Palestinians Protest UN Chief’s Decision to Remove Report on Israeli Apartheid

21 MAR
8:22 PM

Palestinians demonstrated outside the United Nations Special Coordinator Office (UNSCO) in Gaza City, on Tuesday, in protest of the UN’s decision to withdraw a report prepared by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which accused Israel of apartheid policies.

Protesters expressed support for ESCWA chief Rima Khalaf, who resigned from her post on Friday, after she said she was pressured by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to remove the report.

A joint statement issued Tuesday by Palestinian Human Rights Organizations (PHROC), addressed to Guterres, said the groups were “dismayed” by his decision to withdraw the report, and vowed to “adopt the analysis and conclusions contained therein in an effort to achieve justice for the Palestinian people.”

“It is our belief that the withdrawal of this report will contribute to the commission of further violations by Israel, the occupying power, especially in light of a continued politicization of the application of international law.”

PHROC said, according to Ma’an News Agency, that the report “professionally” addressed the reality that Palestinians have been subjected to “under the Israeli occupation and its colonial policies that have been based on racial discrimination” since the state of Israel was established in 1948.

The statement also lauded the report for “objectively” conveying the various legal procedures and “separate and unequal practices towards the Palestinian people, who Israel has sought to divide into different groups” — namely those with Israeli citizenship, residency status in occupied East Jerusalem, those living within the occupied West Bank or the besieged Gaza Strip, or the diaspora living abroad.

“The withdrawal of the report from the ESCWA website as a result of political pressure is at odds with the principles upon which the United Nations was founded” and with “international humanitarian law and international human rights law upon which the report is based,” the statement said.

PHROC concluded by calling upon the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take the report into consideration during its preliminary examination into the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Palestinian People’s Party politburo member Walid al-Awad said, at the sit-in, that the letter was sent to pressure Guterres to undertake “tangible” procedures against the Israeli occupation “for its racist practices plainly mentioned in the report.”

Al-Awad applauded Khalaf for “her courageous humanitarian position in preferring to resign rather than withdraw the report.”

The official reason for the report’s removal given by Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric was not over the content of the report itself, but rather with the fact that it had allegedly been published without consulting with the UN secretariat.

However, PHROC was not the first to accuse the UN of caving to pressure by Israel and UN member states to bury the report for being too critical of Israeli violations against Palestinians.

The report, which has been published in full elsewhere after being removed from ESCWA’s website on Friday, notably concluded that Israel was guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” of imposing apartheid policies against Palestinians, and urged the international community to abide by its “legal obligation” to punish such discriminatory measures.

“Aware of the seriousness of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law,” an executive summary of the report read.

Palestinians, activists, and a number of intellectuals have increasingly compared Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory with an apartheid system over the years, and sought to use similar tactics as those that took down the apartheid regime in South Africa.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement founded in 2005 as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law has been largely influenced by the South African anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s.

(Source / 21.03.2017)

UN expert warns of deteriorating situation for human rights defenders in Palestine and Israel

Human rights defenders working to draw attention to abuses associated with Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territory are being increasingly targeted as a result of their work, according to a new report from a United Nations human rights expert.

Michael Lynk – the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 – expressed deep concerns about the shrinking space for civil society in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in a statement to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“As human rights defenders – Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals – persist with their intrepid activism to investigate and oppose the regime of human rights violations that is integral to the occupation. All indications are that they will continue to be the prime targets of those who are intolerant of their criticisms, yet alarmed by their effectiveness,” Mr. Lynk said.

The Rapporteur noted with alarm that Palestinian human rights defenders have been subjected to attacks, arrest, detention, and threats to their lives and safety. “They have experienced sophisticated interference with their vital work, and have faced toxic denunciations aimed at silencing them and discouraging their supporters,” he continued.

