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The Daily TIP: Experts: U.S. Must Target Hezbollah's Financial Network to Meet Its Global Threat

Posted by Tip Staff - June 13, 2017

Experts: U.S. Must Target Hezbollah's Financial Network to Meet Its Global Threat
Red Crescent: Hamas Engaged in War Crimes, Fired Rockets From Hospital to Provoke Israel
Anonymous PA Official Donates to Israeli Cancer Ward that Saved His Life
Microsoft to Acquire Israeli-American Startup to Enhance Network Security

Experts: U.S. Must Target Hezbollah's Financial Network to Meet Its Global Threat

Experts testifying at a Congressional hearing said that it was necessary for the Trump administration to target Hezbollah's international financing network to combat the Iran-backed terror group's capabilities, the Free Beacon reported last week.

Hezbollah, which was created by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the early 1980s, has morphed into a global terror network that is now financed by drug trafficking and other criminal enterprises, including money laundering. Given its global footprint a concerted effort by the United States is now needed to limit its access to funds.

"Our Department of Justice must rebuild, properly fund, and expand capabilities and investigations," David Asher, formerly an adviser to Gen. John Allen at the State and Defense departments told the hearing.

"If you successfully crush a criminal organization’s financial network," Derek Maltz, a former Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) official, another witness at the hearing said, "you will significantly increase the chances of disrupting their illicit activities."

Despite some success in attacking Hezbollah's financing in the past, "Hezbollah’s aggressive and ongoing procurement efforts have not been reigned in since the signing of the JCPOA," added Matthew Levitt, a Hezbollah expert and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, "but have actually expanded in scope."

In his testimony, Asher was more explicit in criticizing the actions of the Obama administration in reducing the pressure on Hezollah, "For a very low financial cost we could have legally taken apart the finances, the global organization, and the ability of Hizballah to readily terrorize us, victimize us, and run a criminal network through our shores, inside our banking system, and—in partnership with the world’s foremost drug cartels—target our state and society. Instead, in narrow pursuit of the P5 + 1 agreement, the administration failed to realize the lasting effect on U.S. law enforcement collaborative efforts and actively mitigated investigations and prosecutions needed to effectively dismantle Hizballah and the Iran 'Action Network.'"

Maltz referred to how the U.S. government targeted the Lebanese Canadian Bank for its involvement in the West African drug trade and financing Hezbollah as a model for targeting Hezbollah in the future.

Levitt had more specific policy recommendations including adding entities who assist Hezbollah to those subject to Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act (HIFPA), to target the criminal enterprises working in support of Hezbollah, to extend HIFPA sanctions to financial institutions serving Hezbollah outside of the Middle East, to consider designating Hezbollah has a Transnational Criminal Organization, to sanction Iran for its support of Hezbollah, and to improve interagency cooperation against Iran and its allies.

Asher's description of the Obama administration loosening pressure on Hezbollah in order to facilitate the nuclear deal recalls a recent Politico on how the administration also failed to follow through on the prosecutions and investigations of numerous individuals who violated Iran-related sanctions.

Red Crescent: Hamas Engaged in War Crimes, Fired Rockets From Hospital to Provoke Israel

The secretary-general of the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates accused the Gaza-based terrorist organization Hamas on Monday of provoking Israeli forces by firing rockets from a field hospital during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, a war crime under international law, Ynet reported.

According to Secretary-General Mohamed Ateeq Al-Falahi, the Red Crescent's staff was stationed at a UAE field hospital in Gaza when Hamas fighters began firing rockets from their facilities to provoke an Israeli response.

"This shows (Hamas's) wicked intentions and how they scarified us," said Al-Falahi. "They always claim the enemy targets humanitarian envoys, but the betrayal came from them,” he added.

Al-Falahi also accused Hamas of attempting to prevent the distribution of humanitarian aid in Gaza. "What hurts is that the betrayal came from our own people," he said. "Muslims fighting Muslims, who were giving humanitarian aid to Muslims," the secretary-general lamented.

This was not the end of Hamas’s hostility towards the group. When they left, Hamas had the Red Crescent targeted by Sinai jihadists, which shot at them and planted landmines in their path. They "accused us of being spies, undercover foreign intelligences who were escaping," Al-Falahi explained.

When the Red Crescent left Gaza through Sinai, Hamas had apparently informed "extremist militias in Sinai... that there was a group making their way there, so prepare for jihad against them...,” Al-Falahi said. “As we stopped at a grocery store to buy something to eat, they started shooting at us," he added.

