U.S. to Say So Long to UNESCO, Finally, but not UNESCO

But, the Trump administration is leaving yet one major piece of business undone and that is UNRWA.

This Palestinian refugee claims that even though UNRWA was created in order to help Palestinian refugees, UNRWA hires foreigners and some of them earn wages that are high enough to support 20 local Palestinians: “An UNRWA employee can earn $10,000 per month. Others earn more. They have luxury cars and apartments. Some have villas for free. Meanwhile, local Palestinian teachers hired by UNRWA earn $700 to $800 per month. The people from abroad get 10 times more. The more the refugees suffer, these people live a more luxurious life. I blame them for me being a refugee.”  Read more here.

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To see how much money the United States gives to UNRWA, go here. It is a chart of the top donors as of December 31, 2016. See where that money allegedly goes exactly and why by clicking here.

UNESCO photo

Primer:

Economist: IT MUST have felt like déjà vu for Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian prime minister, as he crossed the heavily-fortified border into Gaza on October 2nd. It was his first visit in two-and-a-half years. There were speeches, rallies and lofty promises to end the schism that has paralysed Palestinian politics for more than a decade. It was like a replay of a trip he made in 2014 to inaugurate a new unity government— which fell apart within weeks.

The Palestinian territories split in 2007, a year after Hamas, the militant Islamist group, won a majority in parliament. It seized control of Gaza after months of bloody fighting with its nationalist rival, Fatah. Since then Hamas has run the coastal strip as a separate fief, with its own civil servants and police. The two parties have signed six reconciliation deals meant to end the split, but none held. Hamas was loth to give up its enclave.

Now it seems more amenable. It has agreed to cede control of the civilian ministries in Gaza. Over the coming year it will add 3,000 police officers from the Palestinian Authority (PA), which runs the West Bank and is dominated by Fatah. Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s number two, said he would “break the neck” of anyone who opposes reconciliation. (That may not be an idle threat: in the 1980s his job was to kill Palestinians who collaborated with Israel.)

Hamas has few alternatives at this point. Life in Gaza has been grim for a decade, amid three wars and a blockade imposed by both Israel and Egypt. Conditions worsened further this spring when Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, slapped his own sanctions on the territory to press Hamas into a deal. Most of Gaza’s 2m people receive just four hours of electricity a day. Tap water is equally scarce and when it is available it is brackish and polluted. Nearly two-thirds of young people cannot find work. In dingy, crowded hospitals, basic medicines are in short supply. Hamas is keen to put someone else in charge of the misery.

So are regional powers. Qatar, the main sponsor of Hamas, is under embargo by Egypt and three of its Gulf neighbours, which want the emirate to cut ties with Islamists. It has not halted aid to Hamas, but it has quietly urged the group to reconcile with Fatah. The United Arab Emirates has dangled the prospect of massive investment in a post-Hamas Gaza. It is working closely with Muhammad Dahlan, an ex-Fatah security boss who was banished by Mr Abbas and now lives in Abu Dhabi.

The greatest pressure has come from Egypt, which controls Rafah, the sole border crossing accessible to most Palestinians. It has been largely closed since 2013. Egypt accuses Hamas of working with jihadists who are fighting a bloody insurgency in Sinai. Though the charges are exaggerated, Hamas has indeed allowed dozens of wanted Egyptian militants to seek refuge in Gaza. The generals in Cairo would be happy to see Mr Abbas’s men back on the border.

Hamas has not agreed to that. It may let Mr Abbas run the schools and hospitals, but it will not give up a militia that boasts tens of thousands of fighters and a cache of rockets. “This will never be up for discussion,” says Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official. So this effort is likely to fail for the same sorts of reasons as the past six. Mr Abbas cannot accept a well-armed group operating under his nose. It would be a threat to the unpopular president’s tenuous rule.

It could also bankrupt his government. Israel would probably withhold the tax revenue on which the PA depends, and some Western countries might suspend foreign aid. “If someone from Hamas has a weapon, I’ll put him in prison,” Mr Abbas told Egyptian television. He may not get the chance.

***

The State Department on Thursday announced America’s withdrawal from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. As with everything that President Trump does, the move provoked journalistic anger and agony. Prepare for years of sob stories about UNESCO heritage sites neglected and aspiring developing-world scientists unfunded, all due to Trumpian unilateralism.

Yet this was a sound and overdue step that will help advance peace and U.N. reform.