Mr. Lynk also drew attention to the work of Israeli human rights organizations which call attention to human rights abuses that occur in the context of the occupation. He noted that these organizations “are enduring an increasingly hostile public atmosphere in Israel and from the settlement movement, stoked by the Israeli political leadership and the media, as well as obstructive legislation enacted or being considered by the Knesset.”
The Rapporteur emphasized the essential nature of the work of these defenders: “They provide invaluable advocacy, independent and reliable analysis, effective protection, the courage to investigate and protest, and offer both a progressive interpretation of existing rights as well as a vision of new rights in embryo. The work of these human rights defenders animates and enlarges the enjoyment of human rights for the rest of us.”

In his report, the Rapporteur also highlighted issues of pressing concern with respect to the human rights situation in the OPT. He noted with alarm the rapid pace with which the settlement enterprise has advanced since the start of 2017, referencing the announcement of the construction of 6000 new housing units. He also expressed concern about the so-called “Regularization Bill”, noting that “removing one of the only domestic legal barriers to settlement construction moves Israel even further from compliance with international law.”

The Rapporteur further drew attention to the situation in Gaza, highlighting the fact that as the 10th year of the blockade begins, the situation is becoming ever more dire as infrastructure crumbles under the strain of a growing population and continued significant import and movement restrictions. Mr. Lynk also noted the decline in the number of exit permits granted at the end of 2016.

“The free movement of people would bring education, training, and increased skills to a part of the world that not only is in desperate need, but shows great resilience and potential for innovation,” the Rapporteur said.

Mr. Lynk called on the Government of Israel to end the blockade of Gaza, and to comply with Security Council Resolution 2334, which reaffirmed that settlements are a “flagrant violation under international law”. He also called on the Government of Israel to fully honour and implement the rights and obligations contained in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full report.

(Source / 21.03.2017)

Israeli Colonizer Rams Elderly Palestinian Woman with His Car near Nablus

21 MAR
10:59 AM

On Monday evening, an Israeli driver hit and severely injured an elderly Palestinian woman in Sawiya village, south of Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank.

The victim was identified as Hilwe Abu Ras, 70, who was walking along the side of the road when she was hi.

The colonizer did not stop, but drove away toward the Israeli military roadblock Za’tara.

Local medics were called to the scene, and took the victim to the an-Najah Hospital in Nablus. Doctors there described her condition as moderate-to-severe, but stable.

Israeli police made no effort to apprehend the perpetrator. Palestinians who hit Israelis with their cars, whether on purpose or accidentally, are often shot on the spot and killed immediately by Israeli troops, with no opportunity for a trial.

This is just the latest in a serious of ramming attacks against Palestinians by Israelis over the last two weeks.

On Sunday, Israeli colonists attacked Khaled al-’Oweiwi in Suwwana neighborhood in Jerusalem. al-’Oweiwi was stopped at a red light when three Israeli colonists driving motorcycles attacked his vehicle with weapons. He crossed the red light and crashed into a bus.

Last Tuesday, Fadi ‘Aabed, 41, suffered fractures in his nose and cuts and bruises in his face and head, when Israeli colonizers attacked him in east Jerusalem. He works as a taxi driver, and several Israeli colonists came to his taxi and asked for a ride. Seeing he was Palestinian, the men attacked him – one of the attackers beat him with a wine bottle. ‘Aabed reported that he drive a little ways and saw another cab driver, who he asked to call the police. One of his attackers was caught, and the other

On March 11th, Malek Saber, 15, was attacked by four Israeli colonizers when he was walking in the al-Masharef mountain area in Jerusalem. He suffered injuries to his head and chest.

Malek Saber

Also Monday, Israeli officials award colonial leader David Be’eri a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’. Be’eri is known worldwide for the video below, in which he plowed through a group of Palestinian children in Jerusalem with his vehicle, then drove away ( see site)

(Source / 21.03.2017)

Head of OIC: ‘Palestinian Cause Is Our Priority…Sectarianism Threatens Some Member Countries’

Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Cooperation Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed al-Othaimeen .

Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Cooperation Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed al-Othaimeen

Jeddah- Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed al-Othaimeen said that it is worth taking a moment to review the escalating sectarian tensions and hostility towards Islam and Muslims, two phenomena spreading in our region and threatening the interests of the Islamic nation.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat in the organization’s headquarters in Jeddah, Othaimeen said that the urgent meeting for the foreign ministers, which was recently held in Makkah, stressed that whoever supports Houthi and Saleh militias, provides them with arms and works on smuggling ballistic missiles and artillery for them is an accomplice in the attacks against the sanctity of the Islamic world and a major supporter of terrorism.

The organization is keen on fostering friendly relations among nations, especially that security-related challenges cannot withstand more tensions or sectarianism, Othaimeen told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He focused on the sectarian agendas spreading in some of the member countries at a time when hostility against Islam and Muslims is increasing and leading to catastrophic damages from which Muslims and Islamic countries suffer.

Othaimeen called for uniting efforts to create an economic and social environment that attracts young people to positively contribute to their societies and push them away from ideas and feelings of marginalization, exclusion, resentment and intellectual and civilizational alienation, thus reducing their attraction to terrorist and criminal organizations disguised under the mask of religion.

When asked about how the OIC has supported the Palestinian cause and Jerusalem, Othaimeen said that Palestinian cause tops the priorities of the organization’s movements, contacts and political consultations with leaders and officials around the world, as it seeks to enhance the responsibility and commitment shown by the international community to achieve peace and reach a two-state solution.

He further noted that the organization works on coordinating the stances and efforts put by the member countries in international arenas, especially in the United Nations and its affiliated bodies, to gather political support in favor of the Palestinians’ rights and condemn and combat Israeli occupation policies imposed on them.

With the persistent complaints of Iranian interference in the internal affairs of neighboring countries and some member countries in the organization, Asharq Al-Awsat asked Othaimeen whether OIC should start dealing with Tehran’s leaders in a different way and reveal its practices in supporting terrorism and militias in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

Othaimeen answered by saying that the charter of the OIC calls for strict adherence to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of any country and for good neighborliness.

He confirmed that the organization has issued many statements condemning Iran’s interference in the affairs of another member state.

(Source / 21.03.2017)

Political Changes Reflect on Yemen

Yemen

It is clear from the intensified Arab coalition’s operations in Yemen that the war there has greatly shifted in their favor against the insurgents.

Coordination between Saudi-led coalition forces and the US has been restored after it was suspended during the last year of Barack Obama’s presidential term. Several raids targeted Houthi militias training camps in Saada and several Houthi locations in the Nahm front, east of Sana’a, which ended with their defeat in that rugged governorate.

According to army statements, the national army, aided by coalition’s air force, moved to Arhab, the governorate close to the capital Sana’a.

In addition, naval cooperation has thwarted three Houthi naval attacks near Midi port.

Recent reports revealed that the next attack will be decisive in this war as it will target the strategic Hodeida port, which Iranian ships use to smuggle arms to insurgents.

Following Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Washington, the coalition’s position strengthened and has been enhanced. As a result of the agreements with the US, supplies of ammunition have been resumed and so did the exchange of military intelligence information on enemy positions and operations.

In addition to military results, this sends an equally important message that in Yemen, unlike Syria, there is an international agreement to eliminate the insurgents and isolate their Iranian ally, which is present in Yemen through its militias that are fighting alongside the Houthis.

Following these new military shifts, the international envoy is back in an attempt to promote the peace initiative, which is still valid and has been slightly amended by him in a hope it would close the gap between different parties.

The envoy amended the initiative based on three references: UN Resolution 2216, the Gulf initiative and the national dialogue decisions.

In addition, the successful military operations, which pressured Houthi militias affiliated with Iran, and the national army’s march against the forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, by moving into Arhab on the way to Sana’a, will help the envoy execute his plan.

This does not undermine the conflict in Yemen where the team of legitimate President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is being accused of obstructing efforts toward a political solution and of preferring the continuation of the conflict because an end to the war would cost him the presidency.

It is certain that military developments will contribute to a better understanding on how Yemen will be governed.

