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Resources updated between Monday, September 03, 2018 and Sunday, September 09, 2018

September 9, 2018

Boko Haram militants (File photo)

Many people are feared dead after an Islamist militant attack on the northeast Nigerian town of Gudumbali, two residents and a vigilante said on Saturday.

The Nigerian government in June ordered thousands of people who fled the decade-long war with Boko Haram to return to Gudumbali, one of the most dangerous areas of northeast Nigeria. Officials cut off food and other aid to those who refused.

There is mounting pressure to show progress in the war against Islamist groups ahead of a presidential election, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The militants struck Gudumbali in the Guzamala region of Borno state on Friday, wearing military uniforms and firing upon Nigerian soldiers and residents, sending both the troops and the civilians fleeing, the witnesses said.

The Nigerian military did not immediately respond to request for comment.

"Many civilians lost their lives, we don't have casualty figures for now," said Mohammed, one of the residents, whose first name is being used because the military threatens reprisals against those who speak to media.

"Thousand of people fled their homes."

The vigilante, Baba Ali Musa, said the militants came on motorbikes and in pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns, while others fired rocket-propelled grenades on the town.

"They came toward the town shooting sporadically," he said. "They were saying if you know you're an innocent person just leave the town, our target is not you, or if you wish to stay with us, it's no matter, you can stay with us."

Nigeria's northeast is home to two Islamist insurgencies: Boko Haram and its breakaway group, Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), now considered by security experts the stronger of the two.

ISWA had in recent months embarked on a hearts and minds campaign to win the support of the local population and create an economy the group could tax to fund its insurgency.

Gudumbali lies in territory where ISWA has greater influence.

Many feared dead after Islamist attack in northeast Nigeria Document

September 8, 2018

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas

"The decisions by President Donald Trump to have the United States stop funding United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which aids those defined as Palestinian refugees, as well as cut funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) has prompted criticism and predictions of disaster.
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Trump, on the other hand, argued in a pre-Rosh Hashanah call with Jewish leaders that the reduction or elimination of aid would provide an incentive for the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel.
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The question of aid to the Palestinians is not a new one, and the past shows that even generous aid doesn't necessarily help most Palestinians.
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Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas in Gaza - have continued this tradition of enriching themselves and their families at the expense of their constituents.

Abbas has reportedly used his international connections not to create a functioning democracy in the West Bank, but to further the business ambitions of his sons. He also has been accused of misappropriating more than $100 million in aid money.

Haniyeh, according to an investigative report, is a multi-millionaire.

If the Palestinian leadership, the way it is currently constituted, provides its top officials with fabulous wealth, what incentive do they have to change? The lack diplomatic progress preserves their status.

Because of corruption in the ranks of their leaders, aid to the Palestinians has become more of an obstacle than an incentive for peace..."

UNRWA: Perpetuating Palestinian Misery Article

Riot at the Gaza border, September 7, 2018

Gazans carrying knife, ax caught trying to enter Israel Document

September 7, 2018

The Palestinian Authority exhibition of antisemitic pictures

"Early last August, the Palestinian Authority launched an exhibition of anti-Semitic images in the Bedouin shantytown of Khan al-Ahmar, an illegal post between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem, slated for demolition by the High Court of Justice.

According to Makor Rishon, the exhibition was attended by PA ministers, representatives from European countries and UN agencies, including Sonia Azzam, the representative of UNESCO in Ramallah, and Genevieve Putin, the UNICEF representative in Ramallah, AY Suliman, the South African ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, representatives from Norway, the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany.

The exhibition presented Israel as a wicked and terrifying octopus whose arms uproot churches and the al-Aqsa Mosque, strangle an Arab child and destroy schools..."

Senior European, U.N. Officials Participated in Palestinian Authority Sponsored Antisemitic Exhibition Article

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas

"On August 31, 2018, the Trump administration announced that the United States will cease funding UNRWA, citing the organization's operational-business model as unsustainable, given its 'endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries.' This decision is no less than historic. Although the Palestinians view it as a serious blow, if it is presented as a necessary step on the path to Palestinian statehood, it has the potential to harbor long term, positive implications. While Israel should certainly prepare for negative scenarios that such a policy move may generate in the near term, it is unwise to cling to the current paradigm that distances the Palestinian leadership's pragmatic and ethical responsibility for rehabilitating and resettling Palestinian refugees within the Palestinian territories. With staunch Israeli, American, and international incentives and policy initiatives, the US decision to cease funding UNRWA can serve as a wake-up call to the Palestinian leadership and potentially inject new life into the Israeli-Palestinian process."

