History in the Making as Syrian Arab Army Breaks ISIS Siege of Deir Ezzor

By Vanessa Beeley | 21 Century Wire

How many of us can truly say we have witnessed such exhilirating history in the making? Footage of the Syrian Arab Army and their allies entering the city of Deir Ezzor has just been released. Yet another one of the brutal and punishing sieges maintained by ISIS and assorted US coalition armed and funded extremist forces has had its back broken by the SAA and the stubborn resistance of the Syrian people. We are witnessing the end of our existing global order, the victory of Truth over Force and asymmetric power and the birth of a new geopolitical paradigm.

Our endless gratitude should be extended to the brave people of Syria for the gift they have given to Humanity – the proof that resistance will prevail despite all the odds against them. The following video was posted by independent Aleppo MP,  Fares Shehabi, on Facebook. Watch ~

The following report is from AlMasdarNews:

“Within minutes of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) lifting the siege on Deir Ezzor city, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad contacted three top Syrian commanders, all of whom played a major role in the victory, via phone.

According to reports, the Syrian president spoke with Rafiq Shahada (who is Deir Ezzor’s Chief of Security), Hasan Muhammad (commander of the 17th Reserve Division, whose men were the first to reach Syrian forces in Deir Ezzor) and Isaam Zahreddine (the operational commander of all forces in Deir Ezzor).

In the phone conversation, President al-Assad congratulated the three commanders for the historic victory which they have now achieved.

Whilst commanders Rafiq Shahada and Isaam Zahreddine played-out the role of protecting Deir Ezzor and its residents from relentless attacks by besieging ISIS forces over the last three years, Hasan Muhammad, the commander of the 17th Reserve Division, led the vanguard Syrian Army units which officially lifted the siege on the city.”

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Commentary: The Conflict in Syria Was Always Israel’s War

[ Ed. note – Syria seems to be on the threshold of a final and decisive victory over ISIS. With six years worth of effort and more than a billion dollars spent in the quest to topple Bashar Assad, the regime-changers finally seem to be throwing in the towel. Israel, of course, is none too happy with the current turn of events.

According to a report here, the Zionist state “is gearing up to hold its largest military drill in nearly 20 years” on its border with Lebanon, this apparently in anticipation of a war with Hezbollah. This should come as no surprise, really. The video below highlights the not insignificant contributions made by Hezbollah in the defeat of ISIS/Daesh.

In the article below Whitney Webb makes a persuasive argument that Israel, and not the US, was in reality all along the “mastermind of the plan” to overthrow Assad. Webb states that it was Israel which “not only drafted the original blueprint for the Syrian conflict but guided U.S. involvement by exerting its powerful influence over the foreign policy of that country.” The words “led by the nose” of course come to mind.

And in addition to being led by the nose into a war in Syria, the nose hooks fastened tightly to our leaders now seem to be leading us into supporting whatever scheme the Israelis are presently cooking up in Lebanon. Recently Ambassador Nikki Haley successfully pushed through the Security Council a measure designed to force UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, to become more assertive and confrontational with Hezbollah. As the New York Times reported:

Both Israel and the United States have grown increasingly strident in recent days over what they have described as a blatant buildup of Iranian weaponry by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon including hidden rockets. They have accused Unifil of turning a blind eye to it.

How long will the American people be content to fight wars for Israel? Will they at some point get fed up with it? ]

***

By Whitney Webb

After years of fomenting the Syrian conflict from the shadows, the U.S. has recently seemed to back away from its push to militarily intervene in the embattled nation, instead choosing to focus its saber-rattling and destabilization efforts on other theaters. The consequence of this has seemingly been the winding down of the long-running conflict, now entering its seventh year.

Buoyed by Russia, Iran and Lebanon, the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad has managed to retake vast swaths of territory, all while surviving and growing stronger over the course of a largely foreign-funded onslaught. As a result, many of the governments that were instrumental in funding and arming the so-called “moderate” opposition have begun to extricate themselves, unwilling to further test the resilience of Assad or the Syrian people.