Hamas has long been accused of using civilians and civilian infrastructure as shields, in violation of international law, to provoke a response from Israel and thereby increase the civilian toll for its own political advantage.

Bilal Razania, the brother of a senior Hamas official, told Israeli interrogators last year that Hamas used the Kamal Adwan hospital in northern Gaza as a military base during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. (Hamas leaders similarly used Shifa hospital in Gaza City as “a de facto headquarters” during the conflict, The Washington Post reported. A report compiled by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center found that Hamas used over 10 hospitals during Operation Cast Lead in 2008 to launch rockets at Israeli towns and attack Israeli troops.)

News crews from France 24 and India's NDTV recorded incidents of Hamas terrorists setting up and firing rockets from positions located near civilians during the 2014 conflict. A year later, a Polish journalist wrote an op-ed describing how Hamas would fire from populated areas.

Hamas, in fact, admitted to using human shields following Operation Protective Edge.

Anonymous PA Official Donates to Israeli Cancer Ward that Saved His Life

Rambam Medical Center in Haifa has received a large donation from a Palestinian Authority official, Times of Israel reported on Monday. According to the anonymous benefactor, the donation, which amounted to tens of thousands of Israeli shekels, is intended “to build peace through medicine.”

The official decided to make this donation to the Joseph Fishman Oncology Center following his hospitalization at Rambam for a cancer diagnosis earlier this year. He was impressed with the quality of peaceful coexistence evident at the hospital, which treats patients of all races and religions. Specifically, the official talked of “Palestinian children, Israelis, Syrians, and children from other countries who are being treated at Rambam for serious illnesses and are in need of all the help they can get.”

The Times reported that the donation will be used to build a recreation area for children hospitalized in the Oncology Center.

“Both Israeli and Palestinian societies suffer from violence and I am striving for a situation where we all can contribute to peace and health: to treat children, save lives, share knowledge, and train Palestinian doctors at Rambam, in order to improve the state of the health systems and the capacity to treat people in the PA areas, and to encourage others to donate and contribute to the betterment of health within our two nations,” the official said.

Rambam has a noted history of treating children from around the Middle East. In 2015, according to Times of Israel, half the children hospitalized in the pediatric oncology center hailed from the West Bank or Gaza.

Other hospitals around Israel are also frequently host to patients from the Palestinian Territories. In 2014, the thirteen-year-old daughter of current Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was transferred to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital following complications from an earlier procedure. Previously Haniyeh’s mother-in-law was treated in an Israeli hospital. In 2013 a critically-ill granddaughter of Haniyeh was admitted to an Israeli hospital, but they were unable to save her.

The Israeli treatment of Yahya Sinwar, the newly-selected leader of Hamas’ political wing, is a famous example of this phenomenon. Sinwar was a prisoner in Israel when he experienced severe head pain. When he reported this to the Israeli authorities, he received quick and effective treatment in an Israeli hospital.

The anonymous donation given to Rambam lends support to Israel’s mission to provide world-class medical care without consideration of religion, creed, or political affiliation. As the donor said, “Medicine is a bridge between peoples and my hope is that with the help of this small contribution and others like it in the future, we will all see a better tomorrow.”

Microsoft Acquiring Israeli-American Startup to Enhance Network Security

Microsoft Corp. has signed an agreement to acquire Hexadite, an Israeli-American company whose automatic incident investigation and remediation solutions will help commercial Windows 10 customers detect, investigate and respond to advanced attacks on their networks with Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (WDATP).

An official Microsoft statement released on June 8 did not disclose the terms of the agreement. Earlier press reports speculated that the figure is as high as $100 million.

According to the official statement, WDATP protects almost 2 million devices. Users include the US Department of Defense, Australian Department of Human Services, Kimberly-Clark, MARS and Crystal Group.

“Hexadite’s technology and talent will augment our existing capabilities and enable our ability to add new tools and services to Microsoft’s robust enterprise security offerings,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Windows and Devices Group, Microsoft.

Hexadite was founded in 2014 by Eran Barak, Barak Klinghofer and Idan Levin, veterans of IDF intelligence units who previously worked for the defense electronics firm Elbit Systems.

“For our small team to go from idea to product, bring it to market, and then acquisition by one of the biggest and most respected companies on earth in 3 years is truly an amazing accomplishment,” Hexadite VP Marketing Nathan Burke blogged on the day of the announcement.

Hexadite is headquartered in Boston, with an R&D team in Tel Aviv. Following the close of the deal and after a period of integration, Hexadite will be fully absorbed into Microsoft as part of the Windows and Devices Group.

(via Israel21c)

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