The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched operation "Northern Shield" Tuesday to destroy Hizballah's cross-border attack tunnels that infiltrate into Israel from the Lebanese border.
The IDF said that "a number of tunnels" were dug underneath Israeli territory and constituted a "flagrant and blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty."
The military operation is primarily taking place on Israel's side of the northern border.
"This morning the IDF began Operation Northern Shield, the goal of which is to uncover and neutralize terrorist tunnels from Lebanon", said Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement Tuesday, adding, "Whoever tries to attack the State of Israel – will pay a heavy price."
The operation comes amid rising tensions in the region, following reported Israeli airstrikes last week targeting enemy infrastructure in Syria.
Hizballah released a video with Hebrew subtitles Friday that featured satellite images and specific locations of strategic areas in Israel, warning Israel: "Attack and you will regret it."
But, on Monday, a senior Hizballah source told Reuters that neither Iranian or Hizballah positions were targeted last week.
That day Netanyahu met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels to discuss urgent developments concerning Iranian and Hizballah threats on Israel's border. Netanyahu reportedly intended to ask Pompeo to warn Beirut that the Jewish state would take military action against Hizballah if its terrorist build-up continued.
Israel's military considers Hizballah tunnels an offensive threat that would be used for cross-border terrorist raids in a future war. It is believed that Hizballah would attempt to launch a mass-casualty attack and conquer an Israeli border town.
Hizballah remains Israel's primary and more immediate security threat. The terrorist organization has already converted an estimated 200 Lebanese villages and towns into military bases, using residential buildings and underground bunkers to store sophisticated weaponry aimed at Israel.
Hizballah is also committed to converting some of its 150,000-strong rocket arsenal into precision, GPS-guided missiles that could target sensitive infrastructure and civilian areas in Israel.
Recent attention has focused mainly on Hizballah's growing presence in Syria as the terrorist group attempts to consolidate a new terrorist front against Israel.
In addition to Hizballah's major investments in Syria, the terrorist group has devoted considerable resources to bolstering its terrorist capabilities in southern Lebanon.
"We are taking determined and responsible action in all sectors simultaneously. We will continue with additional actions – open and covert – in order to ensure the security of Israel," Netanyahu said in Tuesday's statement.
Today, the Israeli military launched a pre-emptive operation to hinder one method Hizballah would use to wreak havoc on Israeli communities. Some of Hizballah's other threatening terrorist infrastructure could be next.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent out a fundraising email for #GivingTuesday earlier this week claiming that Facebook and PayPal would match up to $7 million in donations to the group.
"Today is giving Tuesday, a day where you can show your support for the important civil rights and advocacy work that CAIR does every day. Today also, Facebook and PayPal will match up to seven million dollars in donation. So I urge you to support CAIR as much as you can," CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a YouTube video linked to in the solicitation.
But Awad's plea for donations omitted critical fine print. Facebook and PayPal pledged to match $7 million in donations for all nonprofits that signed up to participate in the program, not just CAIR. Participating non-profits were allowed to raise a maximum of $250,000 total and $20,000 from a single donor. Donations would be paid out directly from Facebook and/or the PayPal Giving Fund, Facebook's web page about the fundraiser said.
CAIR set at $150,000 goal for Giving Tuesday, but raised just more than 10 percent of that – $15,981.
"CAIR's duplicity stretches from the grand (the nature of jihad) to the petty (claiming here to have access to 500 times more money than is the case)," said Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum.
Awad is on record supporting Hamas, and more recently has emerged as a strong supporter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's dictatorship. In addition to imprisoning thousands of dissidents and hundreds of journalists, Israel's Shin Bet found that Erdogan's regime funds and trains Hamas via a Blackwater-type private military company called SADAT International Defense Consulting. SADAT is run by one of Erdogan's top military advisers.
The PayPal Giving Fund hosts a donor page for CAIR SFBA where visitors can donate.
Billoo's support for Hamas and anti-Semitic hatred toward "Zionist" Jews is blatant. She repeatedly equates the Israeli Army with ISIS. She tweeted in November 2014 that "Blaming Hamas for firing rockets at [Apartheid] Israel is like blaming a woman for punching her rapist. #FreePalestine v @KathlynGadd"
This wasn't the only time Billoo defended terrorists for firing rockets into Israel. She praised Hizballah in 2009 for launching rockets. "The ish just hit the fan: http://tinyurl.com/7ctj3a ! AH for Hezbollah having the courage to do what the Arab governments won't!" she wrote.
