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US Pauses Some Weapons to Israel as Battles Rage Around Rafah

An Israeli tank maneuvers, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza Border, in southern Israel, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The Hamas terror group said it was battling Israeli troops on the outskirts of the Gaza Strip’s crowded southern city of Rafah on Wednesday after a US official said Washington had halted a shipment of powerful bombs that Israel could use in military operations.

The United States, which is seeking to stave off a large-scale Israeli offensive in Rafah, said it believes a revised Hamas ceasefire proposal may lead to a breakthrough in an impasse in negotiations, with talks resuming in Cairo on Wednesday.

Israel has threatened a major assault on Rafah to defeat thousands of Hamas terrorists it says are holed up there, but Western countries and the United Nations have warned a full-scale attack on the city could worsen an already dire humanitarian situation in the Palestinian enclave.

Hamas said its fighters were battling Israeli forces in the east of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sought refuge from combat further north in the enclave. Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian terror group, said its fighters attacked Israeli soldiers and military vehicles with heavy artillery near the airport east of Rafah.

Around 10,000 Palestinians have left Rafah since Monday, said Juliette Touma, spokesperson for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. The Hamas-run Gaza government media office put the number at tens of thousands.

A senior US official said President Joe Biden’s administration paused a shipment of weapons to Israel last week in an apparent response to the expected Rafah offensive. The White House and Pentagon declined to comment.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington had carefully reviewed the delivery of weapons that might be used in Rafah, and as a result paused a shipment consisting of 1,800 2,000-lb bombs and 1,700 500-lb bombs.

This would be the first such delay since the Biden administration offered its “ironclad” support to Israel after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. Washington is Israel‘s closest ally and main weapons supplier.

A senior Israeli official declined to confirm the report: “If we have to fight with our fingernails, then we’ll do what we have to do,” the source said. A military spokesperson said any disagreements were resolved in private.

Israeli tanks rolled across the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Tuesday.

The complex was closed for a second day on Wednesday, according to the Gaza health ministry, but Israel said it was reopening the other crossing in southern Gaza, Kerem Shalom, through which most aid to Gaza has been delivered recently.

The Israeli military said it had uncovered Hamas infrastructure in several locations in eastern Rafah and its troops were conducting targeted raids on the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing and airstrikes across the Gaza Strip.

It has told civilians, many of whom have been uprooted several times already, to go to an “expanded humanitarian zone” in al-Mawasi, some 20 km (12 miles) away.

Armed groups of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah said in separate statements that gunfights continued in the central Gaza Strip, while residents of northern Gaza reported heavy Israeli tank shelling against eastern areas of Gaza City.

CEASEFIRE TALKS

In Cairo, delegations to negotiations from Hamas, Israel, the US, Egypt, and Qatar reacted positively to their resumption on Tuesday and meetings were expected to continue on Wednesday, two Egyptian sources said.

CIA Director Bill Burns was to travel from Cairo to Israel on Wednesday to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Mossad counterpart, an Israeli government source said.

Israel on Monday declared that a three-phase proposal approved by Hamas was unacceptable because terms had been watered down. White House spokesperson John Kirby said a new text presented by Hamas suggests the remaining gaps can “absolutely be closed.”

The proposal included a first phase with a six-week ceasefire, an influx of aid to Gaza, the return of 33 Israeli hostages, alive or dead, and the release by Israel of 30 detained Palestinian children and women for each released Israeli hostage, according to several sources.

Since a week-long ceasefire in November, the only pause so far, the two sides have been blocked by Hamas’ refusal to free more Israeli hostages without a promise of a permanent end to the conflict and Israel‘s insistence on only a temporary halt.

The war began when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and abducting 252 others as hostages. Of those kidnapped, 128 remain hostage in Gaza and 36 have been declared dead, according to the latest Israeli figures.

Israel responded with a military campaign in neighboring Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, aimed at freeing the hostages incapacitating the terror group to the point that it can no longer pose a major threat to the Israeli people.

The post US Pauses Some Weapons to Israel as Battles Rage Around Rafah first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Welcomes Anti-Israel Campus Protesters to ‘Resistance Front’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran, Iran. Photo: Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS

Iran’s so-called “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, applauded the anti-Israel protesters who have thrown university campuses across the US into chaos over the past several weeks, declaring them part of a new “branch of the Resistance Front” against the Jewish state.

“Dear university students in the United States of America, this message is an expression of our empathy and solidarity with you,” Khamenei wrote in an open letter published on Thursday. “As the page of history is turning, you are standing on the right side of it.”

Rehashing antisemitic conspiracies of Jewish control, he derided “the global Zionist elite” for speaking against the campus demonstrations.

“The global Zionist elite — who owns most US and European media corporations or influences them through funding and bribery — has labeled this courageous, humane resistance movement as ‘terrorism,’” Khamenei wrote. “You have now formed a branch of the Resistance Front and have begun an honorable struggle in the face of your government’s ruthless pressure — a government which openly supports the usurper and brutal Zionist regime.”

Khamenei also praised students in other countries who have launched anti-Israel demonstrations on campuses, noting the leading role that faculty have played in fostering and supporting the unrest.

“Besides you students from dozens of American universities, there have also been uprisings in others countries among academics and the general public,” he wrote. “The support and solidarity of your professors is a significant and consequential development. This can offer some measure of comfort in the face of your government’s police brutality and the pressures it is exerting on you. I too am among those who empathize with you young people, and value your perseverance.”

