Today’s Top Stories
1. Israel and Gaza are on alert after a senior Hamas figure was assassinated on Friday night. Mazen Faqha, who was released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, was tasked with bolstering Hamas’ terror infrastructure in the West Bank, according to the Times of Israel. He was being assisted by other detainees from the West Bank who had been freed in the prisoner exchange but exiled to Gaza.
Faqha was shot in the head by a handgun equipped with a silencer; Hamas blames Israel but has offered no proof. Israel hasn’t commented on Faqha’s death. However, Hamas closed Gaza’s side of the Erez crossing.
2. Looks like American University in Beirut ran afoul of US anti-terror laws. The university, which receives funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), settled a lawsuit and will pay $700,000 after the school “admitted to training representatives of al Nour Radio and al Manar TV, media groups that the U.S. Treasury Department lists as branches of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.” More at Reuters.
3.The UN Human Rights Council adopted a series of anti-Israel resolutions on Friday, prompting Britain to condemn the UNHRC. Take your pick of coverage at the Times of Israel, Ynet and Jerusalem Post.
Separately, the Washington Post reports that the US no. 2 diplomat at the UN, Michele Sison, blasted the UN’s bias against Israel during a closed door session of the Security Council.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian terrorist who failed to disclose her conviction and prison time to US immigration officials, agreed to a plea deal with US prosecutors. Under the terms of the agreement, Odeh will plead guilty for lying to immigration officials, lose her US citizenship and be deported to Jordan, avoiding prison time.
Odeh was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and was convicted and sentenced to life in jail for her role in a pair of bombings in February, 1969 — one targeting a Jerusalem supermarket, killing two, the other targeting the British consulate but caused no injuried. Israel released Odeh in a 1980 prisoner swap.
• According to Arab reports picked up by the Jerusalem Post, the US and Russia reportedly agreed to help Israel “expel” Iran from Syria.
• Clearing the final Congressional hurdles, the US Senate approved David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel.
• Iran is sanctioning 15 major US companies for “alleged human rights violations and cooperating with Israel.” But i24 News points out this:
The decision, which is largely symbolic because the firms do not do business with Iran, comes two days after the US announced sanctions on a number of foreign firms accused of collaborating with Iran’s armament program.
• Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan discussed Israel’s fight against BDS in a wide-ranging Jerusalem Post interview.
• Israel will host its largest aerial drill in the autumn. Defense News reports that air force pilots along with 100 air craft and support crews from the US, Greece, Poland, France, Germany, India and Italy will participate in Blue Flag, a biennial training exercise. Thank Russia and Syria for the heavy interest.
“People are seeing there’s a lot to learn from Israel. In our tiny airspace and in the environment around us, things are so intense. The Russians are here. … Many of the world’s air forces are passing through here on their way to operations in Syria and elsewhere in the region. So we provide a sort of battle lab in which forces can hone a spectrum of skills needed to combat growing threats,” Hecht said.
Meanwhile, a joint Israel-Cyprus exercise just wrapped up.
Around the World
• On Capitol Hill, bipartisan legislation against BDS was introduced to both the Senate and House of Representatives. According to the Jerusalem Post, the bill “would amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 to include in its prohibitions on boycotts against ‘allies of the United States’ those fostered by NGOs against Israel.”
• Texas lawmakers advance anti-BDS legislation.
• I don’t believe there’s any teeth to this, but the student senate at California’s De Anza College passed a resolution calling for divestment from companies “benefiting from Israeli settlements.”
• Not very peaceful: The president of Ireland’s only on-campus Israel society was assaulted at ‘Peace Week’ bake sale.
• Anti-Semitic posts go up on social media every 83 seconds, according to an excerpt of a study by the World Jewish Congress.
. . . an overwhelming 63 percent of all anti-Semitic content online can be found on Twitter.
• York U. in Toronto was evacuated after a bomb threat targeting the Jewish campus community was discovered scrawled on bathroom wall.
• As London picks up the pieces from last week’s terror attack, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs published a collection of in-depth commentary on lessons from Israel’s response to terror. Here’s a selection of them:
– Dore Gold: Is the terror against Europe different from the terror against Israel?
– Fiamma Nirenstein: Resilience, the Israeli people’s weapon against terror
– Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser: The national security aspect of fighting terror
– Dan Diker: International legitimization of terror groups
– Prof. Asa Kasher: Democracy facing terrorism: Human rights and military ethics
• What they’re saying about the Hamas assassination:
• Here’s what else I’m reading today . . .
– Yonah Jeremy Bob: Is British security up to Israeli standards for preventing London-style attacks?
– Prof. Louis Rene Beres: Are Israeli raids on Syrian targets legal?
– David Brinn: PA leader contradicts ‘common knowledge’ about settlement blocs
– Yoni Ben Menachem: Mahmoud Abbas against freedom of expression
– Alan Dershowitz: The origin of “fake news” in Holocaust denial
– Rosie DiManno: Richard Falk, the evangelist for anti-Semitism strikes again
– Michael Rubin: Just how out of touch is BDS?
– Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin: I am not at peace with Jewish Voice for Peace
– Alexis Papachelas: The benefits of a strategic Israel-Greece relationship
– Ben Sales: Jewish bomb threat suspect undermines groups’ narrative on anti-Semitism
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