The US and EU feed three boys into the jaws of Hamas 1

As a member of Cobra, the UK national crisis management committee, I was involved in British efforts to rescue our citizens kidnapped by Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. No modern-day military action is so fraught: the odds are stacked against the captives, the whip hand is with the captors, it is a race against time, and it becomes extremely personal.

So the admirable Colonel Richard Kemp, former  Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, writes at Gatestone.

The world has undergone gut-churning revulsion this week at the videos of rows of kneeling young Iraqi men callously gunned down by Al Qaida terrorists in Mosul. But time and again, in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Hamas has shown itself to be just as capable of such brutal cold-blooded killing. That knowledge has galvanized Israel’s desperate hunt for those who abducted teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach as they hitchhiked home from their school in Gush Etzion a week ago. …

Nothing – nothing – stands in the way of our efforts to bring them back. Although we hope for the best, we prepare for the worst.

From the outside, it is difficult to read the realities of a kidnapping. Those with the responsibility of saving lives are forced into a cat and mouse game in which they must both reassure the public and sow seeds of disinformation among the captors. So far, for Naftali, Gilad and Eyal, the signs are not encouraging. As far as we know a week later, there is no proof of life, no demands, no negotiations.

Yesterday, June 19, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency apparently reported that Hamas leader Salah Bardawil said that the “Palestinian resistance” (Hamas — the acronym for the “Islamic Resistance Movement”) had carried out the kidnapping.

The first priority is always to establish the identity and the motive of the captors. Early on, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that Hamas was guilty. [Even] US Secretary of State Kerry agreed, and this seems to be the view throughout Gaza and the West Bank.

Hamas leader Mohammad Nazzal, for his part, described the kidnapping of three teenage civilians as “a heroic capture”, and “a milestone” for the Palestinian people. He said that every passing day in which the Israelis failed to find the teenagers was “a tremendous achievement”. 

The sheer sadism of the Palestinian Arab leadership, though bloodily demonstrated over and over again for nearly 100 years now –  and so is fully expected –  still shocks and revolts, and shows no sign of abating.

Nazzal’s comments reflect long-standing views on the abduction and butchering of Israelis by the leadership of Hamas, the internationally proscribed terrorist group responsible for firing thousands of lethal rockets indiscriminately against the civilian population of Israel from the Gaza Strip, the latest salvoes only this week.

It is the same terrorist group that the United Nations, the United States and the European Union – in a display of moral bankruptcy and betrayal – have all endorsed as a legitimate partner in a unity government for the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Just the day before the three boys were kidnapped, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, welcomed Hamas into the PA government while lambasting Israel for detaining terrorists and taking action to prevent Hamas terrorist attacks from Gaza and the West Bank.

Ashton, though never slow to condemn Israel, took five days to denounce this kidnapping. Both her words and actions have legitimized and encouraged Hamas. Her inaction in the face of repeated terrorist assaults has bolstered Hamas’s convictions.

The kidnapping will find favor with Ashton’s new best friends in Iran. Also desperate to appease the ayatollahs, British Foreign Secretary William Hague this week announced the re-opening in Tehran of a British embassy, closed in 2011 after being ransacked on the orders of the Iranian government. There are even reports of US military intelligence-sharing with Iran over the crisis in Iraq – where only a few short years ago, large numbers of American and British soldiers were being slaughtered — using Iranian-supplied munitions by terrorists trained, directed and equipped by Tehran and its terrorist proxy, Lebanese Hizballah.

As Ashton and the West cozy up to the ayatollahs, the ayatollahs are again cozying up to Hamas. A few weeks ago, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizballah, met with Hamas leaders to resolve the differences between Iran and Hamas that arose over the Syrian conflict. Hamas – isolated from Egypt following the demise of the Muslim Brotherhood regime – seems desperate to restore full relations with the Iranian tyrant. Iran is equally enthusiastic to bring Hamas back into the fold: Hamas remains an important instrument of the ayatollahs’ overriding, stated goal of destroying the State of Israel.

In these circumstances it is certainly not beyond probability that the three boys’ kidnapping was a goodwill gesture from Hamas to the ayatollahs.

It is hard to not be chilled to the bone by the thought of three teenage boys – who might easily be our own sons or brothers – spending night after night in the hands of ruthless terrorists… or worse. The anguish of the boys’ parents must be unimaginable.

Yet among the Palestinian Arab population of the West Bank and Gaza, including children, a new symbol has emerged – the three-fingered salute, signifying joy at the kidnapping …

Such celebration, including the handing out of sweets in the street, has been widespread. …

Both the US and the EU have paid the salaries of Palestinian terrorists by means of grants to the PA; they also fund this propaganda and incitement, no doubt including some of the imagery applauding the boys’ kidnapping.

