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January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘hostages’

Liberman: No Negotiations With Hamas Over IDF Soldiers’ Bodies

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said today in private talks closed to the media during a tour of Bedouin communities in southern Israel that the bodies of two dead IDF soldiers held by the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza will not be returned, Israel’s Channel 10 television news reported Monday night.

Liberman said he opposes any form of dialogue with Hamas that would comprise a “deal” with the terrorist organization similar to that which freed former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held hostage in Gaza by the group for more than five years.

Israel was forced to free more than a thousand Palestinian Authority terrorist prisoners in order to retrieve Shalit, including hundreds of murderers with the blood of numerous Jews on their hands.

IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin were killed during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, and both of their bodies were stolen during the conflict by Hamas. Their bodies have since been held hostage by the terrorist group in Gaza.

The Goldin family responded sharply to Liberman’s statement, saying he cannot continue to serve as defense minister, Channel 10 reported.

Following the broadcast of those remarks, the Ministry of Defense clarified Liberman’s statement in a separate release.

In response to the Channel 10 report, the ministry underlined in a statement: “Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman did not refer today or in recent days to the issue of returning the bodies of IDF soldiers Shaul or Goldin.

“The minister opposed, and has always opposed, any deal-making whatsoever for captives held by terrorists, up to today.

“One might remember that Minister Liberman also voted against the negotiations over former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit (for his eventual release from captivity).

“[Minister Liberman] held the opinion at that time that it is wrong to allow anyone to believe that terrorism pays.”

Hana Levi Julian

Trump: Obama Lied on Iran Ransom for Hostages [video]

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Speaking to a large rally in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump accused President Obama of lying to the American people about the ransom the US paid the Iranians for returning three American hostages.

After lamenting the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran that gave the latter possession of its frozen assets to the tune of $150 billion, Trump continued, “Not to mention the $400 million in cash, which turned out to be a ransom payment after all, just like I said.”

“In other word, our president lied to us. He lied to us,” Trump concluded.

The cash payment to the Iranian government is the subject of the latest war between the Republicans and the Obama administration, with the Republicans saying the payment was ransom for the release of the three American prisoners from Iranian captivity.

President Obama and the State Dept. have been adamant about denying the ransom accusation, with the president claiming it was money the US owed Iran from well before the hostage incident, and had been announced as part of the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic. The $400 million payment was part of the $1.7 billion settlement of a US arms deal with the Shah in the 1970s.

On Thursday the State Department insisted they withheld the payment as “leverage” because it made sense to condition paying the debt on the old deal on letting the Americans go, but that didn’t make it a ransom.

JNi.Media

US Denies Conditioning $400 Million Payment on Prisoner Release Was Ransom

Friday, August 19th, 2016

The U.S. State Department continues to insist that a $400 million cash payment airlifted to Iran earlier this year was not a ransom payment for the release of four American hostages but new details initially revealed by The Wall Street Journal beg the point.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, were released January 17. A Jewish prisoner also held hostage — Bob Levinson — somehow was not included in the released. Oddly, the Iranians claim they have no knowledge of his whereabouts. As that was taking place, a separate aircraft had landed in Tehran with the cash. State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Thursday the money was held back until the prisoners were freed.

“In basic English you are saying you wouldn’t give [them] the 400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?” asked a reporter during the briefing on Thursday.

“That’s correct,” Kirby replied.

Kirby said negotiations for the return of the money to Iran, which was related to a failed 1979 military equipment deal between the two countries, were separate from the talks about the prisoners. Another $1.3 billion is expected to be paid to Iran in interest on the failed deal.

But Abedini told reporters that he and the other hostages were kept waiting at the airport in Iran for more than 20 hours, and that he was told by a senior Iranian intelligence agent that their departure would depend on the arrival of a second plane.

The State Department has denied these claims.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama likewise insisted the money was not a quid pro quo. “This wasn’t some nefarious deal,” he told journalists during a news conference Aug. 4. “We do not pay ransom for hostages.”

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu to Ban: Help Bring Israelis Back from Gaza, Rectify UN Bias

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and soon-to-be outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon faced a daunting agenda Tuesday (June 28) for their meeting in Jerusalem.

The two leaders met with journalists ahead of their afternoon talks, with Netanyahu using the opportunity to call on Ban to rectify the ever-present UN bias against Israel, and also to exert his influence to force Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorists to return its Israeli hostages to their families.

The latter has in particular taken center stage in Israeli politics in recent days as Turkey closed a deal this week with Jerusalem to renew its diplomatic ties on condition it would be allowed to rebuild the electric and water infrastructure in Gaza, as well as intervene with Israel for the terrorist-run enclave when there are security matters to discuss.

Not all of the Netanyahu government cabinet was in agreement with the deal that restored the ties between Israel and Turkey (but has yet to be signed, in July.)

Netanyahu also said that it’s time for the United Nations to end its biased treatment of Israel, and asked Ban to be the one to rectify that situation in his remaining six months in office.