By serving as fundraising platforms for CAIR, Facebook and PayPal are funding the sort of hatred that they claimed to oppose when they kicked out right-wing InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for "promoting hate" in August and September.
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein is calling for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to fire Los Angeles chapter director Hussam Ayloush after he advocated for the "termination" of Israel.
"Iran's regime calling Israel a 'cancerous tumor' is like the pot calling the kettle black. All the people of that region will be better off once both murderous regimes are terminated," Ayloush tweeted Sunday.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism first reported on Ayloush's statement. The ZOA statement cites Monday's IPT article, which also details Ayloush's record of incitement. Klein also called for the Democratic Party to revoke Ayloush's delegate credentials.
Based on his tweet, one might assume Ayloush has an equal disdain for the Islamic Republic of Iran and Israel. However, Counter-Islamist Grid Director Kyle Shideler points out that CAIR previously organized a dinner for ex-Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. While Ayloush may now like to see regime change in Iran, he has a long history of describing Israel in ways that echo Iranian rhetoric calling for its destruction.
Ayloush's call for Israel's destruction is anti-Semitic, according to the U.S. State Department's definition established in 2010. Demonizing Israel by "[d]rawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis" and "denying Israel the right to exist" are among the behaviors which constitute anti-Semitism.
Now Ayloush is trying to equate Israel with the Islamic Republic of Iran – the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism worldwide which continues to actively plot attacks throughout the West.
In light of this sentiment, the ZOA is urging "every Jewish and civil rights organization and Rabbis, priests, Imams, politicians and Democratic party officials to join ZOA in demanding Ayloush's termination from his CAIR and Democratic Party posts."
"We specifically call on Minority leader Chuck Schumer, Cong. Nancy Pelosi, Majority leader Mitch McConnell, and Cong. Paul Ryan to speak out strongly and clearly. No more incitement to murdering Jews!", Klein said in the ZOA statement.
Hussam Ayloush, a senior Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) official, in a tweet on Sunday called for the Jewish state to be "terminated."
"Iran's regime calling Israel a 'cancerous tumor' is like the pot calling the kettle black. All the people of that region will be better off once both murderous regimes are terminated," Ayloush wrote.
Based on this tweet, one might assume Ayloush has an equal disdain for the Islamic Republic of Iran and Israel. However, whereas Ayloush would like to see regime change in Iran, he has a history of describing Israel in ways that echo Iranian rhetoric calling for its destruction.
"You know how many hundreds of Jewish American kids are recruited to join the Israeli occupation army? Hundreds. Every year. They leave their country, leave America, to go join with an army that is engaged, with no debate, in major violations of human rights, and maybe some would argue, and I'm one of them, war crimes," Ayloush said in May, adding that "no one has ever established a CVE program to see, why would normal Jewish American kids leave their home and join to be part of an army committing war crimes."
That kind of comparison "is frankly insane," British Muslim Maajid Nawaz, a former radical who now fights Islamist ideologies, said in 2015.
It's also anti-Semitic, according to the U.S. State Department's definition established in 2010. Demonizing Israel by "[d]rawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis" and "denying Israel the right to exist" are among the behaviors which constitute anti-Semitism.
Now Ayloush is trying to equate Israel with the Islamic Republic of Iran – the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism worldwide which continues to actively plot attacks throughout the West.
He didn't call for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be voted out and replaced by someone less hawkish in the conflict with Palestinians. He called for it to be terminated.
Ayloush runs CAIR's Los Angeles chapter and remains politically influential despite his radical views on the Middle East conflict. According to his Facebook profile, he remains a delegate in California's Democratic Party.
As we've noted previously, Ayloush's willingness to make outrageous comparisons likening Israel to the world's greatest terrorists, he bristles at the very question of whether Hamas is a terrorist organization. In a 2013 exchange captured on video, Ayloush angrily dismissed the question as "not acceptable," and "proves that you have nothing but bigotry in you."
It's difficult to imagine a parallel circumstance in which a prominent public figure calls for the "termination" of a foreign state and manages to retain his influence. Ayloush isn't criticizing a specific policy. He wants an existing nation to disappear.
Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza fired over 460 missiles and rockets targeting communities in southern Israel Monday and Tuesday, killing one person and injuring at least 108 others.
