The IDF Appeals Committee in Judea and Samaria has ruled recently that the 2013 declaration of an area of some 55 acres in the vicinity of Kokhav Ya’akov, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, as state land is null and void, because the process of making the acquisition was improper, Ha’aretz reported Monday. The military panel was also critical of the lack of transparency in making the declaration public — meaning that it was being kept out of PA Arabs’ earshot.
The panel’s ruling on an appeal by NGO Yesh Din on behalf of alleged Arab land owners, is more a judicial recommendation to the IDF in the area than a compelling decision, but should the declaration of state land be appealed in the Israeli Supreme court — as it surely will be — the panel’s decision would influence the justices’ ruling.
The grounds for dismissing the government acquisition of the land has to do with its failure to adequately comply with Ottoman Law — a remnant of the Turkish government’s rule over these lands before 1918, which continues to be the law of the land; and will continue to be so as long as Israel fails to impose Israeli law on Area C, where Jews live.
Ottoman law says that a man can establish claim to his land if he can show that he has been tilling it for the previous ten years. The state tried to comply with the law by providing aerial photographs of the area from 1969, showing clearly that the land was not being cultivated.
However, the dissemination of lands to local Arabs by King Hussein, who ruled the area from 1949 to 1967, took place in 1961. So the panel ruled that the aerial photos proving the land was not being cultivated had to be from before 1961, and, according to the state, such photographs could not be found.
There are photographs from 1944 showing that some of the land was being tilled then.
The judges wrote that they were not convinced the state had made the full effort to discover those 1956 aerial photographs, and that without them the panel must rule that the situation back in 1944 continued uninterrupted through 1961. Of course, the decision to require a photograph from before 1961 assumes that when King Hussein handed over lands to the heads of local Arab clans (whom he viewed as a source of potential rebellion) — he had the right to give those lands away. But Hussein was never recognized universally as the sovereign of the “West Bank,” which was considered an occupied territory, along the 1949 armistice border with Israel.
Local residents of Kokhav Ya’akov say they have also purchased the land, but regardless of the ownership papers they would present to the high court, organizations like Yesh Din will rustle up a group of Arab claimants to the land, with papers freshly minted by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah showing the land belongs to them.
According to NGO Monitor, Yesh Din operates on an annual budget of $1.58 million, provided by the EU, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norwegian Refugee Council, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, HEKS (Switzerland), Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Oxfam-Novib (Netherlands).
Officials are calling it a “spontaneous attack” but a Somali national with Norwegian citizenship stabbed to death a 60-year-old American woman Wednesday night and wounded five others, including one Israeli in a high-end section of central London.
The unidentified killer launched his rampage at about 10:30 pm in London’s elegant Russell Square, a park located close to the site of a July 2005 bombing by radical Islamist terrorists. One of the bombs in the coordinated bombing attack that killed 52 people detonated on a bus close to Russell Square.
The injured included an Israeli woman as well as a second U.S. citizen, an Australian national, and a local British citizen.
The killer, a Somali with Norwegian citizenship emigrated from the Scandinavian country in 2002. But it’s not clear whether he headed straight to the UK or made any other stops along the way, according to Norway’s National Criminal Service, CNN reported.
London Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told reporters, “So far we have found no evidence of radicalization,” Reuters reported. Rowley added the investigation is focusing on mental health issues at present.
Police arrived within six minutes of being called to the scene and used a taser to bring the 19-year-old killer under control. He was taken into custody and subsequently arrested on suspicion of murder.
The site is also located in the heart of the university area, and is close to the British Museum and other famous landmarks.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged residents in the capital to report anything suspicious to the police.
“The safety of all Londoners is my number one priority, and my heart goes out to the victims of the incident in Russell Square and their loved ones,” Khan said.
Officials meanwhile increased the security presence around the city by some 600 armed police.
London counter-terror police officials warned the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization has been attempting to radicalize those with mental health issues, with the goal of using them as operatives in terror attacks.
On Wednesday, Christian Today reported that Mohammad El Halabi, an employee of World Vision (WV), the world’s largest evangelical Christian charity, had been detained on June 15 at the Erez crossing “on his way home from routine meetings” and was being held “without access to legal counsel or family visits,” which is normal fare in Israel with regards to security prisoners.
