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Hamas & Hizbullah Set Up New March of Return Militia on Lebanese-Israeli Border

By DEBKAfile

The relative calm prevailing on Israel's border with Hamas-ruled Gaza is deceptive. Hamas has not changed its terrorist spots, only switched fronts, DEBKAfile's exclusive counter-terrorism sources report. Hamas' military wing, Ezz e-Din al-Qassam, was not persuaded by the excessive concessions that Israel and Egypt granted the Gaza Strip to give up the mob violence of firebombs and grenades against Israeli troops guarding the Gaza border in the past year, or to withhold the explosive balloons and rocket volleys aimed into Israel. Relative calm, for the time being, was not bought by the monthly river of Qatari dollars or the cash released by a UN fund which had collected $300 million from donor governments. While pretending to Israel and Egypt to be ready for a long-term truce, Hamas leaders have by no means given up on their terror campaign against Israel. Far from it. They have simply decided that the Gaza confrontation has done its work and yielded lucrative returns and were persuaded to switch fronts and move north into Lebanon. This was not Hamas' brainchild. It came from Iran's Middle East commander, Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani. He directed the Hizbullah secretary Hassan Nasrallah to sell it to two Hamas leaders, Saleh al-Arouri, head of the organization's terror networks, who was spending time in Beirut, and Osama Hamdan, head of Hamas' Lebanese office. The Soleimani plan hinges on Hizbullah raising a new Palestinian force of 3,000 recruits from the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon under the label of "The Hamas Return," the sequel to the "March of Return" applied to the violence emanating from Gaza in the past year. These recruits would undergo a special three-month training course, at the end of which they would be given arms, including heavy artillery and short-range surface rockets, and posted in South Lebanon opposite the Israeli border. But before then, the first Palestinian recruits were to be placed in a position in time for Israel's Independence Day on May 9. Additional features of Soleimani's project: Hamas' new northern front would be activated in coordination with the Gaza violence, creating a seesaw of terror against Israel. Israel's military reprisals are expected to focus on the new Hamas Lebanese force rather than jeopardizing the huge investment made in Gaza by Israel, Egypt, Qatar and the UN. The Lebanese-based "Hamas Return" militia will be backed by Hizbullah, with which Israel has avoided clashes in recent years. Enhanced Hamas influence in the Palestinian camps of Lebanon will further undermine the Palestinian Authority's chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Some of the Lebanese contingent's officers will be assigned to the Gaza Strip as coordinators between the two forces. DEBKAfile's counter-terrorism sources disclose that some 2,500 young Palestinians men have already enlisted to the new Hamas force and are undergoing training at Hizbullah facilities in central Lebanon and the Beqaa Valley. Most have come from the refugee camps outside Sidon and Tyre, and in Beirut and Baalbek. Hamas has made its senior representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, responsible for the new militia.

This week, Lebanese intelligence chiefs warned Hamdan and Arouri that Israeli intelligence and its special forces are preparing to attack the leaders of the "Hamas Return" militia and the Hizbullah facilities where they are training, to nip the entire project in the bud before it is ready for action.

