Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Conflict Beginning In Israel's North?

This is an evolving scenario that we have been watching closely:

An Israeli officer in the Golan Heights was moderately injured by stray fire from fighting in Syria Wednesday morning, as an al-Qaeda linked rebel group reportedly took control of the only crossing between Israel and Syria.

The officer sustained wounds to the chest but the army was not immediately able to say whether it was due to a bullet or shrapnel. He was evacuated by helicopter to Rambam hospital in Haifa.

At least six mortars fired from Syria landed in the Golan Heights over the course of the day as rebels and government forces fought for control of the only Syrian crossing into Israel.

Syrian rebels, including Al-Qaeda’s affiliate Al-Nusra Front, seized control of the Syrian crossing with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Wednesday, a monitoring group said.

“Al-Nusra Front and other rebel groups took the Quneitra crossing, and heavy fighting with the Syrian army is continuing in the surrounding area,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based NGO.
The IDF said it had not determined whether the mortars were fired into Israel intentionally or were a spillover from fighting between rival factions on the Syrian side of the border.
The mortars also caused damage to a car, according to Israeli news source Ynet.
In response to the spillover, Israeli forces hit two Syrian army positions, the IDF said.
Earlier in the morning, farmers in the northern territory were told to stay away from their lands near the border as heavy fighting raged for the crossing point near the city of Quneitra.
Tourist sites in the area were also closed as Israeli officials sought to keep civilians far from the fighting, Israel Radio reported.
As a result of the fighting on the Syrian side of the plateau, the level of alert was raised on the Israeli side, an army spokesperson said, without confirming that it had been increased to the highest level.

The IDF responded with artillery fire at Syria after an IDF officer who was in an IDF outpost adjacent to the Quneitra crossing was hit by a Syrian bullet. The event came as Syrian rebels led by al-Qaeda affiliated groups retook control of the coveted border crossing from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Earlier, two mortars fired from Syria hit the Israeli Golan Heights Wednesday, causing damage to two vehicles.

The IDF said it targeted two Syrian army positions and "hits were confirmed." It gave no further details. The officer is in moderate condition after sustaining a stray bullet to the chest

The incidents came amid massive fighting in the Quneitra crossing, prompting Israeli officials to warn local famers to leave the area.

Ynet has learned that the crossing has passed to rebel control and that the Al-Nusra Front, Syrian Revolutionary Front, Ansar al-Islam and Ansar al-Khalifa Brigade are still clashing with Syrian forces, who have reportedly lost over 20 men as part of the fighting.

Israel feared such an incident would take place as rebels and the Syrian regime battled for the crossing, which is one of the sole remaining areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.

Residents reported hearing explosion from the fire for many miles away even before the mortars hit. The news came as Israel entered its first day without fighting in the south, after parties reached a ceasefire agreement that brought an end to seven weeks of violent fighting between Israel and Hamas.

 U.S. surveillance flights over Syria have started with President Obama's go-ahead, a step that will provide potential targets if airstrikes against Islamic State militants are approved.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that an unnamed U.S. official said the flights had begun. USA TODAY reported Monday that the flights will provide information on potential targets for strikes in Syria if Obama approves.

The White House and Pentagon would not discuss details of intelligence operations in Syria but made clear the United States is not cooperating with the country's regime.

"As a matter of U.S. policy, we have not recognized" President Bashar Assad as the leader in Syria, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said aboard Air Force One as the president traveled to Charlotte to give a speech to a veterans group. "There are no plans to change that policy, and there are no plans to coordinate with the Assad regime."

Earnest wouldn't discuss whether Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel presented military options on Syria when he met with the president at the White House late Monday.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, Hagel's spokesman, would not confirm that any surveillance flights had taken place over Syria.

The initiative to plan intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions over Syria was contained in the execution order that allowed for the airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, according to a Defense Department official speaking on condition of anonymity because the details were not authorized to be released publicly.

A US Navy destroyer and a French frigate are expected to enter the waters of the Black Sea next week, a diplomatic and military source said.
“Two NATO warships at once will arrive in the Black Sea on September 3. They are US Navy’s destroyer USS Ross and frigate, Commandant Birot, of the naval forces of France,” the unnamed source told RIA-Novosti news agency.

There’s currently one NATO ship present in the Black Sea, with French surveillance ship, Dupuy de Lome, expected to remain in the area until September 5.

USS Vella Gulf, which was patrolling the black Sea since August 7, recently left for its port of commission.

