In successive Friday sermons, a Chicago imam has urged followers to support the Palestinian jihad by joining the fight or by donation "weapons and money."
In excerpts compiled by the Middle East Media Research Project (MEMRI) taken from sermons posted on YouTube, the Chicago Islamic Center's Mohamed Elimam speaks to "those of you who want to wage Jihad for the sake of Allah, Palestine is calling you and Gaza is crying out for your help" during his July 18 sermon. "However, if you are collaborators with those who give you weapons and money, then keep indulging yourselves with this money of yours."
He criticizes "deadbeat regimes" in Arab states, urging people to "Return to the battle of Jihad in Palestine. Jerusalem is calling you. The children of Gaza are crying for your help. I say to all the honorable mujahideen, to any believer who has ever waged Jihad for the sake of Allah, and to every child who was killed for the sake of Islam... Let the whole world know that the Zionist enemy is not fighting a well-armed army. Rather, it is fighting a defenseless people. It is killing children, and destroying homes. This is how they behaved towards the prophets of Allah as well."
In last Friday's sermon, he called Zionism "unadulterated evil besetting all people" and described Israel as "a thorn in the side of the Arab and Islamic nations. May Allah pull this thorn out, and stick it down their [Western] throats. May they be sent back to their countries in shame and disgrace, Allah willing."
The clips do not indicate that Elimam directly solicited for Hamas or other terrorist organizations. His rhetoric, however, is similar to other imams who wound up being removed from the country for supporting terrorists.
See the full MEMRI report here.
An Italian journalist operating in Gaza corroborated Israel's account of an errant Hamas rocket strike on a Gaza school playground on Monday, according to an Israel National News report. At least 10 people were killed, mostly children, in the Shati refugee camp school. Israel was immediately accused; however, it insisted that Hamas rockets caused the death and destruction.
Returning from Gaza and presumably safe from potential "Hamas retaliation," journalist Gabriele Barbati tweeted confirmation that Hamas terrorists quickly tried to cover up evidence of its errant rocket strike.
A Wall Street Journal reporter, Tamer El-Ghobashi, tweeted evidence confirming a Hamas rocket struck Gaza's main hospital. El-Ghobashi deleted the tweet shortly after.
Hamas had as many as 10,000 rockets when Operation Protective Edge began three weeks ago. It has fired nearly 3,000 at Israeli civilians since then, and Israeli military officials say they have destroyed thousands more. Though as many as 5,000 remain, increasing reports indicate that a greater volume of rockets are falling short and landing in Gaza.
Reporting objectively in Gaza is extremely difficult for foreign journalists who are increasingly subjected to Hamas threats. Western journalists operating in Gaza have been threatened and harassed by Hamas for reporting instances of the terrorist groups' use of human shields. Israeli officials have noted that some reporters are intimidated by the terrorist organization and have ceased documenting Hamas' exploitation of civilians throughout the conflict. Some journalists even experience Hamas interrogation and are forced to backtrack their reporting if deemed too critical of Hamas. Other journalists have been forced to leave the Gaza Strip. It is not clear if Barbati will be allowed to return to Gaza for further reporting.
This type of atmosphere prevents journalists from doing their jobs and disseminating critical information out to the rest of the world. The lack of freedom afforded to Gaza based journalists contributes to Hamas' narrative of the conflict, which frequently dominates international and Western media outlets.
A good contrast between pragmatism and raw religious hatred came in recent statements from prominent Sunni voices.
Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guide and popular Al-Jazeera program host, appeared on the network earlier this month to defend Hamas as "nothing but a group that is defending itself, defending its country, defending its brethren, defending its honor, defending its (Muslim) Ummah." It is not, he added, a terrorist group.
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The Investigative Project on Terrorism translated Qaradawi's remarks. He also said Hamas "did not fire at anyone. It's only defending itself. Doesn't Gaza have the right of self defense? People want Hamas exposed. [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu said Hamas received building blocks and used it to build the tunnels. No, they built many things that they ought to, and built-among many things, the tunnels. They don't want [Hamas] to have the tunnels to protect them; they want Hamas to remain exposed to their cannons, bombs and jets, from the land, and from the sea and from the air. They want it to be bombarded while exposed so they can kill whomever they want. Is this logical?"
Qaradawi also published an anti-Semitic forgery which purports to show Benjamin Franklin warning his countrymen about "the danger of the Jews. In every land in which the Jews have settled, they have depressed the moral level, and corrupted commercial conscience."
Even the American Muslim website acknowledges the Franklin statement "has been debunked many times over the past 80 years, and still it keeps coming back. Such bigotry is really difficult to stamp out."
