Hamas is rebuilding its network of underground infiltration tunnels damaged in the war with Israel this past summer, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing an Israel Radio account.
Cement and building materials allowed into Gaza to help rebuild after the summer war with Israel is being used instead for tunnel rebuilding, the report, citing unnamed Palestinian sources, said.
The United Nations brokered an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to establish a monitoring mechanism to ensure construction material is not exploited by Hamas for rebuilding the tunnels that Israel destroyed during the war. The oversight program that would enable the rebuilding of approximately 60,000 Gaza homes was launched in mid-October and appears to be suffering from significant failures.
This report is the latest in a series of stories about tunnel reconstruction. Israel's military estimated that Hamas diverted at least $90 million that could have been used to improve life for Palestinians in Gaza to build its old tunnel network, which it used for smuggling and to plot attacks inside Israel.
Meanwhile, a top Hamas leader says that the terrorist group repaired relations with Iran, which deteriorated over disagreements concerning Syria's civil war. Israel's blockade of Gaza and Egypt's increasing border restrictions forced Hamas to mend relations with Tehran.
A Hamas official also complained about the slow pace of aid flowing into Gaza despite $5 billion in international pledges. As the latest report shows, Hamas cannot be trusted to use that money the way donors want – to rebuild Gaza's housing and infrastructure and make life better for its residents.
A top Hamas leader says the terrorist group patched up relations with Iran after a breach over Syria's civil war.
"I believe that bilateral relations between us and the Islamic Republic of Iran are back on track," Hamas deputy political leader Mousa abu Marzook told Reuters.
When the Syrian civil war began, Tehran provided direct support for Bashar al-Assad's Alawite regime as it massacred civilians. Many individual Hamas members sided with Syria's Sunni rebels. Iran drastically cut its military and financial aid to Hamas, forcing the terrorist group to turn to Turkey and Qatar for support.
Turkey surpassed Iran as Hamas' top funder, Israeli intelligence said last year. Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, combined with Egypt's tightening of its border with the enclave, led Hamas to attempt to reset relations with Tehran.
Marzook met with Iranian leaders in July 2013 seeking to repair relations, and Hamas released a statement at the time saying at the time that "certain issues had led to some apathy in the relationship."
Now things have changed.
"There are many indications that … relations have been resumed in a proper way, as in the past," Marzook said.
He also told reporters that Hamas would abide by the Egyptian-brokered truce as long as Israel also did, but reports indicate that Hamas has been rebuilding its armed wing since the end of fighting in August.
Marzook claims that only $150 million of $2.7 billion pledged to rebuild Gaza has appeared. A spokesperson from Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, warned of a "new explosion" with Israel unless reconstruction speeds up.
"The running out of our and our people's patience towards impeding the reconstruction would generate consequences for the Israeli public and its leadership, and we warn of the moment of explosion," a Hamas spokesperson identified as Abu Ubaida said.
Meanwhile, tension between Hamas and the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is increasing. In August, Israel announced that it broke up a Hamas plot to depose the PA and President Mahmoud Abbas. Earlier this month, Hamas dissolved a "unity government" formed with the PA last spring. This week, posters appeared in Gaza called Abbas a dictator and a traitor and showed an image of him hanging.
A rapprochement between Hamas and Iran can only exacerbate a deteriorating situation.
Hamas must be taken off the European Union's terrorist list, a court ordered Wednesday, finding that it was not based on direct evidence of Hamas action.
EU officials downplayed the ruling, with a statement from the EU External Action Service saying it "is clearly based on procedural grounds and it does not imply an assessment by the Court of the substantive reasons for the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization."
EU institutions were examining the ruling and "will decide on the options open to them," the statement said. "They will, in due course, take appropriate remedial action, including any eventual appeal to the ruling. In case of an appeal the restrictive measures remain in place."
The General Court of the European Union, the EU's second highest court, said that the freeze on Hamas' assets will stay in place for three months to allow time for further review or to appeal the decision. The Quartet, which includes the EU, prohibits any engagement with Hamas until renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel, and accepts prior Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement rejecting the EU's rationale and demanded immediate action to correct the problem:
"We are not satisfied with the European Union's explanation that the removal of Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations is a 'technical matter'. The burden of proof is on the European Union and we expect it to put Hamas back on the list forthwith given that it is understood by all that Hamas - a murderous terrorist organization, the covenant of which specifies the destruction of Israel as its goal - is an inseparable part of this list. We will continue to fight Hamas with strength and determination so that it never achieves this goal."