Israel's military responded with coordinated strikes targeting roughly 160 terrorist sites, including the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV and radio stations. An Egyptian-mediated temporary ceasefire appears to be in effect.
Greenwald says that the Israelis are "not even pretending this was accidental; they admit they were targeted."
Updated Nov. 15: Telegraph journalist Raf Sanchez toured Gaza Thursday, describing a witnesses's account of the bombing.
Enemy media and communications infrastructure can be justifiable targets in an armed conflict.
For example, an International Criminal Tribunal committee, created to review NATO's bombing campaign in the former Yugoslavia, argued that if media stations are used to incite crimes, then they can be a legitimate target for military action.
Al-Aqsa is Hamas' main media outlet which – like other Palestinian institutions – offers programs specifically geared to recruiting children to embrace terrorism and become suicide bombers to attack innocent Israeli civilians.
The stations also help Hamas communicate with its fighters.
"The [Al-Aqsa TV] station broadcasts violent propaganda against the State of Israel and its citizens, as well as operational messaging to militants, which include methods for carrying out attacks against civilians and soldiers and way to obtain weapons," the Israeli military said.
Israel similarly targeted Hizballah's Al-Manar TV station during the 2006 war in Lebanon.
In 2010, the U.S. Treasury Department designated Al-Aqsa Television because it is controlled and funded by Hamas – a designated terrorist organization.
"Treasury will not distinguish between a business financed and controlled by a terrorist group, such as Al-Aqsa Television, and the terrorist group itself," Stuart Levey, former Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in 2010.
To limit casualties, the IDF used roof-knocking techniques to warn people inside the Al-Aqsa TV station, allowing all of the personnel inside to evacuate.
"Israeli planes fired three missile alerts, before F16 planes targeted with at least three missiles the al-Quds TV headquarters, destroying it completely... No injuries were reported," reported WAFA, the official Palestinian Authority news agency, on Monday, according to Palestinian Media Watch.
Click here to watch the last moments from Al-Aqsa TV's final broadcast before Israel destroyed the building.
When Asia Bibi's conviction for blasphemy was overturned last month, thousands of extremists stormed the streets of Pakistan. Blasphemy is a capital crime in that country, and the protesters wanted her dead.
Now Bibi has reportedly been released, and the extremists are rioting again.
Bibi, a Christian, was accused of blasphemy in 2009 after allegedly arguing with a group of Muslim women who claimed that she made derogatory remarks about their religion and their god – charges Bibi denied from the beginning. According to Deutsche Welle, such accusations are often used as vengeance in handling petty disputes. She was sentenced to death a year later.
The Washington Post reports Bibi's release has been confirmed by Pakistani officials. It is not clear where Bibi is at the moment. But Pir Afzal Qadri, a leader of the protesting group, claimed in a video that the government assured him "that she is in the custody of law enforcement agencies . . . and has not been flown out of the country,".
Foreign media speculation, however, has her en route to Europe – and probably to the Netherlands, where, according to CNN, she has already filed for asylum. Her lawyer, Saif ul-Malook, fled to Holland earlier this week after also receiving death threats in Pakistan in the wake of Bibi's acquittal.
On Thursday, the Dutch government offered Malook the right to remain in the country for three months through a temporary refuge program that aids human rights workers who are in danger in their homeland. He has not applied for asylum, but it is believed that he will accept the offer to remain in the Netherlands for the time being.
However, Malook has not said whether Bibi is joining him in Holland, though he did suggest at a press conference earlier this week that she may be coming to the West sometime soon. He also noted that her husband had written to British Prime Minister Theresa May to request asylum in the UK. While May has yet to respond, both Belgium and the Netherlands have indicated that they would welcome her arrival and assure her refuge.
So far, Dutch officials have refused to confirm or deny the rumors. But what is sure is that, as Islamist radicals threaten further violence in Pakistan, Asia Bibi is free.
Iran and Hamas are fueling violent protests at the Israel-Gaza border by paying Palestinian youth to participate and compensating injured Palestinians and families of those that get killed, according to young Gazans who spoke with Israeli reporter Ohad Chemo.
Hamas pays $100 a month to youth who participate in border protests that have continued unabated since the end of March, Chemo was told.
Hamas' state patron, Iran, pays $3,000 to each family of a "Shahid" (martyr) who gets killed at the protest. Seriously wounded Palestinians get $500 from Hamas, while less severely injured rioters get $200.
