The Pronk Pops Show 1293, July 22, 2019, Story 1: Big Spending Democrat and Republican Parties Fail To Make Real Spending Cuts To Balance The Budget — — Massive Budget Deficits For Fiscal Year 2019 — Deficit To Exceed $1,000,000,000,000 For Fiscal Year 2019 — Totally Fiscally Irresponsible Big Government Spending Parties — Videos — Story 2: Islamic Republic of Iran Desperate To Start War With United States and U. S. Allies — Careful What You Wish For — Joint United States and Israel Strike Targeting Iran’s Nuclear Weapons and Missile Systems Programs Deep in Mountains — Nuclear Weapons Required For Total Destruction — Videos — Story 3: Iran Says It Captured 17 Central Intelligence Agency Spies — Plans To Execute Some of Them — Videos — Story 4: Where is The New Border Wall? — Where is Congressional Funding for New Border Barrier? — Congress Is Responsible for Crisis At The Border — New Improved Bipartisan Political Correct Chant — “Send Them All Home” Including Open Border/Citizenship For Illegal Aliens Democrats and Republicans and  Deport All 30-60 Million Illegal Aliens in United States — It Is The Law — Enforce The Law — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1293 July 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1292 July 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1291 July 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1290 July 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1289 July 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1288 July 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1287 July 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1286 July 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1285 July 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1284 July 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1283 July 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1282 June 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1281 June 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1280 June 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1279 June 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1278 June 20, 2019 

Pronk Pops Show 1277 June 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1276 June 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1275 June 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1274 June 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1273 June 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1272 June 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1271 June 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1270 June 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1269 June 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1268 June 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1267 May 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1266 May 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1265 May 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1264 May 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1263 May 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1262 May 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1261 May 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1260 May 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1259 May 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1258 May 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1257 May 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1256 May 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1255 May 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1254 May 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1253 May 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1252 May 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1250 May 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1249 May 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1248 May 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1247 April 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1246 April 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1245 April 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1244 April 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1243 April 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1242 April 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1241 April 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1240 April 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1239 April 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1238 April 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1237 April 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1236 April 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1235 April 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1234 April 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1233 April 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

See the source imageThe Stena Impero was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz on Friday around 4pm when it was stopped by IRGC boats, diverted into Iranian waters, and is now being held at the port of Bandar Abbas. Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose was an hour away at the time, leading to claims the Royal Navy is no longer fit for purposeSee the source imageSee the source image

See the source image

Story 1: Big Spending Democrat and Republican Parties Fail To Make Real Spending Cuts To Balance The Budget — Massive Budget Deficits For Fiscal Year 2019 — Deficit To Exceed $1,000,000,000,000 For Fiscal Year 2019 — Totally Fiscally Irresponsible Big Government Spending Parties — Videos —

See the source image

See the source image

Congress, White House Nearing Two-Year Debt Limit Deal

A budget agreement is ‘near final’, source says

White House projects the federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion

Trump reportedly plans to make massive cuts to federal spending in second term Daily Mail Online

Trump Running $1 TRILLION DEFICITS FOR YEARS TO COME, After Promising to Pay U.S. Debt in 8 years!

Funding the Government: The Budget Process and Omnibus Spending Bills [Article I Initiative]

Why the federal deficit is rising, despite economic growth

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday. Mrs. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated the agreement for weeks. PHOTO:REBECCA COOK/REUTERS

WASHINGTON—Congressional and White House negotiators reached a deal to increase federal spending and raise the government’s borrowing limit, securing a bipartisan compromise to avoid a looming fiscal crisis and pushing the next budget debate after the 2020 election.

The deal for more than $2.7 trillion in spending over two years, which must still pass both chambers of Congress and needs President Trump’s signature, would suspend the debt ceiling until the end of July 2021. It also raises spending by nearly $50 billion next fiscal year above current levels.

The agreement forgoes the steep spending cuts initially sought by the administration, providing for about $320 billion in spending over two years above limits set in a 2011 budget law that established automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester.

Mr. Trump, a Republican, announced the deal on Twitter late Monday, citing all four congressional leaders. He added: “This was a real compromise in order to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated the agreement for weeks, hoping to complete a deal before the House leaves Washington at the end of the week for August recess. Mr. Mnuchin had warned that the government could exceed its borrowing limit as soon as early September, before lawmakers return from recess. Talks continued throughout Monday.

In a joint statement Mrs. Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the chamber’s Democratic leader, pledged that the House would bring the deal quickly to the floor. They stressed that the agreement increases both defense and domestic spending and said they had agreed to spending offsets that were part of an earlier bipartisan agreement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said he was encouraged by the deal, adding that it “secures the resources we need to keep rebuilding our armed forces.” He said he intended to have the Senate vote on it before the chamber departs for recess.

The deal marked a victory for congressional leaders and Mr. Mnuchin, who had stressed that without action, the government could exhaust its ability to keep paying its bills in early September.

A key sticking point in the negotiations was how to pay for the cost of the spending increases. The deal extends small cuts to Medicare beyond fiscal year 2027 and extends fees collected by Customs and Border Protection, amounting to $77 billion worth of savings to offset the cost. Those routine budget accounting moves fall short of the $150 billion in spending cuts originally sought by the administration.

In spring of 2018, Mr. Trump threatened to veto an omnibus spending bill and late last year he rejected a bipartisan spending agreement negotiated in the Senate because it didn’t include billions of dollars in funding to construct a border wall, setting off the longest government shutdown in modern history.

Fiscal hawks panned reports of the proposed deal Monday before many of the details had been released, warning it could add trillions of dollars more to projected government debt levels over the next decade. The White House estimated this month that annual deficits are on track to exceed $1 trillion this fiscal year because of weaker federal revenue following the 2017 tax cut and higher government spending under the current budget agreement.

“This deal would amount to nothing short of fiscal sabotage,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said Monday following reports of a two-year $320 billion deal. Ms. MacGuineas urged lawmakers to cancel recess and negotiate for a better deal.

Mrs. Pelosi has been clear that she wanted to reach an agreement before Congress leaves for summer break. She has said she wants the House to vote on the agreement on Thursday, before the chamber goes on recess on July 26. The Senate doesn’t take its break until Aug. 2.

Mr. Mnuchin took the lead negotiating on behalf of the administration, working closely with Mrs. Pelosi. That appeared to limit the roles of White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought.

Leaders of both parties sought to pair the debt limit vote with a broader spending agreement—a move that creates an impetus for Democrats to push for domestic spending increases and lets Republicans avoid a difficult, stand-alone vote on raising the borrowing limit.

An aide to the speaker said Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin spoke three times on Sunday and Mr. Schumer joined one of the calls. On Monday, they spoke in the morning and again in the late afternoon before Mr. Mnuchin held a conference call with the four congressional leaders to discuss any issues. During the call, Mr. Mnuchin told the leaders that the president would tweet on the deal within the hour.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin left a meeting with top congressional leaders on a potential deal to raise the budget caps in May. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-and-congress-near-agreement-on-spending-debt-ceiling-11563799484

 

What to Know in Washington: Crunch Week for Debt, Spending Deal

Congress and the White House are closing in on a debt ceiling and budget deal but with time running short could resort to a short term extension of U.S. borrowing authority before the House recesses this week.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued talks over the weekend by telephone. A key point under negotiation is the Trump administration’s initial demand for as much as $150 billion in long-term spending cuts to attach to the deal.

Mnuchin warned the U.S. risks missing debt payments in early September — before lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington after a recess that begins for the House on Friday and the Senate a week later.

Both sides have offered assurances that Congress won’t let the U.S. run up against the debt limit and trigger a default, but lawmakers are still trying to include a budget agreement in the negotiation.

If the budget negotiations can’t be concluded in time, lawmakers may decide to pass a debt ceiling extension into October. That would avoid the risk of a default in the short-term but would extend uncertainty for markets.

Pelosi and Mnuchin have tentatively agreed on one part of the deal: to suspend the debt ceiling for about two and a half years, along with an increase in discretionary spending that’s estimated to cost $350 billion. Trump officials want to partially offset that spending increase for the military and domestic agency budgets with savings in entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid that are not subject to annual budget caps.

The White House late Thursday floated a menu of savings options worth $574 billion from which Pelosi could choose what to include in the deal. Pelosi resisted offsetting any of the spending increases, and any hope of a deal hinges on finding a compromise with the $150 billion that Trump officials want to save.

The White House offer also proposed extending caps on defense and non-defense discretionary spending for 2021 and 2022 to save another $516 billion.

After administration officials sent the offer to Pelosi, President Donald Trump on Friday said he thought the talks were in “good shape.” However he’d still have to sign off on the final terms of a deal and he hasn’t publicly set out what he wants on spending or on cuts.

While the budget deal doesn’t have to be included with a measure to raise the debt limit, lawmakers want it to be addressed soon so Congress can pass appropriations bills before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Otherwise they’ll have to pass a stopgap spending measure to prevent a government shutdown.

If Congress doesn’t lift the budget caps that limit government outlays, current law would trigger automatic cuts at the end of the calendar year. Read more from Erik Wasson.

https://about.bgov.com/news/what-to-know-crunch-week-for-debt-spending-deal/

Story 2: Islamic Republic of Iran Desperate To Start War With United States and U. S. Allies — Careful What You Wish For — Videos

Stena Impero: Crew seen in first pictures from inside UK-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran

Iran on ‘dangerous path’ after British-flagged tanker seizure

Iran Ambassador says UK raising tensions would be ‘dangerous and unwise’

 

British-operated oil tanker seized by Iran

First pictures INSIDE the British tanker captured by Iran: Tehran taunts the UK by releasing photo of terrified crew huddled on board vessel after it was seized by Revolutionary Guard gunmen

  • British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero was seized by Iran on Friday as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz
  • First image taken inside vessel shows part of its 23-strong crew being held by Iranian Revolutionary Guards
  • Video also shows Iranians talking to the crew around a table, and thanking them for their cooperation 
  • Tehran seized the tanker after Iranian-flagged vessel was stopped by marines off Gibraltar earlier this month
  • Downing Street today said UK ‘does not seek confrontation with Iran’ but described the move as ‘escalatory’ 
  • Russia threw its backing behind ally Iran on Monday, saying its position ‘is much more convincing’ than UK 
  • Tehran also said it had arrested 17 suspected CIA spies and will put some to death, further increasing tensions

Iran today paraded the crew of a British-flagged tanker that it captured in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday.

Tehran released video of some of the 23-strong crew of the Stena Impero sitting around a table speaking with one of their captors, alongside fresh images showing Revolutionary Guardsmen on board the Swedish-owned vessel.

The video shows seven of the crew wearing red jumpsuits and sitting around a table, as one Iranian guard can be heard thanking them for their cooperation. The cameraman can also be heard telling them not to look at him. Another video shows the crew laughing while standing around a coffee machine, and the ship’s cooks preparing food in an apparent attempt to show they are being treated well.

Pictures released by the semi-official Fars news agency earlier in the day show some of the crew – which includes 18 Indians, three Russians a Latvian and a Filipino – huddled cross-legged on the floor.

Standing over them in a Revolutionary Guardsman, while items of bedding and towels are scattered around the room. Their shoes have been taken off and piled in a corner.  Two others photos show an armed guardsman on the deck of the tanker, and the tanker being watched over by armed boats at the port of Bandar Abbas, where it is being held.

The photos and videos are Iran’s latest taunt to Britain, after it also released video of its flag being raised over the vessel and the Islamic call to prayer being played through its speakers.

Iran seized the vessel as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, weeks after Britain detained an Iranian vessel off the coast of Gibraltar. Iran says the US ordered the operation amid a standoff between the two countries, but the UK claims the tanker was violating EU sanctions.

Iran has today paraded the crew of the Stena Impero oil tanker, which sails under a British flag, after its Revolutionary Guards captured the vessel on Friday. Footage released on state TV channels showed part of the crew sitting around a table

Other images showed the crew - which included 18 Indians, three Russian, and Latvian and a Filipino - laughing and smiling. Tehran has previously said that the crew are well and are being looked after

Other images showed the crew – which included 18 Indians, three Russian, and Latvian and a Filipino – laughing and smiling. Tehran has previously said that the crew are well and are being looked after

Chefs are also shown preparing food in the tanker's kitchen in an attempt by Iranian authorities to prove that the crew are not being badly treated

Chefs are also shown preparing food in the tanker’s kitchen in an attempt by Iranian authorities to prove that the crew are not being badly treated

Iran's state-affiliated Fars news agency released the first image inside the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker on Monday, showing part of the 23-strong crew sitting cross-legged on the floor under the watch of a Revolutionary Guardsman while their shoes sit piled up nearby

Iran’s state-affiliated Fars news agency released the first image inside the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker on Monday, showing part of the 23-strong crew sitting cross-legged on the floor under the watch of a Revolutionary Guardsman while their shoes sit piled up nearby

In a second image, an armed guardsman is seen patrolling along the deck of the Imepero in the latest taunt to Britain. Iran is trying to secure the release of its tanker - the Grace 1 - which was seized by Royal Marines near Gibraltar earlier this month

In a second image, an armed guardsman is seen patrolling along the deck of the Imepero in the latest taunt to Britain. Iran is trying to secure the release of its tanker – the Grace 1 – which was seized by Royal Marines near Gibraltar earlier this month

A third image shows the Imepero being watched over by an armed Iranian vessel at the port of Bandar Abbas, where it is being held after it was seized in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday last week

 

A third image shows the Imepero being watched over by an armed Iranian vessel at the port of Bandar Abbas, where it is being held after it was seized in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday last week

Speaking in the House of Commons this evening, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged Iran to release the Stena and proposed a ‘European-led maritime protection mission’ to protect Middle East shipping.

Condemning an ‘act of state piracy’, Mr Hunt called the capture a ‘flagrant breach of the principle of free navigation on which the global trading system and world economy ultimately depends’.

Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee on Monday to discuss the crisis, even though her leadership is expected to pass to Boris Johnson in the coming days, who now faces a baptism of fire to diffuse the situation.

The government was also criticised for cutting the size of the navy so that it is not capable of meeting the threat from Iran, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the responsibility for protecting British ships ‘falls to the United Kingdom.’

In other developments on Monday:

  • Russia waded in to take the side of its ally – Iran – accusing Britain of ‘piracy’ for seizing the Grace 1 tanker 
  • Theresa May chaired a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee. Her spokesman said seizing the tanker was illegal and that officials had written to the UN to complain
  • Boris Johnson was urged to break his silence on the crisis, as he prepares to become Tory leader
  • Tony Blair said the future of Iran’s nuclear deal could be a way to exert diplomatic pressure on Tehran
  • Relatives of one of the crewmen were pictured weeping as they watched news of the tanker’s capture on TV
  • Former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord West led criticism that the Royal Navy is no longer fit for purpose and cannot protect British interests
  • Iran said it had captured 17 CIA spies and planned to put some of them to death

As Mrs May chaired a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, her spokesman said: ‘We are clear that the seizure of the British-flagged, Swedish owned Stena Impero on Friday was illegal under international law.

‘The ship was seized under false and illegal pretences and the Iranians should release it and its crew immediately.

‘The Foreign Secretary spoke to the Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif to make this demand.

‘We do not seek confrontation with Iran but it is unacceptable and highly escalatory to seize a ship going about legitimate business through internationally recognised shipping lanes.’

Hunt plans European mission to protect ships

Speaking in Parliament today, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged Iran to release the Stena and proposed a ‘European-led maritime protection mission’ to protect Middle East shipping.

British-flagged ships are advised to avoid Iranian waters and the Straits of Hormuz, and could receive convoys, although Mr Hunt said it would be impossible to protect every ship.

The European-led force would not be part of America’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign as Britain still wants to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Mr Hunt said.

He said he would discuss how the new proposal would complement the American presence in the area.

Jeremy Hunt speaks to the House of Commons today

Jeremy Hunt speaks to the House of Commons today

Condemning an ‘act of state piracy’, Mr Hunt called the capture a ‘flagrant breach of the principle of free navigation on which the global trading system and world economy ultimately depends’.

Under international law, Iran had ‘no right to obstruct the ship’s passage, let alone board her’, Mr Hunt said, adding that Britain ‘does not seek confrontation with Iran’.

He also rejected Iran’s attempt to draw a parallel between the capture of the Stena and Britain’s seizure of Iranian supertanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar on July 4.

‘There is simply no comparison between Iran’s illegal seizure of a vessel inside a recognised shipping lane, where the Stena Impero had every right to be, and the enforcement of EU sanctions against a tanker that had freely navigated into the waters of a British overseas territory,’ he said.

‘If Iran continues on this dangerous path, they must accept the price will be a larger Western military presence in the waters along their coastline.’

The Foreign Secretary will discover tomorrow whether he or Boris Johnson will be Britain’s new PM.

But Tehran hit back, saying the seizure was ‘a legal measure by Iran. Iran confronted the ship (to ensure) the region’s security.’

Government spokesman Ali Rabiei told a news conference in Tehran: ‘To all the countries that are calling on Iran to release the tanker, we ask them to tell Britain the same thing.

‘Comparing the two seizures is an unfair reading’ of the situation, said the Iranian government spokesman.

‘When you illegally seize the ship in Gibraltar, we too are not bound to tolerate any more.’

While Mrs May is handling the crisis for now, Boris Johnson is expected to take over as Prime Minister on Wednesday, and diffusing the crisis will be his first challenge.

He was urged to speak out about the crisis Monday, even as critics attacked his record on negotiating with Iran – after he managed to have the jail term of Briton Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe extended while he was Foreign Secretary.

In a sign that Mr Johnson could opt to make his Tory leadership rival Mr Hunt the fall guy for the situation, Jacob Rees-Mogg today said it would be ‘vanity’ if the current Foreign Secretary refused to accept a demotion.

Meanwhile Moscow’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov insisted Iran was merely ‘taking care of ecology’ in the Gulf and said ‘Iran’s arguments are much more right than those of Gibraltar and London who are indulging in piracy’.

The tanker row – the latest in a series of threats to Middle East shipping – has sent tensions spiralling further amid furious exchanges of rhetoric over the crumbling nuclear deal with Iran.

Maritime industry publication Lloyd’s List said there are currently no U.K.-flagged ships heading to the Persian Gulf and eight U.K.-flagged vessels anchored there after a government advisory to such vessels to avoid the Strait of Hormuz.

Restoring the free flow of traffic through the Strait of Hormuz is of critical importance to the world’s energy supplies because one-fifth of all global crude exports pass through the narrow waterway between Iran and Oman.

Yesterday the Iranian flag was hoisted over the Stena with Iranian armed forces patrolling the decks in the heavily-guarded port of Bandar Abbas.

