A Mississauga man has been arrested and charged in a mischief investigation over a Nov. 22 pro-Palestinian protest that shut down Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway. Toronto Police Service (TPS) said they arrested Ahmad Islaih, 26, of Mississauga, on Jan. 22, on a charge of mischief interfere with property. In a news release TPS says officers executing […]
Hamas reportedly rejects 2-month ceasefire as White House, Qatar say talks are ‘serious’
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Hamas reportedly rejected an Israeli offer for a two-month ceasefire in exchange for the release of hostages held in Gaza, even as top U.S. and Qatari officials said talks aimed at an extended pause in the war are “serious.”
On Monday, Axios reported that Israel proposed the pause of up to two months, during which it would release Palestinian prisoners held on security offenses and draw down its troop levels in Gaza while Hamas released all 136 hostages it is holding. CNN reported that an offer by Israel would include the removal of Hamas’ leadership, and that of other terror groups, from Gaza.
But subsequent reports quoted officials in Egypt, which is also a party to negotiations, saying Hamas rejected anything less than a permanent ceasefire and the full withdrawal of Israeli troops, and would not countenance the exile of its leadership.
Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, brutalizing thousands and abducting more than 250. More than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched counterstrikes. Israel says about a third of the casualties are combatants. More than 200 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the invasion of Gaza.
The war has devastated much of Gaza and displaced the vast majority of its population of 2.3 million people. International health officials say the population is on the verge of starvation. McGurk is also negotiating terms for the entry of increased humanitarian assistance into the strip.
Within Israel, debate over the war effort has grown more heated, especially as 24 soldiers were killed on Monday, the Israeli military’s deadliest day since Oct. 7. The relatives of the hostages are leading a protest movement pushing the government to agree to a deal for their release, and some of the relatives interrupted a meeting of lawmakers to demand that the government do more to secure their loved ones’ freedom.
Israeli and Hamas officials did not comment on this week’s reports, but U.S. and Qatari officials said talks were serious, while declining to address the reports’ specifics.
John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, said Tuesday that Brett McGurk, President Joe Biden’s Middle East coordinator, is seeking a deal while he tours the region. McGurk is currently in Egypt which, as the only other nation bordering the Gaza Strip, has a key role in bringing together any deal.
“One of the things he’s in the region talking about is the potential for another hostage deal, which would require a humanitarian pause of some length to get that done, and that’s definitely on the agenda,” he said, while declining to confirm the specifics of the reports. “Conversations are very sober and serious about trying to get another hostage deal in place.”
Under a deal brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States in November, Israel and Hamas ceased fire for about a week, exchanging more than 100 hostages for roughly three times that number of Palestinian prisoners. A handful of hostages were separately released or rescued earlier, and at least three hostages were mistakenly killed by Israeli fire. At least 20 hostages are believed to be dead; the deal Israel proposed would include the return of their bodies.
Majed Al Ansari, the Qatari foreign ministry spokesman, said the talks were advanced enough that he was optimistic. Qatar is one of a handful of countries that has extensive dealings with Hamas, whose political leadership lives in Qatar, and which has funded the movement.
“I can’t comment on the specificities of the mediation as it is going on but what I can say is that we are engaged in serious discussions with both sides, we have presented ideas to both sides, we are getting a constant stream of replies from both sides, and that in its own right is a cause for optimism,” he said.
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Poll: 80 Percent of Voters Support Israel Over Hamas
A new Harvard CAPS-Harris poll shows the vast majority of Americans still support Israel over Hamas, suggesting concerns about the electoral impact of President Joe Biden’s decision to stand with Israel may be overblown.
The poll found that 80 percent of respondents said they support Israel over Hamas in the current war, while only 20 percent support Hamas over Israel. The majority of every sub-group polled supports Israel more than Hamas — including those aged 18-24, where the split is 57% support of Israel and 43% support of Hamas.
At the same time, 57% of young people said they believe Israel is committing genocide and 63% supported an unconditional ceasefire without the release of the hostages, although no other age group had a majority that agreed in either case.
These numbers are released within the context of mounting concern in recent months that young people, Muslim voters, and the progressive wing of the Democratic party may be so upset with Biden over his support of Israel that it will reconsider their support for him in the 2024 election and thus put his chances for re-election in jeopardy.
US President Joe Biden has fully supported Israel and its military campaign to destroy Hamas and rescue the hostages since Hamas’s October 7th terrorist attack, but has also pressured Israel to take additional humanitarian measures in Gaza to reduce civilian casualties.
These concerns are fueled by Biden’s low approval rating on the issue — as only 39% of voters say that they approve of his handling of the war — along with large-scale anti-Israel protests across the country and pressure from within the administration.
However, that number is primarily driven by Republican opposition to Biden, as only 19% of Republicans say they approve of his handling of the war and 61% of Democrats approve. Additionally, New York Times polling from December found that among those who disapprove of Biden’s handling of the war, nearly as many say it is due to being too pro-Palestinian as it is due to be too pro-Israel (16% vs 19%).
This suggests that while there is a minority of the Democratic party that substantially disagrees with Biden’s approach to Israel, it is much smaller than metrics such as issue approval rating let on. At the same time, a small number of votes can be a deciding factor in an election.
The Harvard CAPS-Harris poll was conducted online between Jan. 17-18 and garnered responses from 2,346 registered voters.
The post Poll: 80 Percent of Voters Support Israel Over Hamas first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Pro-Iranian Islamic Charity in UK Under Investigation for Hosting Antisemitic Events Featuring IRGC Commanders
An Islamic charity in Britain is under investigation after videos emerged of Iranian generals delivering antisemitic speeches to audiences at its premises in west London.
The videos were unearthed by United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a US-based research and advocacy group, and shared with the BBC, which verified their authenticity.
According to the BBC’s reporting, one video described an “apocalyptic war on Jews” while a second contained Holocaust denial.
The footage – which also includes a denial of the Holocaust – adds to growing concerns from some parliamentarians that the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is attempting to radicalize UK Muslims, the BBC report noted.
The videos showed a total of three events, two of which were live-streamed speeches by IRGC commanders, with the third recorded at an in-person event at the Kanoon Towhid center, where the group behind the meetings, the Islamic Students Associations of Britain (ISA), holds its gatherings. The ISA was founded to promote the philosophy of the leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini.
In one recording — an Instagram Live from Iran in September 2020 which has been viewed about 1,500 times — IRGC commander Hossein Yekta said universities had become “the battlefront” and urged the students listening to become “soft-war officers”.
Kasra Aarabi — director of IRGC research at UANI — said the term “soft-war officers” is used by Iran to describe recruits to its ideological battle with the West. He said it was coined by a branch of the IRGC, “which today is proactively conducting terror plots on British soil.”
The Kanoon Towhid center is owned by the Al-Tawheed (TUCF) Charitable Trust. The trust was already being investigated by the UK Charity Commission, which governs charitable operations, over an event honoring IRGC Gen Qasem Soleimani, who was sanctioned by the UK for his links to terrorism and assassinated in a US airstrike in 2020. The commission is now examining the videos provided by UANI, which include footage of the Soleimani event.
Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, described the speeches as a “brazen act of radicalisation”. She said the IRGC should be added to the list of proscribed terrorist groups in the UK, meaning it would be illegal to be an IRGC member or to show support for them.