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Amid controversy over Iran cash shipment, freed American hostage says detainees couldn’t leave until “another plane” arrived

Posted by Tip Staff - August 05, 2016

Americans being freed from Iranian captivity were not allowed to leave the Islamic Republic until “another plane” had arrived, one of the hostages said in an interview on Thursday, lending credence to accusations that the United States’ decision to send $400 million in cash to Iran at the same time as the hostage transfer amounted to a ransom payment. Former hostage Pastor Saeed Abedini told the Fox Business Network’s Trish Regan that he had asked an Iranian policeman why his plane had not yet departed – “the plane was there, pilot was there, everyone was ready that we leave the country” – and was told, “We are waiting for another plane. And until that plane doesn’t come [sic] we never let you go.” The interview came on the heels of a Wall Street Journal report that revealed that the Obama administration had sent Iran $400 million in cash in an unmarked cargo plane at the same time as the American hostages were released in January. This led to criticism and accusations of paying ransom, which seemed borne out by the fact that “U.S. officials...acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible.” Indeed, senior Justice Department officials objected to the payment due to concerns that it would appear to be ransom.
The State Department was asked at its daily press briefings on both Wednesday and Thursday about the timing of the two relevant flights: the flight with the hostages leaving Iran and the flight with cash arriving there. Fox News’ James Rosen asked Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner on Wednesday if he could assure the American people that “the hostages were in the process of being set free prior to the touching down of this plane with the pallets of cash.” Toner responded that he could not answer this “conclusively.” When pressed on this point by the Associated Press’ Matt Lee the next day, Toner reiterated, “I don’t believe we’ve gotten clarity on that...In terms of the timing, I don’t have it.”
"When asked about the issue of the cash payment at a press conference Thursday, President Barack Obama insisted that it was not ransom, and also asserted that the Iran deal is working. In fact, he said, the “Israeli military and security community...acknowledges this has been a game changer.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly refuted this notion, saying that while he appreciates that Israel “has no greater friend than the United States,” the Jewish state’s position on the nuclear deal “remains unchanged.” As Likud Knesset member Tzachi Hanegbi told The Times of Israel, “I can promise you that the position of the prime minister, defense minister, and of most senior officials in the defense establishment has not changed.”


Fatah, the party headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, boasted on its Facebook page on Tuesday that it “has killed 11,000 Israelis.”
The post also gives Fatah credit for having “sacrificed 170,000 martyrs” and noted that hundreds of its members are incarcerated in Israeli jails.
“Israelis and Palestinians have long accused each other of incitement to violence,” The New York Times noted in its coverage of the Facebook post and its aftermath. “But in Israeli eyes, Palestinian leaders starting with Yasir Arafat, the father of Palestinian nationalism who helped found Fatah in 1959, have had a habit of saying one thing in Arabic and another in English.” For example, during the Second Intifada in 2002, Arafat led crowds in Ramallah chanting,  “To Jerusalem, we are going, martyrs in the millions!” days after writing a Times op-ed titled The Palestinian Vision of Peace.
Although Abbas claims to support only nonviolent resistance to Israel, the Fatah movement has “historically championed armed resistance,” the Times observed.
“President Abbas’s party boasts about committing mass murder and yet it is called ‘moderate’ by many,” David Keyes, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told The Times. “Imagine if Palestinian leaders spent their time praising coexistence instead of terror.”
The post was likely meant to boost Fatah’s fortunes in the upcoming Palestinian municipal elections, when it will be challenged by the terrorist organization Hamas in many cities in the West Bank.
Palestinian Media Watch, which originally publicized the Fatah Facebook post, noted that the post also included the claim “Fatah was the first to fight in the second Intifada.” This echoes a claim made in a movie uploaded to the Fatah Facebook page two years ago, which called the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades “triumphant brigades [that] began their military operations during the second Intifada.” The movie also claimed that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades still has its “finger on the trigger.”
Facebook pages associated with Fatah have frequently celebrated and encouraged violence and terror against Israel. In February, the official Facebook page called three Palestinians who killed an Israeli policewoman “role models.” A month later the page celebrated the terrorist who stabbed U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force to death, calling him a “holy martyr.”
In January 2015, Fatah’s Facebook page celebrated the first terror attack it launched against Israel by publishing a number of images glorifying violence, including one depicting a Palestinian flag flying from a rifle over a pile of skulls marked with Jewish stars. The following month, it exhorted Palestinians to fire rockets at Israel.
In 2013 the official Facebook page of Fatah’s Enlistment and Organization Commission hailed convicted mass-murderer Abdallah Barghouti as a “brave prisoner.” (via TheTower.org)

Israeli researchers triumphed over 11 other international teams vying for top nods at the Surgical Robotic Challenge 2016 in London, UK, with their robot for minimally invasive neurosurgery. The robot, intended for the removal of brain tumors of up to 6-cm in size, is operated through a small keyhole in the skull using laser irradiation and tumor extraction. The device is composed of a needle assembly: a rigid outer needle and a self-reassembled inner needle. The outer needle is responsible for rotational movement and vertical movement into the tumor, while the inner needle is able to move laterally. “This project involved many challenges,” says Technion doctoral student Hadas Ziso. “Besides the challenge of miniaturizing the detection and treatment tool, we had to allow the passage of a 90-degree curve in order to minimize the outer needle diameter. For this purpose we developed an inner needle that is flexible enough to pass through the curve, but also strong enough to lead the diagnostic and treatment tool to the tumor accurately, while bearing lateral loads resulted from heterogeneous environment. (via Israel21c)


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