That seems especially true when it comes from someone as renowned as Qaradawi. As we have noted repeatedly, many American Islamists hold Qaradawi up as a moderate scholar, overlooking his fatwas justifying attacks on American troops, suicide bombings in Israel and his stated desire to kill Jews.
A retired Saudi Arabian admiral and columnist, meanwhile, makes it clear he has no love for Israel, but says Hamas is to blame for the current conflict and that it is time to recognize reality. "Israel is a state that will continue to exist, a state that the entire world respects more [than it respects] its Arab neighbors," 'Umro Al-'Amery wrote in a Facebook post highlighted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). "There is nothing for the Palestinians to do but negotiate for better conditions – but not with this path [of violence]...
Hamas and other jihadi groups "have never, not for one single day, been interested in the welfare of Gaza's residents; they are interested only in slogans and rhetoric," Al-'Amery added.
In a reply to a comment, he dismissed Islamist slogans that religion offers the solution to the conflict. "But Islam is not the solution. Islam is a religion, whereas secularism and democracy are the solution, as in all countries whose people enjoy wellbeing, peace, and religious faith, and Malaysia is a model [worthy] of emulation for us."
Western journalists operating in Gaza have been threatened and harassed by Hamas for reporting instances of the terrorist groups' use of human shields, according to a Times of Israel report. Israeli officials have noted that some reporters are intimidated by Hamas' threats and have ceased documenting Hamas' exploitation of civilians throughout the conflict.
The newspaper says it confirmed instances in which Hamas officials confiscated equipment and pictures from photographers exposing terrorists who were preparing to launch rockets from civilian structures and fighting in civilian garb.
Hamas continues to limit access to its terrorist operations. For example, Hamas converted Gaza's Shifa hospital into a base of operations but reporters are prevented from showing that.
"We know that downstairs there is a Hamas command and control center and that Hamas leaders are hiding there," an unnamed Israeli official told the newspaper. "No reporter is allowed to go anywhere downstairs. They're only allowed to work upstairs to take pictures of casualties, the pictures that Hamas wants them to take."
Last week, a French journalist told Liberation, a French daily newspaper, the circumstances of his interrogation in a Hamas office in Shifa.
"A few meters from the emergency room, where the injured from the bombings kept on coming in, in the outpatient ward, [the reporter] was received in 'a small section of the hospital used as an office' by a group of young combatants,'" according to the article.
The reporter said a Hamas interrogator confronted him, asking, "Who are you? What's your name? What are you doing?" He also was asked whether he spoke Hebrew or had any relationship with the Palestinian Authority. "The young Hamas supporters insistently ask the question: 'Are you a correspondent for Israel?'" he wrote. The reporter insisted that he contributes to French and Algerian media only and was eventually ordered to leave Gaza.
His account matches a report out of Australia. It cites television reporter Peter Stefanovic, who issued a Twitter post describing seeing rockets being fired from a civilian area near his hotel. Hamas supporters accused him of lying, asking "Are you working for the IDF" and issuing a not-so-subtle threat that "in WWII spies got shot."
Meanwhile, Hamas has executed more than 30 suspected collaborators in Gaza, according to the Times of Israel reporting on Palestinian security officials' statements to Palestine Press News Agency. The alleged spies were summarily executed after a brief investigation. Moreover, Fatah appealed to Hamas to cease harassing its members and placing them under house arrest.
Three Israeli soldiers were killed Wednesday when a tunnel opening they were investigating turned out to be booby-trapped. The tunnel opening was located under a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) clinic, the Times of Israel reports.
The deaths come a day after terrorist rockets were found inside a UNRWA school for the third time this month. The soldiers were in the clinic when the tunnel exploded and were killed when it collapsed. Another 15 soldiers were wounded.
Troops increasingly are encountering improvised explosive devices as they hunt for more Hamas tunnels, Brig. Gen. Micky Edelstein told the newspaper. In a briefing, IDF officials said they destroyed four more tunnels in the past day, and are "days away" from eliminating the tunnel threat.
Meanwhile, the UNRWA reported Tuesday that it found Hamas rockets in one of its Gaza schools for the third time since Israel's Operation Protective Edge began, the Times of Israel reports. The agency is devoted to helping Palestinian refugees, yet their premises are consistently exploited for the purposes of Hamas' terrorist operations.
"We condemn the group or groups who endangered civilians by placing these munitions in our school," said UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness. "This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises. We call on all warring parties to respect the inviolability of UN property."
Hamas was not mentioned explicitly in the statement.
A UNRWA spokesperson stated that the organization gave the rockets to "local authorities," which answer to the Hamas-Palestinian Authority (PA) unity government led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
A senior Israeli official told the Times of Israel that the weapons were essentially returned to Hamas. "The rockets were passed onto the government authorities in Gaza, which is Hamas. In other words, UNRWA handed to Hamas rockets that could be shot at Israel."