Hamas is recognized as terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, and other Western nations. It continues to plot attacks targeting Israeli civilians.
At same time the EU claims the delisting of Hamas is a mere "procedural" matter, the European Parliament backed the recognition of a Palestinian state "in principle," after multiple votes in EU member states, the Times of Israel reports.
The resolution accepts "in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced" and passed overwhelmingly.
Five suspected terrorists have been arrested for allegedly planning a series of attacks inside Israel, including a suicide bombing in Tel-Aviv that involved a Palestinian woman pretending to be pregnant. The arrests were part of a joint operation by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet (Israel's domestic intelligence agency) and disrupted a plot by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the IDF announced Monday.
The Israelis say Jenin resident Yasmin Sha'aban confessed that she planned to carry out a suicide attack by pretending to be pregnant in order to get a permit to seek medical care in Israel. Once inside, she would detonate an explosive belt hidden under her clothes.
Sha'aban and her co-conspirators communicated with a Gaza-based terrorist, who guided them on constructing the bomb belt. The group also hoped to attack a bus and try to kidnap soldiers. During the arrests, Israeli security authorities discovered an M-16 assault rifle, a shotgun, ammunition and chemicals intended to make bombs.
The arrests were made in October and November, with the other suspects all living in the Tulkarm area.
During the summer war in Gaza, Israel foiled an elaborate Hamas plot to initiate a third Intifada against Israel and overthrow of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, a Hamas leader last week defended the Islamic State's ruthless terrorist campaign in Syria and Israel, according to an Investigative Project on Terrorism translation of the online statement (a link to the original post indicates that the account has been suspended).
"Your brothers in the Islamic State are devoted to God, so God will enable them, and they will establish the Caliphate, and be firm in the face of conspiracies, as the best of you, and we will seek shelter in its shade, we the people of Palestine; for would it be reasonable for there to be a rightly guided Caliphate, and it to leave occupied Palestine? This is impossible," wrote Ahmad Jaber Mahmoud Al Amsy, a professor at the Islamic University in Gaza, also identified in the post as a Hamas official.
Al Amsy also warned against participating in what he called a "distortion campaign" against the Islamic State and referenced Hamas' direct association with the Muslim Brotherhood.
"Please, oh people of guidance, oh those with hearts, oh possessors of rightly guided minds, oh sons of the rightly guided Islamic Movement, sons of the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood, refrain from attacking, cursing, and vilifying your brothers in religion and faith, the sons of the Islamic State. Do not be their enemies."
Swiss authorities have decided to let returning an Islamic State jihadist back into Switzerland with a slap on the wrist.
The threat posed by returning jihadists has deeply concerned Western intelligence and law-enforcement agencies due to worries they may launch terror attacks in their home countries.
Just last week, France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned that the threat of an attack by returning jihadists was real and that Europeans needed to mobilize against it.
In France, "there are operations, arrests ...every day to avoid it happening," he said.," Cazeneuve said after a meeting with of European Union (EU) interior ministers in Brussels to discuss the jihadist threat.
Nonetheless, Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber ordered that a 30-year-old recent convert to Islam from the western Swiss canton of Vaud work 600 hours of community service instead of receiving jail time. Switzerland is not an EU member. The jihadist must receive psychiatric care in addition to performing community service.
The man, whose identity has not been released, left for Syria in December 2013 and stayed in a training camp for two weeks before having second thoughts. The Islamic State held him prisoner for 54 days before releasing him and allowing him to return to Switzerland.
Switzerland's Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) says 55 of its citizens have left to fight for jihadist groups since 2001. Of them, 31 left to fight in Iraq or Syria while 24 traveled to Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan or Somalia.
Switzerland is not alone Europe in taking a lenient approach to returning jihadists. Danish authorities similarly have adopted an approach emphasizing rehabilitation rather than punishment.
This policy continues despite the fact more Danish citizens have traveled to fight in Syria per capita than anywhere else in Europe. Denmark's second largest city, Aarhus, has welcomed returning jihadists back.
Rather than face arrest, returning Danish jihadists receive free psychological counseling and help finding jobs or university admission. Police in Aarhus have also set up routine meetings this year with a mosque which had connections with approximately 30 jihadists who went to fight in Syria.