The maintenance of the operational rotational presence of NATO ships does not promote stability in the Black Sea region in any way, the source noted.

According to the Montreux Convention of 1936, warships of non-Black Sea states can stay in the Black Sea for no more than 21 days.

But, earlier this year, the convention was violated by American frigate USS Taylor, which exceeded the authorized time limit by 11 days, the source said.

The Obama administration is reportedly preparing to begin air strikes on Syrian territory without the consent of the Syrian government. The pretext is the rapidly expanding US war on ISIS, but in fact this is the long-desired US attack on Syria that was temporarily thwarted, reportedly by popular opposition last year (but more likely by US knowledge that its claims the Assad government was behind the chemical attacks at Ghouta had no basis in reality and would not stand up to even superficial scrutiny).

Though it makes for a compelling story, the idea that popular opposition to Obama's plans to attack Syria last year stopped the bombs seems more wishful thinking than reality. Consider how easy it has been these past two weeks to obliterate any opposition among the American people to the same US attack plan regurgitated almost exactly one year later. 

Because the US-trained ISIS/IS also operates in Syria (where they are fighting for the US "regime change" objective), they now must be targeted by the US. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem reminded the US today that his government must be consulted before the US begins military action on Syrian soil. He was ignored by Washington. Washington began sending drones into Syrian territory.

We are now told that the only thing holding back US bombs on sovereign Syrian soil is concern that any attack would be perceived as a shift in US policy away from demands for "regime change" in Syria. In other words, the Obama administration does not want to be seen helping a Syrian government that has been battling what is now called IS for three years by also bombing IS in Syria.

Concerns that a US attack on Syria without permission would be a violation of international law, the UN charter, and would be a blatant act of aggression are not factored in to the US decision-making process. Nor is the fact that Congress is unlikely to be bothered to declare war or even pass an authorization for the use of force against Syria. 

There is currently no active legislation that would permit the US president to make war on Syria.

The US is already violating Syrian territory by conducting aerial surveillance to determine targeting for planned air strikes. This violation of sovereignty is ignored by the same US government that condemned Russian delivery of food and water to those suffering in east Ukraine as a "flagrant violation" of Ukraine's sovereignty.

Food and water to desperate civilians is a flagrant violation of sovereignty, air strikes are not. This is US government logic, but there is virtually no opposition among opinion makers, the media, or politicians. 

This month the US government admitted that there were more than 12,000 foreign fighters -- jihadists -- inside Syria seeking to overthrow the Syrian government. Perhaps unwittingly, this admission undermines the entire three year rationale for the US "regime change" policy in Syria. Recall that the "Assad must go" position of the US government was justified by claims that the Syrian people were engaging in a popular revolt to establish self-rule and democracy. This cannot be true if in fact this war had been waged by foreign jihadists.

War against Syria is perhaps days away. It will be an illegal war, without a UN resolution or permission from the Syrian government. Without Congress. 

A volcanic system close to Iceland's Bardarbunga's volcano was hit by a magnitude 4.5 earthquake in the early hours of Wednesday.
It adds to concerns that magma from Bardarbunga could feed into the nearby Askja volcano.
British and Icelandic scientists say that 50 million cubic metres of molten rock has moved in a 24 hour period.
If it continues to head north, it could link up with the Askja system and trigger a large eruption.
Scientists working in the area have said that they will be withdrawing from the exclusion zone on Wednesday after they have deployed some more instruments.
Prof Bob White, from the University of Cambridge, said "It's headed straight for it."
"It's moving at about 4km a day towards Askja, and if it keeps going it could get there in a few days," he told BBC News.
"We know there is a lot of molten rock sitting under the ground beneath Askja, which is a major volcanic system. If this molten rock hits that, we know it is likely to trigger it to erupt.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ceasefire Deal #12 Begins: What Did Israel Agree To?