With some anticipating the long-awaited conclusion of the Syrian conflict, recent threats from Israel’s government to assassinate Assad by bombing his residence seemed to appear out of the blue. According to the Jerusalem Post, a senior Israeli official accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a recent visit to Russia warned the Kremlin that if Iran continues to “extend its reach” in Syria, Israel would bomb the presidential palace in Damascus.

Israel’s comments should come as no surprise, however, as the foreign-funded and manufactured conflict in Syria was always Israel’s war. The only real surprise is Israel’s growing isolation in pushing for the further escalation of the conflict.

Though it has successfully avoided being labeled a major player in the effort to oust Assad, Israel has long been the mastermind of the plan, which stems in large part from the long-standing hostilities between the two nations as well as Israel’s own regional ambitions. State Department diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have shown that in 2006, five years before the conflict in Syria manifested, the government of Israel had hatched a plan to overthrow the Assad government by engineering sectarian strife in the country, creating paranoia within the highest-ranks of the Syrian government, and isolating Syria from its strongest regional ally, Iran.

Israel then passed this plan along to the United States, which would then involve Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Egypt in fomenting the “breakdown” of the Assad regime as a way of weakening both Iran and Hezbollah — with the effect of empowering both Israel and the Gulf monarchies, two seemingly disparate forces in the region that are becoming increasingly allied.

Leaked emails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton further reveal Israel’s role in covertly creating the conflict and its clear role in securing the involvement of the U.S. and other nations in executing its plan for Assad’s removal. One email, forwarded by Clinton to her advisor Jacob Sullivan, argues that Israel is convinced that Iran would lose “its only ally” in the region were Assad’s government to collapse.

It further stated that “The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies.” This possible sectarian war was perceived as a potential “factor in the eventual fall of the current government of Iran.”

Another Clinton email released by WikiLeaks stated”

The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad,”

Adding

Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.”

The email also notes:

A successful intervention in Syria would require substantial diplomatic and military leadership from the United States” and states that “arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.”

Continued here

RT Airs Interview with Hezbollah Second in Command

French

RT has aired an interview with Sheik Naim Qassem, a major figure inside Hezbollah. Qassem was a founding member of the resistance group and has served as its deputy secretary general since 1991. He is also author of the book, Hizbullah: The Story from Within, published in 2004.

In the interview Qassem discusses the US government’s failure to achieve its regime change objectives in Syria as well as the role played by Israel in the conflict.

“The Americans wanted to use the Islamic state against Syria, but then this monster turned against America, so now they have no choice but to confront it,” he says, and he also voices the view that Israel has played “the main part in Syria’s destruction.”

As I noted in a post yesterday, Israel now seems to be preparing for a new war with Hezbollzah. It has launched a military drill along the Lebanese border that is scheduled to run for the next 10 days and that is described by one report as “its largest military drill in nearly 20 years.” The exercise will involve Israeli land, sea, and air forces simulating an invasion of Lebanon.

That RT would publish an interview with a leading Hezbollah figure at such a time probably is significant. You can go here to access the full report and video.

Related

US Threatens to Use ‘Nuclear Capabilities’ Against North Korea

Press TV

The United States is ready to use its nuclear weapons against North Korea if the country continues to threaten Washington or its allies, the White House has warned, amid escalating tensions between the two countries.

US President Donald Trump held a conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday, after North Korea conducted a test of a hydrogen bomb.

The White House published a readout of Trump’s talks with Abe that said the US is ready to use the “full range” of capabilities at its disposal in dealing with North Korea.

“President Trump reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to defending our homeland, territories, and allies using the full range of diplomatic, conventional, and nuclear capabilities at our disposal,” the readout said.

North Korea on Sunday announced it had conducted a “successful” hydrogen bomb test, hours after two tremors were detected in the country.

“The hydrogen bomb test was a perfect success,” North Korean state television said, adding that the device was capable of being loaded onto long-range missiles.

The North Korean broadcaster said the nuclear test had an “unprecedentedly large power,” and that it “marked a very significant occasion in attaining the final goal of completing the state nuclear force.”

