Newsletter : 19fx0408.txt
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Iran Threatens to Strike US Troops in the Middle East if Revolutionary Guards are
Designated a Terrorist Organization
By the Jerusalem Post
Iranian Major General Mohammed Ali Jafari warned that US troops could be targets in
response to reports that the US would list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a
designated terrorist organization. Jafari is the head of the IRGC.
Jafari made the threat on Sunday, stating that the US forces in "West Asia" by which he
meant parts of the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran's near abroad. "If the
Americans take such a stubborn measure and endanger our national security we will put in
place counter-measures in line with the police of the Islamic Republic of Iran," he said.
Under those circumstances, US forces would no longer be safe in the region, he said, using
the word "no longer enjoy calm," as a veiled threat.
The comments were widely reported in Iranian media, one of the few foreign policy articles
amid the flooding crises that has caused a massive national emergency in Iran. The IRGC
and military of Iran have been deployed amid the flooding. Iran also hosted Iraq's Prime
Minister over the weekend and sought to cement an alliance with Iraq while Iran's supreme
leader Ayatollah Khamenei said the US should leave Iraq.
The potential designation of the IRGC, reported by the Wall Street Journal over the
weekend, is a major step for the Trump administration as it seeks to ramp up pressure on
Tehran. But it is unclear how the IRGC will be targeted because it is such a large
organization, with hundreds of thousands of members and business and other roles in Iran
and across the region. The US already views Iranian-backed groups in Iraq and Syria as a
threat. The IRGC designation could increase that threat.
There are no distinctions whatsoever between Hizbullah and Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
They fight interchangeably in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, the Sinai Peninsula and across Africa
and now at the door Steps of Tripoli in Libya. Both are terrorist organizations and
should be recognized as murderous and threatening humanity. Europe has more to worry about
these terrorists. But as expected Europe will remain spineless and would be the last to
realize what Israel has been warning them all along.
The Final Polls are in and Israel's Election is a Nail-Biter
By JTA & Israel Faxx News Services
The final polls before Israel's national election on Tuesday show Israeli Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud Party running either neck-and-neck or up to five seats
behind upstart challenger Benny Gantz's Blue and White party. The last polls were
published on Friday, the last day to do so by law. Exit polling will begin at 10 p.m.
Israel time on Tuesday night.
The last poll of the day, aired Friday evening by Israel's commercial Channel 13, showed
Likud and Blue and White running neck and neck with 28 seats each. The Hebrew-language
Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Acharonot poll released earlier on Friday had Likud at 26
seats and Blue and White at 30, while the Israel Hayom/i24 News poll had Likud at 27 seats
and Blue and White at 27 seats. The same polls all put the struggling Labor Party at 10 to
11 seats, followed by the combined Arab parties Hadash-Ta'al at six or seven seats.
The Zehut party of former Likud lawmaker Moshe Feiglin polled at 5 or 6 seats depending on
the survey. Feiglin, whose quasi-libertarian and nationalist party has captured the
attention of young people who support the complete legalization of marijuana, polled at a
consistent five or six seats in Friday's tallies.
Regardless, Israelis are notorious for changing their minds about who to vote for. A party
must garner at least 3.25% of the total vote to pass the threshold to enter the Knesset.
Of the over 40 parties running in this national election, only about 14 parties will
manage to pass that threshold.
A ruling government coalition must have at least 61 seats, and preferably more if it wants
to pass legislation regularly. And the party that gets the most votes in Tuesday's
election may not be the party that gets to form the next government.
Following the election results, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will meet with the heads
of each party to find out who they would choose to form a government with. Because in most
polls the right-wing bloc appears to have enough seats to form a government, even if
Netanyahu's Likud party comes in several seats behind Blue and White, it likely will be
Netanyahu and not Gantz who is tasked with forming the next government.
Things were thrown into a tailspin on Sunday, however, when Zehut's Feiglin who had
been saying in recent days that he would be willing to join a government led by either
Netanyahu or Gantz, as long as he could advance his party's policies said that he
is considering recommending himself as prime minister.
The Channel 13 poll gave Netanyahu and a right-wing bloc 60 seats without Zehut and 66
seats with it. The Yediot poll gave the right-wing bloc 63 seats, or 57 without Zehut. The
Israel Hayom-i24 News poll gave Netanyahu 64 seats with Feiglin and 58 without.