The End to U.S. Funding to UNRWA: Opportunity or Threat? Article

The Palestinian "refugee camp" of Balata in Nablus

"Dramatic shifts are rare in American foreign policy. One undeniable example is the Trump administration's decision last week to cease funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the main U.N. agency giving aid to Palestinians. At once a nearly 70-year-old Gordian knot has been cut, but what comes next?
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The decision to cut Unrwa's funding corresponds with the Trump administration's broader perspective on foreign policy. Like trade policy, the U.N. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, President Trump insists that foreign aid must benefit the U.S. in a more substantial way than merely sustaining stability. Unrwa does not, and has not. It retards the development of Palestinian civil institutions and affirms several of the Palestinians' self-defeating grievances.

The so-called right of return for Palestinian refugees, which Unrwa promulgates through its educational and policy organs, bolsters a sense of disenfranchisement among Palestinians throughout the world. Unrwa's definition of 'refugees' to include millions who never set foot in British Mandate-era Palestine runs counter to international law and practice. And in the long run, the agency's assumption of duties that ought to belong to the Palestinian people might slow the emergence of a two-state solution to the standoff with Israel.

The Palestinian Authority must now overcome its shock and rage and recognize reality..."

Palestinians, You Don't Have to Live Like a Refugee Article

U.S. Senator James Lankford, who sponsored the bill (File photo)

"Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma introduced a bill on Thursday that would demand the UN Relief and Works Agency change its definition of who qualifies as a Palestinian refugee or else permanently lose its annual congressional funding.

The senator's bill, titled the Palestinian Assistance Reform Act, would siphon UNRWA aid 'to other entities providing assistance to Palestinians living in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon,' unless the organization reforms, the senator said.

Lankford dropped his bill days after the Trump administration announced it would unilaterally end all aid to UNRWA, citing similar reasons.

But an amendment to the typical congressional appropriations model for UNRWA would codify Trump's new policy long after he leaves office, making Lankford's legislation, if it were to pass, far more weighty and permanent than Trump's executive action..."

GOP Senator Introduced Bill Targeting UNRWA Refugee Model Article

September 6, 2018

Palestinian children at a Hamas "summer camp" in Gaza

"The Palestinians continue to groom and employ an increasing number of child terrorists to launch strikes on Israel, throwing into further question the ability of the Palestinian government to form a legitimate state, according to a new report on child terrorists and their enablers provided to the Washington Free Beacon.

At least 18 Palestinian child terrorists ranging in ages from 13 to 18 years old have been caught carrying out terrorist attacks in the first eight months of 2018, including stabbing attacks, bombings, and other types of violent terrorism, according to a new report issued by the Human Rights Voices organization, which tracks and analyzes these attacks.

Since 2015, there has been an alarming use of child terrorists by the Palestinians, according to the report, which found 'at least 142 separate terrorist attacks by at least 174 Palestinian children' since September of that year. These attacks led to the deaths of seven Israelis and wounding of 58 others, including some who were children themselves..."

Palestinian Child Terrorists Become New Face of Terror Against Israel Article

Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA

"Last week, the State Department announced that the Trump administration had concluded an internal review and decided to end all U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
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This decision is long overdue. The UNRWA has existed for more than 60 years as a 'temporary' initiative to address the needs of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Israeli-Arab conflict and to facilitate their resettlement and/or repatriation. It has evolved into a permanent institution providing services to multiple generations of Palestinian "refugees," of whom a large majority live outside refugee camps, enjoy citizenship in other countries, or reside in the Palestinian-governed West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Despite receiving ongoing assistance from the UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee problem has only grown larger. The relief agency was set up to address a temporary crisis involving over 600,000 refugees defined as 'persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.'

Many of these original refugees are deceased, but the refugee population has expanded to 5.3 million individuals because the UNRWA redefined and expanded its definition of 'refugee.'..."

Why Trump Was Right to End Funding for the UN Palestinian Aid Organization Article

UNRWA elementary school in Gaza

"...The US administration's decision to cut funding for UNRWA is a bold decision that should have been made in the last century. The Palestinian refugee phenomenon is not unique in human history, but the international approach to it – especially in its treatment by the UN and its institutions – deviates from any universally accepted measure.

Nevertheless, Israeli security experts warn against the consequences of this decision, which they believe may undermine stability. This is a classic response of experts who cling to a familiar reality rather than take necessary steps that venture into an unknown.

This response reflects natural human anxiety about changing reality. Consider workers who inform management that they need a raise. The management is faced with a dilemma. To cover the cost of a wage increase, there would have to be a corresponding increase in the price of the products, which could drive buyers towards the competition. If no corresponding increase in the price of the products is made, production will cease to be profitable. Either way, the factory will face difficulties and might close down. In view of these concerns, the management might refuse to raise the workers' wages, warning: 'You are marching towards an abyss.'

This is a classic, rational dynamic that causes people to avoid taking a step that, while desirable, could have risky consequences.
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This dynamic is familiar to every leader who would introduce change. Experts will always be on hand to supply convincing reasons why the status quo should be preserved, with all its problems. Because it is familiar, it is labeled the lesser evil.