Continued here

American Legion Calls for Full Investigation Into Israel’s Attack Upon the USS Liberty

[ Ed. note – The American Legion, at its annual convention, has adopted an historic resolution on the June 8, 1967 attack by Israel against the USS Liberty–an attack that resulted in the deaths of 34 US sailors and injuries to 173 more.  Below is the resolution itself, posted on the USS Liberty Veterans Association blog, followed by an article by Alison Weir. The American Legion held its convention August 22-24 in Reno, Nevada. The resolution was adopted on the final day of the convention. ]

American Legion Passes Historic USS Liberty Resolution

By Joe Meadors | USS Liberty Veterans Association

RESOLUTION
National Headquarters, The American Legion
Ninety-Ninth Annual National Convention, Reno, Nevada August 22, 23, 24, 2017

WHEREAS, on June 8, 1967, while operating in support of the National Security Agency (NSA) in international waters, properly marked as to her identity and nationality, and in calm, clear weather in the eastern Mediterranean, the USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was the target of an unprovoked attack by Israeli military forces that killed 34 members of the Liberty’s crew and wounded 173; and,

WHEREAS, in recognition of their heroic efforts during and after the Israeli onslaught, Liberty crew members were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, 2 Navy Crosses, 12 Silver Stars, 20 Bronze Stars, more than 200 Purple Hearts, and the ship’s captain, Navy Commander William. L. McGonagle, was awarded the Medal of Honor; and,

WHEREAS, the June 28, 1967 public summary of proceedings of the Navy Court of Inquiry into the attack stated: “It was not the responsibility of the Court to rule on the culpability of the attackers and no evidence was heard from the attacking nation”; and,

WHEREAS, according to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) information reports from June and October, 1967, sources in Tel Aviv reported: “Israel’s forces knew exactly what flag the [L]IBERTY was flying” and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan “personally ordered the attack” on the Liberty over the objections of senior uniformed military personnel, one of whom characterized the attack as “pure murder”; and,

WHEREAS, Richard Helms (Director of Central Intelligence, 1966-1973), stated in a 1984 CIA interview: “everything possible was done to keep from the American public really the enormity of this attack on an American naval vessel” and “since this is for the Agency’s record, I don’t think there can be any doubt that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing … any statement to the effect that they didn’t know that it was an American ship … is nonsense”; and,

WHEREAS, Lieutenant General Marshall S. Carter, USA (ret.) (Director of the NSA, 1965-1969), recalled in a 1988 NSA interview that he stated at a Congressional hearing in 1967 that the attack on the Liberty “couldn’t be anything else but deliberate. There’s just no way you could have a series of circumstances that would justify it being an accident” and Carter indicated this remained his belief in 1988; and,

WHEREAS, in a 2003 affidavit published in the Congressional Record, Captain Ward Boston, Jr., JAGC, USN (ret.), legal counsel for the 1967 Navy Court of Inquiry stated: “I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd [president of the Court of Inquiry] that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary”; and,

WHEREAS, according to the findings, published in the Congressional Record, of the 2003 Independent Commission of Inquiry, chaired by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, USN (ret.): “there is compelling evidence that Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew” and “the White House deliberately covered up the facts of this attack”; and,

WHEREAS, in 2013, the Veterans of Foreign Wars adopted Resolution 423 calling “upon Congress to immediately investigate the attack on the USS Liberty by the armed forces of Israel on June 8, 1967, in order to determine the truth behind the attack, and to bring closure to the families and crew”; and,

WHEREAS, in August 1967, after the conclusion of the Navy Court of Inquiry, the American Legion adopted Resolution 508 (rescinded in 1984 without being first reviewed) declaring the published report of the Navy Court of Inquiry “fails to provide the American public with a satisfactory answer as to the reason for the attack” and stating that “The American Legion denounces and condemns Israel’s irresponsible attack” and demanding “a complete and thorough investigation of the incident”; and,

WHEREAS, according to Gurney Williams III, writing in The American Legion Magazine (“Death Strikes the Liberty“, July 1997), Congress has never investigated the Israeli attack on the Liberty; now therefore be it,

RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Reno, Nevada, August 22, 23, 24, 2017, that The American Legion calls upon the 115th United States Congress to publicly, impartially, and thoroughly investigate the attack on the USS Liberty and its aftermath and to commence its investigation before the end of 2017, the 50th anniversary year of the attack.

The final text of the resolution can be found here on the American Legion’s digital archive page.