The family of one of the crewmen - Deena and husband Pappachan - were pictured weeping at their home in Kochi, India, while watching news about the tanker on TV

Footage broadcast on Iranian state TV shows the seized British-registered oil tanker having an Iranian flag hoisted above it. The Royal Navy's nickname for the strait is 'Chokepoint Charlie'. It links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, a tight hairpin bend with Iran to the north and the headland of Oman and the United Arab Emirates to the south

Footage broadcast on Iranian state TV shows the seized British-registered oil tanker having an Iranian flag hoisted above it. The Royal Navy’s nickname for the strait is ‘Chokepoint Charlie’. It links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, a tight hairpin bend with Iran to the north and the headland of Oman and the United Arab Emirates to the south

Keeping watch: An Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boat sails in front of the Stena Impero, the UK-flagged vessel which was seized by Iranian authorities on Friday

Keeping watch: An Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boat sails in front of the Stena Impero, the UK-flagged vessel which was seized by Iranian authorities on Friday

Flashpoint: The Stena Impero, the UK-flagged tanker at the centre of the latest Middle East tensions, is seen at a heavily guarded Iranian port

On deck: The Stena is seen with an Iranian Revolutionary Guard boat beside it after it was captured on Friday

Video footage released by Iran showed the  tanker being surrounded by speedboats before troops in balaclavas descend a rope from a helicopter onto the vessel.

In a radio exchange, an Iranian officer can be heard telling the tanker to change course.

‘You are ordered: change your course… immediately. If you obey, you will be safe,’ he said.

The British frigate HMS Montrose intervenes to inform the Stena its ‘passage must not be impaired, impeded, obstructed or hampered’ under international law.

The Iranians then tell the British warship: ‘No challenge is intended… I want to inspect the ship for security reason.’

The Montrose diverted to the Stena’s position but was around an hour away by the time it entered Iranian waters.

Iran ‘arrests 17 CIA spies, several face execution’

Seventeen alleged CIA spies have been arrested in Iran and some of them will face the death penalty, Tehran claimed today.

Iranian intelligence chiefs say they have broken up an American spy ring which had planted U.S. agents in nuclear, military and cyber facilities and allegedly tried to recruit spies in the UAE.

The suspects were all Iranians, some of them recruited by a ‘visa trap’ in which the CIA would target Iranians as they applied to travel to America, Iran claims.

Accusation: An Iranian official tells a documentary how authorities in Tehran had struck a blow against American intelligence

In a statement read on state television, the Ministry of Intelligence said 17 spies were arrested during the Iranian calendar year that ended in March 2019.

‘Those who deliberately betrayed the country were handed to the judiciary… some were sentenced to death and some to long-term imprisonment,’ an intelligence spokesman told Iranian media.

‘The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas… where they collected classified information.’

Iranian officials said the suspects had been gathering classified information using ‘advanced equipment’.

Meanwhile an Iranian television documentary aired on Monday purported to show a CIA officer recruiting an Iranian man in the United Arab Emirates.

The Press TV documentary claimed that Iran had ‘dealt a blow to the U.S. foreign intelligence service’, though it was unclear if it was describing the same arrests.

‘Because there are so many intelligence officers in Dubai. It is very dangerous… Iranian intelligence,’ a woman was shown telling an Iranian in the documentary.

Iran impounded the Stena on allegations it failed to respond to distress calls and turned off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat.

A top British representative to the UN rejected Iran’s version of events, accusing Tehran of ‘illegal interference’ and saying there was no evidence of a collision.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, British charge d’affaires Jonathan Allen wrote that the vessel had been in Omani waters with its transponder switched on when it was approached.

Meanwhile T. V. Pappachan, the father of 26-year-old crew member Dijo Pappachan, said he is waiting anxiously for his son to be returned and called on Britain to guarantee his safety.

‘I am not speaking only for my son. All the 23 crew members set sail to foreign countries for work. They are onboard to make a living. It is the government’s responsibility to make sure they come back safe,’ he told the Kahleej Times.

I have complete trust in the government of India and our diplomatic strength. I understand that the issue is between countries and individuals cannot do much. We are all praying for the entire crew’s safe return.’

Theresa May chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee Cobra on Monday amid concern over how Iran was able to capture the ship.

A second oil tanker, the Liberian-flagged Mesdar, which is managed by Norbulk Shipping UK, veered off course towards the Iranian coast after it was boarded by armed guards at around 5.30pm on Friday.

The Mesdar’s Glasgow-based operator said communication had since been re-established with the ship and the crew were unharmed.

Britain has warned its ships to avoid the Straits of Hormuz, a chokepoint for about a third of the world’s sea-borne oil.

UK authorities intercepted the Grace 1 on July 4, saying it was violating EU sanctions by carrying a shipment of Iranian crude oil to Syria.

A detachment of Royal Marines from 42 Commando boarded the vessel off Gibraltar in a joint operation with the Royal Gibraltar Police.

Gibraltar’s government said tests showed the supertanker was fully loaded with crude oil.

But Iran has insisted that the tanker was not headed for Syria.

Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood attempted to dispel criticism that the UK had ‘taken its eye off the ball’ by allowing the tanker to be captured.

He said the UK had vessels going through 100 nautical miles of waterway every day in the region, adding: ‘It is impossible simply to escort each individual vessel.’

He also called for more money to be invested in the Royal Navy if Britain wants to continue to play a role on the international stage.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Tory party leader, added his voice to the critics – saying that Britain was offered help in guarding the vessels by the United States and refused it.

The Stena Impero was surrounded by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces at 4pm and ordered to head north on Friday. A second British-managed vessel, Mesdar, abruptly changed course towards Iran

Russian deputy foreign ministery Sergei Ryabkov (pictured) took Iran's side over the tanker

Russian deputy foreign ministery Sergei Ryabkov (pictured) took Iran’s side over the tanker

Footage showed troops wearing ski masks and carrying machine guns (pictured) rappelling to its deck from a helicopter before capturing the British-registered oil tanker on Friday night

Footage showed troops wearing ski masks and carrying machine guns (pictured) rappelling to its deck from a helicopter before capturing the British-registered oil tanker on Friday night

Royal Navy ‘disgracefully short of ships’

Former heads of the navy and politicians are joining a chorus of criticism of the state of the Royal Navy – warning Britain’s fleet no longer has the power to protect British interests, following the seizure by Iran of a British-flagged oil tanker.

Former First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord West said the Navy is ‘disgracefully short of ships’ while retired commander of UK maritime forces Rear Admiral Alex Burton said the Navy’s decline since 2005 ‘has had an impact on our ability to protect our interests around the globe’.

On Friday the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose arrived an hour too late to prevent Iranian Revolutionary guard commandos from seizing the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker.

The Royal Navy fleet is a fraction of its size three decades ago and many ships are currently out of commission undergoing maintenance or repair

They diverted the tanker and its mainly Indian crew to Iran, despite it sailing in Omani waters, in retaliation for the capture by British forces of an Iranian vessel earlier this month.

Politicians and military experts have asked why it was not accompanied by a Royal Navy convoy after the Iranian Grace One tanker, allegedly taking Iranian oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, was captured by UK forces off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4.

Conservative MP Huw Merriman said yesterday: ‘I take the view that we have dropped the ball here … we did not put in place a chain where we asked all of our vessels to leave at a certain time under convoy.

‘So it was hardly a surprise when one of ours got taken.’

What does it mean for a ship to sail under a country’s flag?

While the Stena Impero is a British-flagged vessel, it is owned by Swedish shipping firm Stena AB – which is headquartered in Glasgow.

Being ‘British-flagged’ means the vessel is registered in the UK and is covered by the maritime laws of that country.

A vessel does not have to have any physical connection to the country in which it is registered and merely has to have an application accepted by that country’s shipping authorities.

A ship can only fly one flag at a time, but can change flags at any point.

As a result, some owners seek a so-called ‘flag of convenience’ which they believe will offer benefits.

Panama and the Marshall Islands are well-known for offering easy registrations and other benefits for those registering there, in the hopes of attracting business.

As a result, Panama has the largest ship register in the world, with the Marshall Islands second in the 2018 list.

Describing the grab by Tehran as a ‘major failure’ by the UK, he demanded to know why the offer of help was refused and said answers need to be offered ‘very quickly’.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the Tory European Research Group and a prominent supporter of Boris Johnson, suggested that leadership rival Jeremy Hunt’s Foreign Office should accept some of the blame for the current crisis in the Gulf.

Downing Street has denied that the US offered support to escort every single British ship through the Strait, with Theresa May’s official spokesman saying that the area is simply too large to provide that kind of assistance.

Meanwhile senior intelligence sources claimed that terrorists supported by Iran could strike Britain if tensions deepen between the two countries.

Agencies believe that the Islamic Republic has funded sleeper cells across Europe, including in the UK.

They rank the country behind only Russia and China as in terms of the threat it poses to national security.

Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is linked to radicals that are operating the terror cells, a source told the Daily Telegraph.

Counter-terror officers broke apart a cell in 2015 when they found it stockpiling explosives in London.

Britain only has the Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose in the region plus four mine hunters, while the US as its Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain - which includes one aircraft carrier, one missile cruiser, five destroyers, two amphibious vessels and two or three submarines

Jeremy Hunt

Liam Fox

Senior Tory ministers including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (left) International Trade Secretary Liam Fox (right) arrived at an emergency meeting of the Cobra committee on Monday chaired by Theresa May
Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matthew Hancock

Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter (left) and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matthew Hancock (right) both attended the Cobra meeting

The source told the paper: ‘Iran has Hezbollah operatives in position to carry out a terrorist attack in the event of a conflict. That is the nature of the domestic threat Iran poses to the UK.’

The current situation in the Gulf can be traced back to last year when President Trump’s administration tore up a nuclear deal signed under Obama.

Johnson’s first crisis?

Boris Johnson is expected to be crowned new Tory party leader Tuesday before taking the reins Wednesday, meaning he will take charge of managing the Iran crisis.

The former Foreign Secretary previously faced criticism after he managed to extend the jail term of Briton Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran during his tenure, by suggesting that she was not on holiday, as had been previously claimed.

In just 48 hours, Mr Johnson could find himself negotiating the release of the 23-strong crew of the Stena Impero – which includes 18 Indians, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino.

He could also find himself doing so without the help of a Foreign Secretary, since his leadership rival is the man currently occupying the post -Jeremy Hunt.

While Mr Johnson has insisted the pair will ‘kiss and make up’ after the election is over, Mr Hunt may decide to follow one of his senior ministers – Sir Alan Duncan – and quit rather than serve under the new leader.

Mr Johnson has so far not spoken out over the crisis, despite mounting pressure to take a stand.

The deal guaranteed Iran economic benefits in return for curtailing its nuclear programme in a way which would not allow it to obtain nuclear weapons.

Trump reapplied stringent economic sanctions on Tehran, robbing the kingdom of much of its income, prompting the regime to walk back on its commitments.

As Iran tried to pressure European leaders to find a way to salvage the deal, tankers in the Gulf can under repeated attack, in explosions which Britain and America have blamed on Tehran.

A UAE investigation found four mysterious sabotage attacks on May 12 were linked to a ‘state actor’ but did not name Iran.

The attacks were carried out with limpet mines and were ‘part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation’, the report found.

The tanker attacks inflamed an already tense Middle East stand-off and prompted the U.S. to bolster its military presence in the region.

Matters worsened just four weeks later when another two ships were hit by explosions in the Gulf of Oman.

Forty-four sailors were forced to abandon their ships amid a huge fireball on the MT Front Altair and another blast on the Kokuka Courageous.

America again blamed Iran, releasing a video which purported to show Iranian revolutionary guard forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the ships.

The Ministry of Defence released this photo of HMS Montrose warding off Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats (circled) which harassed the UK-flagged tanker British Heritage on July 10

 

The Ministry of Defence released this photo of HMS Montrose warding off Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats (circled) which harassed the UK-flagged tanker British Heritage on July 10

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard uses a large number of high-speed small vessels to harass shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. The regime launched these 'ultra-fast' boats in 2010

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard uses a large number of high-speed small vessels to harass shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. The regime launched these ‘ultra-fast’ boats in 2010

A tape has emerged of HMS Montrose (pictured in 2007) ordering the crew of the Stena Impero not to follow Iranian demands to change its course

 

A tape has emerged of HMS Montrose (pictured in 2007) ordering the crew of the Stena Impero not to follow Iranian demands to change its course

Meanwhile tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions have also been heightening as Tehran moves ever further away from its 2015 nuclear deal. 

Iran has said that it could restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent.

But Major General Hossein Salami, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, denied Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Trump called off air strikes against Iran at the last minute in June after the Islamic republic downed a U.S. drone.

Today former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the future of Iran’s nuclear deal could be a way to exert diplomatic pressure on Tehran.

‘We have one substantial card in our hands, which is that the Iranians have been trying to get the British and the Europeans to keep to the Iran nuclear deal,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘Therefore actually their attempt to interfere with a British-flagged ship is obviously wrong, not just in principle, but it’s obviously a political gamble for them.’

He added that the UK would have to make special arrangements to escort shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.

‘Chokepoint Charlie’: Patrolled by 2,000 Iranian speedboats, why the Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most chaotic and volatile shipping channels 

By Phil Diacon, for the Daily Mail

To grasp fully the crisis in the Strait of Hormuz, you need a clear picture of the chaotic and volatile scene in what is one of the world’s busiest shipping channels.

Up to 100 oil tankers pass through this narrow waterway every day, transporting close to 20 million barrels of oil – and that is only the activity we can most easily detect in these waters.

Hundreds of other boats and ships ply the same seas, which are not much wider than the English Channel between Dover and Boulogne, about 21 nautical miles.

Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, is seen at Bandar Abbas port today after being seized by Iran. Larger vessels in the strait are obliged to transmit their position, but those rules do not apply to the numerous smaller craft. It is, therefore, simply impossible for one British warship to have a full and detailed picture of all the activity in the Strait of Hormuz. You might as well ask a single police car to track every vehicle on a motorway

Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, is seen at Bandar Abbas port today after being seized by Iran. Larger vessels in the strait are obliged to transmit their position, but those rules do not apply to the numerous smaller craft. It is, therefore, simply impossible for one British warship to have a full and detailed picture of all the activity in the Strait of Hormuz. You might as well ask a single police car to track every vehicle on a motorway

The Royal Navy’s nickname for the strait is ‘Chokepoint Charlie’. It links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, a tight hairpin bend with Iran to the north and the headland of Oman and the United Arab Emirates to the south.

Larger vessels are obliged to transmit their position, but those rules do not apply to the numerous smaller craft.

I spent my formative years in the RAF before founding a maritime intelligence service. The high seas, I have come to learn, are not like the skies, where all aircraft must keep to a flight plan and comply with air traffic control.

Instead, ships such as fishing vessels and pleasure boats do not have to signal their identity or their plans – which makes the Navy’s job of spotting Iran’s military patrol boats extremely difficult.

It is, therefore, simply impossible for one British warship to have a full and detailed picture of all the activity in the Strait of Hormuz. You might as well ask a single police car to track every vehicle on a motorway.

Iran knows this. It has been building up its military strength in the strait for decades, aimed at countering the West’s navies. The crisis in the Strait of Hormuz is extremely volatile. Tehran has become a hungry tiger, backed into a corner with few options for escape.

Already it has stockpiled mines and missiles. And most worryingly of all, the naval branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has about 2,000 fast attack craft (FAC) to be used in swarm formations. These speedboats can appear anywhere in the strait within minutes. Armed with heavy machine-guns and rocket launchers, they can carry radar-guided anti-ship missiles capable of sinking a 1,500-ton target.

Though their forces are no match for conventional Western navies, they have developed their strength in ‘asymmetric techniques’. It would be difficult for any warship – let alone a tanker – to defend itself against an assault by a swarm of FACs, especially if they were assisted by mini-submarines with torpedoes.

The Stena Impero was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz on Friday around 4pm when it was stopped by IRGC boats, diverted into Iranian waters, and is now being held at the port of Bandar Abbas. Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose was an hour away at the time, leading to claims the Royal Navy is no longer fit for purpose

The Stena Impero was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz on Friday around 4pm when it was stopped by IRGC boats, diverted into Iranian waters, and is now being held at the port of Bandar Abbas. Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose was an hour away at the time, leading to claims the Royal Navy is no longer fit for purpose

Analysts also believe that Iran has developed unmanned, remote-controlled sea-going drones called Ya Mahdi boats. These can be loaded with explosives and launched on high-speed attacks that are difficult to detect on radar.

Clearly, it would be extremely foolish of the UK to underestimate Iran’s military capabilities – or the country’s pride.

The Royal Navy sailors trying to protect British shipping in the Gulf face another headache. Such is the chaotic situation on the ground that it is by no means easy to say what is and isn’t a British ship.

When Iranian commandos stormed the Stena Impero on Friday evening, referred to by some as a ‘British tanker’ none of the 23 crew members taken hostage was, in fact, British. The vessel was sailing under the British flag or ‘red ensign’, but that was really a diplomatic nicety. The ship is owned in Sweden, not the UK – and companies from any number of nations might lay claim to portions of its cargo.

The Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith asked yesterday why Britain had not accepted US offers of naval assistance, but the problem is not a lack of warships: it is knowing what to do with them.

So how should the next Prime Minister navigate this treacherous strait? Let us hope that mediation and cool responses prevail. Putting more warships into the area would increase the likelihood of conflict. I do not believe, therefore, that sending US aircraft carriers and our own nuclear submarines to the region is the answer.

Neither is greater use of convoys. Convoys can move only as fast as their slowest member, and many of the ships in the strait have no reason to join any convoy because they do not perceive any threat.

As long as this stand-off continues, the situation will remain tense. No one should be craving further military action. But after a weekend of dire warnings and threatening rhetoric, Britain has very few viable next steps.

  • Phil Diacon is managing director of the maritime security experts Dryad Global

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7271815/Russia-says-Irans-tanker-position-right-Britains.html

Story 3: Iran Says It Captured 17 Central Intelligence Agency Spies — Plans To Execute Some of Them — Videos

Pompeo dismisses Iran’s claim it arrested 17 CIA spies

Iran says it has captured 17 alleged US spies

Iran claims to have captured spies working for CIA

Iran crisis: ‘CIA spies’ sentenced to death

Iran releases the names and photos of some of the 17 ‘CIA spies’ it claims to have captured as Trump insists they have NOT been arrested and accuses Tehran of lying because it has ‘no idea what to do’ amid rising tensions with the West

  • The Iranian intelligence and security forces released photographs and the names of some of people they are are among the 17 on Monday 
  • Their identities have not been verified by any other government  
  • It  came as President Trump denied that any CIA agents had been arrested 
  • He accused Iran of lying because the country had become desperate
  • Iran claims to have arrested the spies sometime before March this year
  • It says it is only now publicizing their arrests as tensions with the West escalate 
  • All of the ‘suspects’ are Iranian nationals who were ‘lured’ by ‘US visa traps’, the Iranians claim  
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo retorted that Iran had a ‘history of lying’
  • Middle East tensions have been rising for weeks amid a series of tanker attacks
  • They have spiraled again in recent days after Iran seized a UK-flagged vessel 

An Iranian media outlet has released photographs of some of the 17 ‘CIA spies’ its government claims to have captured.

Photographs of some of the men were shared on Twitter on Monday by the Tasnim News Agency along with ‘details’ of their apparent work for the US.

The images and information were released by the Iranian intelligence and security forces, the agency reported.  They have not been verified by the US or any other government.

All of the ‘spies’ are Iranian nationals who the Iranian government claims were lured by the US with the promise of getting visas, according to Iran, which claims they were arrested in the Iranian calendar year which ended in March.

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Only now are their arrests being made public as the standoff between the West and Tehran intensifies.

As the photos emerged on Monday, President Trump denied that anyone had been arrested and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed to Iran’s history of lying.

‘The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false,’ Trump wrote in a tweet.