Projected totals for some of the smaller parties include between five and seven seats for
the Union of Right-wing parties, five to six seats for the New Right, between five and
eight for the left-wing Meretz Party, five to six seats for the Sephardic Orthodox Shas
Party, and up to four or five seats for Yisrael Beiteinu, if it passes the threshold,
according to some polls.
Netanyahu pulled out all the stops to strip votes from some of the smaller parties on
Sunday, telling right-wing supporters that if they chose to vote for a smaller right-wing
party that Likud might not have enough votes for Rivlin to realistically allow Netanyahu
to form the next government. Whether that is true remains to be seen. The prime minister
also vowed to consider annexing the West Bank if elected, to rally right-wing voters.
Paper ballots cast throughout the country will be counted on Tuesday night, with a
preliminary total on Wednesday morning. Votes cast by soldiers on their bases, patients in
hospitals, and diplomats working overseas are added in later.
Netanyahu is on track to score a fourth straight term - and fifth overall - and break the
record for Israel's longest-serving leader. As a fixture of the Israeli political scene
for over three decades, "Bibi" Netanyahu has become the face of Israel on the world stage.
He has run on his reputation as a seasoned statesman, welcoming a line-up of powerful
leaders to Jerusalem just weeks before the election and playing up high-profile photo-ops
with everyone from Russian President Putin to his close ally and friend President Donald
Trump, who has lavished him with a string of political gifts.
Netanyahu sells himself as the only one who can protect Israel from the rising tide of
Iranian aggression and accelerate Israel's global acceptance, nursing diplomatic relations
with former adversaries across the Arab world.
But his rule looks more uncertain than ever after the attorney general's recommendation to
indict him on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Allegations that he
manipulated the press through shady deals and accepted lavish gifts from his billionaire
friends have thrown his rule into jeopardy. He has denied all charges, accusing police,
prosecutors and the media of orchestrating a political witch hunt to topple him.
Birthright Rejects Demands by Anti-Israel Group to Share Palestinian Views
By The Algemeiner
Birthright Israel said it would not submit to demands put forth by the activist group
IfNotNow (INN), which staged a protest on Friday outside its New York City headquarters
that ended with 15 arrests. Activists linked hands and blocked the entrance to the
building housing Birthright's offices, as well as two intersections of Third Avenue during
morning rush hour, provoking angry honking from immobilized commuters.
The protest was held in support of INN's "Not Just a Free Trip" campaign, which calls on
Birthright to share Palestinian perspectives while taking tens of thousands of young
American Jews on subsidized trips to Israel each year. Friday marked the deadline given to
Birthright to comply with INN's demands, which the group promoted through social media and
walk-offs that have drawn press attention.
Dozens of demonstrators many of them college students, according to INN wore
matching shirts, chanted, and used loudspeakers while accusing Birthright of promoting the
interests of "right-wing" donors like casino magnate Sheldon Adelson over those of young
American Jews, which the group frequently claims to represent. They repeatedly invoked
their belief in Jewish teachings like Tikkun Olam or repairing the world, while calling
for an end to American Jewish support of Israel's control over the West Bank (Judea and
Samaria), the Gaza Strip borders, and eastern portions of Jerusalem.
"[Today] the movement gave Birthright one last chance, blocking the doors until staff
would come downstairs," INN said in a press release. "According to the protesters,
Birthright's choice to arrest the students rather than engage is a reflection of how they
regularly prioritize their donors' pro-Occupation agenda and alienate an entire generation
of American Jews."
After issuing repeated warnings, New York Police arrested 15 protesters who obstructed the
entrance to Birthright's offices and charged them with disorderly conduct. A spokesperson
for Birthright rejected the claim that the organization was responsible for the
protesters' arrest, calling it "completely false.
"We had nothing to do with any of the arrests made by the NYPD," spokesperson Pamela
Fertel Weinstein told The Algemeiner. "It is our understanding that after blocking Third
Avenue and the entrance of the building to tenants, the NYPD arrested them for disorderly
conduct as they would do in any similar situation."
In a statement responding to the protest, Birthright described itself as "an apolitical
organization" that "provides a multifaceted view of Israel, Jewish heritage and Jewish
values," as well as "discussions of the geopolitical realities in Israel, including the
conflict, and meetings with Israeli Arabs and other minorities in Israel.
"IfNotNow maintains a radical approach to an agenda they know does not align with the
facts," the group added. "We do not respond to threats and demands from political
activists leveraging our long-standing good reputation to advance their agendas."
