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US Tomahawk Cruise Missiles Aim for ISIS' Sinai HQ

By DEBKAfile

The US Mediterranean fleet is moving into position ready for a decision to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles for a crushing assault on the Islamic State's mountain strongholds in central Sinai, DEBKAfile's military and counterterrorism sources report. This would be the second American strike in a month against a Middle East target, after 59 cruise missiles destroyed one-fifth of the Syrian air force at the Shayrat air base on April 7 in response for Assad's chemical attack on Syrian civilians.

The prospective American missile attack in Sinai would raise the war on ISIS in the Middle East to a new plane. It would have been discussed during the Egyptian President Abdul-Fatteh El-Sisi's visit to the White House on April 3. He explained to his host, President Donald Trump, the immense difficulty of overcoming the Islamic State's affiliate when its headquarters were dug into an interconnected web of tunnels and caves in the central Jabal (Mount) Halal of the peninsula.

Nicknamed the "Tora Bora of Sinai," approach roads to this mountain fastness are few and far between, in common with the Afghan cave network near the Pakistan border destroyed on April 13 by the biggest non-nuclear bomb, the GBU-43/B, in the American arsenal.

The last Egyptian assault on ISIS' towering mountain stronghold took place on April 2, shortly before El-Sisi travelled to Washington. The Egyptian military announced that 31 terrorists had been killed and a number of caves holding arms and ammunition destroyed. But the damage was not devastating enough to disrupt the Islamist terrorists' operations, DEBKAfile's military sources report.

Most of the terrorists escaped with the help of allied Bedouin tribesmen who, familiar with every nook and cranny in the desert peninsula, guided them to safety in new caves in Jabal Halal that were even more inaccessible to Egyptian troops. Their new headquarters can only be destroyed by cruise missiles capable of exploding underground.

The Egyptians and Americans believe that if the Jabal Halal cave system sheltering the ISIS-Sinai core command center is destroyed, its long campaign of terror will be curtailed. The flow of terrorist manpower, arms and explosives from the mountain to the networks which terrorize the population and Egyptian forces of northern Sinai will dry up.

Jabal Halal is also the hub of the ISIS smuggling networks, through which fighters and arms are moved from southern Libya into Sinai and Egypt. Knocking it out will also deliver a resounding blow to that traffic.

A final decision to go ahead with a US missile assault on central Sinai rests with Defense Secretary James Mattis. He is due to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday, April 19.


Israel: No Talks with Palestinian Inmates on Hunger Strike

By VOA News

Israel will not negotiate with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners who launched a hunger strike to press for better conditions, a government minister said Tuesday, adding that the organizer of the protest has been placed in solitary confinement.

If sustained, the strike led by murderer Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader jailed during the second Palestinian uprising, would be the largest in recent years. It could heighten Israeli-Palestinian tensions at a time of renewed U.S. attempts to restart stalled peace negotiations. Israeli rule over the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories occupied during the 1967 war and claimed by the Palestinians as part of a future state, reaches the half-century mark in June.

The Palestinian prisoners seek better conditions, including more contact with relatives, and an end to Israel's practice of detentions without trials. Israeli officials said some 1,100 prisoners joined the strike Monday.

Palestinian officials and activists put the number of hunger strikers at 1,300 and 1,500, respectively, saying it is difficult to get updates from inside the prisons. They said some 6,500 Palestinians are currently in Israeli lockups. Israel calls them security prisoners — held for offenses ranging from stone throwing and membership in outlawed groups to carrying out attacks that killed or wounded Israelis. Several hundred are being detained without charges.

Barghouti, the strike leader, is a prominent figure in the Fatah movement of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Polls suggest that Barghouti, 58, is the most popular choice among Palestinians to succeed the 82-year-old Abbas.

Barghouti, a leader of the 2000 Palestinian uprising, is serving five life terms after being convicted by an Israeli court of directing two shooting attacks and a bombing that killed five people, including three Israelis. Barghouti, who disputed the court's jurisdiction and didn't mount a defense, has been in prison since 2002.

In an opinion piece published this week in The New York Times, Barghouti alleged that Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israel "have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence." He said he organized the hunger strike to fight back, after exhausting all other options. However, the Times did not note that he was a convicted terrorist and murderer,

Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said Tuesday that he believes the strike is politically motivated and that the prisoners have no legitimate complaints. "These are terrorists and incarcerated murderers who are getting exactly what the international law requires," he told Israel's Army Radio. "My policy is that you can't negotiate with prisoners such as these... There is no reason to give them additional conditions in addition to what they already receive."

He said Israel has established field hospitals outside the prisons to respond to any immediate medical needs. Erdan said Barghouti was transferred to another prison in northern Israel and was placed in solitary confinement. "It doesn't have to do with publishing the article [in the New York Times] but rather that he is instigating mutiny and leading the hunger strike and that is a severe violation of the rules of the prison,'' he said.

'Allied Leaders Already Knew Extent of Holocaust by 1942'

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A new book has revealed documents demonstrating that already in 1942, the Allies knew of the systematic murder of two million Jews and not two years later as was previously thought. Despite this knowledge, however, Allied leaders did nothing to prevent the further mass murder of Jews.

The new book was written by Dan Plesch, a professor at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS University of London who succeeded in obtaining hitherto unpublished documents of the United Nations' War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) shedding light on the prosecution of Axis war crimes.

The main facts of the book, named Human Rights after Hitler: The Lost History of Prosecuting Axis War Crimes were published in the British Independent newspaper Tuesday. The most surprising revelation is that contrary to previous contentions that the Allies only learned of the extent of the Holocaust in 1944, documents now show that in December 1942 "The US, Britain and the Soviet administration knew that at least two million Jews had been murdered."

