Monday, November 27, 2017

IDF Declares Naval Iron Dome System Operational, Hamas Official: Weapons Will Be Sent To West Bank

IDF declares naval Iron Dome system operational

The army’s ship-mounted Iron Dome system was declared operational Monday evening, the IDF spokesperson’s unit announced.

The Tamir-Adir system was declared operational after a final test in which Grad rockets were fired, both individually and in barrages, at the INS Lahav Sa’ar 5-class corvette small warship, as well as towards Israel’s offshore gas rigs, scenarios envisioned in future conflicts with Hamas or Hezbollah.

During the test the navy took an Iron Dome launcher and placed it on the helipad of the ship and connected it to the ship’s radar. The naval Iron Dome uses the Tamir interceptor missile which was developed for the Iron Dome as well as for the Adir radar used in the Arrow system.

In the trial all of the rockets fired were intercepted by the system.

Designed to shoot down short-range rockets, the Iron Dome is able to calculate when rockets will land in open areas, choosing not to intercept them, or towards civilian centers. It went into service in April 2011 and has since been used during two military operations against Hamas, intercepting roughly 85% of projectiles fired towards Israeli civilian centers.

Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz, who as defense minister in 2006 insisted on developing the Iron Dome system following the Second Lebanon War – when the Israeli home front was pounded by Hezbollah rockets – praised the defense industry teams that developed the system as well as the IDF commanders and soldiers who operate it.

“The threat to the home front is and will be a central part of any military campaign in the 21st century, whether against foreign armies or terrorist organizations,” he said.

Weapons used by Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip to fight Israel will be transferred to the West Bank, Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya said on Monday.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other armed Palestinian groups are thought to possess very few weapons in the West Bank.

“These weapons will be moved to the West Bank to battle the occupation...

We want to fight the occupation in the West Bank. It is our right to resist the occupation until it ends,” Hayya told a press conference in Gaza on Monday, without elaborating on how such a plan would be fulfilled.

Since Hamas forcibly ousted the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from Gaza in 2007, the PA security forces have cracked down on Hamas’s military infrastructure in the West Bank and undermined its sources of funding.

Meanwhile, the IDF has also targeted Hamas’s military activities in the West Bank and arrested Hamas members allegedly planning attacks against Israel.

Hayya also emphatically rejected PA and Fatah demands that militant groups in Gaza disarm as a part of efforts to advance reconciliation and reunite the West Bank and the Strip.

The attack on the crowded al-Rawdah Mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed in Northern Sinai, which was launched during Friday Prayers, killed 305 and injured at least 128 others. Images of the dead and wounded, posted under the hashtag "Rawdah massacre," flooded Arabic social media since the attack. Egyptian officials called it the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history, and some commentators have already called it "Egypt's 9/11." 

While Egypt, and particularly the Sinai Peninsula, has faced terror attacks by jihadist groups in the past – mainly against security forces and Coptic churches – this attack was different: for the first time, jihadists deliberately targeted Muslim civilians during prayer time in a mosque, killing men, women and children, and opening fire from outside the mosque on those who tried to flee the carnage taking place inside it.

Although it so far hadn't claimed responsibility for the attack, Egypt’s public prosecutor’s office blamed ISIS, stating that the terrorists were carrying the ISIS flag when they opened fire on the mosque. ISIS has been active in the Sinai Peninsula since 2014, when the local salafi-jihadi group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to it and formally joined it as the Islamic State's Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province). Although Wilayat Sinai isn't the only jihadi group active in Sinai – in mid-November, an old pro-al-Qaida group called Jund al-Islam announced its re-emergence in the area and threatened to "uproot" ISIS presence in the Peninsula – ISIS has both the capability and the motivation to carry out such a bloody attack.