Here lies the substantive difference between the vantage point of experts – such as intelligence officers who are responsible for warning about what could happen if a familiar, stable pattern is disrupted – and that of leaders. While a leader must pay close attention to the warnings of experts, he must have the boldness to act when necessary to change realities that require correction..."

Cutting UNRWA's Support Is a Necessary Step Article

Iranian rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh with her husband Reza Khandan in Tehran on September 18, 2013

Husband of imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer arrested Document

September 5, 2018

Boko Haram militants (File photo)

Suspected Boko Haram militants have kidnapped between 10 and 20 people, a family member of one of those abducted, a senator and two military sources said on Wednesday.

The people were aboard a bus from Maiduguri, the city worst hit by Boko Haram, traveling to the town of Gwoza around 100 km(60 miles) away in the east of Borno state, near the border with Cameroon, late on Tuesday.

Boko Haram "attacked commercial vehicles and abducted some civilians - over 10 men and women were abducted", said one of the military sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Other sources gave the number taken at around 20.

The abduction calls into question government and military statements that stability and security are returning to the northeast in the conflict with Islamist insurgents Boko Haram, which dates back to 2009.

President Muhammadu Buhari is now seeking a second term in February 2019 elections, campaigning in part on his administration's successes in the northeast.

A police spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Isa Musa said his uncle was among those kidnapped.

"He was in the bus with some other passengers, men and women, about 20 of them, when the incident occurred," he said.

A second military source said Boko Haram stopped three vehicles on the road.

"One of the vehicles is a commercial passenger bus with about 20 passengers," they said. "The terrorists fired shots and took away some of the passengers. Women were among (them) and one of our soldiers was killed in the attack."

A senator from Borno sate, Ali Ndume, said that he had been contacted by the wife of one of the victims about the kidnapping of about 10 people.

European states have warned the United Nations that more than 800,000 people are cut off from aid and may be starving in northeast Nigeria, in contrast to government assertions that the crisis has abated, and rebuked the world body for failing to secure access.

Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnap at least 10 people in northeast Nigeria Document

September 4, 2018

A UNRWA building in Rafah

"August 3, 2018, Foreign Policy published leaked emails sent in January 2018 by Jared Kushner, President Trump's advisor, to other senior officials, arguing that UNRWA 'perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient, and doesn't help peace.'

President Trump's initiative on UNRWA is correct; this is an anti-Israeli organization created by UN General Assembly Resolution 302 in 1950. UNWRA has acted throughout all its years in the service of the Palestinian propaganda campaign to perpetuate the 'refugee' problem in order to realize the 'right of return,' which aims to upset the demographical balance of the State of Israel and bring its destruction.
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According to various groups, UNRWA also assists Hamas in Gaza, a claim denied by the organization, though it is supported by many examples, including during the fighting in Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

UNRWA's education system incorporates in its curriculum contents of incitement, hatred, and even jihad against Israel.
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UNRWA must cease to exist and the treatment of refugees should be transferred to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
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The U.S. administration's move on the issue of refugees, UNRWA, and the 'right of return' is correct and will hopefully be successful. President Trump is the only American president to brave to challenge the absurdity of the Palestinian 'red lines' such as Jerusalem and the refugees.

He is the only one who brings the Palestinians down from their fantasy world to reality. No government in Israel can accept the 'right of return,' whose true goal is the destruction of the State of Israel..."

UNRWA, go home! Article

Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA

"Many Palestinians' very identity seems more oriented to preserving grievance than to achieving peace. Sadly, with regard to Palestinians' far-reaching claims on the issue of refugees, as with other key aspects of their conflict with Israel, the United Nations has entrenched itself as a part of the problem rather than the solution. A U.N. body, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), funded by American and other global taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars, has been dedicated to the perpetuation of Palestinians' refugee status and their maximalist demands – in addition to more broadly amplifying the political narrative of just one side of one complex conflict.
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Palestinian leaders – from the establishment figures of the Palestinian Authority to the Hamas jihadists controlling Gaza, who openly pledge Israel's destruction – have cultivated as sacrosanct a Palestinian right of mass "return" not to a future Palestinian state alongside Israel but to Israel itself. They do so knowing that no Israeli government – whether leaning to the left or right – could ever allow this scenario, which would amount not only to perpetual battle but to the eradication through demography of Israel as a Jewish state. Of course, rejection of Jews' national legitimacy in their homeland is what has caused so much senseless suffering to begin with.

To make matters worse, Palestinians alone have had, since 1949, their own dedicated refugee organization at the United Nations, standing apart from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which focuses on all the world's other refugees, numbering close to 17 million. UNRWA – one of the longest-lasting entities at the U.N. and likely its single largest bureaucracy in terms of personnel – has also operated under singularly expansive terms, defining as its charges not only actual refugees but all their descendants, indefinitely.