Scroll down for video 

Iran released unmuzzed versions of these photographs along with some of the 'spies' names on Monday morning after claiming to have captured them in the Iranian calendar year which ended in March

Iran released unmuzzed versions of these photographs along with some of the 'spies' names on Monday morning after claiming to have captured them in the Iranian calendar which ended in March

Iran released unmuzzed versions of these photographs along with some of the ‘spies’ names on Monday morning after claiming to have captured them in the Iranian calendar year which ended March

Some of the photographs included the alleged spies' families. Iran says all are Iranian nationals but that they were lured into working for the US government+27

Some of the photographs included the alleged spies' families. Iran says all are Iranian nationals but that they were lured into working for the US government

Some of the photographs included the alleged spies’ families. Iran says all are Iranian nationals but that they were lured into working for the US government

Another of the 'spies' Tehran claims to have captured in retaliation against the US+27

Another of the ‘spies’ Tehran claims to have captured in retaliation against the US

Trump called the reports 'lies and propaganda' and claimed Tehran is flailing amid a sinking economy and 'has no idea what to do'

 

Trump called the reports ‘lies and propaganda’ and claimed Tehran is flailing amid a sinking economy and ‘has no idea what to do’

‘Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do.’

‘Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!’ Trump wrote.

Iran’s security chiefs said they smashed an American spy ring that had planted U.S. agents at ‘sensitive sites’ in the country’s nuclear, military and cyber facilities.

The 17 suspects are all Iranians, some of them recruited by a ‘visa trap’ in which the CIA would target Iranian nationals as they applied to visit America, Iran claims.

The news agency also shared photos of business cards, email addresses and LinkedIn profiles they say belong to some of the 'spies'
The news agency also shared photos of business cards, email addresses and LinkedIn profiles they say belong to some of the 'spies'

The news agency also shared photos of business cards, email addresses and LinkedIn profiles they say belong to some of the ‘spies’

A documentary that aired Monday on Iranian TV purports to show U.S. agents trying to recruit Iranian spies in the Middle East, although the footage has not been verified.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Fox news Channel interview that Iran’s mullahs can’t be taken at their word.

‘It’s part of their nature to lie to the world,’ Pompeo said. ‘I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions they’ve taken.’

Iran says the suspects were arrested in the 12 months ending March 2019, but the regime is now publicizing the case now, just as tensions spiral in the Persian Gulf.

Tehran has been feuding with the West for weeks over the crumbling nuclear deal and a series of threats to Middle East shipping, which heightened again last week when Iran’s revolutionary guards seized a British tanker in the Straits of Hormuz.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has not commented on the claims specifically, but said Iran ‘has a long history of lying’.

An Iranian documentary which aired on Monday alluded to some form of strike on the US, particularly the CIA

This man was highlighted in an Iranian documentary about alleged U.S. intelligence work in Iran, as officials announced they had arrested 17 suspects. The footage has not been verified

The TV documentary also shows one woman telling an Iranian that 'there are so many intelligence officers in Dubai'

The TV documentary also shows one woman telling an Iranian that ‘there are so many intelligence officers in Dubai’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) said or Iran in a 'Fox & Friends' interview on Monday that 'it's part of their nature to lie to the world'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) said or Iran in a ‘Fox & Friends’ interview on Monday that ‘it’s part of their nature to lie to the world’

Centre of attention: Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, is seen at Bandar Abbas port on Friday after being seized by Iran

‘I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they’ve taken,’ he said in response to Iran’s claims.

Jason Rezaian, an Iranian journalist and formerly the Washington Post's bureau chief in Tehran who was convicted of espionage in 2015 but has always maintained he was falsely accused by his country's government, chimed in on Monday to say Iran had learned little

Speaking in Florida, he added: ‘There’s a long list of Americans that we are working to get home from the Islamic Republic of Iran.’

On Monday, a documentary which aired in Iran claimed the country had ‘dealt a blow to the U.S. foreign intelligence service’.

Jason Rezaian, an Iranian journalist and formerly the Washington Post’s bureau chief in Tehran who was convicted of espionage in 2015 but has always maintained he was falsely accused by his country’s government, chimed in: ‘5 years ago today, my wife and I were abducted from our home in Tehran, beginning a long, terrible & unjust ordeal.

‘Officials in Iran have obviously learned little from that episode, as they continue their 40 year practice of hostage taking, glorifying it at every opportunity.’

In a statement read on state television, the Ministry of Intelligence said: ‘Those who deliberately betrayed the country were handed to the judiciary… some were sentenced to death and some to long-term imprisonment,’ an intelligence spokesman told Iranian media.

‘The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas… where they collected classified information.’

First picture inside captured tanker

Iran today paraded the crew of a British-flagged tanker captured in the Straits of Hormuz on Friday.

A picture taken inside the Stena Impero shows part of the 23-strong crew huddled on the floor under the watchful eye of a Revolutionary Guardsman.

The men are seen sitting cross-legged on the bridge of the vessel having had their shoes removed and piled up nearby.

Iran has today paraded the crew of the Stena Impero oil tanker, which sails under a British flag, after its Revolutionary Guards captured the vessel on Friday. Footage released on state TV channels showed part of the crew sitting around a table+27

Iran has today paraded the crew of the Stena Impero oil tanker, which sails under a British flag, after its Revolutionary Guards captured the vessel on Friday. Footage released on state TV channels showed part of the crew sitting around a table

The photo is the latest taunt by Iran to Britain after the regime also aired footage of their flag being raised over the vessel.

On Monday Iran also broadcast footage of the Muslim call to prayer being played from the tanker’s speakers.

Iran seized the ship in retaliation for its own vessel, the Grace 1, being stopped by Royal Marine off the coast of Gibraltar last month in which it says was an operation carried out on behalf of the US. Britain says the ship was violating EU sanctions.

Chefs are also shown preparing food in the tanker's kitchen in an attempt by Iranian authorities to prove that the crew are not being badly treated+27

Chefs are also shown preparing food in the tanker’s kitchen in an attempt by Iranian authorities to prove that the crew are not being badly treated

Iranian officials said the suspects had been gathering classified information using ‘advanced equipment’.

‘Some were approached when they were applying for a visa, while others had visas from before and were pressured by the CIA in order to renew them,’ said the intelligence chief.

‘All of the network’s members, all the 17 people, were trained by CIA officers on how to set up safe communications.’

Iran said last month that it had dismantled a spy network linked to the CIA, but it was not clear if the latest announcement was part of the same operation.

Either way, the timing of the latest announcement has raised concerns that Tehran is hardening its position in its stand-off with Western powers.

A top security official alleged the CIA used special stone-like containers to send communications tools and identity documents to its network.

‘The forgery was clumsy, showing that it was done by the CIA itself,’ he said, adding that this ‘proves’ it was government-sanctioned.

‘After they were discovered, CIA officers ordered the spies to destroy all the documents,’ he added.

The intelligence official also handed out a CD with a video recording of an alleged foreign female spy working for the CIA.

The disc also included names of several U.S. Embassy staff in Turkey, India, Zimbabwe and Austria who Iran claims were in touch with the recruited Iranian spies.

In April the regime said it had uncovered 290 U.S. spies in recent years.

The Ministry of Defence released this photo of HMS Montrose warding off Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats (circled) which harassed the UK-flagged tanker British Heritage on July 10

The Ministry of Defence released this photo of HMS Montrose warding off Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats (circled) which harassed the UK-flagged tanker British Heritage on July 10

Middle East tensions mounted again at the weekend after Iran captured the UK-flagged Stena Impero, in retaliation for a British Royal Marine operation two weeks ago in which an Iranian vessel was seized off Gibraltar.

Video footage released by Iran showed the tanker being surrounded by speedboats before troops in balaclavas descend a rope from a helicopter onto the vessel.

Authorities said they impounded the ship on allegations it failed to respond to distress calls and turned off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat.

But Iran made the link between the two separate seizures this month explicit on Saturday.

‘The rule of reciprocal action is well-known in international law,’ said Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, a spokesman for Iran’s Guardian Council.

The Stena’s crew is made up of 18 Indians, including the captain, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino.

A top British representative to the UN rejected Iran’s version of events, accusing Tehran of ‘illegal interference’ and saying there was no evidence of a collision.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7271681/Iran-claims-arrested-17-CIA-spies.html

 

 

Iran Hands Down Death Sentences to Group of Alleged CIA Spies

Story 4: Where is The New Border Wall? — Where is Congressional Funding for New Border Barrier? — Congress Is Responsible for Crisis At The Border — New Improved Bipartisan Political Correct Chant — “Send Them All Home” Including Open Border/Citizenship For Illegal Aliens Democrats and Republicans and  Deport All 30-60 Million Illegal Aliens in United States — It Is The Law — Enforce The Law — Videos Videos

See the source image

See the source image

Trump wall President addresses nation on border ‘crisis’ BBC News

Tucker Carlson Tonight 7/22/19 | Tucker Carlson Tonight Fox News July 22, 2019

President Trump signs border aid bill

Border Wall Presentation

Major Decision Coming From The Supreme Court Over The Fate Of Trump’s Wall

Trump says Mexico has been helping the US a lot with the border crisis

Trump’s border wall still not built as US faces immigrant crisis | 60 Minutes Australia

Trump has not built a single mile of new border fence after 30 months in office

The Trump administration has not installed a single mile of new wall in a previously fenceless part of the U.S.-Mexico border in the 30 months since President Trump assumed office, despite his campaign promise to construct a “big beautiful wall.”

In a statement last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency overseeing border barrier construction, confirmed that all the fencing completed since Trump took office is “in place of dilapidated designs” because the existing fence was in need of replacement.

The agency said that it had built 51 miles of steel bollard fence with funding that was set aside during fiscal 2017 and 2018. But while the funding was meant both to replace outdated walls and to place barriers where there previously had been none, the government has only completed the replacement projects. The projects to secure areas with no fence are still in the works.

The 50 miles of completed replacement barrier is a 10-mile gain since early April. In Trump’s two and a half years in office, his administration has installed an average 1.7 miles of barrier per month, and none of it in areas that did not previously have some sort of barrier. A total 205 miles of new and replacement barrier has been funded in the two and a half years since Trump took office.

A senior administration official told the Washington Examiner that Border Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers moved faster on replacement projects than the new ones because the approval process for environmental and zoning permits was far less extensive than areas of the border with no barrier.

A second senior official defended the administration’s progress and blamed Democrats in Congress for blocking funding for additional projects the White House has tried to move on.

Despite the lack of new barriers, Trump has applauded his administration for building more border wall. His 2020 campaign has made the border wall its primary messaging.

Trump’s 2020 campaign debuted the slogan “Finish the Wall” at his first rally of 2019 in El Paso, Texas. At one point during his speech, the crowd began cheering “build that wall.” Trump responded, “Now, you really mean ‘finish that wall,’ because we’ve built a lot of it,” though he did not share numbers with the thousands of people in attendance.

The White House initially persuaded Congress to fund replacement projects in 2017, then moved in 2018 to get more money for both replacement fencing and projects in parts of the border that have no barrier.

Congress in 2017 approved $341 million for 40 miles of replacement wall in San Diego, California; Santa Teresa, North Mexico; Calexico, California; and El Paso, Texas.

“To this date, CBP has completed the construction of approximately 99 percent of the 40 miles funded in fiscal year 2017. Additionally, construction of 35 gates to close gaps in current border infrastructure in the Rio Grande Valley sector continues,” the Department of Homeland Security agency said in a statement.

In the 2018 omnibus government funding bill, lawmakers approved $1.375 billion for 80 miles of new and replacement wall in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, various regions of California, and Yuma, Arizona. CBP said it has finished roughly 10 miles of that portion, of which none has been new fencing.

Meanwhile, the administration maintains that significant portions of new wall will be finished in the time remaining in Trump’s term. Army Corps Commanding Gen. Todd T. Semonite said earlier this spring the Corps will put up 450 miles of wall by November 2020.

However, CBP reiterated this month it is only moving on the approximately 205 miles that have been funded as of 2019, including with Treasury Forfeiture Fund dollars Trump redirected through executive action in February. The remaining 85 miles that has already been funded was proposed this year and is intended for the Rio Grande Valley of Texas — some of which is meant to be new wall.

The Trump administration was sued earlier this spring after seizing $6.6 billion in military and other department funding to use for border wall construction. The Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the White House plan from going forward. The court is expected to rule in the next few weeks.

Roughly 700 miles of the 2,000-mile border has some sort of barrier as a result of the Secure Fence Act, which was passed by Congress during the George W. Bush administration. It was the first major piece of legislation that funded the construction of barriers along the southern border.

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1278, June 20, 2019, Part 1– Story 1: President Trump: “Iran made a very big mistake” — Option A: Strong Message and Done , Option B: One Missile Attack and Done, Option C: Total War With Iran and World Recession Due To Spike in Oil and Gas Prices — Videos — Story 2: Federal Reserve Board Votes To Keep Federal Funds Target Range of 2.25% to 2.5% Waiting For July 2019 Jobs Report and Second Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Number — Videos — Story 3: Creepy, Sleepy, Dopey Joey Biden in Praise of Civility of Democrat Segregationist Senators — Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) Attack Biden — Videos — Part 2– Story 4: President Trump Pushes All The Right Buttons in 2020 Stump Speech in Orlando, Florida — Boom Boom Boom — Send Them Home — MAGA MAGA MAGA — Lock Them Up — Four More Years — Keep America Great — Win Win Win — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 1278 June 20, 2019 

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Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

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Story 1: President Trump: “Iran made a very big mistake” — Option A: Strong Message and Done, Option B: One Missile Attack and Done, Option C: Total War With Iran and World Recession Due To Spike in Oil and Gas Prices — Videos —

Tucker: Washington is war-hungry

Pentagon releases footage of US drone being shot down by Iran

LIVE: President Trump first comments after Iran shoots down US Drone | June 20th 2019

US is bringing the Iranian economy to its knees: Nile Gardiner

Oil prices rise after Iran shoots down US drone

40% Chance of 2020 U.S.-Iran Military Conflict: Eurasia CEO

Iran shoots down US drone as tensions escalate

Video shows Iran shooting down US drone

Iran says it shot down US drone ‘violating Iranian air space’ amid growing tensions

Iran Shot Down U.S. Drone to Disrupt Trade in Persian Gulf, Senior U.S. Military Official Says

President Trump makes first comments after Iran shoots down U.S. Drone | ABC News Special Report

Iran says it’s ‘ready for war’

Iran shoots down US military spy drone | DW News

Iran says it will breach nuclear deal ‘in days’ as its uranium stockpile limit nears

Is The U.S. Going To War With Iran? | AJ+

Iran’s foreign minister accuses US, Mideast of provoking conflict

Iran’s Zarif thrashes Trump, “US driven by pathological obsession” (Munich Security Conference 2019)

Can air strikes take out Iran’s nuclear facilities?

Did Trump Just Blink or Bluff in Standoff With Iran?

Anthony Halpin

Bloomberg

Was it all a bluff? After news leaked that President Donald Trump approved and then called off U.S. airstrikes on Iran last night, it emerged he’d warned Tehran about an imminent attack while insisting he was against a war.

Today, as airlines began re-routing flights away from the Strait of Hormuz, Iran’s Foreign Ministry called in the Swiss ambassador, who also represents U.S. interests, for talks.

Was the outreach why Trump abandoned the strikes? Or was this the latest example of the whipsaw approach from a president who’s twice attacked Syria but also backed away from using force after lashing out at Iran and North Korea?

The leak of Trump’s about-face also speaks volumes about the battle for influence in the White House. Hardliners clearly thought they’d convinced him to back a tough response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. Navy drone. Yet Trump was elected on a pledge to pull out of Middle East wars.

The president, who governs with the cliffhanger style of his Apprentice TV show, thrives on keeping supporters hooked on dramatic twists.

But as his 2020 re-election campaign gains steam, the stakes now include the prospect of armed conflict and instability in a region that supplies a third of the world’s oil.

Global Headlines

Biden’s burden | Democratic front-runner Joe Biden is encountering the same pitfalls as other seasoned politicians who’ve found their experience and record can be a liability. The former Delaware senator’s struggles to defend his remarks this week about finding common ground with two segregationists is an early sign of the trouble he could have explaining a complicated voting record and his nostalgia for a Washington collegiality that has steadily diminished since he was first elected in 1972.

Border control | Trump praised Mexico’s efforts to crack down on migrants crossing the border into the U.S. after the two countries entered an agreement aimed at stemming the flow of people entering Mexico from Central America. Mexico will take greater control of its southern border and ask foreigners to register their arrival.

Osaka drama | Before Trump, Group of 20 summits were dull if worthy affairs. This year’s gathering in Osaka, Japan next week promises to be anything but, as the U.S. president holds talks with China’s Xi Jinping after threatening to escalate their trade conflict. The best-case scenario would be a pause in new U.S. tariffs and a resumption of negotiations that broke down in May. The worst-case would be a new Cold War between the two largest economies.

Favorites flushed | European Union leaders cast aside the candidates who’ve dominated the race to head the next EU Commission and will start from scratch less than two weeks before a self-imposed deadline. The decision at a summit in Brussels extends gridlock that has left investors in the dark over a series of critical posts including the next president of the European Central Bank.

Bad air | As climate change tops political agendas from Washington to New Delhi, there’s no solution in sight for the bad air choking Europe’s poorest countries. While the EU has focused mostly on stability in the volatile Balkans, health problems and lost productivity from air pollution cost the continent more than 10 billion euros a year. Obsolete coal plants and cars spew smog and hundreds of thousands of people burn tires, wood and trash to stay warm.

What to Watch

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will go head-to-head in the contest to become the U.K.’s next prime minister as they seek votes from the Conservative Party’s 160,000 grassroots members over the next month. Ukraine’s Constitutional Court threw out a challenge to a decree by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy ordering early parliamentary elections. The ruling confirmed a vote will take place next month and a new government should be in place by the fall. Turkey reruns the election for mayor of Istanbul on Sunday, pitting former prime minister and ruling AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim against opposition challenger Ekrem Imamoglu, who was stripped of his narrow victory in the March 31 ballot.

And finally…The U.K. is poised to generate more energy from low-carbon sources than from fossil fuels for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. Wind, solar, hydro and nuclear plants provided 48% of the nation’s power in the first five months of this year. The U.K. has gone without burning coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, for the equivalent of 80 days so far in 2019, including one stretch of 18 days in a row.

–With assistance from Kathleen Hunter and Daniel Ten Kate.

https://news.yahoo.com/did-trump-just-blink-bluff-100815556.html

Trump says Iran made ‘big mistake’ by taking down US drone

today

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, June 20, 2019, in Washington. Trump declared Thursday that “Iran made a very big mistake” in shooting down a U.S. drone but suggested it was an accident rather than a strategic error. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared Thursday that “Iran made a very big mistake” by shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz but suggested it was a foolish error rather than an intentional escalation of the tensions that have led to rising fears of open military conflict.

Asked about a U.S. response, the president said pointedly, “You’ll soon find out.”

The downing of the huge, unmanned aircraft , which Iran portrayed as a deliberate defense of its territory rather than a mistake, was a stark reminder of the risk of military conflict between U.S. and Iranian forces as the Trump administration combines a “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions against Iran with a buildup of American forces in the region.

The drone — which has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737 — entered Iranian airspace “despite repeated radio warnings” and was shot down by Iran, acting under the U.N. Charter which allows self-defense action “if an armed attack occurs,” Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi said in a letter to the U.N. secretary-general.