But why would ISIS carry out such a horrific attack now, and against this specific location? ISIS's motives for the attack are both strategic and ideological. Strategically, ISIS recently lost all of the territory it once controlled in Iraq: after losing control of Mosul in July and additional territory in Iraq and Syria since then, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on November 21 the formal liberation of the country from ISIS's rule: "We finished Daesh [the Arabic name for ISIS] militarily in Iraq and liberated our towns and cities." But ISIS's motto is of a "remaining" (baqiyya) caliphate which fights all of God's enemies; the loss of territory in the heartland of its state-building project thus only motivates ISIS to strike its enemies outside of Iraq and Syria. As journalist Graeme Wood argued shortly after the Friday attack, "mass murder is how ISIS tries to stay relevant." Such attacks show that the group is still very much alive and powerful, despite its territorial losses in Iraq and Syria and the Sisi regime's determined and brutal counterterrorism campaign against it.

In addition to this strategic rationale, ISIS also deliberately targeted a mosque known for its popularity among Sufi worshippers. While Sufism, a mystical form of Islam, has been part of orthodox Islam for centuries and is widely popular in many parts of the Muslim world, Salafi-jihadists view Sufism as heresy and accuse Sufis of polytheism and innovation – both major sins from a salafi-jihadi perspective. ISIS has a well-established record of attacking Sufi shrines in Pakistan, Iraq and Syria, but it also made clear that it views Sufism in Egypt as a mandatory target for attacks...

A recent report from Rabwah Times documented a recent event in which Muslims in Virginia calling for infidels (non-Muslims) to "accept the holy book [the Koran]" or "they have to be forced."

Ehsan Rehan reported as his team went undercover to the event:

Pakistan born Islamic cleric Rafiq Khan defined America as “The land of Infidels” at a fundraiser for his Islamic charity this Saturday. The event which was held at a Holiday Inn in Springfield, Virginia attracted over 100 participants. Speakers included an Islamist from Pakistan as well as radical Imams from the states of Maryland, Virginia, and Texas. The conference revolved around the topics of Jihad, Infidels and what can the American Muslim community do to counter conspiracies against Islam.
The event’s keynote speaker was Habib-ur-Rehman Ludhianvi, a visiting Islamic cleric from Pakistan. In a 2016 piece, Ludhianvi who serves as the editor of monthly Millia magazine claimed that America was behind the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Ludhianavi, who is also the principal of the Islamic seminary Dar-ul-Uloom located in the Pakistani city of Faisalabad claimed that ‘ignorant Infidels’ need to be dealt with force, He said:
“They are ignorant and there is no need for dialogue with them, God has given them two options, one is the holy book and one is the stick [Force] and if one does not accept the holy book they have to be forced."
Here's the video evidence.

Israel and the Trump administration are racing against the clock to stop publication of a United Nations “blacklist” of companies operating in Judea and Samaria, due out at the end of the year.
“We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day,” Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon told the Associated Press
Last month, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sent letters to approximately 190 companies listed in the database informing them of their status. The list targets Israeli and international businesses – including dozens of major American companies – which operate in some part over the Green Line, land the United Nations considers “occupied” territory.
The US and Israel fear the list may have devastating consequences for the Israeli economy, serving to drive away business, acting as a deterrent for companies considering coming to Israel, or harming investment in Israeli firms. It also majorly bolsters the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, critics charge.
“It is an attempt to provide an international stamp of approval to the anti-Semitic BDS movement,” said US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the list “counterproductive.”
Though as yet unpublished, the blacklist reportedly includes major American corporations like Airbnb, Caterpillar, Priceline, and TripAdvisor, as well as Israeli companies such as Coca-Cola Israel, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, communications giant Bezeq, and bus company Egged.
Technically, the blacklist has no legal status, and “violators” will face no penalty; unlike the Security Council, the Human Rights Council has no authority to impose sanctions on companies doing business in Judea and Samaria. But it has already had a negative impact, with a number of companies who received threatening letters quickly agreeing to pull out of contracts in Israel. 
The Human Rights Council is notorious for its criticism of Israel, with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley threatening the US may leave the UN body – as it recently did UNESCO – over its blatant anti-Israel bias.
Both the US and Israeli governments are putting diplomatic pressure on the Council, and the two nations’ combined efforts have seen some success, albeit less than a victory – the list’s publication will be pushed back from December to early 2018, the Times of Israel reported.

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