Even bus drivers who transfer the protesters to the Israeli border receive roughly $25 for a one-way trip.
Some Palestinians told Chemo they disagreed with the Hamas strategy.
"If there would be work and income nobody would show up [to the demonstrations]," an older Palestinian said. Many protesters, he added, are members of the Hamas military wing.
"Hamas is the only group which profits from the violent demonstrations," another Palestinian said.
Aid agencies and members of the international community routinely point to Israel's blockade of Gaza as the source of the strip's rising economic woes and sky-rocketing unemployment. But some of the Gazans interviewed admitted that Hamas' strategy of prioritizing violent confrontation against Israel is directly hurting the local economy.
According to some of the locals, Hamas engages in widespread extortion on various essential goods. For example, as soon as a truck driver enters Gaza from the Keren Shalom border crossing, they are forced to pay roughly $140 to Hamas. Gasoline imports from Egypt and cigarettes are similarly taxed at high rates.
Some interviewees admitted that there have been minor strikes and protests against Hamas for these practices, but the terrorist group's militant wing quickly shuts down dissent with violent force.
Others interviewed nevertheless expressed strong support for Hamas and its never-ending war against the Jewish state.
The vast majority of Palestinian fatalities during violent demonstrations on the Israel-Gaza border were members or affiliates of terrorist organizations – primarily Hamas.
The findings, supported by official statements from Hamas leaders, prove that Hamas always has been the driving force behind the deadly protests. Hamas also orchestrated several attacks at the border and continues to encourage the launching of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel that spark devastating fires.
Any attempts to portray the riots as "peaceful protests" defies the evidence, Hamas' own leadership, and local Gazan insights.
A Moroccan cleric who says Israel's destruction is a duty for "the entire Muslim Ummah" has been elected to head an influential global Muslim scholars group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ahmed al-Raissouni will lead the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), which has a long history of supporting terrorism. More than 1,500 members of the IUMS's General Assembly elected al-Raissouni Wednesday during a meeting in Istanbul.
The delegates came from all over the Islamic world and from the United States, Turkey's pro-regime newspaper Yeni Safak reported.
Al-Raissouni made his comments about destroying Israel in 2006 after a Hamas electoral victory. He also signed a declaration in 2015 calling for the overthrow of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
"Striking an alliance with the Zionist aggressors [and] protecting and defending them, while showing hostility to the Palestinian resistance, conspiring against it and besieging it by destroying Sinai and deporting its people – all these constitute treason against the faith and the homeland and contempt for the way of the Prophet," the 2015 declaration said.
Al-Raissouni succeeds IUMS founder Yusuf Qaradawi, 93, who stepped down last weekend. Qaradawi has been the Muslim Brotherhood's most influential religious scholar for decades. He is best known for his endorsement of Palestinian suicide bombings and for encouraging Muslims to move to Europe and America to Islamize them – fulfilling an Islamic prophecy about the conquest of Rome.
Egypt, The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Bahrain classify the IUMS as a terrorist organization due to its alleged role in trying to destabilize those countries. It counts Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as a member and calls for Israel's destruction. During the Iraq War, the IUMS approved a fatwa sanctioning killing American soldiers.
Some IUMS members, including Libyan Sheikh Ali al-Salabi and Yemeni Sheikh Abdel Majeed al-Zindani are Muslim Brotherhood members who have supported al-Qaida. Al-Salabi attended the current Istanbul conference.
Qaradawi praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last weekend, saying that the West plotted against Turkey and would have succeeded without his leadership. Qaradawi predicted in 2014 that Istanbul, the former Ottoman capital, would become the capital of a new Caliphate.
"We pray for Turkey to be the administrative center of the Islamic world again," Qaradawi said Saturday.
That praise for Erdogan, "while bashing others in the region, most specifically Saudis, suggest Erdogan [is] building his Islamist credentials with endorsement of top [Brotherhood] clerics who came to [the] convention in Istanbul," Abdullah Bozkurt, former editor of the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Ali Erbas, head of Turkey's Department of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), and Istanbul Mayor Mevlüt Uysal flanked Qaradawi as he gave his speech. This signifies Erdogan's desire to push the Brotherhood's cause further, Bozkurt said. It also shows the Diyanet with its 140,000 state employees firmly backs the Brotherhood's ideology.
With Hizballah's help, Iran has started building another military base to serve pro-Iran militias in southwestern Syria, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports, citing the Syrian opposition website al-Souria Net.