In its statement, the State Department cited “continuing anti-Israel bias” at UNESCO, among other things. The Paris-based agency is far from the only U.N. outfit to single out the Jewish state for opprobrium. But UNESCO’s anti-Israel stances have been egregious even by this global body’s debased standards, especially since 2011. That was the year the Palestinian Authority sought and won admission to UNESCO as a full member-state. As Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told me, “The Palestinians targeted UNESCO early as part of their Palestine-194 strategy”–the PA effort to win recognition as a state in U.N. halls rather than through talks with Israel. “UNESCO has played a role in this strategy, and it isn’t done yet.”

The Obama administration denounced the PA’s admission, with then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland calling it “regrettable, premature” and harmful to “our shared goal to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.” Washington cut off American dollars for UNESCO under a Bill Clinton-era law that prohibits the U.S. government from funding any U.N. agency that admits a non-state as a member. American funding, once accounting for more than one-fifth of UNESCO’s budget, hasn’t been restored since 2011. The agency has lost out on some $600 million as a result.

UNESCO only doubled down on its anti-Israel agitation in the years that followed, however, passing a raft of resolutions that denied the Jewish (and Christian) connection to Jerusalem and other holy sites in Israel.

A resolution on Jerusalem passed in May described Israel as the “occupying power,” denying the Jewish state’s claim to its own capital. Another Jerusalem resolution, approved last year, referred to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount by their Muslim names only. The agency thus attached the U.N.’s name to the odious Arab project to de-Judaize the City of David. That move prompted then U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to distance himself from “any perceived undertaking to repudiate the undeniable common reverence for these sites.” Even UNESCO’s left-leaning chief, Irina Bokova, criticized the text.

Yet anti-Israelism and–it must be said–anti-Semitism are part of UNESCO’s diplomatic culture. When, in July this year, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO called for a minute of silence for Holocaust victims, Cuba’s envoy objected: “Only the Chair can request a minute of silence. So with your indulgence, let me request Mr. Chairman, that we stand for a minute of silence for all of the Palestinians who have died in the region.” Footage of the scene, available on the website of the indispensable U.N. Watch, shows numerous delegates standing up and clapping in favor of the Cuban motion.

It was this black record that impelled the Trump administration to withdraw from UNESCO. The decision, by the way, is not without precedent. President Carter withdrew the U.S. from the International Labor Organization for three years and didn’t rejoin until the ILO took steps to reform itself. The Reagan administration in 1983 pulled the U.S. out of UNESCO over its “hostility toward the basic institutions of a free society.” President Reagan was worried about a creepy UNESCO proposal to have the agency and its authoritarian members license and regulate foreign reporters. Washington returned to UNESCO in 2002, under George W. Bush.

By withdrawing from UNESCO (once more), the Trump administration is sending an important message to the U.N. mandarins: that America doesn’t have infinite patience for international institutions that function as platforms for Jew-hatred. Long before Donald Trump came on the scene, that used to be a bipartisan American position.

It is Qatar Again and Again

Back it 2014, this site attempted to sound the alarm on Qatar. So, it is coming out of the shadows again and causing huge diplomatic chaos domestically and throughout the Middle East.

Related reading: The al Jazeera bin Ladin Dossier

Related reading: The chairman of the channel is Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani. Barack Obama hosted him at the White House.

Additionally, Obama attended a West Point Academy graduation, where al Thani’s son was graduating, the very same weekend that the Taliban 5 were swapped for Bowe Bergdahl. Side note: the largest U.S. military base outside the country is in Qatar.

(Merci à Guizmo – Copyright photos Qna)

AEI: As the current crisis between Qatar and many moderate Arab states approaches its second month, one of the key complaints which the anti-Qatar coalition has voiced is about Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite channel which was once the most watched Arabic station. Al Jazeera and its supporters argue that the station’s hard-hitting reporting is simply the manifestation of press freedom in a region sorely lacking it. Al Jazeera’s detractors, however, say it is an engine of extremism which fans the flames of terrorism and actively seeks to destabilize regional states.

Al Jazeera runs several different channels. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain object to Al Jazeera in Arabic which promotes the Muslim Brotherhood line and often seems to cross the line between news reporting and incitement. According to a State Department cable describing conversations between Qatari authorities and US diplomats, Qatar acknowledged that policy role and “leverage” which Al Jazeera represented for the Qatari state. The US military had significant experience with Al Jazeera Arabic in Iraq. It was not uncommon for an anonymous tip to direct US soldiers to an insurgent den which was empty of insurgents but rigged with explosives. When American forces would arrive on the scene, they would find Al Jazeera cameramen nearby and on neighboring rooftops, waiting to film the ambush.