(Source / 21.03.2017)

Hamas: PA police detains 5 Palestinians, summon journalist

PA veiligheidstroepen

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian security forces arrested five people and summoned a journalist on Tuesday, the Hamas movement said in a statement, which described the raids as “politically motivated” arrests by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

In the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem, Hamas said that forces from the PA’s preventive security service detained Khadouri University student Izz al-Din Freihat after they raided his apartment.
In the southern Hebron district, Muhammad Najajreh was detained, after PA intelligence officers stopped a bus he was taking to attend class at Hebron University, according the statement that said Najajreh was from the town of Nahalin near Bethlehem.
In Bethlehem, PA intelligence summoned journalist Qutaiba Qassem for interrogation. The statement said Qassem has previously been imprisoned by Israel.
Hamas’ statement said that PA preventive security services arrested Arafat Sawafta from his workplace after his home was also raided and searched in the northern Tubas district.
In the central Ramallah district, Saeb Abu Salim, who has previously been imprisoned by Israel, was delivered a summons in the town of Rantis to appear for interrogation with PA intelligence.
Obada al-Zaghal, from Ramallah, was also detained after he was first summoned for interrogation.
Hamas, the de facto ruling party in the Gaza Strip, and the PA have exchanged accusations of carrying out “politically motivated” arrests, as the two factions have been embroiled in conflict since Hamas’ election victory in 2006 elections, which erupted into a violent conflict between the two movements as both attempted to consolidate control over the territory.
Officials from the Fatah-led PA have criticized Hamas for creating a shadow government in the Gaza Strip and blocking efforts to reach political unity.
Hamas has in turn accused the PA of executing a plan to “eradicate” the movement from the West Bank, accusing Fatah of “escalating security collaboration” with the Israeli authorities through politically-motivated arrests and “adopting a revolving door policy” funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons.
In predawn raids Tuesday across the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces detained some at least 20 Palestinians.
Meanwhile, a detention raid Sunday night conducted by the PA into Balata refugee camp erupted into armed clashes with local gunmen, which left a Palestinian security officer dead.
(Source / 21.03.2017)

Israeli forces deliver stop-work orders to 7 Palestinian families in Kafr al-Dik

Kafr al-Dik

SALFIT (Ma’an) — Israeli forces delivered stop-work orders to seven Palestinian families in the village of Kafr al-Dik west of Salfit in the central occupied West Bank late Monday evening, local sources told Ma’an.

Mayor Jamal al-Dik said that Israeli troops stormed a neighborhood in the west side of the village known locally as “al-Khilal” and delivered stop-work warrants to seven families.
The families, he said, were told they must stop construction work on their homes, which are located in Area C — the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control where Israeli authorities only approve 1.5 percent of building permit applications for Palestinians, according to the United Nations.
Al-Dik told Ma’an the families would start legal procedures to appeal the Israeli orders.
The houses belong to Ahmad Bakr, Yazid Darwish, Jamal Mustafa, Mahmoud Mustafa, Ashraf Naji, Hussam Mustafa Naji, and Ibrahim Naji, according to al-Dik.
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma’an that “the constructions in question were illegally built in C area’s where construction requires the approval of the qualified authorities, therefor warrants to stop construction were served.”
On Sunday evening, Israeli authorities also delivered demolition and stop-work orders to a Palestinian family in the southern occupied West Bank town of Beit Ummar, located in Area C.
As Israel almost never gives Palestinians permission to build in land classified as Area C, residents are forced to build their homes without permits and “live in constant fear of their homes and livelihoods being destroyed,” Israeli rights group B’Tselem has said.
Israel demolished more Palestinian homes in the occupied territory in 2016 than in any year since the United Nations began documenting demolitions in 2009, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
According to UN documentation, 1,093 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israeli authorities, displacing 1,601 people.At least 173 demolitions have been reported in the Palestinian territory since the start of 2017, displacing 299 people as of March 6.
(Source / 21.03.2017)

IOA issues new administrative detention orders

30 administr detention

The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) issued 30 administrative detention orders against a number of Palestinian detainees, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Tuesday.