Last Friday, when El Halabi’s detention had been extended until August Tuesday, Aug. 2, WV’s eastern Jerusalem office released a statement saying, “World Vision stands by Mohammad who is a widely respected and well-regarded humanitarian, field manager and trusted colleague of over a decade. He has displayed compassionate leadership on behalf of the children and communities of Gaza through difficult and challenging times, and has always worked diligently and professionally in fulfilling his duties.”
It should be interesting to see the charity’s response to the charges submitted against El Halabi by the Southern District Prosecution in Beer Sheva District Court Thursday, describing him as Hamas activist who has been using his high position in the charity organization to systematically divert millions of dollars to the military arm of Hamas, financing, among other things, the digging of terror tunnels. The monies, according to Thursday’s indictment, was taken out of funds and resources that had been dedicated to humanitarian assistance to Gaza Strip residents. The indictment includes 12 counts of security violations of passing information to the enemy, membership in a terror organization, funding terrorism, participation in an unlawful association, and contact with foreign agents.
The facts included in the indictment describe El Halabi as having a master’s degree in engineering. A member of Hamas since 1995, in 2004 he joined the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas. In 2005 he was hired by WV to carry out administrative assignments at the charity’s Gaza branch. His job provided him with an entry permit into Israel. El Halabi exploited his visits to Israel to locate and mark [via GPS] sites near the Erez Crossing that potentially could be used as egress points for Hamas attack tunnels.
Carrying out his assignments, according to the prosecution, El Halabi usurped millions of dollars in donations that arrived from foreign countries such as the US, Australia, Germany and the UK, and were slated for humanitarian needs, agricultural, education, and psychological support.
According to El Halabi, the humanitarian aid donated for the residents of the Gaza Strip was in actual fact given almost exclusively to Hamas terrorists and their families. Non-Hamas members almost never received any benefit from the aid, despite their relative level of need. Needless to say, this is in contradiction to the accepted practice of the humanitarian aid organizations. Every month, El Halabi distributed thousands of packages of food, basic commodities and medical supplies to Hamas terrorists and their families, commodities that World Vision had intended to go to the needy.
Over his many years working for WV, El Halabi transferred to Hamas’s possession thousands of tons of iron rods, digging equipment and plastic hoses, originally intended for agricultural use but in reality utilized by the Hamas tunnel builders and for building military bases such as the “Palestine” military base which was built in 2015 entirely from British aid money. Some of the money went to pay the salaries of Hamas terrorists and, in some cases, senior Hamas terrorists took large sums of money for their own personal use. During the war of 2014, Hamas terrorists received WV food packages to sustain them above and below ground, including in terror tunnels.
El Halabi also provided plastic sheets bearing the WV emblem to cover the openings of tunnels, making them look like agricultural hothouses.
According to the indictment, around the year 2012, El Halabi was engaged by Hamas to initiate a greenhouse project, to use greenhouses to hide the sites where terror tunnels were being dug. In addition, a project for the rehabilitation of (fictitious) fishermen was actually used to provide motor boats and diving suits for Hamas’s military marine unit.
The Shabak investigation revealed that the main method El Halabi used to divert money to Hamas was to put out fictitious tenders for WV-sponsored projects in the Gaza Strip. The “winning” company was simply informed that 60% of the project’s funds were to be designated for Hamas.
El Halabi told his interrogators that a regular method of acquiring equipment for Hamas was to disguise Hamas warehouses as WV warehouses. Trucks bringing supplies to the Kerem Shalom Crossing between Israel and Gaza would then unload their goods at Hamas warehouses instead of legitimate WV warehouses. Hamas operatives would pick up the supplies in the dead of night.
According to Shabak, the El Halabi investigation revealed much information concerning additional figures in the Gaza Strip who exploited their work for humanitarian aid organizations and UN institutions, on behalf of Hamas. El Halabi’s statements portray a troubling picture in which UN institutions in Gaza are in fact controlled by Hamas.
How the Money Was Transferred to Hamas
Some of the money raised to support injured children in Gaza was diverted to the families of Hamas terrorists, by fraudulently listing their children as wounded.