Al Jazeera English is more familiar to many in Europe and the United States, but it would be wrong to assume the content between the two channels is equivalent. The English-language Al Jazeera launders the image of its Arabic sibling. Al Jazeera English, for example, dedicates far greater time to minorities, social issues, and women. Al Jazeera’s experiment with a separate American channel, meanwhile, sputtered and died.

If Al Jazeera English isn’t Qatar’s main means to influence the Western media environment beyond serving to obfuscate the truth about Al Jazeera, then, what is? Here, Middle East Eye (MEE) — an increasingly prominent web portal — often obscures its finances, but it increasingly fills the gap as Qatar’s chief agent of influence. Groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International incorporate MEE stories, as do newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Delving into the details of MEE, however, show that it acts far less as a traditional journalistic outlet and far more as an English-language front for Qatari-supported groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. British corporate records, for example, show that Jamal Awn Jamal Bessasso, a former official for both Al Jazeera in Qatar and the Hamas-affiliated al-Quds TV in Lebanon, owns and operates MEE through M.E.E. Ltd. A CV for Jamal Bessasso, since scrubbed from the internet, shows previous stints as director of planning and human resources for the Al Jazeera satellite network in Qatar and director of Human Resources for the Samalink Television Production Company in Lebanon.  Samalink is the registered agent for Al Quds TV’s website.  While David Hearst, MEE editor-in-chief, told the United Arab Emirates’ The National paper that Bessasso was “a colleague and the head of human resources and the legal director,” he denied that Bessasso was the MEE owner, despite his listings on corporate records. Neither Hearst, former news editor Rori Donaghy (in a tweet now deleted), nor other MEE employees, however, would identify who owned MEE if not Bessasso.

There are other links between MEE and Al Jazeera. Jonathan Powell, an Al Jazeera employee in charge of special projects in the chairman’s office and close associate of former Al-Jazeera Media Network chief Wadah Khanfar, acknowledged serving as launch consultant for MEE in an earlier version of his Linkedin profile (which he altered after an Emirati newspaper highlighted his role). Arwa Ibrahim and Jacob Powell also transitioned from Al Jazeera to work as MEE news editors, and Graeme Baker and Larry Johnson moved from Al Jazeera to MEE to become senior editors. At the very least, it appears that MEE recruited heavily from Al Jazeera.

The Hamas links run as deep. A former official of Interpal, a United Kingdom-based charity designated by the US Treasury Department as a financial supporter of Hamas, registered the Middle East Eye website. Prior to joining MEE, Donaghy worked for organizations founded by Hamas (such as the House of Wisdom in Gaza) and the Muslim Brotherhood (Emirates Center for Human Rights, which was set up with financing and assistance from the Cordoba Foundation, a Muslim Brotherhood entity).

Bessasso, meanwhile, has openly supported radical groups. In 2012, he shared a Facebook post praising Hamas. The following year, he shared a quote from Muslim Brotherhood theologian Yusuf Qaradawi encouraging followers to utilize “violence against those who deserve it.” Over the years, the MEE has bolstered its content with “exclusiveaccess to Hamas, seemingly acting as the terrorist group’s preferred outlet to the English-speaking world. Hearst has penned editorials praising and defending the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam.

Long ago, political radicals and terrorists discovered that — so long as they called themselves human rights activists — journalists, other human rights activists, and even diplomats would accept their polemics at face value. It seems that the Qatari government and its Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood networks have discovered the same principle applies to news outlets and portals. Al Jazeera may be the most prominent example, but it seems that Al Jazeera’s managers now seek to seed other networks as well, and that Qatari funds mandate an agenda.

Hezbollah Terror Cells in Lebanon and Latin America

Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over ‘terror’ cell: United Nations (United States) (AFP) – US Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday accused Lebanon’s Hezbollah of amassing weapons and said the world must turn its attention to the actions of the powerful paramilitary organization.

  kataeb

Anyone ever ask or investigate the Hezbollah weapons inventory in Latin America?

 

No Latin American Country Has Branded Hezbollah a Terror Group Despite Ties to Major Attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Latin American countries have failed to register Iranian proxy Hezbollah as a terrorist organization despite the threat it poses to the region, a Peruvian official revealed during a discussion on Capitol Hill.