Donald Trump is playing down Iran's downing of an American drone, saying that it might have been a mistake executed by someone just being "loose and stupid." He said it was a "new wrinkle" in escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. (June 20)

Trump, who has said he wants to avoid war and negotiate with Iran over its nuclear ambitions, appeared to play down the significance of the shootdown.

He cast it as “a new wrinkle … a new fly in the ointment.” Yet he also said that “this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you.”

Shortly before Trump spoke, Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of U.S. Central Command air forces in the region, took a more pointed view of the shootdown in an area where Trump has blamed Iran for attacking shipping vessels.

“This attack is an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and free flow of commerce,” he said.

The Trump administration has been putting increasing economic pressure on Iran for more than a year. It reinstated punishing sanctions following Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of an international agreement intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from earlier sanctions.

The other world powers who remain signed on to the nuclear deal have set a meeting to discuss the U.S. withdrawal and Iran’s announced plans to increase its uranium stockpile for June 28, a date far enough in the future to perhaps allow tensions to cool.

Citing Iranian threats, the U.S. recently sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution.

“We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.

The paramilitary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone at 4:05 a.m. Thursday when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) southeast of Tehran.

The first U.S. reaction was Trump’s Thursday morning tweet of six forceful words: “Iran made a very big mistake.”

But later, while meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said, “I would imagine it was a general or somebody that made a mistake in shooting that drone down.

He said the American drone was unarmed and unmanned and “clearly over international waters.” It would have “made a big, big difference” if someone had been inside, he said.

“I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said. “I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it.”

Taking issue with the U.S. version of where the attack occurred, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that his country had retrieved sections of the military drone “in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.” He said, “We don’t seek war but will zealously defend our skies, land & waters.”

U.S. Gen. Guastella disputed that contention, telling reporters that the aircraft was 34 kilometers (21 miles) from the nearest Iranian territory and flying at high altitude when struck by a surface-to-air missile. The U.S. military has not commented on the mission of the remotely piloted aircraft that can fly higher than 10 miles in altitude and stay in the air for over 24 hours at a time.

One U.S. official said there was a second American aircraft in the area that was able to get video and imagery of the drone when it was shot down.

Congressional leaders came to the White House for an hour-long briefing in the Situation Room late Thursday with top national security officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Army Secretary Mark Esper, whom Trump has said he’ll nominate as Pentagon chief.

The Senate’s top Democrat called the downing of the American drone “deeply concerning” and accused the administration of not having an Iran strategy and keeping Congress and the rest of the nation in the dark.

“The president needs to explain to the American people why he’s driving us toward another endless conflict in the Middle East,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she didn’t think Trump wanted war with Iran and the American people have “no appetite” for it either. She said the U.S. needs to be “strong and strategic” about protecting its interests but “cannot be reckless.”

Talking tougher, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called Iran a “murderous regime” and said, “If they’re itching for a fight they’re going to get one.”

“We’re a lot closer today than we were yesterday, and only God knows what tomorrow brings,” said Graham, a Trump ally who talked with the president by telephone.

The senator also focused on the issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, saying its leaders have refused to negotiate after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the international agreement to limit Iranian development of nuclear weapons.

Graham said it’s imperative that the U.S. clearly tell the Iranians that any attempt to increase uranium enrichment will be seen as a “hostile act against the United States and our allies in Israel and will not go unanswered.”

Another factor: This all comes as Trump is launching his re-election campaign. He ran for president promising to bring American troops home from the Middle East and Afghanistan and has repeatedly said he wants to keep America out of “endless wars.”

Ari Fleischer, who was press secretary for President George W. Bush, cautioned against thinking about politics when weighing any response to Iran.

“I suspect a successful limited counter-strike, such as taking out the missile battery that fired at the drone or the sinking of an unmanned Iranian vessel, would be seen as a well-calibrated show of resolve and discipline,” Fleischer said in an interview. He added that “if we do nothing, Iran may strike again thinking it has impunity.”

https://apnews.com/84ad15edb7324472bb867852059a0a7a

Iran shoots down US surveillance drone, heightening tensions

29 minutes ago

In this Oct. 24, 2018, photo released by the U.S. Air Force, members of the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron prepare to launch an RQ-4 Global Hawk at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk on Thursday, June 20, 2019, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over its collapsing nuclear deal with world powers, American and Iranian officials said, though they disputed the circumstances of the incident. (Staff Sgt. Ramon A. Adelan/U.S. Air Force via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. surveillance drone Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz, marking the first time the Islamic Republic directly attacked the American military amid tensions over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

The two countries disputed the circumstances leading up to an Iranian surface-to-air missile bringing down the U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk, an unmanned aircraft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 jetliner and costing over $100 million.

Iran said the drone “violated” its territorial airspace, while the U.S. called the missile fire “an unprovoked attack” in international airspace over the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf and President Donald Trump tweeted that “Iran made a very big mistake!”

Trump later appeared to play down the incident, telling reporters in the Oval Office that he had a feeling that “a general or somebody” being “loose and stupid” made a mistake in shooting down the drone.

AP Graphic

The incident immediately heightened the crisis already gripping the wider region, which is rooted in Trump withdrawing the U.S. a year ago from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and imposing crippling new sanctions on Tehran. Recently, Iran quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium to be on pace to break one of the deal’s terms by next week while threatening to raise enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels on July 7 if Europe doesn’t offer it a new deal.

Citing unspecified Iranian threats, the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to the Middle East and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution.

“We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.

The paramilitary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone at 4:05 a.m. Thursday when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) southeast of Tehran.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami. (Sepahnews via AP)

The drone took off from the southern Persian Gulf and collected data from Iranian territory, including the southern port of Chahbahar near Iran’s border with Pakistan, the Guard said in comments that appeared aimed at showing it could track the aircraft.

The U.S. military has not commented on the mission of the remotely piloted aircraft that can fly higher than 10 miles in altitude and stay in the air for over 24 hours at a time.

Iran used its air defense system known as Third of Khordad to shoot down the drone — a truck-based missile system that can fire up to 18 miles (30 kilometers) into the sky, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Iranian state TV later broadcast video it described as the moment the Guard launched the surface-to-air missile that struck the U.S. drone. Chants of “God is great!” could be heard as a fireball appeared in the darkened sky.

Typically, militaries worldwide call out to errant aircraft entering their airspace before firing. It’s unclear whether Iran gave any warning before opening fire. The U.S. military says Iran fired on and missed another drone last week near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all global oil moves.

The U.S. has been worried about international shipping through the strategic waterway since tankers were damaged in May and June in what Washington has blamed on limpet mines from Iran, although Tehran denied involvement.. On Wednesday in the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. Navy showed fragments of mines that it said bore “a striking resemblance” to those seen in Iran

The RQ-4 Global Hawk was at least 34 kilometers from Iranian territory when it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of the U.S. Central Command. He said it was an attempt to disrupt U.S. efforts to monitor the Persian Gulf region.

But Salami, speaking to a crowd in the western city of Sanandaj, described the American drone as “violating our national security border.”

“Borders are our red line,” the Revolutionary Guard general said. “Any enemy that violates the borders will be annihilated.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry also said the drone entered Iranian airspace, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted it would take its case to the U.N. He later tweeted that Iran retrieved parts of the drone in its territorial waters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged caution, warning any war between Iran and the U.S. would be a “catastrophe for the region as a minimum.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged support for U.S. efforts to halt what he called escalating Iranian provocations.

“In the last 24 hours, Iran has intensified its aggression against the United States and against all of us,” he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern and urged all parties to “avoid any action that could inflame the situation,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

America stations some RQ-4 Global Hawks at the Al-Dhafra Air Base in the UAE, near the capital of Abu Dhabi. Associated Press journalists saw the drones on the base’s tarmac during a March 2016 visit by then-Vice President Joe Biden. The U.S. military occasionally publishes images from there of the drones, which have a distinctive hump-shaped front and an engine atop the fuselage.

Iran has claimed to have shot down U.S. drones before. In the most famous incident, in December 2011, Iran seized an RQ-170 Sentinel flown by the CIA to monitor Iranian nuclear sites after it entered Iranian airspace from neighboring Afghanistan. Iran later reverse-engineered the drone to create their own variants.

Elsewhere in the region Thursday, Saudi Arabia said Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fired a rocket at a desalination plant in al-Shuqaiq, a city in the kingdom’s Jizan province. The state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted military spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki as saying it caused no damage or casualties.

The Yemeni rebel Al-Masirah satellite news channel earlier said the Houthis targeted a power plant in Jizan, near the kingdom’s border with Yemen, with a cruise missile.

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally, has been battling the Houthis since March 2015 in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation now pushed to the brink of famine by the conflict. In recent weeks, the Houthis have launched a new campaign sending missiles and bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia.

https://apnews.com/e4316eb989d5499c9828350de8524963

 

 

Story 2: Federal Reserve Board Votes To Keep Federal Funds Target Range of 2.25% to 2.5% Waiting For July 2019 Jobs Report and Second Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Number — Videos

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Trump slams Fed over interest rate policy

Fed Chair Jerome Powell speaks to media following interest rate decision – 06/19/2019

Sen. Tillis Says Fed Made Mistake in December, Defers to Trump on Powell Demotion

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Discount Rate and Federal Funds Rate

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Trump expected Powell to be a ‘cheap-money’ Fed chairman

S&P 500 closes at new record as Wall Street bets Fed will lower rates, Dow surges nearly 250 points

VIDEO02:12
The S&P 500 just closed at a record high — Here’s what four experts say to watch

Stocks rallied on Thursday, led by strong gains in tech and energy shares, as Wall Street cheered the possibility that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates next month.

The S&P 500 surged 1% to 2,954.18, a record close. The broad index also hit an intraday record of 2,958.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 249.17 points higher at 26,753.17. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.8% to end the day at 8,051.34.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell below 2% for the first time since November 2016. Investors cheered the decline in the benchmark for mortgage rates and corporate bonds.

The energy sector rose more than 2% to lead all 11 S&P 500 sectors higher as oil prices jumped. Tech gained 1.4% after shares of Oracle surged more than 8% on stronger-than-forecast earnings. General Electric’s 2.8% rise pushed the industrials sector up more than 1.6% on the day.

“Markets are based on numbers and perception. If the perception is rates are getting cut, that’s going to drive markets higher,” said Kathy Entwistle, senior vice president of wealth management at UBS. “UBS’ stance up until yesterday was we wouldn’t see any rate cuts this year. Now we see a much larger chance of a 50-basis-point cut.”

The Fed said Wednesday it stands ready to battle growing global and domestic economic risks as they took stock of intensifying trade tensions and growing concerns about inflation. Most Fed policymakers slashed their rate outlook for the rest of the calendar year by approximately half a percentage point in the previous session, while Chairman Jerome Powell said others agree the case for lower rates is building.

Policymakers also dropped “patient” from the Fed’s statement and acknowledged that inflation is “running below” its 2% objective.

Market participants viewed the overall tone from the U.S. central bank as more dovish than expected. Traders are now pricing in a 100% chance of a rate cutnext month, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

With Thursday’s gains, the market has now erased the steep losses recorded by the major indexes in May, which were sparked by trade fears. The S&P 500 and Dow both fell more than 6% while the Nasdaq lost 7.9% last month. The three indexes were up more than 7% for June.

China and the U.S. hiked tariffs on billions of dollars worth of their goods in May. Stocks turned around this month as traders bet the rising trade tensions, coupled with weaker economic data, would lead the Fed to ease its monetary policy stance.

The Fed’s message on Wednesday sent the 10-year Treasury yield to as low as 1.974% before ending the day around 2.02%. The yield stood at 2.8% in January.

“The FOMC reinforced the market’s conviction,” said Steve Blitz, chief U.S. economist at TS Lombard, in a note. “Barring a dramatic turnaround in the data, the next move is a cut – perhaps even a 50bp reduction.”

The dollar also took a hit against other major currencies. The dollar index dropped 0.5% to 96.65, led by a 0.6% slide in the euro. The yen and Canadian dollar also rose against the U.S. currency.

Energy shares got a boost from higher oil prices. The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE) climbed 2.2% as shares of Exxon Mobil gained 1.7%. Oil prices surged 5.4% after a U.S. official said a drone was shot down over Iranian airspace.

Meanwhile, Slack shares surged more than 40% in their first day of trading. The stock closed above $38 after setting a reference price of $26.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/20/stock-market-dow-futures-higher-after-fed-raises-rate-cut-hopes.html

Federal Open Market Committee

About the FOMC

Recent FOMC press conference

June 19, 2019

FOMC Transcripts and other historical materials

The term “monetary policy” refers to the actions undertaken by a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve, to influence the availability and cost of money and credit to help promote national economic goals. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 gave the Federal Reserve responsibility for setting monetary policy.

The Federal Reserve controls the three tools of monetary policy–open market operationsthe discount rate, and reserve requirements. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is responsible for the discount rate and reserve requirements, and the Federal Open Market Committee is responsible for open market operations. Using the three tools, the Federal Reserve influences the demand for, and supply of, balances that depository institutions hold at Federal Reserve Banks and in this way alters the federal funds rate. The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions lend balances at the Federal Reserve to other depository institutions overnight.

Changes in the federal funds rate trigger a chain of events that affect other short-term interest rates, foreign exchange rates, long-term interest rates, the amount of money and credit, and, ultimately, a range of economic variables, including employment, output, and prices of goods and services.

Structure of the FOMC

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) consists of twelve members–the seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and four of the remaining eleven Reserve Bank presidents, who serve one-year terms on a rotating basis. The rotating seats are filled from the following four groups of Banks, one Bank president from each group: Boston, Philadelphia, and Richmond; Cleveland and Chicago; Atlanta, St. Louis, and Dallas; and Minneapolis, Kansas City, and San Francisco. Nonvoting Reserve Bank presidents attend the meetings of the Committee, participate in the discussions, and contribute to the Committee’s assessment of the economy and policy options.

The FOMC holds eight regularly scheduled meetings per year. At these meetings, the Committee reviews economic and financial conditions, determines the appropriate stance of monetary policy, and assesses the risks to its long-run goals of price stability and sustainable economic growth.

For more detail on the FOMC and monetary policy, see section 2 of the brochure on the structure of the Federal Reserve Systemand chapter 2 of Purposes & Functions of the Federal Reserve System. FOMC Rules and Authorizations are also available online.

2019 Committee Members

Alternate Members

Federal Reserve Bank Rotation on the FOMC

Committee membership changes at the first regularly scheduled meeting of the year.

2020 2021 2022
Members New York
Cleveland
Philadelphia
Dallas
Minneapolis
New York
Chicago
Richmond
Atlanta
San Francisco
New York
Cleveland
Boston
St. Louis
Kansas City
Alternate
Members
New York
Chicago
Richmond
Atlanta
San Francisco
New York
Cleveland
Boston
St. Louis
Kansas City
New York
Chicago
Philadelphia
Dallas
Minneapolis

 †For the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the First Vice President is the alternate for the President. Return to table

For additional information, please use the FOMC FOIA request form.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/fomc.htm

 

Fed holds rates steady, but opens the door for a rate cut in the future

The action sets up a possible confrontation between Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and President Donald Trump, who has been pressuring the Fed to cut rates. Just Tuesday, Trump said “let’s see what he does” at the Fed meeting when asked if he still wants to demote Powell.

At the post-statement news conference, Powell was asked about his future as chairman. “I think the law is clear that I have a four year term, and I fully intend to serve it,” he said.

The strong majority for this month’s decision contrasted with a sharp difference of opinion on what happens next.

The committee provided an important nod to those worried about slower growth: It dropped the word “patient” in  describing its approach to policy. The characterization was a key part of the Fed “pivot” earlier this year that signaled to the market a more dovish approach to rates.

“The Fed didn’t surprise investors with the decision to maintain rates, but the split vote tells us that a cut is on the way and it’s increasingly likely that will be in July, as bond markets have been hoping,” said Neil Birrell, chief investment officer at Premier Asset Management.

“This was probably the compromise decision — it wasn’t shocking and should offer some reassurance,” Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group, said in a note. “The FOMC will still want to closely monitor the stress fractures from the bond market, middling housing and auto sales numbers, and an increasingly uncertain global economic landscape in the coming months.”

The statement also changed wording to concede that inflation is “running below” the Fed’s 2% objective. In their forecast for headline inflation this year, officials slashed the estimate to 1.5% from March’s 1.8%. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, is likely now to be 1.8% from March’s 2%, according to the quarterly summary of economic projections also released Wednesday.

‘In light of these uncertainties’

The committee changed language from its May statement to indicate that economic activity is “rising at a moderate rate,” a downgrade from “solid.”

In their baseline scenario, FOMC members said they still expect “sustained expansion of economic activity” and a move toward 2% inflation, but realize that “uncertainties about this outlook have increased.”

“In light of these uncertainties and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will closely monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric 2 percent objective,” the statement said. The “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion” language mirrors a statement from Powell in early June.

Very reasonable to think Fed will cut rates twice this year: Strategist

The committee characterized the labor market as “strong” with “solid” jobs growth, despite May’s disappointing nonfarm payrolls growth of 75,000. The statement further said that household spending “appears to have picked up from earlier in the year.”

The changes came amid what appeared to be little consensus among the committee about where rates go next.

Divided Fed

According to the “dot plot” of individual members’ expectations, eight members favor one cut this year while the same number voted in favor of the status quo and one still wants a rate hike. Bullard and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari have led the public discussion about the potential for rate cuts, while other members have been less firm.

Into 2020, the Fed consensus was a bit stronger, with nine members wanting a cut to a funds rate around 2.1%. The direction changes, though, in 2021, with indications of an increase of about a quarter-point, culminating in an expected long-run value of 2.5%. The funds rate most recently was trading at 2.37%.

Traders in the thin and volatile funds market had been pricing in a 26% chance of a cut at this week’s meeting. Later in the year, though, the probability for a July easing rose to 82.5% and the chances of a second cut in December were most recently at 60.4%. The market expects a third cut to come around March of 2020.

While the statement language offered some significant changes, estimates in the summary of economic projections, other than inflation, moved little from March. GDP growth is still expected to be 2.1% for the year – it was 3.1% in the first quarter, and the Atlanta Fed is forecasting a 2% gain in the second quarter. The unemployment rate is now expected to hold at a 50-year low of 3.6%, against the March forecast of 3.7%.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/19/fed-decision-fed-leaves-rates-unchanged.html

10-year Treasury yield drops below 2% for first time since November 2016

Federal funds rate

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Federal Funds Rate compared to U.S. Treasury interest rates

2 to 10 year treasury yield spread

Inflation (blue) compared to federal funds rate (red)

Quarterly gross domestic product compared to Federal Funds Rate.

Federal Funds Rate and Treasury interest rates from 2002-2019

In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions (banks and credit unions) lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Reserve balances are amounts held at the Federal Reserve to maintain depository institutions’ reserve requirements. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend those balances to institutions in need of larger balances. The federal funds rate is an important benchmark in financial markets.[1][2]

The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is determined by a meeting of the members of the Federal Open Market Committee which normally occurs eight times a year about seven weeks apart. The committee may also hold additional meetings and implement target rate changes outside of its normal schedule.

