Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated on Monday that any continued aggression from Hamas and other terrorist organizations would be met with force from Israel. Referring to Hamas and other terrorist organizations firing mortar shells into Israeli territory from Gaza, Ya’alon said, “Against this terror stands the IDF and various security agencies who are responding decisively to the shooting from the Strip – shooting that, if it continues, will lead to a more severe response for Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Strip, until they understand it’s not wise to test us.” Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said on Saturday that the IDF would continue its anti-tunnel operations along the Gaza border. “The army intends to maintain its activities against Hamas as it continues to breach Israeli sovereignty and build tunnels.”
Over the past month, the IDF has discovered two terrorist tunnels reaching into Israeli territory. At least 20 mortar shells were fired from Gaza into Israel last week and over the weekend, and the IDF responded with tank fire and airstrikes on Hamas targets. Just before Passover, Israeli security forces seized four tons of ammonium chloride, a chemical that can be used as a rocket propellant for long-range rockets, in a truck crossing into the Gaza Strip.
Israel went to war with Hamas in the summer of 2014 in order to stop Hamas from firing rockets at Israeli civilians. Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and Hamas took over the Strip in 2007 after a civil war with Fatah. According to the IDF, Palestinian groups have launched over 11,000 rockets at Israel since it withdrew from Gaza in 2005, with over five million Israeli civilians living under threat of rocket fire.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not deny that his government gives payments to jailed terrorists when confronted on the issue by Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende. The exchange was reported by the Norwegian newspaper Dagen last week.
Brende reportedly demanded that Abbas stop using foreign aid to pay terrorists and their families. Abbas did not deny the charge, but tried to assuage the diplomat by saying that the Norwegian money was not used for that purpose.Brende said that he told Abbas that Norwegian funds should only be used for “building and institutional development,” and that the use of foreign aid to pay terrorists was “unacceptable and should be abolished.”
Abbas shut down the PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs in 2014 after Western nations, who donate heavily to the PA, complained that the government agency was transferring donated funds to terrorists. The PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs was then established, and run by the same director as the former PA ministry, so that payments could be conducted by the PLO without Western connections.
However, a report by the watchdog organization Palestinian Media Watch last monthshowed that when the responsibility for paying terrorists was shifted to the PLO in 2014, the PA’s annual payments to the PLO increased by 481 million shekels ($128 million)—enough to cover the former PA Ministry’s budget of 442 million shekels ($118 million), plus a further 10 percent. In this way, the cycle of Western aid payments to the PA being transferred to convicted terrorists was able to continue.
The Mail on Sunday reported in March that a significant portion of the £72 million (over $102 million) the UK annually gives to the PA was being used to pay terrorists.
Ahmad Musa, who admitted to shooting two Israelis dead, told MoS that he receives a monthly stipend of £605 (over $850). Musa was jailed for life for his crimes, but was freed after five years in an Israeli effort to restart peace talks with the PA.
Amjad and Hakim Awad, two cousins who in 2011 massacred five members of the Fogel family – parents Ehud and Ruth Fogel, 11-year-old Yoav, four-year-old Elad, and three-month-old Hadas – in their West Bank home, have been also been paid. Amjad alone may have received more than £16,000 (nearly $23,000), according to estimates.
Another terrorist on the payroll is veteran Hamas bomb-maker Abdallah Barghouti. Barghouti is serving 67 life sentences in an Israeli jail over his role in numerous bombings, including at the Hebrew University cafeteria in 2002, the Sbarro restaurantin Jerusalem in 2001, and a Rishon Lezion nightclub bombing in 2002, which killed 66 people. He is believed to have received £106,000 (over $150,000) for his efforts. (via TheTower.org)
Ask someone about the Zoroastrian religion and—assuming they’ve heard of it—you will typically get three responses. Your interlocutor might inaccurately describe followers of the Zoroastrian faith as “fire-worshippers.” He or she may recognize Zoroaster, the priest who founded the religion, as the protagonist of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s classic work, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” And there’s the oft-quoted “fun fact” that Freddie Mercury, the flamboyant vocalist of rock group Queen, was and still is the world’s most famous Zoroastrian.
Much less well-known is that Zoroastrianism is a living faith, with communities in India, Europe, the United States, and the Middle East—especially Iran. Ten years ago, a study by the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of America concluded that there were, at most, 190,000 followers of the faith around the world. But as Laurie Goodstein noted in The New York Times, there was reason to be skeptical of this number, because of the “wildly diverging counts in Iran, once known as Persia – the incubator of the faith.”
In common with other religions, Zoroastrians in Iran have confronted both persecution and a concerted attempt by the Islamist regime in Tehran to destroy the very foundations of their faith. One critical consequence of this—no doubt unintended by the ruling mullahs—is that growing numbers of Iranians inside and outside the country are exploring a faith that crystallized two millennia before the Prophet Muhammed appeared on the scene. “Converting back” to Zoroastrianism, as many refer to the process of rediscovering their roots, has encouraged a view of Islam as an alien Arab faith that was imposed on unwilling Persians during the Muslim conquest of the seventh century.
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