The Shiite group is involved in various illicit activities in Latin America to generate money that some experts believe is used to fund terrorist activities in the Middle East.

During a discussion Wednesday on Capitol Hill hosted by the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS), Moises Vega de la Cruz, a public prosecutor for the Peruvian government specializing in terrorism cases, revealed that “in Latin America, Hezbollah is not recognized as a terrorist organization.”

“I think Hezbollah is a threat to Latin America. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that is advancing not only in Peru but in other Latin American countries as well,” he told Breitbart News.

Joseph Humire, an expert on Iranian activity in the Western Hemisphere and executive director of SFS, noted that no Latin American country has registered Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

The United States and the European Union have deemed Lebanon’s Shiite group Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

In the United States, Hezbollah’s main supporter Iran has been officially labeled a state sponsor of terror.

Peru recently adjudicated a case involving an alleged Hezbollah operative accused of explosives-related crimes in 2014. The individual avoided prosecution, but De La Cruz has appealed the decision.

“Most Latin Americans don’t view Islamist terrorism as a significant threat in their region and little public pressure has been placed on the establishment, reform, or improvement of weak or non-existent anti-terrorism laws across the region,” SFS pointed out in a statement. “Consequently, the Islamic State [ISIS/ISIL], Hezbollah, and other Jihadist networks and sympathizers are spreading throughout South America with impunity.”

The U.S. government has acknowledged the presence of both Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni ISIS in Latin America.

De la Cruz noted that Hezbollah maintains a presence in Peru, where it is reportedly converting people and trying to get involved politically.

The Peruvian Latina news agency reported last year that the Shiite group has registered as an official political party in Peru’s Abancay province, home to the largest concentration the country’s small Muslim community.

Hezbollah has established itself as an official political party in its main base of Lebanon.

Argentinian authorities have linked Hezbollah to fatal attacks against the South American country’s Jewish community, including the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA)—the deadliest terrorist attack in the Western Hemisphere before September 11, 2001.

The U.S. military and the Department of State have expressed concern about the group’s presence in Latin America.

According to the U.S. State Department, Venezuela has provided a “permissive environment” that has allowed Hezbollah to thrive in the region.

Last year Michael Braun, a former DEA operations chief, told American lawmakers that Hezbollah is generating hundreds of millions from a “cocaine money laundering scheme” in Latin America that “provides a never-ending source of funding” for its terrorist operations in Syria and elsewhere.

Hezbollah is fighting on behalf of Iran on the side of the Russian-backed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

In an annual report to Congress issued earlier this year, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) noted that “Hezbollah members, facilitators, and supporters engage in licit and illicit activities in support of the organization, moving weapons, cash, and other contraband to raise funds and build Hezbollah’s infrastructure in the region.”

SOUTHCOM is charged with overseeing American military activity in most of Latin America.

The group is believed to be operating throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Iran ‘foremost state sponsor of terrorism in 2016’: US state department

The department’s annual report on global terrorism accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force — which is responsible for operations outside the country — along with Iranian partners, allies, and proxies, of ‘playing a destabilising role in military conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen’

Iran was the “foremost state sponsor of terrorism in 2016”, the US state department said on Wednesday in its annual report on terrorism worldwide.

The 2016 Country Reports on Terrorism — the first released by the state department since US president Donald Trump assumed office — also highlighted Hizbollah’s increasing reach in Syria, Iraq and Yemen and an increase in “its long-term attack capabilities”.

Although the report said there had been a 9 per cent drop in global terror attacks last year from 2015, as well as a 13 per cent drop in terror-related fatalities, it stressed that “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) remained the most potent terrorist threat to global security” in 2016.

Al Qaeda and its regional affiliates also “remained a threat to the US homeland and our interests abroad despite counter-terrorism pressure by US partners”, the report said.

On Iranian sponsorship of terrorism, the report accused the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force — which is responsible for operations outside the country — along with Iranian partners, allies, and proxies, of “playing a destabilising role in military conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen”. It also said “Iran continued to recruit fighters from across the region to join Iranian-affiliated Shia militia forces engaged in conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and has even offered a path to citizenship for those who heed this call”.

The 2016 report put more emphasis on the threat from Hizbollah than in previous years. It described the Lebanese political party and militia as “playing a major role in supporting the Syria government’s efforts to maintain control and territory, and providing training and a range of other support for Iranian-aligned fighters” in these conflict zones.