The Federal Reserve uses open market operations to make the federal funds effective rate follow the federal funds target rate. The target rate is chosen in part to influence the money supply in the U.S. economy[3]

Contents

Mechanism

Financial institutions are obligated by law to maintain certain levels of reserves, either as reserves with the Fed or as vault cash. The level of these reserves is determined by the outstanding assets and liabilities of each depository institution, as well as by the Fed itself, but is typically 10%[4] of the total value of the bank’s demand accounts (depending on bank size). In the range of $9.3 million to $43.9 million, for transaction deposits (checking accountsNOWs, and other deposits that can be used to make payments) the reserve requirement in 2007–2008 was 3 percent of the end-of-the-day daily average amount held over a two-week period. Transaction deposits over $43.9 million held at the same depository institution carried a 10 percent reserve requirement.

For example, assume a particular U.S. depository institution, in the normal course of business, issues a loan. This dispenses money and decreases the ratio of bank reserves to money loaned. If its reserve ratio drops below the legally required minimum, it must add to its reserves to remain compliant with Federal Reserve regulations. The bank can borrow the requisite funds from another bank that has a surplus in its account with the Fed. The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is set by the governors of the Federal Reserve, which they enforce by open market operations and adjustments in the interest rate on reserves.[5] The target rate is almost always what is meant by the media referring to the Federal Reserve “changing interest rates.” The actual federal funds rate generally lies within a range of that target rate, as the Federal Reserve cannot set an exact value through open market operations.

Another way banks can borrow funds to keep up their required reserves is by taking a loan from the Federal Reserve itself at the discount window. These loans are subject to audit by the Fed, and the discount rate is usually higher than the federal funds rate. Confusion between these two kinds of loans often leads to confusion between the federal funds rate and the discount rate. Another difference is that while the Fed cannot set an exact federal funds rate, it does set the specific discount rate.

The federal funds rate target is decided by the governors at Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings. The FOMC members will either increase, decrease, or leave the rate unchanged depending on the meeting’s agenda and the economic conditions of the U.S. It is possible to infer the market expectations of the FOMC decisions at future meetings from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Fed Funds futures contracts, and these probabilities are widely reported in the financial media.

Applications

Interbank borrowing is essentially a way for banks to quickly raise money. For example, a bank may want to finance a major industrial effort but may not have the time to wait for deposits or interest (on loan payments) to come in. In such cases the bank will quickly raise this amount from other banks at an interest rate equal to or higher than the Federal funds rate.

Raising the federal funds rate will dissuade banks from taking out such inter-bank loans, which in turn will make cash that much harder to procure. Conversely, dropping the interest rates will encourage banks to borrow money and therefore invest more freely.[6] This interest rate is used as a regulatory tool to control how freely the U.S. economy operates.

By setting a higher discount rate the Federal Bank discourages banks from requisitioning funds from the Federal Bank, yet positions itself as a lender of last resort.

Comparison with LIBOR

Though the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the federal funds rate are concerned with the same action, i.e. interbank loans, they are distinct from one another, as follows:

  • The target federal funds rate is a target interest rate that is set by the FOMC for implementing U.S. monetary policies.
  • The (effective) federal funds rate is achieved through open market operations at the Domestic Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which deals primarily in domestic securities (U.S. Treasury and federal agencies’ securities).[7]
  • LIBOR is based on a questionnaire where a selection of banks guess the rates at which they could borrow money from other banks.
  • LIBOR may or may not be used to derive business terms. It is not fixed beforehand and is not meant to have macroeconomic ramifications.[8]

Predictions by the market

Considering the wide impact a change in the federal funds rate can have on the value of the dollar and the amount of lending going to new economic activity, the Federal Reserve is closely watched by the market. The prices of Option contracts on fed funds futures (traded on the Chicago Board of Trade) can be used to infer the market’s expectations of future Fed policy changes. Based on CME Group 30-Day Fed Fund futures prices, which have long been used to express the market’s views on the likelihood of changes in U.S. monetary policy, the CME Group FedWatch tool allows market participants to view the probability of an upcoming Fed Rate hike. One set of such implied probabilities is published by the Cleveland Fed.

Historical rates

As of 19 December 2018 the target range for the Federal Funds Rate is 2.25–2.50%.[9] This represents the ninth increase in the target rate since tightening began in December 2015.[10]

The last full cycle of rate increases occurred between June 2004 and June 2006 as rates steadily rose from 1.00% to 5.25%. The target rate remained at 5.25% for over a year, until the Federal Reserve began lowering rates in September 2007. The last cycle of easing monetary policy through the rate was conducted from September 2007 to December 2008 as the target rate fell from 5.25% to a range of 0.00–0.25%. Between December 2008 and December 2015 the target rate remained at 0.00–0.25%, the lowest rate in the Federal Reserve’s history, as a reaction to the Financial crisis of 2007–2008 and its aftermath. According to Jack A. Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank, one reason for this unprecedented move of having a range, rather than a specific rate, was because a rate of 0% could have had problematic implications for money market funds, whose fees could then outpace yields.[11]

Federal funds rate history and recessions.png

Explanation of federal funds rate decisions

When the Federal Open Market Committee wishes to reduce interest rates they will increase the supply of money by buying government securities. When additional supply is added and everything else remains constant, the price of borrowed funds – the federal funds rate – falls. Conversely, when the Committee wishes to increase the federal funds rate, they will instruct the Desk Manager to sell government securities, thereby taking the money they earn on the proceeds of those sales out of circulation and reducing the money supply. When supply is taken away and everything else remains constant, the interest rate will normally rise.[12]

The Federal Reserve has responded to a potential slow-down by lowering the target federal funds rate during recessions and other periods of lower growth. In fact, the Committee’s lowering has recently predated recessions,[13] in order to stimulate the economy and cushion the fall. Reducing the federal funds rate makes money cheaper, allowing an influx of credit into the economy through all types of loans.

The charts linked below show the relation between S&P 500 and interest rates.

  • July 13, 1990 — Sept 4, 1992: 8.00%–3.00% (Includes 1990–1991 recession)[14][15]
  • Feb 1, 1995 — Nov 17, 1998: 6.00–4.75 [16][17][18]
  • May 16, 2000 — June 25, 2003: 6.50–1.00 (Includes 2001 recession)[19][20][21]
  • June 29, 2006 — (Oct. 29 2008): 5.25–1.00[22]
  • Dec 16, 2008 — 0.0–0.25[23]
  • Dec 16, 2015 — 0.25–0.50[24]
  • Dec 14, 2016 — 0.50–0.75[25]
  • Mar 15, 2017 — 0.75–1.00[26]
  • Jun 14, 2017 — 1.00–1.25[27]
  • Dec 13, 2017 — 1.25–1.50[28]
  • Mar 21, 2018 — 1.50–1.75[29]
  • Jun 13, 2018 — 1.75–2.00[30]
  • Sep 26, 2018 — 2.00–2.25[9]
  • Dec 19, 2018 — 2.25–2.50[31]

Bill Gross of PIMCO suggested that in the prior 15 years ending in 2007, in each instance where the fed funds rate was higher than the nominal GDP growth rate, assets such as stocks and housing fell.[32]

International effects

A low federal funds rate makes investments in developing countries such as China or Mexico more attractive. A high federal funds rate makes investments outside the United States less attractive. The long period of a very low federal funds rate from 2009 forward resulted in an increase in investment in developing countries. As the United States began to return to a higher rate in 2013 investments in the United States became more attractive and the rate of investment in developing countries began to fall. The rate also affects the value of currency, a higher rate increasing the value of the U.S. dollar and decreasing the value of currencies such as the Mexican peso.[33]

See also

References

  1. ^ “Fedpoints: Federal Funds”Federal Reserve Bank of New York. August 2007. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  2. ^ “The Implementation of Monetary Policy”. The Federal Reserve System: Purposes & Functions(PDF). Washington, D.C.: Federal Reserve Board. August 24, 2011. p. 4. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  3. ^ “Monetary Policy, Open Market Operations”. Federal Reserve Bank. January 30, 2008. Archived from the original on April 13, 2001. Retrieved January 30, 2008.
  4. ^ “Reserve Requirements”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  5. ^ Stefan Homburg (2017) A Study in Monetary Macroeconomics, Oxford University Press, ISBN978-0-19-880753-7.
  6. ^ “Fed funds rate”. Bankrate, Inc. March 2016.
  7. ^ Cheryl L. Edwards (November 1997). Gerard Sinzdak. “Open Market Operations in the 1990s”(PDF)Federal Reserve Bulletin (PDF).
  8. ^ “BBA LIBOR – Frequently asked questions”. British Bankers’ Association. March 21, 2006. Archived from the original on February 16, 2007.
  9. Jump up to:ab “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement” (Press release). Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. December 19, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  10. ^ Tankersley, Jim (March 21, 2018). “Fed Raises Interest Rates for Sixth Time Since Financial Crisis”The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  11. ^ “4:56 p.m. US-Closing Stocks”. Associated Press. December 16, 2008. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012.
  12. ^ David Waring (February 19, 2008). “An Explanation of How The Fed Moves Interest Rates”. InformedTrades.com. Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
  13. ^ “Historical Changes of the Target Federal Funds and Discount Rates, 1971 to present”. New York Federal Reserve Branch. February 19, 2010. Archived from the original on December 21, 2008.
  14. ^ “$SPX 1990-06-12 1992-10-04 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  15. ^ “$SPX 1992-08-04 1995-03-01 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  16. ^ “$SPX 1995-01-01 1997-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  17. ^ “$SPX 1996-12-01 1998-10-17 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  18. ^ “$SPX 1998-09-17 2000-06-16 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  19. ^ “$SPX 2000-04-16 2002-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  20. ^ “$SPX 2002-01-01 2003-07-25 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  21. ^ “$SPX 2003-06-25 2006-06-29 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  22. ^ “$SPX 2006-06-29 2008-06-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  23. ^ “Press Release”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2008.
  24. ^ “Open Market Operations”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  25. ^ “Decisions Regarding Monetary Policy Implementation”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. Archived from the original on December 15, 2016.
  26. ^ Cox, Jeff (March 15, 2017). “Fed raises rates at March meeting”CNBC. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  27. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. June 14, 2017.
  28. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 13, 2017.
  29. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. March 21, 2018.
  30. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. June 13, 2018.
  31. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 19, 2018.
  32. ^ Shaw, Richard (January 7, 2007). “The Bond Yield Curve as an Economic Crystal Ball”. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  33. ^ Peter S. Goodman, Keith Bradsher and Neil Gough (March 16, 2017). “The Fed Acts. Workers in Mexico and Merchants in Malaysia Suffer”The New York Times. Retrieved March 18,2017Rising interest rates in the United States are driving money out of many developing countries, straining governments and pinching consumers around the globe.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_funds_rate

The Impact of an Inverted Yield Curve

The term yield curve refers to the relationship between the short- and long-term interest rates of fixed-income securities issued by the U.S. Treasury. An inverted yield curve occurs when short-term interest rates exceed long-term rates.

From an economic perspective, an inverted yield curve is a noteworthy event. Below, we explain this rare phenomenon, discuss its impact on consumers and investors, and tell you how to adjust your portfolio to account for it.

Interest Rates and Yield Curves

Typically, short-term interest rates are lower than long-term rates, so the yield curve slopes upwards, reflecting higher yields for longer-term investments. This is referred to as a normal yield curve. When the spread between short-term and long-term interest rates narrows, the yield curve begins to flatten. A flat yield curve is often seen during the transition from a normal yield curve to an inverted one.

Normal Yield Curve

Figure 1 – A normal yield curve

What Does an Inverted Yield Curve Suggest?

Historically, an inverted yield curve has been viewed as an indicator of a pending economic recession. When short-term interest rates exceed long-term rates, market sentiment suggests that the long-term outlook is poor and that the yields offered by long-term fixed income will continue to fall.

More recently, this viewpoint has been called into question, as foreign purchases of securities issued by the U.S. Treasury have created a high and sustained level of demand for products backed by U.S. government debt. When investors are aggressively seeking debt instruments, the debtor can offer lower interest rates. When this occurs, many argue that it is the laws of supply and demand, rather than impending economic doom and gloom, that enable lenders to attract buyers without having to pay higher interest rates.

Inverted Yield Curve

Figure 2 – An inverted yield curve: note the inverse relationship between yield and maturity

Inverted yield curves have been relatively rare, due in large part to longer-than-average periods between recessions since the early 1990s. For example, the economic expansions that began in March 1991, November 2001 and June 2009 were three of the four longest economic expansions since World War II. During these long periods, the question often arises as to whether an inverted yield curve can happen again.

Economic cycles, regardless of their length, have historically transitioned from growth to recession and back again. Inverted yield curves are an essential element of these cycles, preceding every recession since 1956. Considering the consistency of this pattern, an inverted yield will likely form again if the current expansion fades to recession.

Upward sloping yield curves are a natural extension of the higher risks associated with long maturities. In a growing economy, investors also demand higher yields at the long end of the curve to compensate for the opportunity cost of investing in bonds versus other asset classes, and to maintain an acceptable spread over inflation rates.

As the economic cycle begins to slow, perhaps due to interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve Bank, the upward slope of the yield curve tends to flatten as short-term rates increase and longer yields stay stable or decline slightly. In this environment, investors see long-term yields as an acceptable substitute for the potential of lower returns in equities and other asset classes, which tend to increase bond prices and reduce yields.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Consumers

In addition to its impact on investors, an inverted yield curve also has an impact on consumers. For example, homebuyers financing their properties with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) have interest-rate schedules that are periodically updated based on short-term interest rates. When short-term rates are higher than long-term rates, payments on ARMs tend to rise. When this occurs, fixed-rate loans may be more attractive than adjustable-rate loans.

Lines of credit are affected in a similar manner. In both cases, consumers must dedicate a larger portion of their incomes toward servicing existing debt. This reduces expendable income and has a negative effect on the economy as a whole.

The Formation of an Inverted Yield Curve

As concerns of an impending recession increase, investors tend to buy long Treasury bonds based on the premise that they offer a safe harbor from falling equities markets, provide preservation of capital and have potential for appreciation in value as interest rates decline. As a result of the rotation to long maturities, yields can fall below short-term rates, forming an inverted yield curve. Since 1956, equities have peaked six times after the start of an inversion, and the economy has fallen into recession within seven to 24 months.

As of 2017, the most recent inverted yield curve first appeared in August 2006, as the Fed raised short-term interest rates in response to overheating equity, real estate and mortgage markets. The inversion of the yield curve preceded the peak of the Standard & Poor’s 500 in October 2007 by 14 months and the official start of the recession in December 2007 by 16 months. However, a growing number of 2018 economic outlooks from investment firms are suggesting that an inverted yield curve could be on the horizon, citing the narrowing spread between short- and long-dated Treasuries.

If history is any precedent, the current business cycle will progress, and slowing in the economy may eventually become evident. If concerns of the next recession rise to the point where investors see the purchase of long-dated Treasuries as the best option for their portfolios, there is a high likelihood that the next inverted yield curve will take shape.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Fixed-Income Investors

A yield curve inversion has the greatest impact on fixed-income investors. In normal circumstances, long-term investments have higher yields; because investors are risking their money for longer periods of time, they are rewarded with higher payouts. An inverted curve eliminates the risk premium for long-term investments, allowing investors to get better returns with short-term investments.

When the spread between U.S. Treasuries (a risk-free investment) and higher-risk corporate alternatives is at historical lows, it is often an easy decision to invest in lower-risk vehicles. In such cases, purchasing a Treasury-backed security provides a yield similar to the yield on junk bondscorporate bondsreal estate investment trusts (REITs) and other debt instruments, but without the risk inherent in these vehicles. Money market funds and certificates of deposit (CDs) may also be attractive – particularly when a one-year CD is paying yields comparable to those on a 10-year Treasury bond.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Equity Investors

When the yield curve becomes inverted, profit margins fall for companies that borrow cash at short-term rates and lend at long-term rates, such as community banks. Likewise, hedge funds are often forced to take on increased risk in order to achieve their desired level of returns.

In fact, a bad bet on Russian interest rates is largely credited for the demise of Long-Term Capital Management, a well-known hedge fund run by bond trader John Meriwether.

Despite their consequences for some parties, yield-curve inversions tend to have less impact on consumer staples and healthcare companies, which are not interest-rate dependent. This relationship becomes clear when an inverted yield curve precedes a recession. When this occurs, investors tend to turn to defensive stocks, such as those in the food, oil and tobacco industries, which are often less affected by downturns in the economy.

The Bottom Line

While experts question whether or not an inverted yield curve remains a strong indicator of pending economic recession, keep in mind that history is littered with portfolios that were devastated when investors blindly followed predictions about how “it’s different this time.” Most recently, shortsighted equity investors spouting this mantra participated in the “tech wreck,” snapping up shares in tech companies at inflated prices even though these firms had no hope of ever making a profit.

If you want to be a smart investor, ignore the noise. Instead of spending time and effort trying to figure out what the future will bring, construct your portfolio based on long-term thinking and long-term convictions – not short-term market movements.

For your short-term income needs, do the obvious: choose the investment with the highest yield, but keep in mind that inversions are an anomaly and they don’t last forever. When the inversion ends, adjust your portfolio accordingly.

Story 3: Creepy, Sleepy, Dopey, Joey Biden in Praise of Civility of Democrat Segregationist Senators Eastland (Mississippi) and Talmadge (Georgia) Who Got Things Done — Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) Attack Biden — Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers and Big Lie Media Playing Identity Politics and Divide and Conquer — Videos —

Biden’s ties to segregationist senator spark campaign tension

Biden’s ties to segregationist senator spark campaign tension

SUSAN WALSH / AP

Joe Biden was a freshman senator, the youngest member of the august body, when he reached out to an older colleague for help on one of his early legislative proposals: The courts were ordering racially segregated school districts to bus children to create more integrated classrooms, a practice Biden opposed and wanted to change.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attemptingto bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The recipient of Biden’s entreaty was Sen. James Eastland, at the time a well-known segregationist who had called blacks “an inferior race” and once vowed to prevent blacks and whites from eating together in Washington. The exchange, revealed in a series of letters, offers a new glimpse into an old relationship that erupted this week as a major controversy for Biden’s presidential campaign.Biden on Wednesday night described his relationship with Eastland as one he “had to put up with.” He said of his relationships with Eastland and another staunch segregationist and southern Democrat, Sen. Herman Talmadge of Georgia, that “the fact of the matter is that we were able to do it because we were able to win — we were able to beat them on everything they stood for.”

But the letters show a different type of relationship, one in which they were aligned on a legislative issue. Biden said at the time that he did not think that busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware and that systemic racism should be dealt with by investing in schools and improving housing policies.

The letters were provided Thursday to the Washington Post by the University of Mississippi, which houses Eastland’s archived papers. They were reported in April by CNN.

Biden’s campaign late Thursday issued a statement saying that “the insinuation that Joe Biden shared the same views as Eastland on segregation is a lie.”

“Plain and simple. Joe Biden has dedicated his career to fighting for civil rights,” the statement said.

The controversy over Biden’s comments this week have continued to reverberate at a crucial time in the campaign, with matters of race dominating the political discussion ahead of several prominent gatherings, including the first presidential debate next week and a multicandidate event before black voters in South Carolina on Friday. It has emerged as a complex political problem for Biden, who has been trying to campaign as a civil rights champion while explaining past views that are out of step with today’s Democratic base.