***

USS Liberty survivor Larry Bowen

***

American Legion calls for investigation

American Legion Calls for Full Investigation Into Israel’s Attack on the USS Liberty

By Alison Weir | Mint Press

In a historic move, the American Legion, at its national convention in Reno on Thursday, August 24, 2017, approved Resolution 40 (text provided below) calling for the first full U.S. government investigation of Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty.

Gunnery Sergeant Bryce F. Lockwood (USMC, ret.) was on hand during the entire convention working for passage of the resolution, which originated earlier this year from Post 40 in Seattle in the American Legion Department of Washington (state).

Lockwood was awarded the Silver Star for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with the unprovoked and unexpected armed attack on U.S.S. LIBERTY (AGTR-5), in the Eastern Mediterranean, on 8 June 1967.”

Lockwood said there were a lot of “hand shakes, hugs, and some tears” after the vote.

The American Legion’s resolution brings the nation’s largest veterans organization back on the side of the USS Liberty survivors, family, and supporter in calling upon the “115th United States Congress to publicly, impartially, and thoroughly investigate the attack on the USS Liberty and its aftermath and to commence its investigation before the end of 2017, the 50th anniversary year of the attack.”

The resolution also aligns the Legion with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which, in 2013, adopted Resolution 423 at their national convention calling for the attack to be investigated.

The Liberty was a U.S. Navy electronics ship operating in international waters in the eastern Mediterranean when it was attacked by Israeli forces, killing 34 and injuring at least 174.

The ship’s commander received the Congressional Medal of Honor and the crew is one of the most decorated for a single engagement in U.S. Navy history.

The claim is sometimes incorrectly made that the attack has already been investigated. However, a one-week-long Naval inquiry was only tasked with investigating crew performance during the attack, and Congress has never investigated it, as reported in the July 1997 issue of The American Legion Magazine and elsewhere.

While Legion members have long been supportive of the Liberty crew, Legion leaders have often managed to torpedo resolution. The resolution was passed over a recommendation by a Legion steering committee member that it be rejected.

Why Did Venezuela Shut Down 2 TV Stations? (Maybe there was a reason!)

 

Posted on August 29, 2017

With Trump’s recent hint at possible military action against Venezuela, media attacks against the South American country and its Bolivarian government have ramped up exponentially over the past few days.

An article published Monday in the Daily Beast is perhaps illustrative. The piece, by Antonio Mora, accuses the Maduro government of torture, rape, drug trafficking, forced starvation, and other crimes–though no mention of disconnecting babies from incubators.

“Few doubt the Maduro regime is heavily involved in drug trafficking, supporting terrorism, and looting the country’s economy,” Mora writes.

I guess I’m one of the “few.” I do doubt these things. Unlike certain other countries, Venezuela, at least to my knowledge, has not provided assistance to ISIS or served as Al-Nusra’s air force, and if there are any Venezuelans selling drugs in my neighborhood, I haven’t yet made their acquaintance.

“The international community must treat the regime as an active criminal enterprise, using criminal investigations to pierce the veil of banking secrecy in places such as Andorra, Switzerland, and the Cayman Islands in order to access the ill-gotten gains hidden there by Venezuelans made wealthy by their corrupt dealings,” Moro goes on. Apparently the US Federal Reserve and the crime syndicates on Wall Street are small potatoes compared to these créme de la créme Caracas plunderers.

“The violent repression, oppression, and human rights abuses by the Venezuelan government have become so commonplace and the Venezuelan people have become so despondent, little is seen as shocking anymore,” says our pundit before adding that “millions of Venezuelans are clamoring for the international community to take action and save the country from an authoritarian regime that has turned totalitarian since protests erupted against a power grab in March.”

Sounds very much like a call for war. Of course, if the Maduro government were every bit as evil as the Daily Beast claims,  the US regime-change harlequins wouldn’t be trying near this hard (or even at all) to overthrow it.

Naturally, like all “dictators,” Maduro makes minced meat out of the free press–pundit Moro informs us that “the regime has taken dozens of television and radio stations off the air,” though the details of this he leaves a bit sketchy.