The state department said “there are reportedly about 7,000 Hizbollah fighters in Syria”, though it also highlighted that the group had lost “several senior military commanders and hundreds of fighters” in fighting there last year.

The report also highlighted Hizbollah’s continued efforts to “develop its long-term attack capabilities and infrastructure around the world”.

Justin Siberell, the state department’s acting coordinator for counter-terrorism, told The National on Wednesday that “Hizbollah maintains a sophisticated operation with [a] broad network group around the world”.

Mr Siberllel said it was unclear, however, if the Syrian conflict had boosted Hizbollah’s standing. On the one hand, the group had gained military expertise in Syria, he said, while on the other, it had suffered large number of casualties.

“It’s a mixed picture,” he said.

On Bahrain, the report said that “during 2016 the Bahraini government continued to make gains in detecting, neutralising, and containing terrorist threats from violent Shia militants and ISIS sympathisers”. It also referenced improved counter-terror co-operation with the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

The report voiced concerns over Al Qaeda exploiting the ongoing war in Yemen to make gains. It said that “despite leadership losses, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) remained a significant threat to Yemen, the region, and the United States, as ongoing conflict in Yemen hindered US efforts to counter the group”. It was a similar situation with Al Qaeda’s former affiliate in Syria, the report said.

“Al Nusra Front continued to exploit ongoing armed conflict to maintain a territorial safe haven in select parts of northwestern Syria,” the report said, referring to the group that now calls itself Jabhat Fatah Al Sham.

When it came to the Emirates, the report said that in 2016 “the UAE government maintained a robust counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism (CVE) partnership with the United States through its collaboration with US law enforcement; support of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS; and counter‑messaging initiatives, such as the Sawab and Hedayah Centers.”

The report made reference to the UAE’s deployment of forces to Yemen “to counter the spread of AQAP and ISIS” there, highlighting that, “along with its Yemeni partners, the UAE military successfully ejected AQAP from the port city of Mukalla in April — depriving AQAP from millions [of dollars] in monthly income — and from the coastal towns of Balhaf and Bir Ali in December”.

The report also highlighted wins for UAE border security.

“UAE government security apparatus continued monitoring suspected terrorists in the UAE, and successfully foiled terrorist attacks within its borders,” it said, adding: “UAE customs, police, and other security agencies improved border security and worked together with financial authorities to counter terrorist finance.”

State Dept to Close War Crimes Division, Bad Decision

  USAToday

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is shuttering the department’s two-decades-old war crimes office, Foreign Policy reported Monday.

The Office of Global Criminal Justice advises the Secretary of State on issues surrounding war crimes and genocide and helps form policy to address those atrocities.

According to FP, Tillerson’s office has told Todd Buchwald, the special coordinator of the OGCJ, he is being reassigned to the State Department’s office of legal affairs.

Remaining staff might be shifted to the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, FP reported.

According to FP, the closure decision comes at a time when Tillerson has been trying to reorganize the department to concentrate on pursuing economic opportunities for American businesses and strengthening U.S. military prowess.

“There’s no mistaking it — this move will be a huge loss for accountability,” Richard Dicker, the director of Human Rights Watch’s international justice program, told FP. A State Department spokesman told FP in a statement it is “currently undergoing an employee-led redesign initiative, and there are no predetermined outcomes. We are not going to get ahead of any outcomes.” More here.

*** Consider the murderers in countries such as North Korea, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, Nigeria, Afghanistan and more….

Iraq: Execution Site Near Mosul’s Old City

Investigate, Punish Those Responsible for Any War Crimes

Satellite imagery from July 12 showing the building and Tigris riverbank seen in a video posted of soldiers throwing a detainee off a cliff in west Mosul as well as military vehicles in the vicinity.

