Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met with the families of 11 terrorists who attacked and killed Israelis in the ongoing wave of terror, telling the families, “Your sons are martyrs.” The meeting, which was broadcast by the official Palestinian news agency, occurred only hours after an attack by three Palestinians that killed an Israeli policewoman and severely injured another. The Palestinian Authority president posted a video of the meeting on the homepage of his official website. The families with whom Abbas met included the parents of Baha Alian, the Palestinian terrorist who murdered three people, two Israelis and one Israeli-American, in October. The American killed, Richard Lakin, was a life-long educator who moved to Israel to teach English to “Jewish, Christian and Muslim children.” In a letter to President Barack Obama on Thursday, Lakin’s son noted his father’s legacy, while blasting Palestinian incitement. He wrote, “To state it clearly, the President of the Palestinian National Authority praised and glorified the brutal murder of a citizen of the United States of America.”
State Department Spokesperson John Kirby was questioned on Thursday about Abbas hosting the families of terrorists who committed attacks that killed an American citizen. When pressed by veteran AP reporter Matt Lee on whether President Abbas calling them “martyrs” was incitement, Kirby said that he had only seen press reports that a meeting took place. When asked about Abbas’s rhetoric, Kirby responded that he has been careful about not “characterizing each and every sentence uttered and each and every act.” He also did not respond when Lee suggested that he had no problem with Abbas holding such meetings. At the end of the exchange, Kirby said, “[I]f he said what he said, then yes, that would be deeply concerning to us.”
Palestinian officials from all levels of society have been condemned for inciting Palestinians to violence. The ongoing wave of terror has killed 31 Israelis and left 302 wounded. President Abbas has failed to condemn attacks and has spread lies that Israel seeks to undermine the status quo of the Temple Mount. He claimed that Israel was carrying out “field executions.” In October, Abbas declared, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem…With the help of Allah, every shaheed (martyr) will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.” The US-backed PA praised the terrorist Nashat Milhem, who went on a shooting rampage, killing three on New Year’s Day in Tel Aviv. The PA health ministry extolled him as “one of the most precious martyrs whose name has been inscribed with his pure blood that watered the soil of our free land.” After the U.S. House unanimously passed a resolution condemning incitement by the PA, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said, “It is well past time for Abbas to stand up and condemn all acts of violence, rather than encouraging violence by glorifying terrorists and teaching children to view Israelis as animals.”
The United States’ failure to ground a sanctioned Iranian airline that provides logistical support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Syria underscores a severe loss of American credibility, which the Obama administration should immediately act to restore by penalizing companies and financial institutions that allow the airline to operate, Emanuele Ottolenghi, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in an op-ed (Google link) published Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal.
Ottolenghi observed that although the U.S. government “has repeatedly committed itself to grounding” Mahan Air, which the IRGC uses to transport troops and weapons to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the airline continues to fly and is in fact expanding its international routes. He added that Mahan is the most “significant” Iranian entity remaining under American sanctions, explaining:
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned it in October 2011 for “providing financial, material and technological support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF)” and for providing transportation services to Iran’s Lebanese terror proxy, Hezbollah. In October 2012, Treasury blacklisted 117 Iranian commercial planes, including all of Mahan’s aircraft, because “Iran used Iran Air and Mahan Air flights between Tehran and Damascus to send military and crowd control equipment to the Syrian regime.”
The Islamic Republic continued to rely on civilian aircraft to supply the Assad regime throughout the talks leading to last year’s nuclear deal. A Western intelligence report leaked to Reuters in 2012 confirmed that Mahan was at the center of the IRGC airlift to the Assad regime. So has a United Nations panel in charge of monitoring implementation of international sanctions against Iran.
Treasury in 2012 raised concerns about Mahan violations of civil-aviation rules, including the use of “a combination of passenger and cargo flights and declaring illicit cargo as humanitarian and other licit goods.” Nearly five years into Syria’s civil war, Mahan continues to offer the IRGC steady logistical support. In late July, Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani flew to Moscow to enlist Russian support for a counteroffensive to salvage the Syrian regime’s corridor from the capital, Damascus, to Latakia and Tartous, the two Mediterranean port cities housing Moscow’s naval bases.
After Soleimani’s trip to Moscow, Mahan’s flights to Syria increased in order to support the Assad regime’s offensive against rebel factions, which began in October.
Ottolenghi wrote that shortly after the nuclear deal with Iran was signed, Acting Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin warned that “a foreign bank that conducts or facilitates a significant financial transaction with Iran’s Mahan Air . . . will risk losing its access to the U.S. financial system.” However, the Obama administration did not take any substantive action to restrict Mahan’s movements and, on the contrary, agreed to cancel Interpol red notices against Mahan’s chief executive and a senior manager as part of a deal to free five American hostages from Iran.
The Obama administration needs to enforce existing sanctions against Mahan, Ottolenghi concluded, adding that it can do this by taking action against any financial institution that helps finance Mahan and impose fines on companies that provide ground-services to the airline. Only then will there be any chance of forcing Mahan to cut back on its operations.
Ottolenghi frequently highlights Mahan flights, especially those to Syria, in his Twitter feed.
He also documented the Obama administration’s lack of resolve in confronting Mahan in The Central Pillar Supporting the Iran Deal Has a Big Crack In It, which was published in the July 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine. (via TheTower.org)
Today, hundreds of women in Kenya will have their first screening for cervical cancer using Tel Aviv-based MobileODT’s Enhanced Visual Assessment (EVA) System, which needs no infrastructure but a mobile phone and Internet connection. “We have donated 20 of our EVA systems to health providers in Nyeri County, Kenya, for the Ministry of Health’s nationally sponsored screening camp. On February 4, to mark World Cancer Day, they plan to screen over 700 women for cervical cancer in a single day,” MobileODT CEO Ariel Beery told ISRAEL21c earlier in the week. “Simultaneously, on the other side of the globe, in New York, Curtis Peterson, our VP for global health, will be speaking at the World Cancer Day panel at the United Nations organized by the permanent missions of the United States and the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations, Every Woman Every Child, and Cervical Cancer Action,” says Beery. Piloted successfully in the United States, Haiti, Guatemala, Botswana, Kenya, Nepal and Mexico, EVA is an advanced optical technology that pairs with a smartphone camera to capture and securely transmit biomedical images for diagnosis and analysis. This makes cervical cancer screenings possible in places lacking more sophisticated medical infrastructure. The company provides training and support. (via Israel21c)