- A 'human slaughterhouse' -- thousands executed in mass hangings at Syrian regime prison
- Amid lull in hostilities, Hamas readies for war against Israel
- Turkish minister visits Israel
- Chuck Norris in Israel!
Amnesty referred to the regime’s practices as a “policy of extermination” and called Saydnaya a “human slaughterhouse.” Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s deputy director of research at the group’s Beirut office, said, “The horrors depicted in this report reveal a hidden, monstrous campaign, authorized at the highest levels of the Syrian government, aimed at crushing any form of dissent within the Syrian population.” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that Antonio Guterres, the UN’s secretary-general, “was horrified about what was in the report.”
Prisoners in Saydnaya experience “repeated torture and the systematic deprivation of food, water, medicine and medical care.” Their jailers carry out mass executions of up to 50 people, once or twice a week, after a perfunctory appearance lasting one or two minutes before a “court.”
Omar Alshogre, a former prisoner of Saydnaya, told the Associated Press, “Death is the simplest thing. It was the most hoped for because it would have spared us a lot: hunger, thirst, fear, pain, cold, thinking. Thinking was so hard. It could also kill.”
The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has only been able to maintain power in Damascus due to external support from Iran, the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah, and Russia.
Mohammad Walid al-Koka, a Tunisian engineer working for Hamas’ military wing, was reportedly killed by an explosion while manufacturing a new missile. Signs carried during his funeral procession stated that he died while “preparing something for the enemy,” Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
Al-Koka’s activities are yet another reminder that “Hamas has never for a moment given up its strategy of destroying Israel,” Ben Menachem wrote, noting that the “quiet on the Gaza border with Israel is temporary and deceptive.”
In preparation for the next round of fighting, Hamas is “constantly improving its capabilities and building its military preparedness,” Ben Menachem noted. “It aims to inflict painful strategic blows on Israel in various ways: short- and long-range rocket fire, attack tunnels, booby-trapped drones, naval commando forces infiltrated into Israeli territory, and even cyber warfare and hacking into IDF soldiers’ computers and telephones.”
According to the IDF, Hamas has fully rebuilt the military infrastructure that Israel destroyed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, including its tunnel network and rocket arsenal. While the terrorist group does not currently seem interested in sparking a military confrontation with Israel in Gaza, which is still recovering from the last major conflict, there are a number of factors that could push Hamas to attack.
Ben Menachem observed that recent protests against Hamas over its role in local electricity shortages could lead it to attack Israel in order “to divert gazes from its responsibility for Gaza’s dire situation.” Tensions are also flaring between the Iran-backed and Qatar/Turkey-backed factions within Hamas, which could lead “to a violent eruption between the camps and an escalation against Israel,” he added.
The IDF said in December of last year that Hamas is intensifying efforts to surveil Israeli communities by the Gaza border, which the military believes will be targeted for kidnapping attacks in the event of a future conflict. Hamas spends some $40 million of its $100 million military budget on building tunnel construction, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. An Israeli official estimated in July that Hamas digs some six miles of tunnels every month.
“It is the first visit by a Turkish minister since the normalization of relations between the two countries,” said Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. “The bilateral relations between Israel and Turkey are an essential component to stability in the region and to economic progress. The visit by my Turkish colleague will lead to a series of measures that will strengthen the strategic ties between Israel and Turkey, that have enormous importance from a geopolitical and tourism point of view.”
Avci welcomed Israeli tourists to Turkey, saying it was his country’s duty “to host tourists coming from Israel in the best possible way.”
Norris, 76, was spotted at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, touring the tunnels beneath the Wall, and dining with Dore Gold, the former director-general of the Israel Foreign Ministry, in Herzliya. Gold even posted a photo of their meeting on Twitter.
No local media outlet could explain why Norris was in Israel other than simply to visit the sites.
Norris, who has filmed in Israel before, is a big supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2015, he endorsed Netanyahu in a YouTube clip, telling Israelis, “You have an incredible country and we want to keep it that way.”