30 Palestinian detainees received different administrative prison terms since March 13, ranging between two to six months, according to the PPS.

The PPS noted that that 18 of the orders were issued for the first time against newly arrested prisoners, while 12 orders were issued to extend administrative detention sentences for Palestinians already held by Israel without charge or trial.

Administrative detention is the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial and on the basis of secret evidence for up to six month periods, indefinitely renewable by Israeli military courts.

Israel’s policy of administrative detention has been widely condemned by the international community.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes as a way to protest their administrative detention and to demand an end to this policy, which violates the international law.

(Source / 21.03.2017)

Israel arrests BDS founder Omar Barghouthi

Bargouthi gearresteerd

The co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel was arrested on Monday in Haifa, Israeli authorities declared on Tuesday.

According to Israeli media sources, Bargouthi is suspected of failing to report some $700,000 in income over the past decade, during which he served as the director of National Computing Resources in Ramallah.

The company specializes in the sale and maintenance of ATMs and related equipment within the Palestinian Authority, the sources added,

Barghouthi allegedly hid the income by depositing it in a Ramallah bank account.

He also deposited honorarium fees received for lectures he gave around the world in a US bank account, thereby hiding the revenue from Israeli tax authorities, Israeli police claimed.

A search of his residence at the time of the arrest found transaction documents and credit cards to support the suspicions, according to the Israeli police.

(Source / 21.03.2017)

Is Assad shifting strategy on Israel?

Israeli soldiers patrol near an Iron Dome defense system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, Jan. 20, 2015.

In an unexpected incident, Israel activated its Arrow missile-defense system March 17, targeting a fragment of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile.

This incident forced Israel to publicly admit (a first such admission in a long time) that the targeted Syrian missiles were aimed at Israel Defense Forces (IDF) jets that had previously attacked strategic weapons deep in Syria, weapons that were intended for Hezbollah. Forty-eight hours later, another airstrike took place, hitting a vehicle traveling between Quneitra and Khan Arnabeh in the Syrian Golan Heights. The vehicle was destroyed and its driver, Yasser al-Sayed, was killed on the spot. Sayed was a member of a pro-regime militia and had been close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Evidently, from the Syrian Golan, he had tried to carry out Assad- and Hezbollah-inspired terror attacks against Israel. Israel, for its part, adopted a policy of ambiguity and did not address this incident. But the media are convinced this was Israel’s second airstrike in Syria in two days; that someone in Jerusalem is trying to change the fragile rules of the game that reign on Israel’s northern front. There are those who think that this “someone” is not even trying to avoid a flare-up; perhaps, on the contrary, he is even trying to cause one.

In the first incident, things went from bad to worse, dragging the five sides of the complex power struggle on the northern front (Israel, Syria, Russia, Hezbollah and Iran) to the very edge of their political cliffs. As mentioned, the Syrians launched anti-aircraft missiles against Israeli planes in an unusual move; Israel then brought down one of the missiles via an Arrow missile; then the Russians summoned Israel’s ambassador for a reprimand.

In addition, Israel violated all precedents and bragged about its actions. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman festively stated that the next time the Syrians launch anti-aircraft missiles against Israeli air force planes, Israel will destroy the other side’s air defense system. Liberman added March 19 that every time Israel discerns attempts to transfer tie-breaking weapons from Syria to Hezbollah, its military will take action to thwart this. Liberman did not address that the Russians rebuked Israel publicly and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Moscow to an urgent clarification talk the night of March 17.

A senior Israeli security source told Al-Monitor that this did not constitute a true crisis between the two countries. Instead, it was a Russian attempt to mollify Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic partners: the Syrian regime, Hezbollah and Iran. These partners view the Israeli actions as flagrant violations of the balance of power in the area and an ongoing attempt to harm Syrian sovereignty. “I wouldn’t tell anyone to belittle the Russian reprimand,” said the source, talking on condition of anonymity, “but I also don’t think there’s need for panic. Russia is facing a lot of criticism for continuing to allow Israel to operate in the depths of Syria. They tried to convey an impression by which they are unhappy with Israel.”

