Hezbollah militants recently raided drug houses in the Palestinian refugee camp of Bourj el-Barajneh, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, underlining the fact that the terrorist group has increasingly become indistinguishable from the Lebanese state. Ashraf Rifi, a fierce Hezbollah critic and former justice minister of Lebanon, said, "This is what a country that has given up its authority in favor of the 'tiny state' looks like.”
Ynet News reported, “Arab media outlets opposed to Hezbollah emphasized the irony of having Hezbollah launch a war on drugs, when the organization itself is accused of using drug trafficking as a central source of income.” Last October, three men linked to the Lebanese terrorist group were accused of laundering drug money on behalf of the Colombian cartel after authorities said they illegally moved $500,000 into Miami banks. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency announced the previous February that it had arrested several individuals after investigating a “massive” international drug trafficking and money laundering operation run by Hezbollah. The agency said that Hezbollah worked with drug cartels to supply cocaine to the United States and Europe, then laundered the proceeds in a scheme that helped “provide a revenue and weapons stream for an international terrorist organization responsible for devastating terror attacks around the world.”
This is not the only instance demonstrating Hezbollah’s intertwining with the Lebanese state. Lebanese President Michel Aoun said in February, “As long as the Lebanese army lacks sufficient power to face Israel, we feel the need for (Hezbollah's) arsenal because it complements the army's role,” therefore legitimizing the terrorist group’s weapons and cloaking it in the Lebanese flag.
Hezbollah and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) share a close relationship. In a military parade in Qusayr, Syria last November, the Iranian-backed group showed off a variety of arms and vehicles, including American M113 armored personnel carriers. The United States provides military aid to the LAF, raising concern among Israel’s security establishment that American weapons and vehicles will continue to end up in the hands of Hezbollah. This undoing of “the separation between Hizbullah’s military power and the Lebanese army” means that Israel will face “a single force, [which] will enable Israel to operate freely against the Lebanese state, including its army and civilian infrastructures, at any time that Hizbullah acts against Israel,” wrote Brig. Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
A blood-curdling curriculum--
Palestinian Authority textbooks for the school year of 2016 furthered the message of demonizing Israel and praising “martyrdom,” a report conducted by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) concluded. The report assessed the contents of textbooks in the PA school system ranging from the fourth through the 12th grades.
Marcus Sheff, the CEO of IMPACT-se, said, “Despite assurances from the PA Education Ministry, these new books are actually more radical than we have previously seen. There is clear evidence of a strategy of radicalization of young Palestinians, devised and implemented by the ministry, which includes a commitment to an Arab Palestine encompassing the entirety of Israel.”
The textbooks glorified martyrs and featured math questions asking students to calculate how many martyrs had died in the First and Second Intifadas combined. Maps depicted “Palestine” as covering all of Israel.
The report said, “The most troubling aspects of this curriculum involve the attitude of PA/PLO/Fatah authorities toward the six- to 10-year-old children who are considered to be expendable; and the indoctrination of these youth to the idea that all of Israel belongs to Palestine and all Israelis are evil.”
In January, a study by Professors Arnon Gross and Roni Shaked of the Harry Truman Research Institute at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem similarly found that Israeli cities established since 1948 had been erased from textbooks used in United Nations-run schools in the West Bank, and all Jewish historical and cultural ties to the country had likewise been expunged.
A previous report by IMPACT-se, issued last June, discovered that the word “peace” did not appear at all in its survey of 78 Palestinian Authority textbooks for grades 1 through 12.
Not your ordinary wet suit--
Israeli officials seized 30 wet suits believed to be en route to Hamas’ naval commando unit in the Gaza Strip, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced Monday. The wet suits were hidden in a shipment of athletic wear.
Israeli media reported last week that Hamas has steadily been upgrading its naval commando unit in preparation for the next round of fighting with Israel. Diving training has surged along Gaza’s coast, and the terrorist organization has started its own closed breathing system which allows divers to remain underwater for several kilometers with little chance of being identified.
"The progress of the Hamas commando unit is exponential and nonlinear, but we have a large target bank against them and we know how to destroy their coastal infrastructure if need be," said one senior Israeli naval officer.
This is not the first instance in which Israeli security officials have seized wet suits headed to Hamas.
Hamas threatened over the weekend to take “intensive action against Israeli agents in the coming hours and days” in retaliation for the mysterious assassination of terrorist mastermind Mazen Fuqaha. Indeed, the Palestinian news site al-Majd, which is close to the organization, reported on Monday, “Hamas internal security forces are currently undertaking a large campaign to pursue Israeli agents, during which a group has been arrested and others are being pursued.”
"A pipe that unites"--
The world’s longest underwater gas pipeline, which would connect Israel to Europe, is set to be online by 2025, Israeli and European officials announced at a joint declaration on Monday. “The unprecedented $6 billion-$7 billion plan in question involves building a privately-funded, 2,200-km deep-sea pipeline linking Israeli and Cypriot gas to the Greek and Italian shores,” The Jerusalem Post reported Monday.
“This is the beginning of our wonderful friendship between four Mediterranean countries – Israel, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy,” said Israel’s National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz.
European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said, “Cyprus and Israel are very reliable suppliers. We highly value gas supply from the region as a vital source of our gas supply that can make a valuable contribution to our strategy to diversify sources, routes and suppliers. This is a pipe that unites and will have the full support of all the members of the European Union.”
The move, if implemented, would reduce European dependence on Russian energy. Italian Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda said, “We think this project in the next decades can be a real pillar of our energy strategies,” he said. “Now we need to speed up the project to realize it.”
Due to the discovery of Israel’s Leviathan and Tamar gas fields, Israel has become an exporter of natural gas. It was reported last month that Israel had begun shipping gas to Jordan in January.