The Israeli security operation has so far focused on finding the three boys. Over 330 Hamas suspects have been arrested, and illicit weapons and ammunition seized. Echoing the code-name of the rescue operation, “Brother’s Keeper,” the IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, has encouraged his troops to apply the same vigour to their task as if they were searching for their own brothers or members of their own platoon. He has also reminded them that most people in the areas they are searching are not connected to the kidnapping, and to treat them with care and humanity.

Concurrently, the IDF is taking steps to weaken and dismantle Hamas in the West Bank. In some quarters these have been criticized as an unnecessary and opportunistic widening of the operation. It is nothing of the sort. With this latest kidnapping, Hamas has confirmed its continued intent to abduct, attack and murder Israeli civilians in the West Bank. Like every government, Israel has an absolute duty to protect its citizens, and undermining this terrorist threat is an essential part of that responsibility.

All military operations are unpredictable; it is possible that Operation Brother’s Keeper could lead to an escalation of violence. Incidents have already occurred. It is unlikely that Israel will expand the current operation into Gaza, unless there is a serious upsurge in violence from there or a connection between Gaza terrorists and the kidnapping comes to light.

Whichever way this operation develops, the international community should avoid the same response to the current defensive actions that they have so often displayed whenever Israel has sought to defend itself from missile attacks from Gaza. The international community usually ignores repeated volleys of rockets fired at Israeli civilians, and then condemns Israel for taking defensive action to prevent further attacks. It is these responses from the international community that have encouraged Hamas, and amounted to nothing less than support for terrorism. And it is these responses, along with the endorsement of Hamas’s inclusion in a Palestinian unity government, that have led to the kidnapping of the boys in the West Bank.

We could not put it better ourselves.

More terrorists fearing terrorist attacks 1

Continuing the theme of the post immediately below, here’s a story of how the big Shiite terrorist organization Hizballah is terrified of being attacked by terrorists.

This comes from DebkaFile:

The Lebanese Shiite Hizballah, itself a listed terrorist group, was forced Thursday, Feb. 13 to cancel its most solemn annual event in memory of fabled “special security chief” Imad Mughniyeh, over an inability to keep the event safe from terrorist attacks. …

Hizballah and its Shiite following in Lebanon live in fear of devastating suicide bombing attacks by al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists. Since last July, they have staged 10 attacks and claimed scores of lives in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon over Hizballah’s participation in the Syrian war. In a single attack last year, the bombing of the Iranian embassy, 25 people were killed.

Its Syrian expedition has left the Hizballah short of manpower for self-protection. This situation has become more acute since an intelligence tip was received disclosing that the terrorists were now gunning for Nasrallah [present leader of Hizballah] and other top operatives. This has necessitated doubling up security on their persons.

A special counterterrorism command center has begun operating at the Iranian embassy in Beirut. …

This center was set up by a high-ranking Iranian intelligence delegation … [which] had arrived in Beirut to tackle the terrorist threats to their Lebanese proxy. It was composed of senior IRGC Al Qods Brigades [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Jerusalem Brigades] operatives and high officials of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).

The decision to cancel the Mughniyeh memorial assembly was taken by the new counterterrorism center at the Iranian embassy for four reasons:

1. Iranian undercover agents in Syria discovered that al Qaeda elements were plotting to hit the assembly for mass casualties.

2. This information was confirmed Wednesday, Feb. 12, by three women captured in the Lebanese Beqaa on their way to conduct suicide bombings at the Beirut event. Under interrogation, the captives revealed that several more female suicide bombers were heading for Shiite targets across Lebanon.

3. Hizballah is in the middle of a campaign to raise additional Shiite volunteers for the different Syrian warfronts … A new wave of anti-Shiite terrorism in Lebanon would quickly derail this effort, especially in view of the hundreds of Hizballah fighters who have already laid down their lives in Syria. The organization is intent on concealing the real figure, but cannot hide all the funerals.

4. Its Iranian bosses understand that … Hizballah’s manpower resources cannot be stretched both for providing security at home and for augmenting its fighting personnel input for the Syrian war.

US switches sides in Syria 11

For the first time in the 1,000-day civil war, the Americans find themselves in greater sympathy with Russia, Iran, Assad and Hizballah than the rebel cause.

According to DebkaFile, Bashar Assad is winning the civil war (or uprising against his dictatorship). So the Obama administration has stopped supporting the rebels to the extent, and in whatever way they ever did, and is now romancing Bashar Assad.  The new policy follows naturally from the exciting new love-in Obama is having with the Shia tyrants of Iran.

The conquest Sunday, Dec. 8, of Nabuk in the Qalamoun Mountains on the Syrian-Lebanese border is a signal strategic breakthrough for Bashar Assad’s army, climaxing a row of battleground successes that have cast the rebel forces into deep disarray. Nabuk fell after a two-week siege by the combined forces of Syria, Hizballah, Iraqi Shiite units and the Iranian Al Qods Brigades. The Qalamoun range which separates central Syria from central Lebanon is at their mercy.