Biden’s Wednesday remarks sparked one of the sharpest intra-Democrat exchanges of the campaign, when Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of his black 2020 rivals, criticized both Biden’s work with segregationists and the language that he used in describing it.

On Wednesday, Biden called Booker. Biden’s campaign also distributed talking points to supporters, emphasizing that Eastland and Talmadge “were people who he fundamentally disagreed with on the issue of civil rights.”

Late Thursday, the former vice president met with a small group that included black members of Congress, one of the participants said.

Divisions also emerged in Biden’s campaign over how he should handle such situations. Aides alternately argued that he simply misspoke in telling the anecdote, that he shouldn’t be telling it at all or that his remarks demonstrate his ability to work with those with whom he disagrees and the words were being purposefully twisted for political gain.

The letters show that Biden’s courtship of Eastland started in 1972, before he had taken office, and that he wrote to the older senator listing his top six committee assignment requests, with Foreign Relations and Judiciary at the top. A few weeks later, Biden thanked Eastland, writing that he was “flattered and grateful” for his help. He also referred to the December 1972 car crash that killed his wife and daughter and injured his two sons.

“Despite my preoccupation with family matters at this time, I intend to place the highest priority on attending to my committee responsibilities,” Biden wrote.

Biden supporters have repeatedly pointed to his efforts on civil rights issues to cast him as a champion of equality. Not only did he share an eight-year partnership with the first black president, he also worked alongside black leaders throughout his career on extending the Voting Rights Act, amending the Fair Housing Act and creating the holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.et in the debate over the merits of busing as a solution to greater integration, Biden’s avowed stance against it put him at odds with some civil rights leaders.

 

 

It was in that context that he courted the support of Eastland — at the time the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — as well as other senators.

In one letter, on March 2, 1977, Biden outlined legislation he was filing to restrict busing practices.

“My bill strikes at the heart of the injustice of court ordered busing,” he wrote to Eastland. “It prohibits the federal courts from disrupting our educational system in the name of the constitution where there is no evidence that the governmental officials intended to discriminate.”

“I believe there is growing sentiment in the Congress to curb unnecessary busing,” he added. The Senate two years earlier had passed a Biden amendment that prohibited the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare from ordering busing to achieve school integration.

 

“That was the first time the U.S. Senate took a firm stand in opposition to busing,” Biden wrote. “The Supreme Court seems to have recognized that busing simply cannot be justified in cases where state and local officials intended no discrimination.”

In later letters to Eastland, Biden continued pushing his legislation.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attempting to bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The next year, he continued to push for antibusing legislation and again wrote to Eastland.

“Since your support was essential to having our bill reported out by the Judiciary Committee, I want to personally ask your continued support and alert you to our intentions,” Biden wrote on Aug 22, 1978. “Your participation in floor debate would be welcomed.”

After Biden’s remarks at the Wednesday night fund-raiser, advisers played down his comments about Eastland as a garbled rendition of a familiar Biden anecdote. In particular, they sought to excuse Biden for saying that Eastland didn’t refer to him as “boy” — an insult leveled at black men — but as “son.”

“He just misspoke,” said one Biden adviser. “The way Biden usually tells the story, he says Eastland didn’t call him ‘senator,’ he called him ‘son,’ ” the adviser said. “Eastland called him ‘boy’ and ‘son’ also. This was Eastland’s way of diminishing young senators.”

In the campaign statement Thursday, Biden’s national press secretary, Jamal Brown, said Biden’s “strong support for equal housing, equal education and equal job opportunities were clear to all Delawareans in the 1970s.”

Biden sought to ensure that black students received “the resources necessary to deliver the quality education they deserved,” he said.

Brown added that throughout his public life, Biden “fought the institutional problems that created de facto segregated school systems and neighborhoods in the first place: redlining, school lines drawn to keep races and classes separate and housing patterns and discrimination.”

Almost the entire Democratic field is set to attend a fish fry Friday night hosted by House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a leading black figure in the state and one who has remained supportive of Biden.

It would be the first public appearance Biden is making with the same Democratic presidential hopefuls who have heaped criticism on him for the comment.

In demanding an apology, Booker said Wednesday that Biden’s “relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone.”

Asked about Booker’s remarks by reporters, Biden declined to offer an apology and instead demanded one from Booker. The two men later spoke privately.

“Cory shared directly what he said publicly — including helping Vice President Biden understand why the word ‘boy’ is painful to so many,” said Sabrina Singh, a Booker campaign spokeswoman. “Cory believes that Vice President Biden should take responsibility for what he said and apologize to those who were hurt.”

Biden’s campaign would not elaborate on the call, but it is clear the topic could linger over the coming days.

Biden has scheduled a sit-down interview with MSNBC, his campaign has been sending out talking points to surrogates, and some black supporters are eager to hear the former vice president offer a fuller explanation.

“I think he’s got to address it head on and show people what his line of thinking was,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist in South Carolina who is close with Biden’s team. “I don’t think they need to get off course with their strategy. I just think they have to address it as it comes up and move on.”

Other Biden supporters, however, think he’s taking just the right approach and standing by his long-held beliefs.

I encouraged campaign staff that I know to say: ‘Don’t back off on this. This is precisely why you’re the right guy in the right place at the right time.’ And I was glad to see that he didn’t,” said Dave O’Brien, a longtime Biden supporter in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“You know that some of the other issues, he’s got to evolve with the times, which he has,” O’Brien added. “But there are points where you need to make a stand, so I was very glad to see him not back off on this issue.”

https://www.inquirer.com/politics/nation/joe-biden-james-eastland-segregation-democratic-primary-20190621.htmlPosted: June 20, 2019 – 10:59 PM

Biden not apologizing for remarks on segregationist senators

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Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks at the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress presidential forum in Washington, Monday, June 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Joe Biden refused calls to apologize Wednesday for saying that the Senate “got things done” with “civility” even when the body included segregationists with whom he disagreed.

His rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, including the two major black candidates in the contest, roundly criticized Biden’s comments. But Biden didn’t back down and was particularly defiant in the face of criticism from New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who said the former vice president should apologize for his remarks.

Biden countered that it was Booker who should apologize because the senator “should know better” than to question his commitment to civil rights.

“There’s not a racist bone in my body,” Biden said. “I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career.”

Speaking on CNN, Booker responded: “I was raised to speak truth to power and that I shall never apologize for doing that. And Vice President Biden shouldn’t need this lesson.”

The firestorm is quickly becoming one of the most intense disputes of the Democratic presidential primary, underscoring the hazards for Biden as he tries to turn his decades of Washington experience into an advantage. Instead, he’s infuriating Democrats who say he’s out of step with the diverse party of the 21st century and potentially undermining his argument that he’s the most electable candidate in the race.

The controversy began at a New York fundraiser Tuesday when Biden pointed to long-dead segregationist senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia to argue that Washington functioned more smoothly a generation ago than under today’s “broken” hyperpartisanship.

“We didn’t agree on much of anything,” Biden said of the two men, who were prominent senators when Biden was elected in 1972. Biden described Talmadge as “one of the meanest guys I ever knew” and said Eastland called him “son,” though not “boy,” a reference to the racist way many whites addressed black men at the time.

Yet even in that Senate, Biden said, “At least there was some civility. We got things done.”

A pile on from Biden’s rivals quickly ensued. Booker said he was disappointed by Biden’s remarks.

“I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together,” said Booker, who is African American.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democratic presidential candidate and a white man who is married to a black woman, tweeted: “It’s 2019 & @JoeBiden is longing for the good old days of ‘civility’ typified by James Eastland. Eastland thought my multiracial family should be illegal.”

California Sen. Kamala Harris, a black presidential candidate, said Biden was “coddling” segregationists in a way that “suggests to me that he doesn’t understand … the dark history of our country” — a characterization Biden’s campaign rejects.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, another 2020 candidate, said, “For the vice president to somehow say that what we’re seeing in this country today is a function of partisanship or a lack of bipartisanship completely ignores the legacy of slavery and the active suppression of African Americans and communities of color right now.”

The tumult comes at a crucial point in the campaign. Biden is still recovering from controversy he sparked earlier this month when he angered many Democrats by saying he didn’t support federal taxpayer money supporting abortion. He later reversed his position.

He’s among the more than 20 candidates who will descend on South Carolina this weekend to make their case to black voters at a series of Democratic events.

Meanwhile, most Democratic White House hopefuls will again gather in Miami next week for the first presidential debate of the primary season. Biden will almost certainly come under fire there for his comments this week.

He sought to defuse the tension on Wednesday by saying he was trying to argue that leaders sometimes have to work with people they disagree with to achieve goals, such as renewing the Voting Rights Act.

“The point I’m making is you don’t have to agree. You don’t have to like the people in terms of their views,” he said Wednesday. “But you just simply make the case and you beat them without changing the system.”

He has received support from some black leaders. Cedric Richmond, Biden’s campaign co-chairman and former Congressional Black Caucus chairman, said Biden’s opponents deliberately ignored the full context of his argument for a more functional government.

“Maybe there’s a better way to say it, but we have to work with people, and that’s a fact,” Richmond said, noting he dealt recently with President Donald Trump to pass a long-sought criminal justice overhaul. “I question (Trump’s) racial sensitivity, a whole bunch of things about his character … but we worked together.”

Likewise, Richmond said, Biden mentioned Jim Crow-era senators to emphasize the depths of disagreements elected officials sometimes navigate. “If he gets elected president, we don’t have 60 votes in the Senate” to overcome filibusters, Richmond noted. “He could be less genuine and say, ‘We’re just going to do all these things.’ But we already have a president like that. (Biden) knows we have to build consensus.”

Biden also drew a qualified defense from Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black senator from his party. Scott said that Biden “should have used a different group of senators” to make his point but that his remarks “have nothing to do with his position on race” issues. Scott said the reaction reflects an intense environment for Democrats in which the desire to defeat Trump means “anything the front-runner says that is off by a little bit” will be magnified.

https://apnews.com/5b57473cfcda44e4b35c8a40759a26fc

The gloves come off in the Democratic primary

This was the week that the battle for the nomination got real.

The tenor of the Democratic presidential primary has verged on courteous from the start: To the extent that Democrats went after Joe Biden, it was usually not by name. And Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren kept their rivalry decidedly civil.

This week, with the first debates of the election season days away, the gentility came to an end.

Biden’s remarks at a New York fundraiser that “at least there was some civility” when he worked with segregationists in the Senate unleashed a torrent of criticism from his rivals and the left. And a story in POLITICO about centrists coming around to Warren as an “anybody but Bernie” alternative set off Sanders and his allies.

“We knew the primary wouldn’t be all puppies and rainbows forever,” said Ben LaBolt, a former adviser to Barack Obama. “And as the debates approach you can see a new dynamic emerging.”

The reaction from Biden’s rivals to his comments was fierce.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose wife is African American, noted that one of the segregationists Biden invoked, James Eastland of Mississippi, would have outlawed his marriage. Sen. Cory Booker, who is black, took offense that Biden seemed to make light of Eastland calling him “son” but not “boy.”

“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys’,” Booker said.

Booker called on Biden to apologize but Biden took a different path. Outside a fundraiser Wednesday night, a defiant Biden said he had nothing to be sorry for and that it’s Booker who should apologize for questioning someone without “a racist bone in my body.”

“He knows better,” Biden said.

The crossfire marked some of the most direct and intense exchanges so far of the 2020 primary campaign. And it signals that with less than a week until the first televised debate, the field is done tiptoeing around.

“Running for president is no tea party. It’s a battle. And it is customary for candidates to begin to engage at this stage. The polite preliminaries are over,” said Democratic strategist and former Obama hand David Axelrod. “And since there is generally broad agreement on issues, if not solutions, the disputes necessarily turn on other things.”

In a separate episode, Sanders dispatched a tweet that was viewed as a sideswipe of Warren.

“The cat is out of the bag. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party is publicly ‘anybody but Bernie,’” Sanders wrote on Twitter, sharing a POLITICO storyheadlined: “Warren emerges as potential compromise nominee.”

Sanders faced his own backlash over the remark.

“If we had a multi-party parliament, it’d be pretty normal for Sanders and Warren to campaign against each other for leadership in a Social Democratic Party. That said, I still find this move pretty dissapointing [sic] and unnecessary. Draw contrasts if you want, but not like this,” tweeted Waleed Shadid, communications director of the progressive group Justice Democrats.

Shadid later noted that Sanders on CNN said his remark was targeted at the moderate think tank Third Way, and not Warren.

Still, the escalating tensions come as Warren is gaining on Sanders in polls. She leapfrogged him in recent surveys in Nevada and California. And a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed Warren and Sanders virtually tied for second, with Warren, at 15 percent, gaining five points in one month. Biden still led the field at 32 percent.

“Biden’s numbers have held up higher than expected and a number of challengers are going after his gaffes more aggressively than before,” LaBolt said. “Warren has begun eating into Bernie’s numbers and he is trying to fend her off.”

Still, one Democratic veteran of the 2016 campaign, ex-Sanders adviser Mark Longabaugh, said the current tangles are nothing like what he experienced in that campaign. There’s plenty of time for it to get there, but it hasn’t happened yet.

“I don’t know if the gloves are off. I think the gloves may be getting a little loose — pulling out the fingertips to take the gloves off.” Longabaugh said. “Having been through the 2015-16 experience, I gotta tell ya, that was much more combative than anything you’ve seen in this race — not anything close.”

Not far from anyone’s mind are the first debates in Miami on Wednesday and Thursday next week.

“While this type of engagement is expected,” LaBolt said, “candidates should be careful not to cross any lines that could significantly damage potential nominees for the general.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/20/2020-election-democratic-primary-1373202

 

 

Part 2– Story 4: President Trump Pushes All The Right Buttons in 2020 Stump Speech in Orlando, Florida –Send Them Home — Lock Them Up — Four More Years — Videos

TRUMP 2020: President Trump Re-Election Campaign Rally – FULL SPEECH

What To Take Away From President Trump’s Re-Election Rally In Florida

FOX and Friends *6/19/19 | URGENT!TRUMP BREAKING News June 19, 2019

Orlando Fl Trump Rally CROWD FOOTAGE June 18th 2019

Trump slams Obamacare at 2020 reelection rally

President Trump’s 2020 campaign kicks off with a rally in Orlando, Florida

Trump mocks Hillary at explosive re-election campaign rally

Trump campaign kickoff rally was “like we were throwing back the clock to four years ago”

WATCH: Vice President Mike Pence Speaks at President Trump’s Reelection Rally

WATCH: Donald Trump Jr. Delivers EXPLOSIVE Speech at Reelection Rally

LIVE 🔴 President Trump Rally in Orlando, Florida – June 18, 2019 – TRUMP 2020 RE-ELECTION RALLY

News Now Stream 2 6/18/19 (FNN)

Rep. Matt Gaetz: Trump’s Campaign Is An Inclusive Movement

FULL RALLY: President Trump Holds MASSIVE Rally in Orlando, FL

Trump supporters call speech ‘fantastic’

Anti-Trump Protesters Gather Outside Trump’s 2020 Kickoff Rally in Orlando

The Ingraham Angle 6/18/19 | Laura Ingraham Fox News June 18, 2019

Sean Hannity 6/18/19 | Fox News Today June 18 2019

Tucker Carlson Tonight 6/18/19 | Fox News Today June 18 2019

With Florida rally, Trump aims for a 2020 campaign ‘reset’

Trump to launch 2020 re-election bid in Florida

Orlando preps for huge crowds for Trump rally

Crowds grow for Trump rally in Orlando

People are lining up for President Trump’s event on Tuesday

THE PRESIDENT IS BACK: President Trump Returns From MASSIVE Orlando Rally

The Memo: Can Trump run as an outsider?

President Trump is running for reelection as an outsider candidate. But it’s a knotty challenge for someone who holds the world’s most powerful office.

Trump’s speech in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday, which officially launched his 2020 bid, was rife with rhetoric portraying himself — and by extension his supporters — as victims of nefarious elites.

The president said that he and his allies were besieged by a “permanent political class” and “an unholy alliance of lobbyists and donors and special interests.”

“Our patriotic movement has been under assault from the very first day,” Trump insisted at one point. Moments before, he told the crowd, “the swamp is fighting back so viciously and violently.”

It’s the kind of language that makes Democrats roll their eyes. Trump, they note, is a billionaire property developer, born into wealth, who won the presidency on his first attempt — yet he portrays himself as the tribune of “the forgotten men and women of our country” whom he invoked in his January 2017 inaugural address.

But Trump’s unconventionality might, in itself, help him retain some kind of outsider cachet in a way that is unusual for an incumbent president.

“For any other president, yes, it is a challenge,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist who worked for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the 2016 presidential primaries.

“But Trump is unlike any other president. Trump has been at war with the establishment since the moment he set foot in the White House,” he said.

It is certainly true that Trump was viewed with suspicion by the Republican Party from the time he began his presidential run — and that his language and attitudes are viewed with distaste by much of the Beltway political class.

But dislike for Trump’s personal antics is hardly confined to D.C. elites.

A Pew Research Center poll in March showed pluralities of the public believing that he was not “trustworthy,” “even-tempered” or “well-informed.”

For all Trump’s supposed concern with less affluent Americans, 56 percent of the respondents in the Pew poll said they did not believe he cared about “people like me,” whereas just 40 percent said he did care.

The GOP has largely made peace with him, with former rivals including Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) becoming enthusiastic supporters, congressional dissenters such as former Rep. Mark Sanford(R-S.C.) having been defeated in primaries and Trump now in firm control of the party apparatus.

Skeptics also point to both policies and personnel — from the steep cut in the corporate tax rate in 2017 to the 16-month run of the ethically challenged Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency — as evidence that the swamp has remained undrained under Trump.

But Trump allies are insistent that the president’s feel for the cultural mores of blue-collar America remains a potent and underrated political weapon.

“He is certainly an outsider to the political establishment. They still don’t get him and he is not coming around to their way of thinking,” said Barry Bennett, who worked as a senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign. “He may live inside the gates but he does not live inside the establishment. … I don’t know anyone who believes he has become some kind of Georgetown socialite.”

Michael Caputo, a longtime Trump friend, insisted, “I have never ever met anyone, any Trump supporter, who believes anything else besides the fact that he’s an outsider.”

There is clearly a political dividend to be gained if Trump can hold onto his outsider image.

In the recent past, voters in presidential elections have often chosen the candidate seen as less steeped in the ways of Washington.

Former President Obama won election twice as a change agent, initially winning the White House as the first black president and then securing a second term over GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the personification of a genteel Republican establishment.

Former President George W. Bush had only a tenuous claim to outsider status, given he was the son of a president — yet his campaign was able to paint then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as a creature of Washington in the 2004 presidential election.

Before that, former President Clinton used his down-home Arkansas image as a weapon against an incumbent president, Bush’s father, George H.W Bush, and then won a second term over another GOP establishment favorite, then-Sen. Bob Dole (Kan.).

Independent observers acknowledge that Trump’s style, divisive though it is, could help him be seen as much more of a disruptor even than these recent predecessors.

“It’s almost impossible for an incumbent to run as an outsider, but Trump has held onto that credential,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor who specializes in political communications. “He is parlaying that into how he sees himself — running against the Democrats, the media, the elites.”

Republicans, meanwhile, argue that Trump’s outsider image could be especially useful if Democrats pick former Vice President Joe Biden as their nominee.