The educated guess is that Israeli air force F-16 jets struck a convoy of Scud missiles that are capable of reaching a range of 750 kilometers (466 miles) — and can each carry a warhead weighing half a ton. This kind of weaponry is, evidently, included on the Israeli “blacklist” of arms that it does not allow to be transferred to Hezbollah: long-range surface-to-surface missiles with greater accuracy (such as Scud-D missiles); surface-to-sea missiles, such as the infamous Yakhont supersonic missiles (which endanger the Israeli navy and Israeli gas rigs); modernized anti-aircraft missiles; and chemical weapons.

Allegedly, every time Israeli intelligence gets wind of an attempt to transfer this kind of weaponry from Syria to Lebanon, the air force is activated. However, this time, an unexpected mishap took place. Contrary to habit, the Syrians launched several S-200 missiles at the Israeli air force planes. The missiles themselves did not endanger the planes. However, one of the missiles evidently rose up very high. When it began to skydive, the Arrow’s radar system took it for a ballistic missile coming from afar. Its system went into action and launched an Arrow rocket that hit a fragment of the Syrian missile and intercepted it at a great height.

This was, on the one hand, a showcase for a uniquely successful operational activation of the Israeli Arrow missile. On the other hand, the incident exposed the Israeli strike and prevented Israel from maintaining its usual tight-lipped policy of ambiguity. It also forced the Russians to take action and summon the Israeli ambassador. But in general, what the incident laid bare is the extent to which the northern front can still be explosive. One isolated incident can instigate a chain reaction of responses and activities that create a domino effect, causing a regional flare-up.

“Assad’s self-confidence is on the rise,” an Israeli military source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “He is no longer fighting for his life, his regime is more stable. Now it’s clear that he’s here to stay. Under this state of affairs, he wants to change the rules of the game, rules created in recent years. Assad wants to close the window, which, in his view, allows Israel to continue to strike Syrian territory. That is evidently the reason for his launching of the anti-aircraft missiles.” It is important to note that this is not the first time the Syrians have launched anti-aircraft missiles against the IDF. What sets aside this incident from previous ones is that the Russians also intervened.

To complicate things even further, the second abovementioned incident took place March 19: A vehicle in the Syrian Golan was attacked, and a militia member closely associated with Assad was killed. This was not a strategic killing. The assessment is that although the militant was suspected of carrying out terror attacks against Israel on the Golan front, he was not viewed as someone trying to create strategic threats against Israel in the style of Hezbollah militants Jihad Mughniyeh or Samir Kuntar, both of whom were target-killed in the Golan in 2015.

The juxtaposition of this killing with the aerial strike in the depths of Syria might be a sign that Israel has become less careful and cautious than usual. Perhaps Israel is now taking more risks in its dangerous dance with the other parties involved in Lebanon. Israel took no responsibility for Sayed’s elimination. However, on that same day, a change of authority took place in Israel’s Northern Command, and some of the top brass who attended referred to the incident obliquely. Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and outgoing Deputy Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi both said that Israel would continue to thwart terror cells and prevent the transfer of strategic weapons to Hezbollah.

The real question is: What causes Israel to act so freely, and what encouraged its leaders to brag in public following the March 17 incident? One possible answer may be the coalition crisis that is threatening to dismantle the Benjamin Netanyahu government. Another factor may be the ongoing investigations against the prime minister. A flare-up in the north could serve to overshadow these events and put them in the correct perspective. Liberman, who loves his job as defense minister and thus wants to lengthen the current government’s life expectancy, is playing a dangerous game here. The nerves of all the players in the complex tug of war on the northern border are already frayed. Any escalation could get out of control very quickly and lead to a true inferno.

Perhaps that is why Eizenkot announced March 19 that “in a future war, there will be a clear address: the state of Lebanon.” Such an announcement completely dovetails with my last article in Al-Monitor, and constitutes a clear warning: Hezbollah and Lebanon are no longer two separate entities. From now on, they are one and the same.

(Source / 21.03.2017)