Assad and his allies, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, can chalk up four major war gains:

1. The highway from Damascus to Syria’s two port towns, Latakia and Tartus on the Mediterranean coast, is now open through the wayside town of Homs.

2. The last remaining rebel supply routes from Lebanon are cut off. Syrian rebels can no longer use Lebanon as a supply base for reinforcements and new recruits or as a destination for their casualties to receive treatment.

3. The Damascus-Beirut highway is now under Hizballah control, providing its Beirut headquarters vitally direct access to the forces posted to Damascus, and easing liaison and communications among Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah military units in the field.

4. Pushing the rebels out of their Qalamoun strongholds was the last step before loosening their two-year grip on the eastern suburbs of Damascus. Under relentless Syrian army siege, many rebel commanders holding on to those suburbs are crossing the lines and handing sectors over to Syrian army officers.

The Assad regime has reached a stage in the civil war at which the rebels no longer pose a military threat to his hold on power and have lost the capacity for more more than terrorist attacks or sporadic mortar shelling.

The Syrian rebel movement has lost its coherence as a fighting force. In desperation, they are releasing a stream of false claims of successes and unfounded accusations that Assad has reverted to chemical warfare. …

Since the only anti-Assad forces still in fighting shape are the two Al Qaeda affiliates, Jabhat al Nusra and the Iraqi branch, Washington is turning its back on the Syrian rebel movement as a whole and instead [is] ready to talk indirectly to Syrian army elements loyal to Assad as well as Hizballah.

Indeed, in consideration of Hizballah’s military kudos and rising political clout in Beirut, the Obama administration has opened up a back channel to its leaders, mostly through British diplomats.

It turns out that the same coalition which contrived the nuclear deal in Geneva on Nov. 24 – the US, Russia and Iran – is going into action again on the Syrian issue with a favored spot for Iran’s Lebanese Shiite pawn [Hizballah].

We think this DebkaFile report  is likely to be true in its main thrust: that US policy has changed, and America is now in alliance with Russia and Iran and in negotiation with one of the world’s most savage terrorist organizations.

And if it is true, it is an enormity – an extreme wrong.

It is not that the rebels are any better than Assad. Both sides are evil. Both sides seem to be peopled by vicious murdering torturing cannibals. Neither should be supported. But Assad is Iran’s client. Hizballah is Iran’s creation. What matters here is the colossal boost to Iranian power. The US has conceded the territory to the mullahs.

Under a pretense by their traitorous leaders that it is better to negotiate than risk a war with belligerent enemies, the American people are being led into capitulation.

Iran will be nuclear armed. Hizballah can claim legitimacy, and the cost to Lebanon and Israel is dreadful to think of. Russia’s power and prestige is being enhanced with each disastrous move Obama makes in the region of the Middle East.

And the US is no longer the protector of the free world. The erstwhile free world no longer has a protector.

Countdown to war? 1

Why has Israel not yet taken action to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations?

Perhaps because it has to deal with a more immediately urgent threat nearer home.

According to this report and commentary, Iran’s proxies – Syria, Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza – are poised to launch another war against Israel:

Defense minister Ehud Barak’s snap nomination of OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant as Israel’s 20th chief of staff was necessary  … to pull the high command together in view of the preparations to attack Israel gathering momentum

The general expectation of a US-Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear sites has therefore faded into the background of the threatening stance currently adopted by Tehran’s allies, Syria, Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Jerusalem is extremely concerned by the placing of four hostile military forces on the highest level of war preparedness in the last few days and are asking why. …

Syrian prime minister Naji al-Otari and Abbas Zaki, one of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ closest aides, have spoken of a “very imminent” Middle East war

There is no telling in the Middle East when an isolated incident may not deteriorate rapidly into a major conflict when the climate is as tense as it is at present. It came dangerously close on Aug. 3, when a Lebanese army sniper shot dead an Israeli colonel precipitating a heavy exchange of fire.

Lebanon is on tenterhooks over the nine Hizballah leaders the international court inquiring into the 2005 Hariri assassination plans to summon as suspected perpetrators of the crime. Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has given the Beirut government due notice that if his top people are surrendered to the tribunal, he will plunge the country in a civil conflict.

Hizballah, backed by Damascus, recently began accusing Israel of engineering the murder, so providing themselves with a neat pretext for going to war and avoiding facing the music.

Thursday, Aug. 19, all Syrian homeland defenses and emergency services were placed on the highest war readiness for an outbreak of hostilities without further notice.

We don’t doubt that all this is true. But our own view – admittedly from a distance – is that a devastating blow to Iran itself would stop the cat’s paw forces dead.

What else might be staying Israel’s hand against Iran? Bullying threats and orders from anti-Israel HQ, the White House?

Yes, we suspect that’s the answer. If we ‘re right, the danger of a widespread conflagration will intensify, and the pointless charade of “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority’s powerless Abu Abbas, due to start September 2 on Obama’s insistence, can make not a jot of difference.