Fortunately, however, we have an article published by VenezuelaAnalysis.com that offers some insight into why at least two of these media outlets, both cable TV channels, were closed–and yes, there was indeed a legitimate reason for shutting them down: according to writer Ryan Mallett-Outtrim, both channels were found to have advocated the murder of President Nicholas Maduro.

One wonders if the Daily Beast simply didn’t find that detail relevant or newsworthy enough to mention. ]

***

Venezuela Pulls 2 Channels Off Air Over ‘Resign or Die’ Comments

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Venezuela Analysis

Puebla, Mexico, August 25, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan regulators ordered Thursday two cable networks be taken off air, after they were accused of promoting violence.

The country’s national telecommunications regulator CONATEL said Colombian broadcasters RCN and Caracol Television would be taken off air for “openly calling for [the] assassination [of the president].”

“The measure is within the bounds of the law, given that those stations over several months attacked Venezuela and [its] institutions,” CONATEL said in a statement, quoting former head regulator Andres Mendez.

The move was in response to comments by former Mexican president Vicente Fox aired by RCN and Caracol. Addressing Maduro, Fox warned “this dictator will leave through resignation, or with his feet in front of him, in a box”.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox speaks during an RCN broadcast. The subtitle at the bottom of the screen reads, “Dictator Maduro, Reisgn or Die.”

During RCN’s broadcast, the lower third beneath Fox simply read, “Dictator Maduro, resign or die.”

Fox’s comments were quickly condemned by Maduro ally and Bolivian President Evo Morales.

“If anything happens to our brother President Maduro, it will be Mexican ex-president Vicente Fox’s responsibility,” he said.

Fox made his comment during the “Thinking the 21st Century” conference in Baranquilla, Colombia. Last month, the ex-president was declared persona non grata in Venezuela after he participated as an observer in an unofficial opposition plebiscite asking citizens if they would support a “zero hour” campaign of protests aimed at overthrowing the government.

Neither RCN or Caracol appeared available in Venezuela at the time of writing, and at least one major cable provider has confirmed cutting one of the signals.

“We inform you that the 772 Caracol International channel is no longer available for Venezuela because we are complying with an order from … CONATEL,” cable provider DirecTV tweeted.

Some viewers have reported they can still access RCN through DirecTV, but not through most other major providers.

Venezuela’s opposition had condemned CONATEL’s decision as censorship.

“One more channel off the airwaves! Has that made crime go down? Is inflation any lower? Is there more food? More medicine? Has any problem been solved?” opposition leader Henrique Capriles stated.

The shutdowns are the second major regulatory action taken against broadcasters accused of promoting unrest in Venezuela. Earlier this year, CONATEL pulled CNN’s Spanish language channel, accusing the broadcaster of seeking to “undermine the image of the national executive branch”.

The decision came in the wake of CNN’s publication of an investigation that alleged to have uncovered evidence Venezuelan diplomatic officials in Iraq had sold Venezuelan passports to non-Venezuelans, including Iraqi and Syrian nationals. Venezuela’s government largely dismissed the report as US propaganda.

In 2014, another major Colombian broadcaster, RTN24, was also wiped from Venezuelan airwaves after CONATEL alleged it had “promoted violence”. Another major case also occurred in 2007, when the Caracas-based RCTV lost its broadcast concession, after regulators determined the station had played a role in a 2002 coup that temporarily overthrew the Chavez government.

Israeli Settlers Spew Obscenity-Filled Racist Filth Over Loud Speakers in Palestinian Neighborhood

By Richard Edmondson

Trump’s special “advisor” on Israel, Jason Greenblatt, is now in the Zionist state spouting nonsense and complaining about Hamas, this after Israeli authorities took him on a “tour” of the Gaza border region. Meanwhile, not so very far away–in a Palestinian neighborhood in Israeli-occupied Hebron–Jewish settlers have terrorized residents by hurling profanity-laced racist insults over loud speakers.

Check out the video below, but be advised: it shows Jews from Kiryat Arba, an illegal Israeli settlement, roaming through the Palestinian neighborhood of al-Hariqah shouting through a loud speaker and using some of the filthiest, vilest language imaginable. The slurs are intended not only to demean Palestinians but also the Muslim religion.

Normally, I don’t post videos that are content-heavy with obscene language, but I decided to make an exception in this case so that people could see the level of depravity that exists among Israeli settlers.