Biden, in their telling, is much easier to brand as a creature of Washington given his decades in the Senate. There will be a different challenge if Democrats instead choose one of Biden’s rivals who is a fresher face on the national political scene, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Sen Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); or more radical, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-Vt.).

Trump, billionaire Manhattanite though he may be, has long used the idea that he is sneered at by a snobbish elite to his own advantage.

On Tuesday, he told his supporters that Democrats “want to destroy you.”

It was a stark and visceral remark even by Trump’s standards.

But, after his 2016 victory, even his critics can’t be so sure it won’t work.

https://thehill.com/homenews/the-memo/449436-the-memo-can-trump-run-as-an-outsider

A Second Term for What?

Trump can’t win by relitigating 2016 and playing only to his base.

President Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign on June 18.PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

President Trump announced his campaign for a second term at a rally in Orlando on Tuesday evening that recounted his first-term record and 2016 victory before thousands of rapturous supporters. The only thing missing was an agenda for 2020.

The most striking fact of his speech was how backward looking it was. Every incumbent needs to remind voters of his record, Mr. Trump more than most because the media are so hostile.

Donald Trump Launches Campaign

The President is also right that his opponents have refused to recognize the legitimacy of his election. House Democrats may still try to impeach him for not obstructing an investigation into what wasn’t a conspiracy with Russia. His sense of “grievance,” to quote the media meme about his speech, on that point is entirely justified.

Yet Mr. Trump is asking for four more years, and his preoccupation with vindicating 2016 won’t resonate much beyond his core supporters. Most voters have moved on from 2016, which is why a majority opposes impeachment in every poll. They don’t much care about Mr. Trump’s greatest hits about Hillary Clinton, who alas for the President will not be on the ballot in 2020. They want to know why they should take a risk on Mr. Trump and his volatile character for another term.

This is all the more important given the way his first term has evolved on policy. One paradox is that his main policy successes have come from pursuing a conventional conservative agenda. The failures have been on the issues like trade and immigration that are the most identified with Trumpian disruption.

The economy’s renewed growth spurt came from tax reform, deregulation, liberating energy production and ending the anti-business harassment of the Obama years. His remaking of the judiciary and rebuilding of the military unite Republicans of all stripes. Criminal justice reform was the result of years of spade work on the right and left.

Mr. Trump deserves credit for pursuing all of this despite often ferocious opposition that might have intimidated a different GOP President. That’s true in particular of his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, where U.S. Democratic and media opinion is aligned with Europe’s elites.

On immigration, however, the President missed a chance to strike a deal trading more border security (including his wall) for legalizing Dreamers. He must now confront the asylum crisis at the border with no help from Democrats. On trade, Mr. Trump has disrupted global rules but has put nothing new and stable in their place. Asking voters to believe he’ll do better on these issues in a second term isn’t likely to turn many swing voters his way.

The other paradox of the Trump Presidency is his low approval rating despite a stronger economy. The polls show his approval rating on the economy is above 50% but his overall approval is 44.3% in the Real Clear Politics average. The difference is best explained by Mr. Trump’s polarizing behavior, which has alienated in particular college-educated voters and Republican women. In the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC poll, Mr. Trump is underwater with white college-educated women by a remarkable 20 percentage points.

Mr. Trump may figure he can persuade some of those skeptics by making the Democratic nominee even more unpopular than he is. If the Democrats oblige by nominating Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, that might be possible. But that is making a bet on the other party’s mistake, and a re-election campaign is typically a referendum on the incumbent.

Which is all the more reason to offer voters something more for a second term. He could put Democrats on the spot for high housing prices and homelessness by talking about restrictive zoning for elites and high property taxes. He could offer to reform higher education by making schools responsible for some of the debt of students who can’t repay loans, or invigorate vocational education to help young people who can’t go to college.

He could package health-care proposals to expand choice, reduce prices and make insurance portable; his administration has already proposed some of them. He could advance his theme of “draining the swamp” by offering ideas to reform the civil service. We’d include entitlement reform, but then Mr. Trump has shown no interest and we don’t believe in political miracles.

This is far from an exhaustive list, and Mr. Trump won’t win as a policy wonk in any case. But Mr. Trump also won’t win by relitigating the 2016 election or playing only to his political base. He needs more than he offered voters on Tuesday night.

Opinion: Countering Trump With Reliability, Not Bold Agenda

Opinion: Countering Trump With Reliability, Not Bold Agenda
A Fox News poll has found that Democrats prefer a “steady” candidate to a “big agenda” candidate. But going up against the scale of Donald Trump will be tough, so how do frontrunners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren compare? Image: Getty

‘This election is about you. Your family, your future & the fate of YOUR country’: Trump lays it on the line at 20,000-strong Orlando rally as he kicks off 2020 re-election campaign with his entire family and obligatory digs at ‘Crooked Hillary’

  • The president spent the first half-hour of a Tuesday night rally hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton 
  • Trump said his team wondered if it should hold the rally in a venue which can hold 20,000 people
  • ‘Not only did we fill it up, but we had 120,000 requests… Congratulations!’ the president said to cheers
  • The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, invited the criticism when she wound up an arena of supporters
  • Husband Eric, who spoke after her, had a crowd of more than 20,000 screaming, ‘CNN Sucks!’ 
  • ‘He loves this country and we, as a family, love this country. We’re going to fight like hell,’ Eric said 
  •  Donald Trump Jr. mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours
  • ‘He gets up on the stump. It’s so stupid,’ he said, claiming the ex-VP has four-person crowds 

President Trump spent a Tuesday night rally he’d advertised as a 2020 kickoff hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton for acid washing her emails and failing to deliver on her pledge to beat him, while Democrats vying for the party’s nomination now escaped his wrath.

Noting that he’s under constant media scrutiny, Trump said that he’d be sent to the slammer if he ordered aides to destroy potential evidence.

‘But, can you imagine if I got a subpoena, think of this, if I got a subpoena for emails, if I deleted one email like a love note to Melania, it’s the electric chair for Trump,’ he claimed in a campaign speech in Orlando.

Trump said subpoenas he’s receiving are not about Democratic claims that his campaign may have colluded with Russia.

‘The Democrats don’t care about Russia, they only care about their own political power. They went after my family, my business, my finances, my employees, almost everyone that I’ve ever known or worked with,’ he argued. ‘But they are really going after you. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about us, it’s about you. They tried to erase your vote, erase your legacy of the greatest campaign and the greatest election probably in the history of our country.’

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive on stage to formally kick off his re-election bid with a campaign rally in Orlando. He kicked off first official 2020 rally by claiming 120,000 people submitted requests to attend

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive on stage to formally kick off his re-election bid with a campaign rally in Orlando. He kicked off first official 2020 rally by claiming 120,000 people submitted requests to attend
First lady Melania Trump speaks as Trump looks on. Trump's first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended - with his audience chanting 'Lock her Up!' in a slam on former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton

First lady Melania Trump speaks as Trump looks on. Trump’s first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended – with his audience chanting ‘Lock her Up!’ in a slam on former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton

Trump's campaign turned the area outside the arena that can seat 20,000 people into a festival-like atmosphere with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time

Trump’s campaign turned the area outside the arena that can seat 20,000 people into a festival-like atmosphere with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time

Michael Boulos, Tiffany Trump, Lara Trump, Eric Trump, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Donald Trump Jr. arrive at a rally for US President Donald Trump

FLOTUS Melania introduces her husband at Trump 2020 rally

The president said, ‘They wanted to deny you the future you demanded and the future that America deserved and that now America is getting. Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you, and they want to destroy our country as we know it. Not acceptable, it’s not going to happen. Not gonna happen.’

Trump claimed that Democrats as a party would use the ‘power of the law to punish their opponents’ if they’re handed the reigns to the country.

‘Imagine if we had a Democrat president and a Democrat Congress in 2020. They would shut down your free speech, use the power of the law to punish their opponents – which they’re trying to do now anyway – they’ll always be trying to shield themselves,’ he claimed. ‘They will strip Americans of their Constitutional rights while flooding the country with illegal immigrants in the hopes it will expand their political base and they’ll get votes someplace down the future. That’s what it’s about.’

Broad attacks on the Democratic Party and ‘radical socialism’ were the most stringent assaults that Trump would levy all night.

He said, ‘More than 120 Democrats in Congress have also signed up to support “Crazy Bernie Sanders” socialist government takeover of health care.

‘He seems not to be doing too well lately,’ the president said as an aside. ‘They want to end Medicare as we know it and terminate the private health insurance of 180 million Americans who love their health insurance. America will never be a socialist country.’

It was his only mention at the rally of one of his most formidable opponents. Former Democratic President Joe Biden was also a footnote in the speech, earning two mentions, as a part of the ‘Obama-Biden’ duo that Trump said ruined American foreign policy and drove down the nation’s economy.

‘Remember the statement from the previous administration? Would need a magic wand to bring back manufacturing? Well, tell “Sleepy Joe” that we found the magic wand. That’s a sleepy guy,’ the president added.

Trump outlined his vision tweeting: ‘Don’t ever forget – this election is about YOU. It is about YOUR family, YOUR future, & the fate of YOUR COUNTRY. We begin our campaign with the best record, the best results, the best agenda, & the only positive VISION for our Country’s future! #Trump2020’

The Trumps said their family has been under attack since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015. Jared Kushner, left, Ivanka Trump arrive for the official launch of the Trump 2020 campaign

The Trumps said their family has been under attack since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015. Jared Kushner, left, Ivanka Trump arrive for the official launch of the Trump 2020 campaign

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president. Kimberly Guilfoyle, left, and Donald Trump Jr. pictured

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president. Kimberly Guilfoyle, left, and Donald Trump Jr. pictured

Senior adviser Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, watch as President Donald Trump speaks at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center

Senior adviser Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, watch as President Donald Trump speaks at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center

Trump rails against Democrats, Mueller and ‘fake news’ at 2020 rally
Trump’s first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended – with his audience chanting ‘Lock her Up!’ in a slam on former Democratic opponent Clinton.

The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, invited the criticism first. She wound up an arena of supporters with a claim that the media was saying Clinton was going to be the 45th President of the United States days before the election. ‘They have always been wrong,’ she declared.

Attacks on the media as ‘fake news’ and ‘dishonest’ from Lara and her husband Eric, who spoke after her, had a crowd of more than 20,000 screaming ‘CNN Sucks!’ minutes later.

The Trumps said their family has been under attack from one group or another since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015.

‘He loves this country and we, as a family, love this country. And guys we are going to fight like hell – our family is going to fight like hell for this country. We will never ever stop fighting, and we will never ever, ever stop winning,’ the president’s son said. ‘And guys, we love you very much. We’re all going to be spending a lot of time in Florida. We’re going to be spending a lot of time in Florida. So we’re going to see you.’

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president.

‘I don’t know about you, but I look around this room and when Joe Biden’s putting about seven people in an audience, I’m saying, “I think they may be a little wrong with the polling.” But what they hell do I know?’ he said.

National polls show Biden beating Trump in a general election. A Quinnipiac University survey that came out Tuesday found that the former vice president would beat Trump by nine points, 50 – 41, the newly-released poll showed.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would win by a similar margin, 48 – 42, while other top Democrats would perform in the poll’s margin of error.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told DailyMail.com inside the rally that Quinnipiac is ‘c**p’ in response to the latest poll showing bad news in a critical swing state for the controversial president.

Trump had already warned the public that this official launch of 2020 campaign would be 'wild,' after supporters camped out in tents for more than 30 hours to save their places at the front of a massive line that would ensure them floor seats

US First Lady Melania Trump greets US Vice President Mike Pence. Trump set the tone for the monster rally in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

US First Lady Melania Trump greets US Vice President Mike Pence. Trump set the tone for the monster rally in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

Lara Trump takes to the stage before her father-in-law United States President Donald Trump arrives on stage to announce his candidacy for a second presidential term at the Amway Center

Lara Trump takes to the stage before her father-in-law United States President Donald Trump arrives on stage to announce his candidacy for a second presidential term at the Amway Center

Donald Trump Jr. throws hats to supporters at the rally. He mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited for hours

Donald Trump Jr. throws hats to supporters at the rally. He mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited for hours

Trump attacks Democrats at his Orlando rally
Don Jr. brushed off the threat from Biden, 76, as he campaigned for his father, 73, on Tuesday in Orlando. He called Biden and his competitors a ‘clown show’ and gave the Democrat a new nickname. ‘Sloppy Joe,’ he called him, as he hit Biden for flip-flopping.

‘He gets up on the stump. It’s so stupid,’ he said. ‘To his group of about four people in the audience, “Government has failed you.” Usually, as he’s groping someone. It ain’t pretty, but there’s something off with that guy.’

The president’s son said he agrees that government is broken and it’s a problem. ‘The problem is Joe, you’ve been in government for almost 50 years. If government failed you, maybe you’re the problem Joe Biden,’ he said. ‘It’s not rocket science.’

Trump warned the public that the campaign rally would be ‘wild,’ and Don Jr. helped him deliver on the pledge.

He mocked Biden’s pledge to cure cancer, asking, ‘Why the hell didn’t you do that over the last 50 years, Joe?’

Don Jr. blamed the media for giving Biden a pass. ‘Why did not one of them say, “Well, Joe, how exactly are you going to do that?” And why didn’t you do that in the last eight years as vice president and the prior 40 years in government and the Senate?’

His father later claimed that he’d cure cancer in remarks that followed. ‘We will push onward with new medical frontiers. We will come up with the cures to many, many problems, to many, many diseases, including cancer and others and we’re getting closer all the time,’ he said.

Attacks on Clinton and media were a common theme throughout the night, with Trump pausing and waiting for his supporters to cheer, ‘CNN SUCKS!’ and ‘Lock her Up!’ as he talked about the former secretary of state’s acid-washed emails and her loss to him in the last election.

‘It was all an illegal attempt to overturn the results of our election, spy on our campaign, which is what they did,’ he complained.

Trump meets fans after stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Miami International Airport in Miami

Trump meets fans after stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Miami International Airport in Miami

Vice President Mike Pence, escorted in by Karen Pence, speaks before Trump takes the stage on Tuesday evening

A man holds up a sign as the crowd waits for US President Donald Trump to arrive at a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign

A man holds up a sign as the crowd waits for US President Donald Trump to arrive at a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign

Melania's spokesperson Stephanie Grisham speaks with White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway at the campaign rally

Melania’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham speaks with White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway at the campaign rally

President Trump said as he opened the event that he could feel the ‘magic’ in Orlando – a play on the name of the city’s professional basketball team.

He spoke to supporters in the same arena that the team plays in, which is a venue that can hold roughly 20,000 people.

‘You know, I said, “This is a very big arena for a Tuesday night.” I said, “You know, if we have about three or four empty seats, the fake news will say – headlines: he didn’t fill up the arena.” So I said maybe we shouldn’t take the chance, maybe we shouldn’t go to Orlando, maybe we should go someplace else,’ Trump said in his opening remarks. ‘I said, “No, I think we’ll go to Orlando.” And, not only did we fill it up, but we had 120,000 requests. That means you folks have come out very, very good.’

Supporters camped out in tents for more than 30 hours to save their places at the front of a massive line that would ensure them floor seats at Tuesday evening’s show.

Saundra Kiczenski, a Michigan native who works in retail, waited from 7am on Monday. She said she’d been to rallies in support of the president in 15 states. She spent Monday night on the pavement in a sleeping bag.

‘I took the hotel pillow and slept on the ground,’ she told DailyMail.com on Tuesday afternoon as she waited to get in.

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he’d be appearing at in the evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour.

‘The Fake News doesn’t report it, but Republican enthusiasm is at an all time high. Look what is going on in Orlando, Florida, right now! People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar). Going to be wild – See you later!’ he tweeted on Tuesday morning.

A cover band with aging rockers who call themselves ‘The Guzzlers’ revved up the crowd under a beating sun at a ‘festival’ the campaign held in an outdoor parking lot, where vendors sold a captive and cramped group sodas, snow cones and Trump umbrellas.

Sweltering heat that topped 87 degrees soon turned to pouring rain, giving the umbrellas a dual purpose for supporters like Richard Snowden who chose to remain.

A resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, Snowden said he’d be ‘remiss’ to have skipped the kickoff. He told DailyMail.com from the comfort of a party-style tent his group had pitched that he’d attended 54 rallies since Trump announced his candidacy for office in 2015.

But even Snowden called himself a pragmatist and said of the president’s reelection odds, ‘I don’t think it’s going to be a cakewalk.’

‘The incumbency will help. He won’t catch them flat-footed this time,’ he observed, as he waited for the rally to begin. ‘And he won’t have the dislike of Hillary working in his favor,’ he said in remarks that proved to prescient.

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he'd be appearing at in the evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

 

The US President and First Lady Melania Trump are pictured stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida Tuesday

The US President and First Lady Melania Trump are pictured stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida Tuesday

Special advisor to the US president Jared Kushner and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport

Michael Boulos and Tiffany Trump wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport in Orlando

Special advisor to the US president Jared Kushner and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left, and Michael Boulos and Tiffany Trump, right, wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport on Tuesday

Donald Trump is putting an advisory on his Orlando rally, saying the official launch of 2020 campaign will be 'wild,' after supporters camped out in tents to save their places in line like they were waiting in line for a free concert with Rihanna

Donald Trump is putting an advisory on his Orlando rally, saying the official launch of 2020 campaign will be ‘wild,’ after supporters camped out in tents to save their places in line like they were waiting in line for a free concert with Rihanna

Supporters of President Donald Trump wait in line hours before the arena doors open for a campaign rally Tuesday

Supporters of President Donald Trump wait in line hours before the arena doors open for a campaign rally Tuesday

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Determined: The early start was an attempt by the fanatical Trump backers to be at the front of the crowd for the campaign kick-off

Determined: The early start was an attempt by the fanatical Trump backers to be at the front of the crowd for the campaign kick-off

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7156179/Trumps-2020-kickoff-features-media-bashing-attacks-Joe-Biden-old-foe-Hillary-Clinton.html

 

Trump, in 2020 campaign mode, calls Democrats ‘radical’

today

President Donald Trump jabbed at the press and poked the political establishment he ran against in 2016 as he kicked off his reelection campaign with a grievance-filled rally focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a possible second term.

Addressing a crowd of thousands at Orlando’s Amway Center on Tuesday night, Trump complained he was “under assault from the very first day” of his presidency by a “fake news media” and an “illegal witch hunt” that had tried to keep him and his supporters down.

He painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, accusing his critics of “un-American conduct” and saying Democrats “want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.”

“A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream,” he said. Trump made only passing mention of any of the Democrats running to replace him even as he tossed out “radical” and “unhinged” to describe the rival party.

Trump has long railed against the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the ongoing probes by House Democrats in the aftermath of Robert Mueller’s report .

President Donald Trump officially kicked off his re-election campaign Tuesday with a grievance-filled Florida rally. "We're going to keep it better than ever before," he declared. (June 18)

The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump’s 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his run three years ago. Even after two-and-a-half years in the Oval Office, Trump remains focused on energizing his base and offering himself as a political outsider running against Washington.

Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted Wednesday morning that Trump had raised $24.8 million in less than 24 hours for his reelection.

In his speech, Trump spent considerably more time focused on former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton than on his current 2020 challengers, even though she is not on the ballot.