The former Saudi intelligence head, Turki al Faisal, publicly blames Hamas for Israel's military campaign in Gaza and the resulting casualties.
Al Faisal's comments came in an interview published Sunday by Al-Sharq-al-Awsat that were then reported in English by the website Algemeiner.
"Hamas is responsible for the slaughter in the Gaza Strip following its bad decisions in the past, and the haughtiness it shows by firing useless rockets at Israel, which contribute nothing to the Palestinian interest," Faisal said.
This increasingly anti-Hamas sentiment is shared by various other Arab writers and officials.
Recently, Saudi columnist Nasser Al-Sarami urged people not to be deceived by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood's intentions. "While the poor, defenseless people... stand exposed to rockets and tanks, the jihadi and Brotherhood leaderships flee to the fortified holes they prepared for themselves. This, in addition to the leaderships that are based in countries outside the conflict zone, hundreds of miles away... This is the [Muslim] Brotherhood, the leaders of Hamas and the savage organizations. Beware of them!"
Hamas has caused more Palestinian suffering than Israel has, Egyptian journalist Kamal Gabriel wrote:
"These Palestinian gangs plunder the cause of the oppressed Palestinian people by repeatedly reenacting the story of Samson, who brought down the [Philistine] temple on his and everyone else's heads. They do this in their own country and in every country that hosts them – in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Kuwait. These organizations have become a curse on the Palestinian people..."
Various writers in Syria and Egypt also blame Hamas' actions for provoking Israeli counter attacks and prioritizing conflict over the safety of Gaza's civilians.
Moreover, Egypt's foreign minister, Sameh Shoukri, blames Hamas for the current escalation of violence, by rejecting Egypt's initial cease-fire proposal.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge uncovered a comprehensive Hamas training manual that features step-by-step instructions on building homemade bombs. The terrorist manual includes detailed techniques concerning the concealing and detonation of various types explosives.
For example, the manual explains how to produce a television-shaped explosive with shrapnel intended to kill and mutilate as many Israeli victims as possible. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also discovered different types of mines and remotely detonated bombs throughout the Gaza Strip.
The video below shows one example of Israeli forces encountering a Gaza civilian home rigged with explosives located near a United Nations school.
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While the IDF continues to degrade Hamas' capabilities and the Iron Dome missile defense system neutralizes roughly 85 percent of Hamas rockets targeted, the terrorist organization continues to find other ways to target innocent Israeli civilians.
Click here to see IDF forces exposing a Hamas terrorist tunnel built to store weapons and serve as a critical means to stage future attacks and kidnappings of Israelis.
According to the IDF, more than 2,600 Hamas rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel since the start of Operation Protective Edge. The IDF has responded to the terrorist threat by striking 3,870 Hamas targets including dozens of underground tunnels.
While Hamas targets innocent Israelis, the terrorist organization continues to use its own population as human shields, utilizing civilian structures as military bases of operations. Hamas exploits schools, civilian homes, and mosques as bases to launch rockets at Israel and host weapons and rockets. Hamas even uses hospitals as command and control centers and ambulances as transport vehicles.
Click here to see video footage of Hamas using ambulances to move its terrorist fighters. When ambulances are used for military purposes, they may be targeted according to international law. In this video, the IDF chose not to target the ambulance in this instance to avoid the possibility of non-combatant casualties.
The Wafa hospital in the Shejaia neighborhood was converted into a command center, rocket-launch pad, sniper's position and weapons storage depot. The hospital now serves as a cover for Hamas' underground tunnel system and base for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and troops.
Click here to watch video confirming Hamas attacks from the Wafa hospital, the Israeli warning calls for civilians to flee the area, the subsequent IDF airstrike and secondary explosions confirming the hospital's use as a weapons storage facility.
Another deadly Hamas mortar attack killed four people on Monday afternoon, targeting the Eshkol Regional Council along the Gaza border, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Click here to watch the repercussions of the attack.
At least nine severely injured people were taken to a medical center in Beersheba. Unlike other projectiles, mortars do not trigger the Code Red rocket siren and tend to strike targets without notice. Thus no warning siren preceded this attack.
While Hamas has repeatedly rejected multiple cease-fires throughout Operation Protective Edge, the terrorist organization continues to fire mortar shells and rockets at Israeli civilians. Today, Hamas rocket fire renewed as scores of missiles targeted the entire country.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) prevented a significant terrorist attack by repelling a Hamas infiltration into Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Palestinian terrorists invaded the Israeli civilian community near the border with Gaza when the IDF opened fire and killed one terrorist. A search is underway for other terrorists.
The new Hamas offensive occurred less than 18 hours after President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding that Israel implement a unilateral ceasefire.