The incident reportedly took place on August 24. This comes as Trump administration envoys are currently in Israel attempting to negotiate “peace.” It was back on August 15, I put up a post regarding the eviction of an elderly Palestinian couple from their home, commenting that a three-member delegation from the Trump administration was at that time about to embark for the Middle East. The delegation, I noted, consists of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner,  Greenblatt, and Dina Powell, a former Goldman-Sachs employee who also previously worked in the White House during the George W. Bush administration.

The three finally did make it to their destination. The New York Times reports on some of their meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah in a piece that was published on August 25. This was one day after the settlers in the video above made their noxious, nauseating presence felt in al-Hariqah. This was also one day after I had put up a post entitled First a Kindergarten and Now a School: Are the Israelis Trying to Block Childhood Education? That post, just as a matter of interest, dealt with the Israeli destruction of Palestinian schools, notably the confiscation of mobile classrooms that were to have served more than 60 first-through-fourth grade students in the village of Jubbet al-Dib, near Bethlehem. The confiscation of the classrooms took place on August 22. The Israelis had already torn down a kindergarten just the day previous, and the theft of the classrooms on August 22 came just one day before the new school year was to have begun. On August 23, the first day of school, children showed up at the school in Jubbet al-Dib only to find the classrooms gone.

The reason I go to the trouble of mentioning all this is because Jason Greenblatt shows no indication of recognizing that Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace. In fact, a report published Thursday by Ma’an News includes a quote from Greenblatt which suggests that the Trump administration’s envoy to Occupied Palestine believes the entire problem lies with Hamas:

“It is clear that the Palestinian Authority needs to resume its role in the administration of Gaza, as Hamas has substantially harmed the people of Gaza and has failed to meet their most basic needs,” he said.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Hamas, but even that being said, Greenblatt’s comment is patent nonsense. Gaza has been under blockade for more than a decade. The blockade has been imposed by Israel, not Hamas. It is Israel that has failed to meet the “most basic needs” of the people of Gaza, not Hamas. Moreover, it is Israel as well that is closing Palestinian schools in the West Bank, not Hamas; it is Israel that continues to build settlements in violation of international law, notHamas; and it is Israel that maintains a grotesque occupation that makes it nigh impossible for people to do such simple things as move from one house into another. Watch the video in the tweet below, and notice the Palestinian family trying to get their household belongings through an Israeli checkpoint. Notice them handing items through the guardrail to a child on the other side who stacks them carefully next to a curb–only to have them re-confiscated by an Israeli soldier!

But yet in Greenblatt’s disingenuously fevered imagination, the blame for the Palestinian people not getting “their most basic needs” met has nothing to do with Israel. It’s all the fault of Hamas!

One other thing worth mentioning in all this is a tweet posted Wednesday by Greenblatt in which the Trump administration official expresses thanks to “COGAT” for helping arrange his guided tour:

The letters COGAT stand for “Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.” It is a unit within the Israeli Ministry of Defense whose responsibilities include coordinating with the Palestinian Authority while at the same time implementing Israeli government policies in the Occupied Territories. My post of August 24 actually included a mention of COGAT.

Within that post you can find an article written for Mondoweiss by Sheren Khalel, who, it seems, in the course of writing her report on the confiscation of the mobile classrooms, contacted COGAT for a comment. She was told by a spokesperson that the agency had issued “stop-work orders” on the school several days previously. But according to activists in the Jubbet al-Dib community, the stop-work orders were only to have applied to concrete bathrooms that were being built next to the mobile classrooms. This is what Khalel writes in her report: the bathrooms were the target of the stop-work orders, not the classrooms. But when the Israelis arrived on August 22, the bathrooms were left while the classrooms were confiscated!

And it is this very same Israeli government agency, COGAT, that Greenblatt expresses his hearty “thank you” to in the above tweet! The same agency that shut down a school by confiscating its classrooms!

As I said at the top of this post, Greenblatt is spouting nonsense. But this is hardly surprising. In regards to Israel, every US official over the past 50 years has ended up spouting the same. America is a nation under foreign occupation. This has become all too apparent to the rest of the world, and even Americans are now waking up to the seriousness of the problem.