Three members of Reservists on Duty (RoD), an advocacy group led by Israeli military
veterans, staged a counter-protest to convey their support for Birthright's effort to
"unite Jews around the world," raising signs including, "IfNotNow does not represent the
Jewish community. INN shamefully ruined peoples' day by not allowing them to commute to
work, only to protest about a free trip to Israel that no one forced them to participate
in," said David Abadie, RoD's New York representative. "It came to a point were a
nine-month pregnant woman couldn't get to her office."
Hamas Mocks Netanyahu's Threat to Conquer Gaza
By United with Israel
Hamas is unfazed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's threat regarding the possibility
of conquering Gaza in a scenario of escalation of terror against Israel. Sami Abu Zuhri, a
senior member of the terrorist organization in Gaza, wrote on Twitter on Sunday,
"Netanyahu's remarks about conquering Gaza as an existing option are ridiculous, and he
must know that the liberation of Tel Aviv will certainly come."
Netanyahu said in an interview last Thursday that "all options, including entering and
conquering Gaza, are on the table, by what is good for the state of Israel." He stressed,
however, that he won't embark on "unnecessary wars," and that he would only order war in
Gaza after all other options have been exhausted.
Hamas is trying to deter Israel from military action in the Gaza Strip through accelerated
military development of long-range missiles, some of which have recently been launched at
targets in central Israel.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar warned Israel on Saturday that "if Gaza is dragged into war,
Israel will suffer. It won't evacuate just the towns bordering Gaza, but also Ashdod,
Ashkelon, and even Tel Aviv. Our fingers are still on the trigger, and they'll stay there
to protect the Palestinian nation. Hamas will be a sword and shield for the Palestinian
people," he added.
Egypt is currently working to broker an agreement between Israel and Hamas which will end
both rocket attacks and the launching of explosive and incendiary balloons, as well as the
violent riots held weekly along the Gaza-Israel border. Israel, in return, has eased
restrictions on the fishing area and will gradually open the Gaza crossings to allow
additional goods to pass through. Later, Israel will agree to allow the Qatari money into
Gaza. The funds are intended to improve Gaza's water, sewage, and electricity
More than 40 Zoo Animals Evacuated from Gaza Strip
By AFP and IsraelNationalNews.com
More than 40 animals, including five lions, were evacuated from squalid conditions in a
Gaza Strip The animals - including five lions, five monkeys, four ostriches, three
peacocks, two wolves, a hyena, foxes, porcupines and 10 squirrels - will be resettled in
sanctuaries in Jordan and South Africa.
The Rafah zoo in the southern Gaza Strip is the oldest in the enclave, which has been
under an Israeli blockade for more than 10 years. The animals were not in great shape, but
were stable enough to be transported to a reserve in Jordan, some 300 kilometers (190
miles) from the coastal enclave, said Martin Bauer, spokesman for the Vienna-based welfare
group. The animals were sedated to be put in cages for the transfer through Israel. Two of
the lions would eventually be sent to South Africa.
Four Paws was supposed to move ahead with the transfer in late March, but the organization
could not enter the enclave since the crossing was closed that week due to a flare-up of
violence between Gaza-based terrorists and Israel.
Bauer said the mission had the support of the authorities in Gaza, run by Islamist terror
group Hamas, and of the zoo's owner, who has said he could no longer afford the upkeep for
the animals. Israel's permission was also received for the mission. He said it was the
biggest such mission carried out by Four Paws and intensive negotiations were required.
The zoo received attention recently when the owner revealed he had declawed one of its
lions so customers could pay to play with her. In January, four lion cubs died of cold in
the zoo. The Gaza Strip suffers from poverty and a lack of infrastructure, including a
severe electricity shortage. Four Paws says a number of animals at the zoo have died in
bombings since its 1999 opening.
In 2016, Four Paws helped facilitate the transfer of the sole tiger in the Gaza Strip,
eventually relocating it to South Africa. The organization in 2017 rescued a lion and a
bear from a zoo in Mosul in northern Iraq, a former stronghold of the Islamic State group.
Many of the animals had been smuggled into Gaza via tunnels beneath the southern border
with Egypt, which along with Israel has blockaded the territory since the Hamas terrorist
group seized power there in 2007, and has continued launching rocket attacks on Israeli
territory ever since.
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