Today is Day #50 is Hamas’ war against the people of Israel. Thus far, Hamas and its Radical Islamic terrorist allies have fired 4,450 rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli civilians, both Jews and Arabs.
Yet in the last hour or so, Hamas and Israel have agreed to a new ceasefire deal, one that was negotiated by the Al-Sissi government in Egypt.
Admittedly, this is the 12th ceasefire deal in the past seven weeks. Hamas has broken 11 of them. So there is not a great deal of confidence here in Israel that the true quiet and calm has come.
That said, we are certainly hoping and praying that this quiet will come at last. We are cautious, and somewhat skeptical, but we’re trying not to be cynical. We all want peace to come. Where Lynn and the boys and I live, we have been spared the rocket fire. But Israelis living in the south have been under relentless attack. They are brave and determined. But many of them are exhausted as well. Not since the Nazis fired rockets at London during World War II have civilian populations been under such relentless rocket attack. The sooner this ends — with as few casualties as possible — the better.
What has been extraordinary is to see how the Lord God of Israel has been so kind and gracious to the Israeli people during this time. There have been deaths, and injuries, to be sure. But if it weren’t for the Lord’s mercy and the miraculous Iron Dome system, this could have been a horrific massacre of the Jewish people. And it wasn’t.
The Israeli people have much to be thankful for, and I hope and pray that Israel’s Prime Minister and other leaders will call the nation to give thanks to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for His many blessings.
Here are the latest details on the cease-fire. I’ll post more details and analysis in the days ahead.
“Israel and the Palestinians agreed to an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire to end Gaza hostilities which went into effect at 7 p.m. Israeli time on Tuesday,” reports the Jerusalem Post. “Despite the Egyptian announcement of the cease-fire, red alert sirens continued to be heard in Israel’s southern communities after 7 p.m. An Israeli was killed by one of dozens of mortar shells fired at the Eshkol Regional Council just before the cease-fire was set to commence.”

Roughly half the cabinet was opposed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to agree to an open-ended ceasefire with Hamas - but the decision was passed unilaterally by the PM anyway.

Government sources told Walla! news that a legal technicality meant the Prime Minister did not need to gain the approval of his cabinet to accept the ceasefire on Israel's behalf - but that had he done so, it is uncertain it would have passed due to the extent of opposition to it.
Immediately following the announcement, it was revealed that Economics Minister and Jewish Home part leader Naftali Bennett had opposed the decision.

Bennett challenged senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office to demand the acceptance of the ceasefire be contingent upon a Security Cabinet vote, according to the source, but was informed that legally the PM was not required to do so since the deal did not technically affect any change of legal status vis-a-vis the relationship between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
And Bennett was not the only minister opposed to the deal.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich (Yisrael Beytenu) also staunchly opposed the move, as they believe the ceasefire will not bring an end to attacks and will eventually be breached again, as previous similar agreements were, a party source told Walla!

Indeed the truce is based upon the same conditions as the one which followed 2012's Operation Pillar of Defense - which was broken by Gazan terrorists soon after.
Communications Minister Gilad Erdan, a member of Netanyahu's own Likud party, was also opposed to the ceasefire, according to reports.

The ostensible end of Israel-Hamas hostilities took effect at 7 p.m. Israel time Tuesday, on the 50th day of Operation Protective Edge, amid a major barrage of rocket fire. An Israeli was killed and two others were badly injured (one of whom later died) shortly before the truce began, and the alarms continued to sound down south for a good few minutes after 7 p.m., even as Hamas supporters were celebrating “victory” on the streets of Gaza. Not an auspicious start.

Hamas has breached truce agreement after truce agreement in the past 50 days, and there is no compelling reason to assume that this case will be any different. Unnamed sources in the Palestinian negotiating delegation — a curious forum comprising rival factions including Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad — claimed Tuesday night that Hamas’s leadership in Gaza insisted on accepting the same unconditional Egyptian terms that it rejected more than a month ago, and sidelined the Qatar-based Khaled Mashaal, who had previously rejected such terms. Some say that the sight of the Israeli Air Force moving to smash the apartment buildings in which Israel claims it had some of its command centers finally prompted Hamas in Gaza to call a halt. Time will tell if a terror government’s solemn assurance that it has silenced its guns has any credibility.

Entirely predictably, Hamas immediately busied itself extricating what it called success from amid the devastation it has brought down upon Gaza these past seven weeks. It fired over 4,500 rockets at Israel. It killed 64 soldiers and five civilians. It prompted several dozen airlines to shun Israel for two days last month. It terrorized southern Israel, especially in more recent weeks, when it stepped up its mortar fire and rocket barrages on the south. It killed four-year-old Daniel Tragermaninside his own home on Kibbutz Nahal Oz. For an organization committed to the destruction of Israel, these are achievements to celebrate.