"In 2013, we had 30 young people go to Syria," Jorgen Ilum, Aarhus's police commissioner, told the Washington Post in October. "This year, to my knowledge, we have had only one."
Israeli security forces thwarted another terrorist attack, arresting two Palestinians outside the Tekoa community in the West Bank on Tuesday, according to a Jerusalem Post report. One of the suspects. Muhammed Abu Eisha, is the nephew of the terrorist Amar Abu Eisha, suspected of kidnapping and killing three Israeli youth – Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel, and Gilad Shaar – in June.
Amar Abu Eisha was killed in a shootout with Israeli forces in September. His nephew Muhammed went missing over the weekend, prompting a security alert in and around Hebron and a search to find him before any attack.
Tekoa residents were able to apprehend one of the suspects near the community's security fence while the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) detained the second suspect. Both Palestinians intended to carry out terrorist attacks on Israelis and one was carrying a knife.
This latest incident comes in context of increased Palestinian terrorist attacks targeting Israeli civilians and soldiers. Various Palestinian factions, including the Mahmoud Abbas-led Fatah movement, actively encourage violence and systematically glorify terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Click here for a comprehensive Investigative Project on Terrorism outline of recent attacks and major examples of Palestinian incitement.
U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin A. Drain originally ordered that Odeh be jailed while awaiting her sentence for naturalization fraud, finding that she was a flight risk. Monday's order reverses that, based on Odeh's strong community ties in Chicago. But, Drain indicated, he still has concerns about Odeh's respect for the court, ordering a $50,000 cash bond before she can be released and mandating bi-weekly reports to the probation office.
Jurors found Odeh guilty due to her failure to disclose convictions in an Israeli court stemming from a 1969 terrorist bombing in a Jerusalem supermarket. She is certain to be sentenced for the fraud and faces "certain removal from the United States upon completion of that sentence," Drain wrote. She never would have been admitted to the United States had she been truthful about her record, he added. Being connected with a bombing, which killed two Hebrew University students, "demonstrated a lack of good moral character that is required for eligibility to immigrate."
Between the jury's verdict Nov. 10 and Drain's decision to hold her without bond pending sentencing, a defiant Odeh told supporters outside court that she did not receive justice and described the verdict as racist.
That attitude, along with Odeh's "serial dishonesty" and repeated violations of the court's limitations on her testimony were sufficient to show she should not be trusted to adhere to subsequent court orders and show up for her sentencing, prosecutors argued. She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Drain granted the pre-sentence bond, but cited the prosecutions concerns about Odeh's "seeming proclivity for dishonesty, as well as her apparent disdain for this Court's Orders." Read the full order here.
Interpol issued a bulletin Friday seeking the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood's most influential cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The bulletin was sparse on details but said that Egypt wanted the 88-year-old Qaradawi "to serve a sentence" for crimes including "incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder."
Qaradawi lives in Qatar. He also is alleged to have had a hand in a massive prison break of Brotherhood members and others during the revolution against then-dictator Hosni Mubarak. Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood official who went on to become Egypt's president in 2012, was among those who escaped.
Qaradawi has been a fierce critic of Egypt's new government and of Morsi's July 2013 ouster after one year in office. "From the day he (new President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi) came, all we saw is killing and bloodshed, detention and women being raped," Qaradawi before elections in May.
Qaradawi described the recent acquittal of ousted Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak as "the saddest day in the history of human justice and a disgrace on Egyptian judiciary."
According to the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, Interpol issued a "red notice" which is both its highest level alert, and a move subject to later review by the international police agency.
يسرى إسماعيل وهي من قاطني ولاية مينوسوتا الأمريكية إتهمن بجرائم متعلقة بمحاولة الإنضمام للجهاد في سوريا، وهذه الحالة الثالثة في ولاية مينوستا
تبلغ يسرى إسماعيل عشرون عاماً من العمر، من مدينة سانت باول في مينوسوتا، وكانت قد اتهمت بسرقة وسوء استخدام جواز السفر من أجل الفر إلى سوريا. ولا تحمل إسماعيل الجنسية الأمريكية، وكانت قد غادرت الولايات المتحدة الامريكية في الواحد والعشرون من شهر أب عبر إستخدامها لجواز سفر مسروق من أحد معارفها.