Money designated for psychological support, education and health in Gaza ($2 million/year) was used to pay the families of Hamas terrorists.
Part of the WV donations was transferred in cash and recorded fraudulently as aid to needy children.
Monies were paid out as salaries to Hamas terrorists and activists, who were registered as employees of the aid organization when in fact they never worked for WV.
Costs for legitimate infrastructure projects were inflated, with the difference going to Hamas.
Straw companies — two farmers’ associations and a fake charity for the benefit of the injured — were established with false registers to launder money.
Unemployment payments were diverted to Hamas terrorists. El Halabi arranged for one-third of the allowances WV transfers to Gaza for the unemployed to go to members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The terrorists received a larger allowance ($392 instead of $300).
Using lists of fictitious beneficiaries, $2 million a year were designated as aid for farmers and diverted to Hamas activists. El Halabi reported a larger sum than what was actually transferred to the farmers to World Vision. The difference was diverted to Hamas.
Project costs were inflated. For example, WV invested in the construction of 500 greenhouses and the preparation of land (495 acres) for agriculture. El Halabi reported to the charity that the cost was $1,000 per quarter acre, while the real cost was $700. The difference – $300 per quarter acre – was transferred to Hamas.
In their 2014 report titled “Filling in the Blanks — Documenting Missing Dimensions in UN and NGO Investigations of the Gaza Conflict,” NGO Monitor and UN Watch have cautioned: “The willingness of World Vision workers to openly discuss these issues is exceptional; however, the answers leave little doubt as to World Vision’s willingness to negotiate and coordinate with armed groups. This raises questions as to whether the group would prevent components of its aid from being misappropriated by terrorist organizations, if it felt that taking a stand would jeopardize the organization’s ability to continue its operations in a given area.”
The first six months of 2016 saw an 11% increase in anti-Semitic hate incidents recorded in the UK compared with the same period in 2015, according to the Community Security Trust (CST) Anti-Semitic Incident Report January-June 2016, published Thursday.
CST recorded 557 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide during the first half of 2016, compared with 500 anti-Semitic incidents during the first six months of 2015. This total of 557 incidents is the second-highest CST has ever recorded in the January-June period of any year. The highest total for the first half of any year was in 2009, when 629 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in reaction to the Gaza war of January 2009.
The long-term trend shows that the number of anti-Semitic incidents has remained at a relatively high level since the summer of 2014, when the UK saw a large spike in anti-Semitic incidents following that year’s Gaza war. Since then, average monthly anti-Semitic incident totals have ranged between 80 and 100 anti-Semitic incidents per month, whereas in the two years before they had ranged between 40 and 60 incidents per month.
CST has been recording anti-Semitic incidents in the UK since 1984.
Antisemitic graffiti, London, January 2016 / Photo credit: CST
CST discarded 364 reports it received between January and June 2016, which were not deemed to be anti-Semitic and are not included in this total.
The report shows no clear single cause for the increase in recorded anti-Semitic incidents—most of which took place in April, May and June: 99, 125 and 112 incidents respectively. The 125 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in May were the fourth-highest monthly total ever recorded by CST, and the 112 incidents recorded in June were the sixth-highest monthly total ever recorded.
CST recorded 133 anti-Semitic incidents that took place on social media, comprising 24% of the total of 557 incidents for the first half of 2016. Social media are now being used as tools for coordinated campaigns of anti-Semitic harassment, threats and abuse directed at Jewish public figures and other individuals.
79% of the 557 anti-Semitic incidents recorded by CST in the first six months of 2016 took place in the main Jewish centers of Greater London and Greater Manchester. However, the two cities saw very different trends: CST recorded 379 anti-Semitic incidents in Greater London, a rise of 62% from the same period in 2015, but in Greater Manchester, CST recorded 62 anti-Semitic incidents, a 54% drop.
CST recorded 41 violent anti-Semitic assaults in the first six months of 2016, a 13 per cent fall from the 47 violent assaults recorded in the first half of 2015. None of the 41 violent assaults recorded in the first six months of 2016 were serious enough to be classified as Extreme Violence, which would involve an incident that constituted grievous bodily harm or posed a threat to life. The 41 violent incidents comprised 7% of the overall total, compared with 9% in the first half of 2015 and 7% in the first six months of 2014.