The final word on this conflict, however, is still far from being written. If this round is over, then the focus now shifts to the specifics of the long-term ceasefire arrangements, as military action gives way to diplomacy.
And if, under a long-term deal, Hamas is able to replicate Hezbollah’s strategy in Lebanon — to retain full or significant control of Gaza, to re-arm, to build a still more potent killing mechanism — then its claims of victory, appallingly, will be justified.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity has nosedived in recent weeks as the war has continued, as the rockets have pounded on, and as residents of the south have learned to their bloody cost that the political and military leadership were wrong in assuring them three weeks ago that it was safe for them to return to their homes. Support for Netanyahu’s handling of the conflict will rise again if time, and the long-term ceasefire terms, prove that Hamas has been marginalized and de-fanged. Many Israelis, indeed, will come to hail him for not having ordered a far more extensive ground offensive into the treacherous heart of Gaza, where Hamas lay in wait, with the consequent likely loss of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of soldiers’ lives.
But if Hamas is not marginalized, if it proves capable of rebuilding its tunnels, restocking its rocket arsenals, and plotting new strategies toward its goal of Israel’s annihilation, the Israeli strategy for handling this conflict will have been a failure, and the popularity of the prime minister will be far from the most central of Israel’s concerns.

Hamas has achieved a major achievement in its long-term ceasefire deal with Israel that started on Tuesday at 7 p.m., according to Channel 2 News’ military analyst Roni Daniel.
Commenting on the rumored ceasefire shortly before it was confirmed by the government minutes before taking effect, Daniel noted that Knesset members previously threatened that Hamas will leave the current round of fighting without a single achievement.
"But indeed gentlemen, Hamas has a huge achievement. This terrorist organization stood for 50 full days against the most advanced and strongest army in the Middle East, and did not submit," noted Daniel.

The journalist acknowledged that Hamas has been seriously hurt in the fighting; the group's financial chief and three top commanders have been assassinated in the last week, as well as potentially Hamas's military chief.

"However even on the fiftieth day (Hamas) has the strength to argue about the conditions of the ceasefire, its time period, and apparently about the agreements that will come as a continuation to it," remarked the military analyst.

Hamas was indeed attacking until the very end, killing an Israeli and seriously wounding two others in a massive mortar and rocket barrage starting just over an hour before the ceasefire, and even breaching the ceasefire up to 15 minutes after it came into effect.
Regarding how residents of the south were forced to flee their homes during the operation and millions others likewise were forced into shelters under regular rocket fire, Daniel commented "basically, Hamas dictated our lives to us for 50 days."
"I'm very concerned about what they're learning from this incident in Iran, Hezbollah and other organizations. This needed to end with Hamas begging for its life, and it didn't," Daniel added.

"Less than two hours ahead of the declaration of a ceasefire I take the liberty of assessing that Israel once again will answer in the affirmativeand Hamas can tell itself - when we wanted we fired at Jewish homes, and when we wanted there was a ceasefire," concluded the senior journalist.

Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation in the Cairo truce talks, revealed to AFP on Tuesday night what exactly was in the long-term ceasefire deal that Israel agreed to, and which went into effect at 7 p.m. that night.
The first point raised was Gaza border crossings. Under the agreement, there will be an immediate easing of restrictions on the two main crossings between Israel and Gaza to allow in aid and reconstruction supplies.

Significantly, construction materials needed to repair the water network, electricity grid and mobile phone networks will be allowed in along with humanitarian aid, food and medical supplies. It should be noted that Israel continued supplying humanitarian goods throughout most of Operation Protective Edge.

Construction materials have in the past been used to build terror tunnels to attack Israel, and therefore earlier reports signaled they would not be allowed in until the ceasefire had proven itself for a set amount of time.

The deal did not give specific details about how construction materials might be restricted, in line with the Israeli blockade on Gaza that has been in effect since 2006. It did however call for a lifting of that blockade with no clear timeline.

As for the Gaza fishing zone, restrictions will be lifted immediately to extend the zone to six nautical miles from the shore, to be extended later to 12 miles. Over the past eight years, Israel has set a six-nautical-mile limit for Gaza's fishermen when tensions were lower, restricting it to three miles when hostilities have escalated.
Israel temporarily lifted the ban on August 17, two days before Hamas breached the last truce. 

During the operation fishing was canceled due to security threats, as Hamas terrorists made several attempts to infiltrate Israel by sea, and have often tried to smuggle weapons into the Hamas stronghold under the guise of fishing vessels.
The ceasefire deal likewise would have future discussions held about a swap of terrorists jailed in Israel for the bodies of IDF soldiers Second Lt. Hadar Goldin and First Sgt. Oron Shaul hy''d, who were killed in the operation.