“I remember well when you came in Israel in 2013 you said that Israel and the Israeli people face some bias,” Netanyahu said.

“That’s an understatement,” he went on. “But you also said that Israel must be treated equally at the UN. I appreciate your candor and this clear moral stance. It was exemplified in your efforts to secure the final Palmer report which was very important for Israel, and Mr. Secretary, I appreciate your personal efforts in that particular instance.

“Regrettably, the goal of treating Israel fairly remains unfulfilled across a wide spectrum of UN activities and UN forums. Your visit here comes as the UN Human Rights Council is meeting. As it always does, the Council will condemn Israel, a country that does more to promote and protect human rights and liberal values than any other in the blood soaked Middle East.

“Our progressive democracy has faced more country-specific resolutions, more country-specific condemnations at the UN Human Rights Council than all the other countries combined. And I believe this is a profound betrayal of the United Nations noble mandate.

“So today I want to echo your words from 2013, Israel still faces bias at the UN.I know that your desire for all countries to be treated fairly and equally remains true today. I urge you to dedicate your last six months as the Secretary General of the United Nations in trying to right this wrong. And when I say that, it’s not just for Israel’s sake. It’s for the credibility of the UN.

“If you can unfairly and in a bias way single out a country and apply to it what I call the ‘Ostracon rule’ – which is just decide to kick them out – just decide to brand them as criminal or whatever, you can apply that same principle to any other country, and this served as the downfall of the Athenian assembly, the first such body on which all of our parliaments and the UN itself is modeled after.

“I believe that this Ostracon problem, the singling out of Israel and the unfair treatment that it receives is a palpable threat to the future of the UN and not just for the interests of our country.”

In addition to his focus on the bias against Israel, however, the prime minister pressured Ban on helping the Jewish State retrieve its citizens and soldiers from Gaza. In connection with this issue, Netanyahu has faced intense opposition from coalition members on the newly-closed deal to renew diplomatic ties with Turkey. The ministers point to the fact that Israeli hostages are still being held by Hamas in Gaza; two live captives, and the kidnapped bodies of two killed IDF soldiers from the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. Those who oppose the agreement say Turkey should pressure its beneficiary, Hamas, to return the hostages before any deal is signed.

Hana Levi Julian

Egypt Questions Hamas Over Missing Israelis in Gaza

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

Egypt asked a Hamas delegation in Cairo last week about two IDF soldiers whose bodies are still being held captive in Gaza, and two Israeli nationals who missing in the region.

The Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades military wing of Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror group has said Israel must “pay” if it wants any information about any of the four.

The group has also tried to imply that the two soldiers may still be alive, a particularly nasty form of psychological warfare often practiced by terror groups against Israeli families.

But Hamas itself has been in the cross-hairs of the Egyptian government for some time now, since the terror group is the spawn of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian authorities have not been pleased with efforts by Hamas to tunnel deep into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, nor by its assistance to Da’esh (ISIS) and other terror groups in its territory.

Egypt has flooded those tunnels with Mediterranean seawater, and sealed them to prevent further infiltrations into its territory.

Hamas is now trying to repair its broken ties with Cairo, Arab media reported Sunday.

An Egyptian daily quoted Egyptian sources close to the situation who said the Hamas delegation was asked about the four Israelis being held in Gaza.

Both of the IDF soldiers died in the line of duty during Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014. Both are officers: one is Oron Shaul, the other is Hadar Goldin. Hamas stole their bodies and is holding the remains, although the group has attempted to imply the soldiers are alive.

On Friday evening, Hamas spokesperson Abu Obaida said in a statement on the military wing’s website: “There are no contacts or negotiations on the four soldiers, and the Israeli enemy will not get information about their fate but to pay the prices before and after the negotiations.” He added that Netanyahu “lies to his people and deceives the families of the Israeli captive soldiers.”

Hamas wants Israel to free more bloodthirsty terrorist prisoners with blood on their hands.

But according to the report, Egyptian authorities questioned the Hamas delegation this past week when they came to Cairo. The Hamas representatives were seeking a way to heal the breach with Egypt after violating the country’s borders and helping Sinai terrorists murder Egyptian security forces.

One of the live Israeli hostages is a young Israeli Bedouin from the southern Israeli town of Hura, located in the northern Negev. He allegedly entered Gaza through the Erez Crossing in April although it is not clear how. At the family’s request his name has not been released. It is known, however, that he has mild mental health issues and has entered Gaza, Jordan and Egypt at least once before. Each time, he was returned by the authorities.

Avraham Mengisto, 29, is being held after he climbed over the security fence to cross the Gaza border and simply walked into the region. Mengisto, an Ethiopian immigrant to Israel, suffers from mental illness and was not accepted for service in the IDF.

His brother Gashao told European officials in Geneva in February, “When Hamas is asking for humanitarian assistance, and contributions to the people in Gaza, then the international community should tell them: Don’t expect us to assist you when you are violating the same rights of the other side.”

Hana Levi Julian

American Jew Bob Levinson Sacrificed, 5 Other Americans Freed From Iran

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Where is Robert Levinson?