The IDF is now focused primarily on eliminating the underground tunnels and will only retaliate against other terrorist targets in response to any Hamas provocation.
After the infiltration, the IDF proceeded to warn thousands of Gaza residents to evacuate their homes in Shejaia, Zeitoun, and western Jabalia, via voice and text messages. These types of messages routinely precede retaliatory Israeli air strikes in an attempt to minimize innocent Palestinian collateral damage. Targeting terrorists is extremely difficult considering that Hamas utilizes its population as human shields and purposefully hides weapons and rockets in civilian structures, including private residences, mosques, schools, and hospitals.
According to Israeli intelligence, Hamas had been planning for a vicious assault on Israeli civilians during the upcoming Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. The surprise attack would have included 200 terrorists sent through dozens of Hamas tunnels in order to infiltrate Israeli communities for the purposes of killing and kidnapping civilians on a massive scale.
The latest Kibbutz Nahal Oz infiltration emphasizes Hamas' murderous intentions and proves that the terrorist organization's tunnel network constitutes a severe threat to the Jewish state.
In landmark judgments, the Washington, DC district court issued $8.6 billion in damages against Iran and Sudan for their role in al-Qaida's 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam that killed hundreds of people and injured thousands. The judgments covered four separate cases: Monicah Okoba Opati, et al. v. Republic of Sudan, et al.; Milly Mikali Amduso, et al. v. Republic of Sudan, et al.; Mary Onsongo, et al. v. Republic of Sudan, et al.; Winfred Wairimu Wamai, et al. v. Republic of Sudan, et al.
Out of the award, more than $5 billion is for compensatory damages and $3.1 billion for pain and suffering. Other elements bring the total damages to around $8.6 billion.
Victims of the bombings and their families sued the governments of Iran and Sudan under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA") for their roles in funding and supporting the attacks. A November 2011 ruling issued by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates found the defendants complicit in the 1998 embassy bombings. The opinion covered six separate cases that were consolidated for purposes of expediency.
"The government of Iran aided, abetted and conspired with Hezbollah, Osama bin Laden, and al Qaeda to launch large-scale bombing attacks against the United States by utilizing the sophisticated delivery mechanism of powerful suicide truck bombs. Hezbollah, a terrorist organization based principally in Lebanon, had utilized this type of bomb in the devastating 1983 attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Prior to their meetings with Iranian officials and agents, Bin Laden and al Qaeda did not possess the technical expertise required to carry out the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam," Judge Bates wrote.
The ruling also revealed the role of the Sudanese government in the attacks: "Sudan harbored and provided sanctuary to terrorists and their operational and logistical supply network. Bin Laden and al Qaeda received the support and protection of the Sudanese intelligence and military from foreign intelligence services and rival militants."
The damages cover hundreds of bombing victims and their families. Bates said elements of the embassy bombing attacks resembled the 1982 Hizballah bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 service members. In that case, $4 billion in compensatory damages and $5 billion in punitive damages were awarded. He structured the damages in these cases accordingly.
"Scores were murdered, hundreds of families were torn asunder, and thousands of lives were irreparably damaged," Bates wrote Friday in awarding punitive damages. "The need for deterrence here is tremendous."
A Qatari religious leader used his Friday sermon last week to pray to Allah to "kill [the Jews] the very last one."
Sheik Tareq Al-Hawwas' sermon was aired on Qatar TV, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Al-Hawwas also boasted that Hamas rockets have severely disrupted daily life for Israelis.
"For the first time in the history of the abhorred country, the state of Israel, sirens are heard around the clock and over three million people flee to their hideouts," he said. "Schools, governmental departments, and airports came to a halt. When have we ever heard of such things?"
But then, the radical preacher's sermon transitioned into an anti-Semitic diatribe.
"Oh, Allah increase the pressure You exert upon the plundering Jews. Demonstrate upon them the miracles of Your might, for they are no match to You. Count them one by one, and kill them to the very last one. Do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, disperse them. Oh Lord, freeze the blood in their veins. Oh Allah, tear them asunder. Oh Allah, sow discord in their hearts."
Al-Hewwas is a member of the influential International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), which is led by radical Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi and which has made repeated calls for Israel's destruction.
This sermon is another example of the radicalism that is prevalent in many Middle Eastern mosques. It also should remind that international community that Israel's most ardent enemies typically avoid differentiating between Israelis and Jews overall in their quest for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Moreover, this sentiment is representative of a global uptick in anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric in light of the violent escalation between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas.
Al-Hewwas has made similar anti-Semitic sermons during more peaceful times. During an April 2013 sermon on Lebanese television translated by MEMRI, he described the Jews' treachery and described the Holocaust primarily of being "exaggeration and lies. If only Hitler had finished them off, thus relieving humanity of them."