Khamenei’s letter came amid an outpouring of praise for the anti-Zionist students by Islamist terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

“While we support the assassination of the infidel Zionists and the beheading of them, we also appreciate and value the movement of Western demonstrators and sit-in students from Western universities, who through their sit-ins and protests expressed their rejection of the genocide taking place in Gaza,” al-Qaeda leadership wrote in a recent communique

Hamas and Hezbollah, both backed by Iran, have also cheered the protests.

“Today’s students are the leaders of the future, and their suppression today means an expensive electoral bill that the Biden administration will pay sooner or later,” Hamas official Izzat Al-Risheq said in a statement last month.

Naim Qassem, the deputy head of Hezbollah, also praised the protesters during an interview with Al-Manar TV earlier this month.

“We appreciate and value this very much. Perhaps in the future, there will be cooperation among the youth of the world — in America, France, Britain, Germany, and all the activists,” he said. “The [campus protests] are important, especially because they will have an impact on US elections. They will have an impact on the American position.”

Earlier this month, when some universities suspended students who had occupied sections of campus and refused to leave unless school officials agreed to condemn and boycott Israel, the Iran-backed Houthi militia, a terrorist organization that has repeatedly violated freedom of the seas by attacking international shipping vessels passing through the Red Sea, offered to admit the disciplined students as transfers to Sanaa University, an institution it administers.

Some anti-Zionist student groups have reciprocated the admiration.

Last week, Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) endorsed Hamas, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace Islamic extremism and antisemitism.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has re-formed under multiple names since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, was central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The anti-Zionist student movement’s support for terrorism and anti-American ideologies has been expressed before.

Footage of the protests which erupted on college campuses at the end of spring semester showed demonstrators chanting in support of Hamas and calling for the destruction of Israel. In many cases, they lambasted the US and Western civilization more broadly.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas at Columbia University, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Welcomes Anti-Israel Campus Protesters to ‘Resistance Front’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Advocacy Group Attempts to Shore Up Support for Israel Among US Democrats

US President Joe Biden addresses rising levels of antisemitism, during a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Annual Days of Remembrance ceremony, at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, US, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

A pro-Israel advocacy group is attempting to quell fears among US Democratic politicians that expressing support for the Jewish state amid the ongoing war in Gaza will lead to electoral defeat in November. 

Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), a group that advocates for pro-Israel policies within the Democratic Party, circulated a memo this week explaining that the war in Gaza is simply not a top priority for most of the electorate. The memo, first acquired by Axios news website, asserts that “it just isn’t true” that Democratic support for Israel will come at an electoral cost. 

The group argues that a series of misleading polls has caused Democratic elected officials to become more tepid in their support for the Jewish state. 

To bolster its claims, DMFI points to a poll conducted by the New York Times in May which revealed that only 2 percent of voters cite Israel, Palestinians, Hamas, or Gaza as their most important issue. Nonetheless, the Times tried to exaggerate the extent to which voters care about the Israel-Hamas war by highlighting the 5 percent of voters who cite foreign policy as their biggest issue, according to DMFI. However, these 5 percent of voters did not identify if the war in Gaza is their major foreign policy concern.

The group also points out a Harvard-Harris poll from April which showed that Americans overwhelmingly side with Israel in its ongoing war effort. Eighty percent of Americans support Israel and only 20 percent back Hamas, the poll revealed.

DMFI also suggests that Israel’s ongoing military offensive against Hamas has not had a noticeable impact on President Joe Biden’s national standing. According to polling data aggregated by FiveThirtyEight, the president’s approval rating on Oct. 7of last year stood at 39.6 percent, and on April 23 last month, his approval stood at 40 percent. The same poll reveals that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s lead over Joe Biden did not grow over the same time period. 

DMFI president Mark Mellman told Axios that anti-Israel activists represent a small fringe of the American electorate. 

“People sometimes mistake volume for percentage, and the fact that some people are very loud doesn’t make them the majority. … It doesn’t even make them a substantial minority,” Mellman said.

The group’s efforts to reach out to Democrats come on the heels of a high-pressure effort by left-wing groups to force the Democratic establishment to stop supporting Israel. Anti-Israel organizations have organized efforts to encourage voters in Democratic primaries to vote “uncommitted” in lieu of voting for Biden. Moreover, nearly every appearance by Biden in recent months has been marked by the presence of scores of angry anti-Israel protesters

The relationship between Democratic politicians and the Jewish state has significantly soured in the months following Hamas’ Oct. 7 slaughter of over 1,200 people in southern Israel. High-profile Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) have suggested that Israel is committing “genocide” against Palestinian civilians.

Meanwhile, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) signed onto a letter urging Biden to pause weapons shipments to Israel. Biden vowed to stop arms deliveries to Israel if the Israeli army attempts to dismantle the remaining Hamas battalions within the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, expressing concern about the prospect of civilian casualties during such an offensive.

The post Advocacy Group Attempts to Shore Up Support for Israel Among US Democrats first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander

Antisemitic hate crimes continue to account for more than any other category of reported hate crimes in Toronto, according to the head of Toronto police intelligence. Superintendent Katherine Stephenson of Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed the ongoing spike in hate occurrences during a presentation at Holy Blossom Temple on May 29, where she addressed 350 […]

The post Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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