وبالرغم من عدم توفر اي سجلات تؤكد سفر اسماعيل لما بعد مملكة النرويج، إلا ان هناك تأكيد للشكوى المقدمة بحقها بأنها غادرت الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية عبر إستخدامها لجواز سفر مسروق ومن المؤكد انها استخدمته للسفر إلى سوريا
ففي الرابع والعشرين من اب كتبت إسماعيل لعائلتها لتخبرهم بأنها وصلت إلى الشام حيث وصفت المنطقة الجغرافية بين العراق والشام حيث تسيطر داعش عليها.
وعلى الرغم من أن اسماعيل كانت قد قررت المجيء إلى أمريكا في الأول من شهر أيلول، لكن حتى الأن لايوجد اي دليل يثبت عودتها
وهذا العام تم إتهام سبعة أشخاص بالإضافة إلى إسماعيل بتهمة السفر إلى سوريا ودعمهم لداعش. فخلال الإسبوع الماضي، تم إتهام شخصان أخران من ولاية مينوستا ومن أصل صومالي بالتأمر من أجل تزويد معدات لإستخدامها لاحقا من قبل داعش. عبد الله يوسف، وعبدي نور كان قد حصلوا على جوازات سفر وحجزوا بطاقات طائرة إل ى تركيا عبر إستخدامها لسيولة نقدية غير معروفة المصدر. نور والذي خرج من أمريكا في شهر مايو ايار لم يعد حتى الأن إلى أمريكا، وكان قد اخبر عميل فيدرالي سري بأنه ذاهب إلى عند " الإخوة" وقد اضاف" سوف نرى بعضنا البعض في اليوم الأخر إنشالله"
The Associated Press is firing back at a former reporter who claims the global news agency helps set a narrative for "the Israel story" that underplays or ignores Palestinian incitement and violence while trumpeting criticism of Israel.
In a statement, AP rejected the allegations Matti Friedman made in a Nov. 30 article published by The Atlantic. "There's no 'narrative' that says it is Israel that doesn't want peace; the story of this century-long conflict is more complicated than that," wrote media relations director Paul Colford.
The rapid response indicates that Friedman landed some punches. But Colford's statement doesn't hold up under scrutiny, Lori Lowenthal Marcus writes in The Jewish Press. For starters, it pits the claims of a reporter who was there against an AP flack who was not.
Marcus details Colford's aggressive push to get The Jewish Press to run the full AP statement. She then shows how one point challenged by Colford actually has more proof behind it than Friedman provided. In his Atlantic piece, Friedman described the AP's blacklisting of Bar Ilan University Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, a fact-checking organization which seeks to "publicize distortions of human rights issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict and provide information and context" for the public.
The AP Jerusalem bureau gave "explicit orders to reporters ... to never quote" Steinberg or his organization, Friedman wrote. That never happened, Colford's statement said. AP cited them "in at least a half-dozen stories since the 2009 Gaza war."
But Marcus found that comment wasn't really responsive to what Friedman wrote. Friedman's reference covered Operation Cast Lead, a 2008-09 round of fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Two of the articles Colford cites preceded that conflict. The others dealt with unrelated issues.
Meanwhile, a former colleague of Friedman's told Marcus about an incident in which that AP's bureau chief in 2009 cut a quote from Steinberg from his story. The editor told reporter Mark Lavie that "AP reporters 'can't interview Steinberg as an expert because he is identified with the right wing,'" Marcus writes.
Some sources might merit blacklisting by a news organization. But that action should be reserved for extraordinary circumstances, such as a source who provided false information in the past or who might incite violence. Deliberately withholding an opposing point of view from readers, especially in an issue as hotly debated as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seems to fly in the face of responsible reporting.
And that goes to what we think is Friedman's core point. He's not saying journalists should be passive observers. They just shouldn't appoint themselves to be referees.
Friedman posted his own rebuttal on Facebook, saying he doesn't want the Steinberg blacklisting to "obscure the broader argument" about how Israel is covered by foreign media. AP's statement, he added, harkens back to "the Philip Morris Handbook for Amoral Corporate Damage Control – charge 'distortions and half-truths' to obscure the fact that you actually have to acknowledge serious errors, throw out some vague numbers to make it all sound scientific, and smear the critic as a publicity hound."