Hamas wants hundreds of prisoners released, among them those arrested in Operation Brother's Keeper, during which the IDF cracked down on the Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria while searching for three Israeli teens abducted by Hamas terrorists.
They additionally demanded the release of roughly 60 terrorists who were freed in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal and later re-arrested, some of whom quickly returned to murderous acts of terror.

Hamas is also calling for the release of 37 Palestinian Legislative Council(PLC) membersall but two of whom are Hamas members, along with the 26 terrorists promised in the fourth batch of releases as part of the Israel-PA peace talks that broke down in April.
The Hamas demand for a Gaza sea and airport will be discussed in Cairo within the next month according to the agreement.

What will Israel get from all of this? The one major Israeli demand has been a demilitarization of Gaza, which has emerged as a terror haven since Israel's withdrawal in 2005. Apparently Israel has linked the lifting of the Gaza blockade and reconstructing the area with the disarmament of the terror groups.
The Palestinian delegation flatly refused this lone demand.

Apparently Israel will raise demilitarization and the limitation onconstruction materials and weapons in the next stage of talks to be held in the coming month.

Iran Pledges To Speed Up Arming Palestinian Terror Group Hamas

Rocket Barrage Targets Gaza-Area Towns

The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Tuesday, August 26, the 50th day of Operation Protective Edge. Hamas pounded southern Israel with over 100 rockets on Monday, and Israel struck at targets in Gaza, amid reports of progress toward a new Egyptian-proposed truce. Late Monday also saw new rocket fire on Israel from Lebanon. A poll showed a drastic fall in support for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s performance in recent days.

‘Gaza is disarming — by firing at us’

Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yellin offers some bitter sarcasm today over the continued rocket fire on his rural region.
“Gaza’s disarmament continues — through the massive fire on the Eshkol Council that is emptying the arsenals of Hamas,” he says, mocking the government’s demands that Gaza be disarmed even as over a dozen rockets hit the Eshkol region this morning.
“Since the start of the escalation [on July 8], more than 1,300 rockets have fallen in Eshkol,” Yellin says. “Operation Protective Edge has now ended and the war of attrition continues,” he adds, a reference to years of rocket fire from Gaza, including during times of ceasefire.
“The government of Israel should wake up, stop talking and start doing. Hamas’s leaders are in bunkers and you are in Jerusalem,” he adds, addressing cabinet ministers.
Yellin calls on the cabinet to hold its weekly meeting in a community on the Gaza border. “I’m sure the decisions that will be made [in such a meeting] will be correct, fast and connected to reality.”

Ashkelon rocket said to be larger, possibly new type

Security officials say the rocket that struck a home in Ashkelon this morning carried an exceptionally large warhead. Twenty-one people were wounded, eight of them children, from the explosion’s shock wave and flying shrapnel and broken glass.
Unconfirmed reports suggest the rocket may have been a new type to be launched from Gaza, and intended for central Israel.

Tehran said it would “accelerate” its support for Hamas with weapons and missile-building technology after Israel allegedly deployed a spy drone over Iran.
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said: “We will accelerate the arming of the West Bank and we reserve the right to give any response.”
Iran has confirmed it supplied fighters from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad with the technology for the rockets being fired relentlessly into Israel from Gaza since July 8.
It looks like we will not return to Nahal Oz, no way
Grief-stricken mother Gila Tragerman
Hundreds of Israelis living in communities near the coastal strip fled their homes following a deadly mortar attack over the weekend. At least seven Palestinians were reported killed yesterday as the Israeli military launched 16 airstrikes. At least 60 rockets were fired from Gaza onto Israel.

While the Israeli public has widely supported Israel’s campaign to halt rocket attacks, the government has come under criticism for its inability to stop the fire.

Anger has risen following the death of four-year-old Daniel Tragerman who was killed on Friday when a Palestinian mortar landed in Nahal Oz, a kibbutz near the Gaza border.
Grief-stricken mother Gila Tragerman, speaking before his funeral on Sunday, said: “It looks like we will not return to Nahal Oz, no way.”

The US has begun surveillance flights over Syria after President Barack Obama gave the OK, a move that could pave the way for airstrikes against Islamic State militant targets there, US officials said.

The US had already stepped up its air surveillance of the Islamic State inside Iraq earlier this year as Obama began considering the prospect of airstrikes there. And the administration has run some surveillance missions over Syria, including ahead of an attempted mission to rescue Foley and other US hostages earlier this summer.