But this double standard is merely the tip of the iceberg. Over the course of years, UNRWA schools teaching a new generation of Palestinians have been found to utilize educational materials negating the existence of Israel and the rights and history of Jews. Repeatedly, UNRWA employees have been found to be associated with Palestinian extremist groups and their doctrines of hate. UNRWA spokespeople routinely promulgate anti-Israel propaganda, broadcasting incendiary, one-sided narratives on both traditional and social media. Multiple UNRWA facilities and their surroundings have even been revealed to have been utilized by terrorists to launch attacks, store weaponry or construct underground tunnels for use in cross-border violence against Israelis. And UNRWA, whose materials tout 'Palestine' as if it were already a state even while also excusing Palestinians from any real obligations in peacemaking, has joined in inciting millions to dream of overrunning Israel with a mass Palestinian influx..."

Why UNRWA is an obstacle to peace Article

September 3, 2018

Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem

"Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat threatened to expel UNRWA from Jerusalem, in the first public statement by an Israeli official that called on the government to use its power to shut down the agency that services Palestinian refugees.

'UNRWA is a foreign and unnecessary organization that has failed miserably,' Barkat said in a speech he delivered Monday morning in Jerusalem at a conference sponsored by Channel 2. 'I intend to expel it from Jerusalem.'

Barkat explained that he had already instructed his municipal staff to come up with a plan to replace the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which he plans to present to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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Barkat on Sunday publicly told the Jerusalem conference that UNRWA, which has been responsible for Jerusalem's Shuafat refugee camp since 1965, had been a harmful rather than helpful influence.

The mayor said the 30,000 Palestinians in Shuafat are dissatisfied with the organization's services, including welfare, cleaning and education.

Only one percent of the pupils there go to UNRWA schools, where incitement is high, he said.

'We will close their schools and provide pupils with hope,' said Barkat, adding the pupils could study for and take the matriculation exams in existing schools throughout the city..."

Mayor of Jerusalem wants to expel UNRWA Article

The knife used in the attack

Vail Ja'abari, 36, from Hebron attempted Monday to stab an IDF soldier at the entrance to the Geva Haavot neighborhood in Kiryat Arba.

The terrorist was shot dead by IDF soldiers standing at the Geva Haavot checkpoint.

At about 6 pm Ja'abari approached a group of soldiers that was standing at the entrance to the neighborhood located between Kiryat Arba and Hebron and attempted to stab one of the soldiers.

An initial investigation indicates that the terrorist charged at the soldiers standing at the Geva Haavot checkpoint with a knife.

The soldiers responded with gunfire at the terrorist. None of the Israeli soldiers were hurt.

This attempted terror attack follows another violent incident executed Sunday by a Palestinian who was arrested near Tekoa in the West Bank after he had attempted to attack a resident of the settlement with a miniature metal model of a bike.

No injuries were reported.

According to eyewitnesses, the attacker, who had been throwing rocks at moving vehicles just moments before, charged at his intended victim while screaming Allahu Akbar.

IDF combat soldiers arrested the Palestinian suspect while other soldiers scoured the area in pursuit of other potential suspects.

The motivation for the attempted attack was being examined by security forces, but initial conclusions pointed to an attempted terror attack.

According to an initial investigation, the Palestinian had been throwing rocks at passing vehicle before fleeing to Tekoa in the Gush Etzion region. He was taken in for questioning after his arrest.

Palestinian terrorist attempts to stab Israeli Document

A woman walks in front of an UNRWA building

"The Trump administration's decision to cut funding to UNRWA, the UN agency serving Palestinian refugees, was justifiably applauded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend.

As Netanyahu said, UNRWA's treatment of Palestinians is 'one of the main problems perpetuating the conflict.'

In recent years, for example, there have been a number of cases of its employees and facilities harboring terrorists, spreading incitement in textbooks and other materials, and even housing rocket launchers used to shoot at Israel.

But beyond the UNRWA system being abused by terrorists, its written mandate plays a central role in perpetuating the Palestinian refugee myth and the demand for the 'right of return.'

The Palestinians have their own special UN refugee agency, as opposed to all other refugees who are served by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The definition of refugee that UNRWA follows is different from that of the UNHCR, and is so broad that to use the term 'refugee' for most of the people it serves is absurd.
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And even if the agency is kept alive by donor countries such as Sweden and Jordan – which is pushing UN member states to increase their pledges – the fact that the US, once UNRWA's biggest donor, is pulling out, sends a strong message.

And as the IDF officer told the Post: 'Maybe something good will come out of [the cutting of funds] – and the Palestinians will learn to support themselves and not rely on others for everything.'"

Cutting UNRWA Article