In an official classified statement, the Allies acknowledged that a "massacre of Jews" was taking place in Nazi-occupied Europe. At the same time, Allied sources estimated that five million more Jews were in danger. Yet despite this the Allies did very little to save those Jews in danger.

British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden said to the British parliament in December 1942 that "the German authorities, not content with denying to persons of Jewish race in all the territories over which their barbarous rule extends, the most elementary human rights, are now carrying into effect Hitler's oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people."

Yet despite this the British showed no inclination to provide shelter for refugees. Viscount Cranborne, a minister in the war cabinet of Winston Churchill, said the Jews should not be considered a special case and that the British Empire was "already too full of refugees to offer a safe haven to any more."

Plesch stated that the major powers began drawing up war crimes charges based on witness testimony smuggled from the camps and from the resistance movements in various countries occupied by the Nazis. He also discovered Allied documents indicting Hitler for war crimes dating from 1944.

Plesch said that Allied ineffectiveness was partially due to anti-Semitic elements in the State Department which foiled efforts by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's envoy to the United Nations War Crimes Commission, Herbert Pell, to prosecute leading Nazis. These elements were concerned that America's economic relationship with Germany after the war would be damaged if such prosecutions went ahead.

After Pell went public with the scandal, the State Department agreed to the prosecution of the Nazi leadership at Nuremberg, something which gained pace after the liberation of the concentration camps in the summer of 1945.

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance memorial in Israel, responded to the new information by stating on its website that "information regarding mass murders of Jews began to reach the free world soon after these actions began in the Soviet Union in late June 1941, and the volume of such reports increased with time.

"Notwithstanding this, it remains unclear to what extent Allied and neutral leaders understood the full import of their information. The utter shock of senior Allied commanders who liberated camps at the end of the war may indicate that this understanding was not complete."


Holocaust-Era US Visa Applications Discovered

By JTA

An electrician from the Netherlands discovered during repair work a suitcase containing visa applications to the United States that Holocaust victims filled out 76 years ago. The electrician, Guus Braam, and the owner of the home where he discovered the suitcase wrapped in newspaper inside a crawl space, gave the objects to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam suspecting it "must have something to do with the war," Braam told the daily, which published an article on the find Sunday.

After a locksmith opened the suitcase, researchers at the museum traced it back to the Redlich family, a household of two parents and their two sons, Peter and Gunther, who fled Hamburg in 1938 for Amsterdam. The Redlichs, who owned a raincoat factory, all perished in the Holocaust.

The suitcase found on Stadionkade Street in southern Amsterdam contained money, Peter's high school report card, his picture, a notice of his death at the age of 19 in a concentration camp in Austria, and visa applications for his parents and brother, among other objects. The report did not say whether the Redlichs ever received an answer to their application. The suitcase and its contents will go on display on April 20 at the Jewish Historical Museum, the report also said.

Peter was arrested during a raid in Amsterdam and sent to a concentration camp in the Netherlands and from there to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. He died there, like 60% of the 199,404 prisoners who passed through the camp, including 38,120 Jews.

His parents were deported to the Westerbork concentration camp in 1944 and murdered there in February. His brother is believed to have died several weeks later. Gunther and his parents may have been living in hiding until 1944 and betrayed to the authorities, according to Het Parool. Approximately 75% of 140,000 Dutch Jews were murdered in the Holocaust – the highest death rate in Nazi-occupied Western Europe.

In addition to a laconic notice on Peter's death, the suitcase also contained a letter that he sent to his parents from Mauthausen soon after arriving there. "I am well and you needn't worry about me," the letter read. The factory where Peter was employed, Asscher Interieurs, sent the family three months' worth of his salary to help the family deal with the loss, documents in the suitcase also show. In Peter's school report card, a teacher wrote: "We know him to be a studious pupil who fulfilled his scholastic duties fastidiously."

In a ledger found in the suitcase, Peter for years noted down his expenses and income from after school work and allowance. A sailing enthusiast, he bought a small boat which he paid in installments. He also noted down his expenses on a book on sailing, movie tickets, a sports shirt and gifts he bought his parents: A pencil for his "Mutti" and a cigarette lighter for his "Vati," as he called them in the ledger.

"It turned out to be a spectacular find," Peter Buijs, a researcher for the Jewish museum, said of the suitcase. "These documents make up a picture of the tragedy that happened to this family. It gives Peter Redlich a face."

The owner of the home where the suitcase was found, Marianne Eleveld-Lasès, auctioned off several coins that were found in the suitcase but decided to donate the rest to the museum, Het Parool reported.


Israeli Company Set to Launch Flying Electric Car

By Israel Hayom

Metro Skyways, a subsidiary company of Israeli company Urban Aeronautics based in Yavne, intends to launch the design and development of a four-passenger, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flying car. The company said development of the CityHawk will take five years. The electric car will be based on Urban Aeronautics' internal rotor, "Fancraft" technology.

CityHawk will at first be powered by jet fuel. However, it will be possible to convert it to run on liquid hydrogen fuel and also 700-bar compressed hydrogen. This depends on waiting for the infrastructure and technology to mature. The vehicle may even employ a system in which hydrogen is fed directly into a specially designed turboshaft engine, eliminating the need for fuel cells or electric motors.

The CityHawk is based on the Cormorant, a military craft developed by Tactical Robotics to ferry wounded soldiers from the urban battlefield. In the case of any airborne malfunction, all CityHawks will be equipped with a standard rocket-deployed parachute to bring them down safely.

The Cormorant has thus far performed over 200 test flights. It has a capacity to transport two patients; its length is 6.2 meters (20 feet), its width is 2.15 meters (7.05 feet) without thrusters, and its height is 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) without thrusters. CityHawk's first public demonstration will take place at an air show shortly after completion of development.

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