Five U.S. families celebrated the reported release of their loved ones from Iran as “implementation day” got underway on Sunday.

Sanctions were rolled back as the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed Iran had complied with the terms of the nuclear pact it made with world leaders. Interpol deleted 11 Iranians from its “wanted” list.

But one American Jewish family in Coral Springs, Florida was crushed.

“We are happy for the other families,” said the family of Robert Levinson in a statement on Facebook. “But once again, Bob Levinson has been left behind. We are devastated.”

Seven Iranian prisoners were traded in exchange for the five Americans who were freed on Sunday, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and a Christian pastor.

But Iranian government officials who originally discussed his release with American negotiators now deny knowing the 67-year-old Levinson’s whereabouts.

In March 2007, Bob Levinson disappeared off Kish Island in Iran. An American Jew in his sixties with diabetes at the time, his family and friends were deeply concerned about his fate.

The U.S. government said at the time the retired FBI agent had been working as a private investigator, and the family confirmed the tale.

But according to a report by the U.S. television network ABC News, Levinson was actually working at the time for the CIA. The family held their peace about the operation for a long time – until they realized that their silence and loyalty was not being reciprocated at the top echelon with equal efforts to free Levinson.

Family attorney David McGee expressed the family’s disillusionment with the government, and his own feeling that the CIA and FBI had betrayed Levinson. “Rather than acknowledge what they had done and try to save Bob’s life, they denied him,” McGee told ABC News.

A U.S. official told a news briefing, “Iran has also committed to continue cooperating with the United States to determine the whereabouts of Robert Levinson.”

But for Iranian officials to act as if they don’t know the whereabouts of an American citizen who has been in the country for more than eight years is beyond disingenuous: it’s ridiculous. U.S. officials supporting the behavior insult the intelligence of anyone to whom they repeat such nonsense.

FBI Agents Association President Renaldo Tariche stated that Levinson’s former colleagues have not forgotten him. “Bob, married for 38 years with seven children, has missed more than nine years of accomplishments and milestones in the lives of his children,” he said in a statement. “Each day brings renewed heartache to his family and friends.

“We celebrate today’s release of Americans but the world should not forget Levinson’s continued unjustified imprisonment and continue to work for his release.”

There is a fear among some U.S. officials and analysts that Levinson was left out of the prisoner release because he may not be alive.

Iranian claims of not knowing where he is ring hollow to anyone familiar with Iranian intelligence operations.

The question remains whether he was captured by Iranians, Iranian proxies, or others the Iranians simply refuse to discuss. The other question is whether American authorities have been informed of those details and choose not to disclose that information – and if so, why?

Hana Levi Julian

Iranian Government Humiliates U.S. After Freeing Sailors

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Iran kept its promise and released the U.S. Navy sailors with their two small boats back into the Persian Gulf late Wednesday, but not before snapping a wealth of images and probably scrutinizing the vessels right down to the last bolt.

Tehran made certain to get as much mileage as possible from the unexpected windfall of the boats that drifted Tuesday a scant mile (two kilometers, 1.2 miles) into its territorial waters.

Seizing both, Tehran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif assured U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the crews of a lone female and nine male sailors would be released “promptly.”

But they were held for 24 hours on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf – home to a base of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — for as long as could reasonably be managed without an international public relations disaster. Although Iran does not usually concern itself with public relations, this time it was important.

After all, Iran is on track for “implementation day” shortly — the day when the economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic are to be lifted. On that day billions of dollars are to start flowing again into its coffers, and oil can once again begin flowing in the other direction, towards its still-loyal European customers.

Meanwhile, the IRGC technicians had plenty of time to examine previously inaccessible American technology and equipment, photograph it from every angle and probably sample it as well. Perhaps some tinkering? Anything taken? These are questions that will only be answered once the sailors are safely back to base and debriefed, and engineers can go over the equipment.

The sailors were also filmed in humiliating circumstances, on their knees with hands behind their heads — good footage for reminding folks on the home front and abroad who’s the boss on the high seas, and at home, when it counts.

That footage and those snaps are now being released to the Iranian and global public. The images will also jog the memories of anyone old enough to remember the days of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, those who watched the coverage of the American Embassy hostages in Tehran.

The message is crystal clear:  If you choose to sail into Persian Gulf waters, beware. We await you, and at any opportunity we will pounce. This is an area under our complete control. Enter at your own risk.

The lack of response by Washington when a Middle East nation violates UN Security Council resolutions – like the test of a ballistic missile by Iran last October – is an invitation to an escalation at some point down the line.

More to the point, the message to Tehran when its Navy fires a rocket almost directly at an American military vessel — as it did last month — and life continues with “business as usual” is one that is dangerous and very unwise.

In the Middle East, a non-response is perceived as weakness, vulnerability and availability for more of the same. For those who look to the U.S. as an ally, this is a very bad message indeed.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/iranian-government-humiliates-u-s-after-freeing-sailors/2016/01/14/

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