But getting back to the Israeli settlers and their putrescent irruptions. The video you see above was filmed by a Palestinian volunteer with the Israeli B’Tselem human rights organization–a woman–who captured the footage from her window. Here is what she told B’Tselem about the incident:

“At 6:00 P.M. I went up to my apartment, which looks out over al-Hariqah neighborhood and the settlement of Kiryat Arba. At first I ignored the settlers’ party, but they turned the music up just when the muezzin called out for evening prayers from the mosque. They started mocking the prayer and insulting the Prophet Muhammad

“I saw a military jeep on the hilltop where the settlers were gathered. There were several other soldiers on the road below, which looks out over al-Hariqah Street that runs by the settlement. I began filming.

“The settlers began to use foul language and call out obscenities concerning me, Islam, and especially the Prophet Muhammad. The Israeli soldiers and police did nothing to stop them. This was not the first time: about a year ago, I documented settlers swearing, using foul language and calling out obscenities against the Prophet Muhammad while soldiers and police allowed them to continue.

“Life in al-Hariqah has become intolerable. The military repeatedly raids the neighbourhood and the settlers assault and harass us. As a Muslim, I was extremely offended by the insults hurled at the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. As a woman, I felt terrible hearing the foul language directed personally at me for filming them.”

As you can tell from her video (starting at about halfway in), once the Jewish settlers became aware they were being filmed, they started swearing at her as well. Maybe someone should take the time to share this video with Jason Greenblatt. Although a little voice inside tells me that even if he did devote the three minutes and twenty-four seconds needed to watch it, he would probably still insist that Hamas is the problem.

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Trump’s Peace Envoy: Palestinian Authority Must Control the Gaza Strip

Ma’an News

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy said on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) must resume its control over the government in the besieged Gaza Strip during a tour of the Gaza-Israel border.

Jason Greenblatt voiced vehement opposition to Hamas’ rule in the small Palestinian territory, and his support of the PA to take back control of the besieged enclave.

“It is clear that the Palestinian Authority needs to resume its role in the administration of Gaza, as Hamas has substantially harmed the people of Gaza and has failed to meet their most basic needs,” Greenblatt said following the tour, which also included Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Yoav Mordechai.

Greenblatt said he had “learned a great deal” from the border tour, particularly concerning the “challenges” facing the Israeli army, Israeli civilians living near the border, and Palestinians living in Gaza, which he then singularly attributed to “Hamas’ mismanagement of humanitarian aid and its commitment to terrorist violence.”

Hamas and the Fatah-ruled PA have been embroiled in a more than a decade-long conflict since 2006, when Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections and a bloody conflict between the two groups broke out.

Hamas, the de facto leaders in Gaza, is often criticized by the international community and among Palestinians themselves, most notably owing to the group’s attempted rocket attacks on Israel, which rarely result in casualties, and what is seen as their mismanagement of the government in Gaza.

However, Palestinian frustrations have also continued to mount against the PA, as the semi-governmental body in the occupied West Bank has passed devastating policies in recent months aiming to plunge the Gaza Strip deeper into a humanitarian crisis in an attempt to force Hamas to relinquish their authority.

These policies have included halting medical referrals so patients can receive treatment abroad while simultaneously cutting funding to the local medical sector, cutting salaries to its Gaza-based employees, discontinuing payments to former prisoners of Israel, and dramatically reducing fundingfor Israeli fuel.

Greenblatt’s trip to the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel is part of Trump’s attempts at relaunching peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders that have remained stagnant for decades.

However, leaders and analysts have expressed doubt that Trump’s initiatives will lead to a peace plan, as Trump himself has remained elusive concerning his stance on the conflict, while a number of high-profile US officials, including Trump’s son-in-law and Chief Adviser Jared Kushner, are known to be staunch supporters of Israel.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also visited the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. The UN head demanded that Israel’s decade-long blockade on the territory be lifted, describing life in the besieged coastal enclave as “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises” he had seen.

In 2012, the UN warned that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current trends were not altered. However, a new report released last month by the UN said that “life for the average Palestinian in Gaza is getting more and more wretched,” and that for the majority of Gaza’s residents, the territory may already be unlivable.

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