There were 32 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property recorded by CST in the first six months of 2016, a decrease of 11% from the 36 incidents of this type recorded in the first half of 2015.
CST recorded 43 direct anti-Semitic threats during the first half of 2016, a 10% increase from the 39 incidents in the first six months of 2015. There were 431 incidents of anti-Semitic Abusive Behavior, a 16% increase. These incidents included anti-Semitic graffiti on non-Jewish property, hate mail, anti-Semitic verbal abuse and social media incidents that do not involve direct threats.
Nearly 100 more incidents of anti-Semitism occurred on campus during the first six months of 2016 compared with the first six months of 2015, according to AMCHA Initiative’s mid-year study released today. In addition, calls for Israel’s elimination on campus tripled, and that expression highly correlated with actions that harm Jewish students.
“The growing problem of campus anti-Semitism is no doubt a serious threat facing the Jewish community, but this disturbing and dangerous spike and the bolder, more brazen, methods of those perpetrating this hate are particularly alarming,” cautioned Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative director and co-founder.
The study, which examined anti-Semitic activity from January to June 2016 on more than 100 public and private colleges and universities with the largest Jewish undergraduate populations, found that 287 anti-Semitic incidents occurred at 64 schools during that time period, reflecting a 45% increase from the 198 incidents reported in the first six months of 2015.
The study also revealed the following disturbing trends:
Suppression of speech approximately doubled from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, 14 incidents that restricted Jewish students’ civil rights by suppressing their speech, blocking their movement or hindering their assembly were found on 12 campuses. These incidents reflect a significant increase from the first half of 2015, in which eight incidents of suppression occurred on seven campuses.
Expression denying Israel’s right to exist nearly tripled from 2015 to 2016 and correlated with actions intended to harm Jewish students. The first half of 2016 saw an almost three-fold increase in the number of campus incidents that contained expression opposing the existence of Israel, a recognized form of anti-Semitism by global leaders such as President Obama, Pope Francis and the prime ministers of Canada, Britain and France and the world’s preeminent scholars of anti-Semitism. There were 43 such incidents in 2016 compared to 15 during the first half of 2015. In fact, expression opposing the existence of Israel highly correlated with conduct that targeted Jewish students for harm.
Divestment resolutions are fueling anti-Semitism. In 2016, the student governments of 10 schools in the study considered anti-Israel divestment resolutions. Of these 10 schools, eight showed the largest increase in anti-Semitism from 2015 to 2016. Conversely, seven of the nine schools in the 2015 study that considered or voted on divestment resolutions showed a marked decrease in anti-Semitic activity in the first half of 2016 when no divestment resolution was considered. The two schools that did not decrease in anti-Semitic activity hosted discussions and votes on divestment.
Anti-Zionism, particularly Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activities, anti-Zionist student groups, and faculty boycotters, remain the strongest predictors of anti-Semitic incidents on campus. Consistent with 2015, this study revealed that anti-Semitism was twice as likely to occur on campuses where BDS was present, eight times more likely to occur on campuses with at least one active anti-Zionist student group such as SJP, and six times more likely to occur on campuses with one or more faculty boycotters. In fact, schools with more faculty boycotters and more BDS activity tended to have more incidents of anti-Semitic activity.
Schools to watch in 2016: the schools with the largest increase from 2015 to 2016 are Columbia University, Vassar College, University of Chicago, NYU, University of Minnesota, University of Massachusetts (Amherst), University of Wisconsin (Madison), University of Florida and the University of Washington.
“Instead of just boycotting Israel, the anti-Zionists are now boycotting Jewish students,” stated Professor Leila Beckwith, AMCHA co-founder and one of the study’s lead researchers. “Sadly, all too often it is not debate but hate. The lines between political discussions on Israeli policy and discrimination toward Jewish students are being blurred. Anti-Zionists are attempting to harm, alienate, and ostracize Jewish students; it is Jewish students’ civil rights that are being trampled. To properly address this rise in anti-Jewish bigotry, universities must adopt a proper definition of contemporary anti-Semitism and use it to educate the campus community about the distinct line between criticism of Israeli policies and discrimination against Jewish people.”