Satellite imagery from July 12 showing the building and Tigris riverbank seen in a video posted of soldiers throwing a detainee off a cliff in west Mosul as well as military vehicles in the vicinity.  © 2017 DigitalGlobe
(Beirut) – International observers have discovered an execution site in west Mosul, Human Rights Watch said today. That report, combined with new statements about executions in and around Mosul’s Old City and persistent documentation about Iraqi forces extrajudicially killing men fleeing Mosul in the final phase of the battle against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), are an urgent call to action by the Iraqi government.
Despite repeated promises to investigate wrongdoing by security forces, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has yet to demonstrate that Iraqi authorities have held a single soldier accountable for murdering, torturing, and abusing Iraqis in this conflict.
“As Prime Minister Abadi enjoys victory in Mosul, he is ignoring the flood of evidence of his soldiers committing vicious war crimes in the very city he’s promised to liberate,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Abadi’s victory will collapse unless he takes concrete steps to end the grotesque abuses by his own security forces.”
International observers, whose evidence has proven reliable in the past, told Human Rights Watch that on July 17, 2017, at about 3:30 p.m., a shopkeeper in a neighborhood directly west of the Old City that was retaken in April from ISIS took them into an empty building and showed them a row of 17 male corpses, barefoot but in civilian dress, surrounded by pools of blood. They said many appeared to have been blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their back.
They said the shopkeeper told them that he had seen the Iraqi Security Forces’ 16th Division, identifiable by their badges and vehicles, in the neighborhood four nights earlier, and that night had heard multiple gunshots coming from the area of the empty building. The next morning, when armed forces had left the area, he told them, he went into the building and saw the bodies lying in positions that suggested they were shot there and had not been moved. He said he did not recognize any of those killed.
The international observers also saw soldiers from the elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) in the area. They contacted Human Rights Watch by phone from the site and later shared five photos they took of the bodies.
On July 17, another international observer told Human Rights Watch they spoke to a senior government official in Mosul who told them he was comfortable with the execution of suspected ISIS-affiliates “as long as there was no torture.” The observer said a commander showed their group a video taken a few days earlier of a group of CTS soldiers holding two detainees in the Old City. They said the commander told them that the forces had executed the men right after the video was taken.
Salah al-Imara, an Iraqi citizen who regularly publishes information regarding security and military activities in and around Mosul, published four videos allegedly filmed in west Mosul on Facebook on July 11 and 12. One video, posted on July 11, appears to show Iraqi soldiers beating a detainee, then throwing him off a cliff and shooting at him and at the body of another man already lying at the bottom of the cliff. Human Rights Watch had verified the location of the first video based on satellite imagery. Other videos showed Iraqi soldiers kicking and beating a bleeding man, federal police forces beating at least three men, and Iraqi soldiers kicking a man on the ground in their custody.
A third international observer told Human Rights Watch on July 18 that they witnessed CTS soldiers bring an ISIS suspect to their base in a neighborhood southwest of the Old City on July 11. The observer did not see what happened to the suspect next, but said that a soldier later showed them a video of himself and a group of other soldiers brutally beating the man, and a second video of the man dead, with a bullet to his head.
“Some Iraqi soldiers seem to have so little fear that they will face any consequence for murdering and torturing suspects in Mosul that they are freely sharing evidence of what look like very cruel exploits in videos and photographs,” Whitson said. “Excusing such celebratory revenge killings will haunt Iraq for generations to come.”
A fourth international observer told Human Rights Watch on July 11 that the day before they had witnessed a group of CTS soldiers push a man whose hands were tied behind his back into a destroyed shop near the main road in the west to the Old City. They said they heard several gunshots, went into the shop after the soldiers had left, and found the man’s body with several bullet holes in the back of his head. They shared the photo of the body.
On July 10, the same observer said they saw Iraqi Security Forces just outside the Old City holding about 12 men with their hands tied behind their backs. They said an officer told them that the military’s 9th Division had detained these men inside the Old City on suspicion of ISIS affiliation. They said they saw the soldiers lead the detained men just out of sight, then heard shots ring out from their direction. The observer was unable to verify what happened.
On July 7, two additional international observers told Human Rights Watch that on different occasions in late June, they witnessed soldiers bring at least five suspected ISIS affiliates out of the Old City to the west, strapped to the hoods of Humvees, when temperatures in the city often reached 48 degrees Celsius, or 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
The nongovernmental organization Mosul Eye has been documenting abuses by all sides in Mosul since 2014, and has posted numerous videos and witness statements about executions on its Twitter feed since July 14, with one reading: “Mass Executions ‘Speicher Style’ [a reference to an ISIS massacre in 2014] for the last survivors of the old city. ISF is killing and throwing bodies of everyone it finds to the river.”
As of July 10, the Iraqi military has prevented access to west Mosul for most journalists, limiting coverage of recent events inside the Old City. Iraqi forces should allow journalists access to west Mosul to report on the conflict and any alleged abuses, Human Rights Watch said.
Throughout the operation to retake Mosul, Human Rights Watch has documented Iraqi forces detaining and holding at least 1,200 men and boys in inhumane conditions without charge, and in some cases torturing and executing them, under the guise of screening them for ISIS-affiliation. In the final weeks of the Mosul operation, Human Rights Watch has reported on executions of suspected ISIS-affiliates in and around Mosul’s Old City.
An Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative told Human Rights Watch on July 19 that he would request a government investigation into the allegations. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly raised concerns about allegations of ill-treatment, torture, and executions in meetings with Iraqi officials in Baghdad as well as with representatives from United States-led coalition member countries. Human Rights Watch does not know of a single transparent investigation into abuses by Iraqi armed forces, any instances of commanders being held accountable for abuse, or any victims of abuse receiving compensation.
Iraqi criminal justice authorities should investigate all alleged crimes, including unlawful killings and mutilation of corpses, by any party in the conflict in a prompt, transparent, and effective manner, up to the highest levels of responsibility. Those found criminally responsible should be appropriately prosecuted. Extrajudicial executions and torture during an armed conflict are war crimes.
“Relentless reports, videos, and photographs of unlawful executions and beatings by Iraqi soldiers should be enough to raise serious concerns among the highest ranks in Baghdad and the international coalition combatting ISIS,” Whitson said. “As we well know in Iraq, if the government doesn’t provide an accounting for these murders, the Iraqi people may take matters into their own hands.”