Muslim Woman Braves Threats to Serve in IDF Infantry Battalion

By Bat-Chen Epstein Elias, Israel Hayom via JNS

When Cpl. N., who serves in a mixed-gender infantry battalion, heads out on arrest operations in nearby Palestinian villages she usually talks to the locals in Arabic. N. is a 19-year-old pepper pot. She's opinionated and knows what she wants. She is an observant Muslim who prays five times a day, and during the Ramadan fast mostly takes night shifts. She is an infantry soldier in the Lions of the Jordan Valley Battalion, which operates in Judea and Samaria and clashes with area Palestinians daily. "I don't stop to think that these people are Arabs like me," she says in fluent Hebrew. "I always tell myself that they brought this situation—in which they are facing Israeli soldiers—on themselves, and I perform my mission as I need to. It doesn't matter where I come from and who I pray to every day, or what I wear when I go home on leave. When I'm on a mission, I need to carry it out, to protect my friends, my country. That's why I enlisted," she said. Before she heads out on leave to her home village in northern Israel, she dons civilian clothes and affixes her hijab, the traditional headscarf that covers her hair and neck. She cannot return home for the weekend in uniform or carrying her military-issue weapon. "There are some people in the village who realized that I'm in the army and started to threaten my family with violence," N. says sadly. "They tried to physically attack my family, and that's scary. Even though my parents support me, every time someone threatens them, they take a step back. I was raised to love people, no matter what their religion or beliefs. "In our home, they always said that Arabs and Jews here are living on the same land. But when there were terrorist attacks, and Jews were being killed, the neighbors said they deserved to die and I didn't understand how they could say such things. I saw how difficult the situation in the country was and I decided I wanted to change it," she said. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of a devout Muslim woman serving in an Israeli infantry unit. She says that the debate about haredi conscription pales in comparison to what she has experienced. N. has already served under one commander who accidentally separated her from her comrades during a training course because she was wearing her hijab. That same commander apologized after the incident, but N. says even the apology did not make up for the offense. She said she has also been threatened by male Arab soldiers, who said they would harm her if she didn't leave the army. They were removed from her unit. But she says she has also received much support from the others in her unit, as well as from battalion commander Capt. Roni Avital and company commander Lt. Gal Yosef. The corporal has plenty to say about people who look at her askance. "If I listened to everyone who wasn't supportive, I wouldn't have made it this far. I wouldn't be dreaming of a career in the military. I think that Arabs need to think not only about what the country can do for them but also about what they can do for the country. "We need to take a look at ourselves because we live here, and if we want our rights, we need to do something, and one thing to do is go all the way and contribute to the army. If we don't fight together, Arabs and Jews, we won't have a country," she said.

Germany Charges Former Nazi Camp Guard, 92, as Accessory to Murder

By JTA

Prosecutors in Germany have charged a former Nazi concentration camp guard with being an accessory to murder. Identified as Bruno D., the 92-year-old man is accused of aiding and abetting the deaths of 5,230 prisoners at the Stutthof concentration camp during the nine months that he served in a watch tower there, Reuters reported. The charges by prosecutors in Hamburg were first reported by the German-language newspaper Die Welt. According to the newspaper, the man admitted to prosecutors during questioning last year that he served in the camp and had seen people being taken to gas chambers where he knew they would be murdered. Bruno D. worked at the camp between August 1944 and April 1945. It was located near Gdansk, then known as Danzig, in Poland. He will be tried by a juvenile court in Hamburg because he was 17 when he began to work at the camp. He told prosecutors, according to Die Welt, that he is not guilty because anyone could have filled the position. "What good would it have done for me to leave? They'd just have found somebody else," he reportedly said. "I felt bad for the people there. I didn't know why they were there. I knew that they were Jews who had committed no crime." It will be one of the last Nazi trials ever. Earlier this year the trial of former Nazi SS guard, Johann Rehbogen, 95, was suspended due to his ill health. A year ago Oskar Groening, the former Auschwitz guard convicted in his 90s for his role in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews at the concentration camp, died before he could enter prison to serve a four-year sentence.