The report concluded with recommendations for university administrators including (1) adopting a definition of anti-Semitism that identifies all forms of anti-Jewish bigotry, including when criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism; (2) allocating resources to educate students and faculty about contemporary forms of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish discrimination; and (3) establishing clear guidelines about free speech protected under the First Amendment and conduct which violates others’ civil rights, including disrupting or shutting down campus events and restricting free speech and right of assembly.
Turkish Hoteliers Federation head Osman Ayık told the Hürriyet Daily News that Turkey must improve its reputation abroad in order for its troubled tourism sector to prosper again. “The confidence factor that Turkey projected abroad has eroded,” Ayık said. “There is a certain perception in Europe about Turkey and arrivals from the continent have seen a sharp decrease. We need to take steps to reverse that trend.”
Tourism is an essential part of the Turkish economy, employing 8% of the country’s workforce, and it has taken a severe blow from the failed military coup this past weekend, and earlier in this year of relentless terrorist attacks, with a 10% decline in arriving tourists in the first quarter of 2016. According to Euromonitor International, the number of international visitors to Turkey is expected to decline by 5.2% overall in 2016.
Since the coup attempt, the Federal Aviation Administration has not allowed US airlines to fly to or from Istanbul and Ankara, and has blocked all carriers, foreign and domestic, from flying into the US from Turkey even indirectly. The State Department warned US citizens to avoid travel to the tourism sites in southeastern Turkey, and the UK Foreign Office issued an advisory to its citizens against travel to Turkey because terrorism threats are still high there.
Roenen Karaso, a VP in Israel’s tourism company ISSTA, told The Marker that Turkey is “a dead destination. Today we’re talking about bottom prices for mini-vacations to Turkey for 40% less compared with last year. For instance, three nights in motels, all included, in Topkapi or Kremlin in Antalya (Turkey’s resort destination on its southern Mediterranean region, known as the Turquoise Coast for its blue waters) will cost a family (two parents with two children) $400, compared with $600 a year ago — and there are still no takers.”
Karaso said that even connecting flights, the bread and butter of Istanbul’s international airports which until the coup continued to thrive despite the threat of terrorism, “are starting to show a decline of about 10% in orders compared with the previous Sunday.”
For Russian, European and Israeli vacationers, Turkey is not in the cards this summer, which will go down as Turkey’s lost summer. Efraim Kramer, CEO of tourism website Eshet Tours, told The Marker that tourism rates in Turkey “have come down because the Russians have stopped traveling to Turkey, and the Germans and English travel there less as well. We’re seeing an international phenomenon of tourists from Christian countries avoiding Muslim countries — we’ve seen it in Egypt, Tunisia and Marocco, and now in Turkey, too.”
Ayık told the Hürriyet Daily News that “the most fundamental lesson to be learned is to be in harmony with the world. It is the gist of our job. Our sector is one that goes hand-in-hand with peace. That’s why Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s statement that we will increase our friends and decrease our enemies will have a positive reflection on our sector. No matter how beautiful your country might be, if you don’t get along well with your neighborhood that means serious trouble for tourism.”
France has been the target of the most devastating recent terrorist attacks because, apparently, almost half of young French Muslims support suicide bombing, probably the most extreme act of terrorism (compare with the Japanese Kamikaze pilots, who represented the Japanese Empire’s final, most desperate lashing at an overpowering enemy).
But a November, 2015 Pew Poll found that while a large percentage of Muslim youths in the West support suicide bombing, and out of those the largest percentage live in France, the numbers in the US are only somewhat better.
“The higher levels of support for suicide bombing seen among young American Muslims resembles patterns found among Muslims in Europe, where Muslims also constitute a minority population,” the Pew poll concluded. “In Great Britain, France and Germany, Muslims under the age of 30 are consistently the least likely to say that suicide bombing is never justified.
“In other words, the share who think suicide bombing against civilians can ever be justified, even if rarely, is higher among those younger than 30 compared with those who are older. About a quarter (26%) of younger US Muslims say suicide bombing can at least rarely be justified, 17 percentage points higher than the proportion of Muslims ages 30 and older (9%) who share that view. The age gap is about as wide in Great Britain (18 percentage points) but somewhat narrower in Germany (12 points), France (11 points) and Spain (7 points).”