his evacuation from the scene.
Israeli soldiers were in the area in an attempt to calm tensions between settlers and Palestinians. The clashes broke out overnight after settlers accused Palestinian of stealing a horse, while Palestinians alleged that residents of the Adei Ad outpost had damaged cars and olive trees.

Having announced its intention to create an alternative to the SWIFT payment system (following calls from Western politicians for SWIFT to cut off Russia - which the 'independent' firm rapidly denied), Russia recently said it would be ready in May. However, it seems the rapid drop in the Ruble (and the Yuan in recent days) has escalated the need for this de-dollarized payment system and, as RT reports, Russia’s Rossiya and SMP banks, which fell under Western sanctions, are among the eight lenders that will start testing the country’s new national payment system on December 15.

Russia’s Rossiya and SMP banks, which fell under Western sanctions, are among the eight lenders that will start testing the country’s new national payment system on December 15.

"The pilot project involves SMP Bank and Rossiya Bank, those for which the story is very critical and important. These are quite large banks,” the head of the Russian National payment system (NPS) Vladimir Komlev said in an interview with Rossiya 24 TV.

The move comes as a part of Russia’s ambitious initiative to move away from the Western dominance of its financial markets. Last month the Russian Central Bank said it would have its own international inter-bank payment system, an alternative to the global SWIFT network up and running by May 2015.


Another bank involved in NPS testing is Russia’s second largest VTB. Recently its management has been vocal about the need to make Russia’s financial system more self-sufficient and ditch the US Dollar, Vedomosti reports.

It appears that as sanctions and oil-price-declines pressure Putin, he is accelerating his gold-hording de-dollarization as unintended isolated consequences boomerang back at the US Dollar's hegemony.

A group of at least ten ISIS operations and intelligence officers, led by a senior commander, has arrived in Sinai and taken charge of the local Ansar Beit al-Maqdas jihadis, thereby opening up a dangerous new front against Egypt and Israel, in proximity to the Suez Canal, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Their identities are not known, but their relocation from Iraq to the Egyptian peninsula was carefully arranged. They came posing as tourists coming for a holiday at the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, arriving on charter flights from Middle East and European locations on fake passports. This enabled them to evade the strict security checks at Cairo international airport.

By assuming command of the local Ansar Beit al-Maqdas terrorist group, which last month pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has moved to add Sinai as a new province to the caliphate he established in parts of Iraq and Syria.

In recent weeks, our counter-terror sources reveal, Islamic State tacticians have provided the Sinai outfit in with a strategic reserve by posting 300 combatants from Iraq to eastern Libya. This group also supplies the Egyptian contingent with arms.

Egypt therefore finds itself encircled by IS forces on its western border from Libya and deeply threatened from the northeast in Sinai; whereas Israel faces the same jihadi menace in the southwest from Sinai and in the north from Syria.
On arrival in Sinai, Islamic State commanders announced their movement’s mission had been overhauled and redirected from Egypt alone to the “Egyptian-Zionist alliance.”

Israel finds itself outflanked by the new IS deployment in Sinai. The IDF heavily built up its northern strength to meet any Al Qaeda menace from Syria to the Golan, creating the Bashan Division to fight off jihadist incursions. In the event, the IS’s Syrian units have given the Israeli border a wide berth and are focusing on fighting in northern and eastern Syria.

And so, while preparing to tackle Islamist encroachment from the north, Israel finds them cropping up along its southern border, where no comparable military buildup is in place.

Abu Bakr’s Sinai move contradicts the claims of senior US commanders that IS is on the run in Iraq after being badly hurt by US and coalition air strikes. (Last week there were no more than 31 air raids over Iraq and 15 in Syria.) All that the light US-led air campaign has achieved so far is to induce the Islamic State’s leaders to shift ground tactically from territorial expansion to defense and entrenchment.

Police in Moldova said on Tuesday they had detained seven people suspected of smuggling radioactive Uranium-238 on a train from Russia, a substance they said could have been used to make a "dirty bomb".
Police discovered about 200 grams (7 oz) of hazardous substances worth about 1.7 million euros ($2.1 million) during a sting operation last week, said Ion Bodrug, head of an Interior Ministry investigative department.
"After a preliminary examination we realized we were talking about Uranium-238, an extremely dangerous radioactive substance used to make 'dirty' nuclear bombs," he told a news conference.

A dirty bomb is not, in fact, a nuclear device and does not produce a nuclear explosion. Instead it mixes conventional explosives with radioactive material, with the aim of spreading contamination.
Another dangerous substance, mercury, was also discovered by the police, who believe the gang's aim was to sell the materials in Europe, Bodrug said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is in "touch with Moldovan authorities regarding the case", senior IAEA official Serge Gas said in an email. He gave no further detail.

The type of uranium used in atomic bombs is the U-235 isotope, which has three neutrons fewer than U-238 and is able to sustain a nuclear chain reaction, releasing massive energy.
The last known attempt to sell U-238 in Moldova was in August 2010 when police arrested three people from organized crime groups.
Last year, the IAEA said that more than 100 incidents of thefts and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and radioactive material are reported by member states annually.
Because a dirty bomb would be relatively easy to make, security experts regard it as a more likely terrorist weapon than a nuclear bomb. They say such a device could trigger widespread panic, even if it did not cause major loss of life.

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