Iran began building the base in Daraa province after the Assad regime took control over the region in July. Hizballah operatives are taking the lead in the construction process, with help from Iraqi Shi'ite militia fighters.
To create space for the military structure, Iran-affiliated terrorists destroyed roughly 650 homes and multiple villages in the Lajat region. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) oversaw the transfer of weaponry and ammunition to the region. Last month, IRGC officers and local militia commanders reportedly met several times to improve weapon flows and military coordination regarding the new base.
In February, satellite imagery exposed another Iranian military base outside of the Syrian capital Damascus. That IRGC-run base reportedly has the ability to host missiles that can strike any part of Israel.
Iran already oversees a military compound near the Damascus airport and other high-profile airbases and permanent military sites across the country.
Iran continues to invest considerable resources in strengthening relations with local allies in Syria, including Hizballah and other Shi'a militias. But recent reports suggest that the Iranian axis is fostering ties with unlikely partners: former U.S.-backed Sunni rebels in Syria.
Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hizballah recruited close to 2,000 fighters, most of whom from Syrian rebel groups that lost U.S. financing last year. Hizballah is paying these rebels to switch sides and integrate into a growing, Iranian-led force in southern Syria. Joining Hizballah also offers assurances that the former opposition fighters will avoid detention by the Syrian regime.
Recruiting local Sunni proxies allows Iran to enhance its presence close to Israel's border after seemingly withdrawing from the region to escape Israeli airstrikes.
In addition to building military infrastructure in Daraa province, Iran's expanding its ideological reach and established a branch of a Shi'ite religious organization in late October. Other IRGC-affiliated organizations help spread the regime's radical ideology across Syria to enhance the Islamic Republic's soft power presence in the country.
Thousands of Islamist demonstrators in Pakistan continue to violently protest the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was falsely accused of blasphemy and spent the last eight years on death row.
Protesters clashed with police, burned cars and disrupted traffic, blocking ambulances. Schools across Pakistan have been closed and a major zone in Islamabad is sealed off.
Asia Bibi was charged in 2009 with insulting Islam's prophet Muhammad after drinking from a cup of water before allowing fellow Muslim farm laborers drink first. After being beaten in her home, Bibi's accusers say that she confessed to blasphemy. She was sentenced to death in 2010.
On Wednesday, Pakistan's Supreme Court overturned her sentence. For that, the Supreme Court judges "deserve to be killed," said Muhammad Afzal Qadri, leader of the extremist Islamist Tehreek-i-Labaik party. But Bibi has not been released from prison, as negotiations for her safety broke down between the government and Islamists.
"Which government can function like this, blackmailed by protests?" asked Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, accusing the Islamists for "inciting [people] for their own political gain."
Radical religious groups, including a charity founded by UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed, vowed to join the protests today.
Public support for blasphemy laws in Pakistan remains high, driving a wedge between the ruling party and extreme Islamists stoking protests. And that sentiment is not limited to South Asia.
A Maryland mosque last year praised the terrorist who killed a former Pakistani governor critical of Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Salman Taseer was targeted by radical Islamists after he defended Bibi. In 2011, his bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri shot and killed him.
American Islamist groups said nothing about Taseer's killing.
After Qadri was executed for the killing in 2016, the Gulzar E Madina mosque hosted a celebration in his memory, "attended by dozens of people including young children and teenagers."
Radical Islamists in Pakistan, whether organized terrorist groups or mobs of people, often take matters into their hands.
In April 2017, a violent mob beat to death a university student who faced a blasphemy accusation that investigators later deemed false.
Sunni terrorist groups connected to extremist Pakistani organizations last year targeted minorities in several deadly attacks including Ahmadi Muslims, the Shi'a Hazara community, and Christians.
In December, for example, Islamic State terrorists killed nine civilians in a targeted attack involving a suicide bomber against a Methodist church in Quetta.
Pakistan has charged about 1,000 people with blasphemy since 1987, and convictions can carry the death penalty. These laws especially target members of Pakistan's minority communities. But the law can be also applied to anyone that is seen as a threat to the government.
According to the US State Department's International Religious Freedom Report for 2017, civil society organizations "reported lower courts often failed to adhere to basic evidentiary standards in blasphemy cases."
Asia Bibi's acquittal highlights the plight of all religious minorities in Pakistan and the destructive power of radical Islamists across the country.