Ancient Christian Manuscripts Digitized at Monastery Beneath Mount Sinai

By Reuters and Israel Hayom

At St. Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Egypt's Mount Sinai, the silence in the library is broken only by low electrical humming, as an early manuscript is bathed in green light. A team from Greece are photographing thousands of fragile manuscripts, including some of the earliest copies of the Christian gospels, using a complex process that includes taking images in red, green and blue light and merging them with computer software to create a single high-quality color picture. There is a tangible sense of urgency to the mission. Although the monastery has survived centuries of warfare, it lies in a region where Islamist terrorists have destroyed countless cultural artifacts and documents in Syria and Iraq. Egypt's Christian churches have also been targeted by an Islamist insurgency in the rugged and thinly populated northern Sinai. The Holy Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai – which is part of the Eastern Orthodox church – lies in the safer southern half of the Sinai Peninsula. But in 2017, Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on a nearby Egyptian police checkpoint, in which one officer was killed. "The upheaval of our times requires a rapid completion of this project," Archbishop Damianos of Sinai, Faran and Raitho, and Abbot of St. Catherine's Monastery, told Reuters by email. The aim is to create the first digital archive of all 4,500 manuscripts in the library, starting with around 1,100 in the Syriac and Arabic languages, which are particularly rare. The task could take more than a decade, using digital cameras and computer arrays alongside sophisticated cradles designed to support the more fragile manuscripts. The project began last year and is being undertaken by the nonprofit research organization Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL), in collaboration with the monastery and the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA Library said it would start publishing the manuscripts online, in full color, from the fall of 2019. "This library is an archive of the history of Christianity and its neighbors in the Mediterranean world, and therefore is of interest to communities all over the world who find their history here," Michael Phelps, Director of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, told Reuters. The monastery lies at the foot of Mount Sinai, by tradition the site where Moses received the Ten Commandments. UNESCO has listed the area as a World Heritage site, citing its sacred status in Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It says St. Catherine's was founded in the sixth century, and is the oldest Christian monastery still in use for its original function. The most famous manuscript in the library is the fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus – a Greek manuscript of the Bible which contains the oldest surviving complete New Testament. Its pages are divided between several institutions. Another is the Codex Syriacus, an ancient copy of the Gospels in Syriac. Other manuscripts cover science, medicine and the Greek classics. The digitization of the first stage alone, the Syriac-Arabic manuscripts, will take around three years and cost a projected $2.75 million, said Phelps. "Throughout the centuries, monks have lived here in prayer, in dedication to spiritual goals, a witness to God's revelation to mankind… in that sense especially, the Sinai Monastery is an ark, a spiritual ark in the wilderness," said Father Justin of Sinai, the monastery's librarian. The project will provide a more complete record than partial microfilming carried out decades ago by the U.S Library of Congress, and also by the National Library of Israel. The two institutions are making their records available to the new digitization effort, the project organizers said.

Passover Greetings from the White House – a parody

By the Jerusalem Post

In the video, https://youtu.be/oQLXm8Oil-k, the Trump impersonator wishes "my fellow Americans and people of the world" a happy Passover and then goes on to tell the Passover story, "which Jared [Kushner] taught me." Kushner, a senior advisor the president and his son-in-law, is Jewish. "On Passover, we commemorate the exodus from Egyptian slavery, which Jared taught me," the president begins. He goes on to explain how Jacob's family came to "the beautiful Egypt, a good country, a great country" because there was a famine in Canaan. They set themselves up in the land of Goshen and achieve success. But after Joseph, who had contributed much to Pharaoh and Egyptian society, passes away, the new Pharaoh turns on the Jews and subject them to slavery. "Alerted to a prophecy that the Israelites would be led to freedom by a boy yet to be born, the dopy pharaoh orders all newborn boys be cast into the Nile," Trump continues. "An evil man, that I can tell you." But Moses is saved by the ingenuity of his mother Jochebed. Ultimately, when Moses grows up, he defends an Israelite against an Egyptian slave master, who he kills and then is forced to flee. But Moses does not stay away for long. "One day Moses came upon a burning bush that was not consumed and God instructed him to go back and lead the Israelites out of Egypt," said Trump and then describes how he did it. "Moses went to the pharaoh and said God is not happy with the way you treat the Jewish people – kind of like the way the fake news treats me, horrible," said Trump, quickly running through the ten plagues and the final decision by Pharaoh to let the people go. The Jews cross the desert after the sea "miraculously split apart" and reach Mount Sinai - "not the hospital" - where they receive the Torah. "We love the Israelites," concludes the Trump parody. "Right folks? Great people, amazing people, very tough, believe me." And then the short film ends.




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