UNESCO declares Hebron shrine Palestinian

  Israeli soldier guards at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron

You would think by virtue of a UN heritage committee known as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, they would get history right. Israel has provided proof and historical evidence, where is that from the Palestinians?

The Tomb and the city of Hebron is the second holiest site in Judaism, after the Temple Mount and its Western Wall, he noted. The Bible clearly records its purchase by Abraham. The committee of T21  members are: Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, United Republic of Tnzania, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Anymore questions on the countries that refuse history and remain Anti-Semitic?

Now is the time for the United States to defund UNESCO and the UNRWA.

Following the resolution passed by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee regarding the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Friday, 7 July 2017), decided to cut an additional $1 million from the membership funds that Israel pays to the UN and to transfer it to the establishment of “The Museum of the Heritage of the Jewish People in Kiryat Arba and Hebron” and to additional heritage projects related to Hebron.

Against UNESCO’s denial of the past, Prime Minister Netanyahu is determined to present to the entire world the historic truth and the Jewish People’s deep connection – of thousands of years – to Hebron.

***

Tomb of Sarah, wife a Patriarch Abraham

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The U.N. cultural organisation declared an ancient shrine in the occupied West Bank a Palestinian heritage site on Friday, prompting Israel to further cut its funding to the United Nations.

UNESCO designated Hebron and the two adjoined shrines at its heart – the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Muslim Ibrahimi Mosque – a “Palestinian World Heritage Site in Danger”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called that “another delusional UNESCO decision” and ordered that $1 million be diverted from Israel’s U.N. funding to establish a museum and other projects covering Jewish heritage in Hebron.

The funding cut is Israel’s fourth in the past year, taking its U.N. contribution from $11 million to just $1.7 million, an Israeli official said. Each cut has come after various U.N. bodies voted to adopt decisions which Israel said discriminated against it.

Palestinian Foreign Minister, Reyad Al-Maliki, said the UNESCO vote, at a meeting in Krakow, Poland, was proof of the “successful diplomatic battle Palestine has launched on all fronts in the face of Israeli and American pressure on (UNESCO) member countries.”

Hebron is the largest Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank with a population of some 200,000. About 1,000 Israeli settlers live in the heart of the city and for years it has been a place of religious friction between Muslims and Jews.

Jews believe that the Cave of the Patriarchs is where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives, are buried. Muslims, who, like Christians, also revere Abraham, built the Ibrahimi mosque, also known as the Sanctuary of Abraham, in the 14th century.

The religious significance of the city has made it a focal point for settlers, who are determined to expand the Jewish presence there. Living in the heart of the city, they require intense security, with some 800 Israeli troops protecting them.

Even before Netanyahu’s budget announcement, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan signalled Israel would seek to further make its mark at the Hebron shrine, tweeting: “UNESCO will continue to adopt delusional decisions but history cannot be erased … we must continue to manifest our right by building immediately in the Cave of the Patriarchs.”

(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)