The White House on Monday tried to tamp down the notion that action against the Islamic State could bolster Assad, with Earnest saying, “We’re not interested in trying to help the Assad regime.” However, he acknowledged that “there are a lot of cross pressures here.”

Syria said today it's willing to cooperate with the United States to put down the Sunni Muslim terrorist group known as ISIS. But the foreign minister warned against any attacks against ISIS targets in Syria -- without Syrian permission.
President Obama has made no decision on that, but as CBS News correspondent David Martin reports, the U.S. military will be ready.
The Pentagon has begun planning for air strikes using both manned and unmanned aircraft to attack ISIS targets inside Syria. The strikes would be designed to disrupt ISIS operations and kill its senior leaders.
Current air strikes have been limited to ISIS forces in Iraq that threaten either American facilities in the cities of Baghdad and Erbil, or large segments of the Iraqi population such as the Yazidi religious minority. Those strikes have stalled the ISIS advance across northern Iraq, but left its center of power in Syria untouched.

Rocket attacks by Hamas against Israel are not only killing Israelis. Not only injuringIsraelis. Not only killing livestock. Not only destroyinghomes and property. But they are driving people out of southern Israel. Abandoned towns along the border are a dream come true for Hamas.
It is estimated that 70% of families within a region in Israel called the “Gaza envelope” are relocating to communities away from the border. The Gaza envelope is a strip of land within two kilometers of the border. That puts residents within mortar range. The Iron Dome is ineffective against mortars. And there are no warning sirens, either.
What a way to live. 

But if Jewish communities are abandoned, Hamas will step into the vacuum, as they did when the Jewish communities of Gaza were expelled (the government doesn't like me using that word, but that's the reality) nine years ago.

There has been a lot of talk recently about Gaza developing into a 'war of attrition.' There was a war of attrition along Israel's border with Egypt 45 years ago.  That war - which lasted from 1968-69 - saw hundreds of casualties. But it was conducted along the Suez Canal. There were few civilians involved.

Given this situation, I don't understand why we're even discussing a cease fire. Hamas must be destroyed.

The PA and Hamas are inextricably linked. By funding the PA, we are funding Hamas. The United States funding of terror must end.
UNWRA serves as an arm of Hamas allowing Hamas to store missiles and munitions in UNWRA facilities, fire rockets from UNWRA facilities, and set up headquarters in the basement of an UNWRA hospital.

Caroline Glick writes:

…UNWRA is subservient to Hamas. All UNWRA installations and personnel are controlled by Hamas. As a result, UNWRA is a subsidiary – willing or unwilling – of Hamas and all funds to UNWRA must be suspended until Hamas is no longer in control of Gaza. 

A rocket hit the playground of a kindergarten in Ashdod early Tuesday afternoon. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

So far on Tuesday, 69 rockets were fired at Israel since midnight. 61 of them fell inside Israel, 6 were intercepted by the Iron Dome and 2 fell inside the Gaza Strip.

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in Ashkelon early Tuesday morning, opening a gaping hole in the roof and leaving two rooms completely destroyed. Some 50 neighboring apartments also suffered damage.

The family members inside the home, parents and two children aged 14 and 17, were on their way to the protected space when the rocket hit, and were unharmed.

Signs the United States may strike Islamic State militants in their Syrian stronghold reveal a shift in the politics of foreign war in Washington, after the trauma of the post-Iraq era.

A year ago, President Barack Obama was set to bomb Syria — but balked at the last minute after sizing up beckoning political isolation in his war-weary nation.

But a serious attempt to crush IS, across the dissolved borders of Iraq and Syria, threatens to evolve into the kind of open-ended commitment in the Middle East that Obama’s presidency was built on avoiding.
Nevertheless, the Pentagon is preparing options for possible US action on the group’s strongholds in Syria.
Obama has long resisted the temptation to get sucked into the vicious civil war, and last year ordered a last-minute halt to US air strikes to punish the use of chemical weapons.
He also set a narrow mandate for new US air strikes targeting IS in Iraq —- to protect American diplomats and prevent a genocide of ethnic Yazidis.
Yet the killing of Foley, highlighting a direct threat to Americans, may make military action in Syria an easier sell this time around.

A former senior administration official said the rhetorical shift may signal a White House “tipping point.”
“It does seem to me, they have stepped up a gear —- from second, to fourth, on how to deal with (IS).”
Drums of war are beating anew on Capitol Hill.
“This administration has thus far only dealt with containment,” Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee told ABC News.
“We need to expand these air strikes so that we can ultimately defeat and eliminate (IS).”

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