Thousands of Trump supporters began gathering outside the arena on Monday.

“Trump has been the best president we’ve ever had,” said Ron Freitas, a retired Merchant Marine and registered Democrat from Orlando.

Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters clapped and took photos when a 20-foot (6-meter) blimp of a snarling Trump baby in a diaper was inflated. Some members of the far-right hate group Proud Boys were also spotted marching outside the rally.

Trump aides scheduled the kickoff near the four-year anniversary of the day when the former reality television star and New York tabloid fixture launched his longshot campaign for president with a famous escalator ride in front of a crowd that included paid actors.

Trump spoke fondly of his 2016 race, calling it “a defining moment in American history.” He said that in the years since, he had upended Washington, staring down “a corrupt and broken political establishment” and restoring a government “of, for and by the people.”

He never has really stopped running. He filed for reelection on Jan. 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration, and held his first 2020 rally in February, 2017, in nearby Melbourne. He has continued holding his signature “Make America Great Again” rallies in the months since.

Trump asked the crowd whether he should stick with “Make America Great Again” or upgrade his slogan. His new one — “Keep America Great” — was greeted with boisterous cheers.

Trump is hoping to replicate the dynamics that allowed him to take charge of the Republican Party and then the presidency as an insurgent intent on disrupting the status quo. In 2016, he successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. He has no intention of abandoning that mantle, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt.

The president underscored that on the eve of the rally in must-win Florida, returning to the hardline immigration themes of his first campaign by tweeting that next week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement “will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”

That promise, which came with no details and sparked Democratic condemnation, seemed to offer a peek into a campaign that will largely be fought along the same lines as his first bid, with very few new policy proposals for a second term.

Early Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said Trump’s politics are “all about dividing us” in ways that are “dangerous — truly, truly dangerous.”

Another leading Democratic contender, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said Trump had delivered “an hour-and-a-half speech of lies, distortions and total, absolute nonsense.”

But those involved in the president’s reelection effort believe his version of populism, combined with his mantra to “Drain the Swamp,” still resonates, despite his administration’s ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family’s apparent efforts to profit off the presidency.Critics have pointed out his constant promotion for his golf courses, both at home and abroad, and note that this daughter, White House senior aide Ivanka Trump, made $4 million last year from her stake in the president’s Washington hotel, which has become a favored destination for foreign nationals looking to curry favor with the administration.

Advisers believe that, in an age of extreme polarization, many Trump backers view their support for the president as part of their identity, one not easily shaken. They point to his seemingly unmovable support with his base supporters as evidence that he is still viewed the same way he was as a candidate: a political rebel.

Trump tried to make the case that he had made good on his 2016 promises, including cracking down on illegal immigration and boosting jobs.

Near the rally’s end, Trump ran through a list of promises for a second term, pledging a new immigration system, new trade deals, a health care overhaul and a cure for cancer and “many diseases,” including eradicating AIDS in America.

https://apnews.com/947182a691e6498ca4488e9fc8f9e4b5

President Trump spent a Tuesday night rally he’d advertised as a 2020 kickoff hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton for acid washing her emails and failing to deliver on her pledge to beat him, while Democrats vying for the party’s nomination now escaped his wrath.

Noting that he’s under constant media scrutiny, Trump said that he’d be sent to the slammer if he ordered aides to destroy potential evidence.

‘But, can you imagine if I got a subpoena, think of this, if I got a subpoena for emails, if I deleted one email like a love note to Melania, it’s the electric chair for Trump,’ he claimed in a campaign speech in Orlando.

Trump said subpoenas he’s receiving are not about Democratic claims that his campaign may have colluded with Russia.

 

A sunshine state of mind! Melania and Donald Trump gaze lovingly at one another as they leave the White House hand-in-hand and head to Florida for the president’s 2020 rally

  • Trump, 73, and Melania, 49, departed the White House together on Tuesday to fly to Florida
  • The President will be officially launching his 2020 campaign with a rally at the Amway Center
  • The first lady wore a summery $2,290 white eyelet Andrew Gin dress with a pair of red and white polka-dot heels
  • She grinned at her husband as they walked hand-in-hand to Marine One
  • Melania is not expected to speak at the event, which will include an estimated 20,000 people

Donald and Melania Trump had a rare romantic public moment on Tuesday as the two left the White House for Orlando, Florida.

The President and first lady walked hand-in-hand across the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One on their way to Trump’s 2020 campaign kickoff rally.

Cameras caught the couple sharing a warm smile as they held onto each other, Trump, 73, dressed in a navy suit and red tie and his 49-year-old wife took advantage of the June heat in a $2,290 summery white eyelet dress from Andrew Gin, and red polka-dot heels.

All smiles: Donald and Melania Trump held hands and beamed at one another as they walked across the White House lawn to begin their trip to Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday

All smiles: Donald and Melania Trump held hands and beamed at one another as they walked across the White House lawn to begin their trip to Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday

Ready to get away! The 49-year-old first lady couldn't wipe the smile off her face as she and the president strolled across the South Lawn

Ready to get away! The 49-year-old first lady couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she and the president strolled across the South Lawn

On their way: They appeared to be in good spirits as they set out for Orlando, Florida+19

On their way: They appeared to be in good spirits as they set out for Orlando, Florida

Hands on: At one point, Trump clasped one of Melania's hands in both of his own+19

Hands on: At one point, Trump clasped one of Melania’s hands in both of his own

The couple isn’t typically much for PDA but shared an intimate smile as they walked passed photographers.

They held each other’s hands, with Trump stopping at one point in order to clasp Melania’s left hand in both of his own.

Melania beat the heat, which is hovering in the mid-to-high 80s in Washington, D.C. today, in a breezy but figure-flaunting white sleeveless dress, which featured a seasonally appropriate eyelet patter with floral cutouts on the top.

She accessorized with a pair of dark sunglasses and red and white pointy-toe pumps. while wearing her brown hair blown out around her shoulders.

The couple, who married in 2005, celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary in January, just one year less than he was married to his first wife Ivana.

The couple grinned as they boarded Marine One and then switched planes for Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

Hot out here: Melania wore a summery white eyelet dress for the occasion, as temperatures soared into the high 80s+19

Hot out here: Melania wore a summery white eyelet dress for the occasion, as temperatures soared into the high 80s

Protection: She shielded her eyes behind a pair of sunglasses+19

Protection: She shielded her eyes behind a pair of sunglasses

High heels: On her feet were a pair of red polka dot pointy-toe pumps+19

High heels: On her feet were a pair of red polka dot pointy-toe pumps

Ready to go: The well-coiffed first lady had her hair and nails done+19

Ready to go: The well-coiffed first lady had her hair and nails done

They’re flying down not to Mar-a-Lago but Orlando, where Trump is kicking off his 2020 presidential campaign at the Amway Center in front of an estimated 20,000 people.

Trump’s campaign is transforming the area outside the arena to have a festival-like atmosphere, with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time.

The most coveted positions are not seats at all, but standing positions near the front of the stage. Backers of the president in that area are likely to get a handshake, a selfie or Trump’s autograph at the event that formally marks the beginning of his campaign for a second term.

All of Trump’s children and his wife Melania will be with him at the event, sources told DailyMail.com, as will the Mike Pence, the president’s running mate and the nation’s vice president.

The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said, but given the president’s tendency to call on people to speak, she could end up addressing the crowd.

Donald Trump, Jr., on the other hand is expected to give remarks before the rally.

Beat the heat: Melania kept breezy in the lightweight dress+19

It will likely also serve her well in the Florida heat+19

Beat the heat: Melania kept breezy in the lightweight dress, which will likely also serve her well in the Florida heat

Staying behind: The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said+19

Staying behind: The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said

Change of plan? The couple's 13-year-old son Barron is also expected to be at the rally, but was not seen traveling with them+19

Change of plan? The couple’s 13-year-old son Barron is also expected to be at the rally, but was not seen traveling with them

Family affair: Trump's adult children — Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, and Tiffany — are also expected to be there+19

Family affair: Trump’s adult children — Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, and Tiffany — are also expected to be there

Melania continued to smile at her husband as they switched planes at Joint Base Andrews+19

Melania continued to smile at her husband as they switched planes at Joint Base Andrews

See ya! Trump waved goodbye as they boarded the plane together+19

See ya! Trump waved goodbye as they boarded the plane together

The president’s eldest son is a frequent presence at campaign events — with and without his father — and often serves as a warm-up act for the president’s supporters. He’s also campaigned and raised money for other Republican candidates since his father entered politics.

His girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News personality, is also scheduled to be at the rally. She serves as a senior adviser to the president’s reelection campaign.

Senior advisers and family members to the president Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are also expected to be at the rally.

It’s unclear if Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump, will be in Orlando. She serves as a senior adviser to the president’s campaign, but is also pregnant with the couple’s second child. She made a state trip to the UK in early June.

It will be 13-year-old Barron Trump’s first appearance at a campaign rally since his father took office.

Trump’s youngest daughter Tiffany, who has been less involved than her older siblings in her father’s campaigns and administration, will also be there.

Orlando Trump supporters stakeout spots ahead of rally

Waiting for him: The rally will mark the official launch of 2020 campaign+19

Waiting for him: The rally will mark the official launch of 2020 campaign

Patience: Supporters waited in line hours before the arena doors opened on Tuesday+19

Patience: Supporters waited in line hours before the arena doors opened on Tuesday

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Wild: The Republican incumbent set the tone in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

President Trump release his 2020 campaign ad for re-election

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he’d be appearing at this evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour.

‘The Fake News doesn’t report it, but Republican enthusiasm is at an all time high. Look what is going on in Orlando, Florida, right now! People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar). Going to be wild – See you later!’ he said.

Trump had apparently dropped a claim that ‘thousands’ turned up on Monday, with about 250 people camping overnight. But the numbers grew steadily as temperatures soared in Orlando Tuesday, reaching 87 degrees before an hour-long downpour that soaked a waiting crowd.

A new Quinnipiac poll showed Trump losing Florida to Democratic nemesis Joe Biden. The former vice president would beat Trump by nine points, 50 – 41 per cent, the newly-released survey showed.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would win by a similar margin, 48 – 42, while other top Democrats would perform in the poll’s margin of error

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7155853/Melania-Trump-smiles-warmly-husband-depart-Orlando-campaign-kickoff-rally.html

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019, Story 1: United States Sends Aircraft Carrier Group and Bomber Task Force To Middle East to Counter Iranian Threats — Videos — Story 2: After Nearly 700 Rockets From Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza Strip Kills 4 Israelis and 22 Palestinians — Israeli Airstrikes Attack Hamas and Kill Commander in Gaza City — Ceasefire Reached But Most Likely Will Not Hold — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Threatens To Impose a 25% Tariff on $200 Billion of Chinese Exports into United States After Chinese Communist Renege on Trade Deal Commitments — Time To Pull The Trigger on 25% Tariff on Chinese Goods — Videos

Posted on May 7, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Democrat Candidates, 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, American History, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Business, China, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Deep State, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Egypt, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, European History, Federal Government, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Spending, Health, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Joe Biden, Labor Economics, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Middle East, News, People, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Rule of Law, Scandals, Senate, South America, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Trade Policy, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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Story 1: United States Sends Aircraft Carrier Group and Bomber Task Force To Middle East to Counter Iranian Threats — Videos —

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US vs Iran – Strait of Hormuz

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American Pie Don McLean Full Length 1989 Video from Original 1971 72 Song

Don McLean – American Pie better quality

American Pie

A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while
But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
So
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
Well, I know that you’re in love with him
‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues
I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
But, that’s not how it used to be
When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me
Oh and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned
And while Lennon read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died
We were singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast
Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance
‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?
We started singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again
So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend
Oh and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died
He was singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play
And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
And they were singing
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
They were singing
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
Songwriters: Don McLean

Scoop: Israel passed White House intelligence on possible Iran plot

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu with national security adviser John Bolton. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images

Israel passed information on an alleged Iranian plot to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf to the U.S. before national security adviser John Bolton threatened Iran with “unrelenting force” last night, senior Israeli officials told me.

Why it matters: Bolton’s unusual and aggressive statement included news that the U.S. would move an aircraft carrier to the region. The officials said intelligence gathered by Israel, primarily by the Mossad intelligence agency, is understood to be part of the reason for Bolton’s announcement.

Behind the scenes: Information about possible Iranian plots against the U.S. or its allies in the Gulf were raised two weeks ago in talks held at the White House between an Israeli delegation headed by national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat and a U.S. team led by Bolton, the Israeli officials told me.

  • The intelligence about a possible Iranian plot is not very specific at this stage, but the officials said it was clear the threat was against a U.S. target in the Gulf or U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia or the UAE.

The bottom line: An Israeli official told me Mossad drew several scenarios for what the Iranians might be planning:

“It is still unclear to us what the Iranians are trying to do and how they are planning to do it, but it is clear to us that the Iranian temperature is on the rise as a result of the growing U.S. pressure campaign against them, and they are considering retaliating against U.S. interests in the Gulf.”

— Israeli official

US sending aircraft carrier to Mideast, citing Iran threats

49 minutes ago
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to the media on the sidelines of the Arctic Council ministers’ working dinner at the Arktikum museum in Rovaniemi, Finland, Monday, May 6, 2019. The U.S. is dispatching an aircraft carrier and other military resources to the Middle East following what it says are indications that Iran and its proxy forces are preparing to possibly attack U.S. forces in the region. (Mandel Ngan/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is sending an aircraft carrier group to the Middle East ahead of schedule and warning that Iran and its proxy forces are showing “troubling and escalatory” indications of a possible attack on American forces in the region.

Exactly what prompted the action was unclear, but it marked a further step in sharply rising tensions between the Trump administration and the Islamic Republic.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said Sunday night the U.S. was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East, intending to send a message that “unrelenting force” will meet any attack on American forces or allies.

Neither Bolton nor other officials would provide any details about the supposed threat, which comes as the Trump administration wages a campaign of intensifying pressure against Iran and nearly a year after it withdrew from an Obama-era nuclear deal with Tehran.

In Iran, the semi-official ISNA news agency on Monday quoted an anonymous official as saying that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani planned a broadcast address Wednesday and might discuss “counteractions” Tehran will take over America’s withdrawal from the international nuclear deal.

The agreement limited Iran’s enrichment of uranium amid Western concerns that Tehran’s program could allow it to build nuclear weapons. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.

With its pressure campaign, the U.S. administration is trying to get Iran to halt activities such as supporting militant activities that destabilize the Middle East and threaten U.S. allies, including Israel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“Our objective is to get the Islamic Republic of Iran to behave like a normal nation,” Pompeo told reporters during a visit to Finland. “When they do that, we will welcome them back.”

The order to the carrier group would get the Abraham Lincoln into the Middle East about two weeks earlier than initially planned following exercises in the Mediterranean region, according to a U.S. defense official who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, so spoke on the condition of anonymity. It forces the ships to cancel a planned stop in Croatia.

For years, the U.S. maintained a carrier presence in the Persian Gulf and Middle East region. During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were two carriers in the area, but that was reduced to one.

Last year the administration decided to end the continuous carrier presence, and send a strike group only intermittently into the region. The U.S. Navy currently has no aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

Bolton said the U.S. wants to send a message that “unrelenting force” will meet any attack on U.S. interests or those of America’s allies.

Jon Alterman, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, questioned whether the U.S. adequately understands Iranian motivations and actions, and whether the military move was warranted.

“I don’t think we should let the Iranians pull our chain at the time and place of their choosing,” he said. “You can communicate seriousness to the Iranians without moving a lot of assets around, because moving assets is expensive and keeps assets from being in other places.”

He added, however, that Iran has the capability to harm Americans, but it’s difficult to assess the situation without knowing more about the intelligence that prompted the move.

Along with the Lincoln, Bolton mentioned “a bomber task force,” which suggested the Pentagon is deploying land-based bomber aircraft somewhere in the region, perhaps on the Arabian Peninsula.

Pompeo said the actions undertaken by the U.S. have been in the works for a while. The request for the accelerated move came over the weekend from the military’s U.S. Central Command after reviewing various intelligence reports for some time, according to the U.S. official. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the request on Sunday.

“It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” Pompeo said. “If these actions take place, if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that.”

Asked if the Iranian action was related to the deadly events in Gaza and Israel — militants fired rockets into Israel on Sunday and Israel responded with airstrikes — Pompeo said, “It is separate from that.”

The Trump administration has been intensifying its pressure campaign against Iran.

Last month, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, a decision that primarily affects the five remaining major importers: China and India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

The U.S. also recently designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, the first ever for an entire division of another government.

Trump withdrew from the Obama administration’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and, in the months that followed, reimposed punishing sanctions including those targeting Iran’s oil, shipping and banking sectors.

 

Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, other resources dispatched to Middle East over unspecified Iran threats

Story 2: After Nearly 700 Rockets From Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza Strip Kills 4 Israelis and 22 Palestinians — Israeli Airstrikes Attack Hamas and Kill Commander in Gaza City — Ceasefire Reached But Most Likely Will Not Hold — Videos

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

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Israeli military: Rockets fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv

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Israel and Palestine Explained

War – Edwin Starr

Billy Joel – Piano Man (Video)

Piano Man
It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Makin’ love to his tonic and gin
He says, “Son, can you play me a memory
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes”
La la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum
Sing us a song, you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feelin’ alright
Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there’s someplace that he’d rather be
He says, “Bill, I believe this is killing me”
As the smile ran away from his face
“Well I’m sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place”
Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum
Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he’s talkin’ with Davy, who’s still in the Navy
And probably will be for life
And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it’s better than drinkin’ alone
Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright
It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
‘Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been comin’ to see
To forget about life for a while
And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, “Man, what are you doin’ here?”
Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum
Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright
Songwriters: Billy Joel
Piano Man lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start the Fire (Official Video)

 

Israel kill Hamas commander in airstrike and ‘prepares Gaza ground invasion’ as it hits back after 600 militant rockets kill four and injure 66

  • An Israeli man, 58, became the first citizen to be killed in the Middle East hostilities since the 2014 war
  • Seven Palestinians, including a pregnant mother and her baby daughter, were also reportedly killed 
  • Israeli PM Netanyahu said Hamas is paying a ‘heavy price’ and has ordered ground troops up to Gaza’s border
  • Three Israelis, including an 80-year-old woman, were also wounded by rocket fire in the weekend of combat

Israel has reportedly killed a Hamas commander in a series of airstrikes amid reports it is planning to invade Gaza following a series of skirmishes with Palestinians.

A military statement said that commander Hamed Ahmed Abed Khudri had been killed in a targeted air strike on his car on Sunday.

Khudri was reportedly responsible for transferring funds from Iran to armed factions in Gaza. Palestinian witnesses said he was killed in an air strike on his car.

Four Israelis and 22 Palestinians, including two pregnant woman and an infant, have died so far in air strikes which began as Palestinians fired 600 rockets across the border on Friday.

It comes as Israel’s ground troops are reportedly preparing to siege the Gaza perimeter.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Hamas, the dissident group which rules Gaza, is paying a ‘heavy price’ for its attacks on his country.

And he has ordered a large military corps up to the besieged enclave as the month-long ceasefire is left in tatters.

A building in Gaza city is totally destroyed by an explosion on Sunday as Israel fired high-powered missiles across the border into Palestinian territory

A building in Gaza city is totally destroyed by an explosion on Sunday as Israel fired high-powered missiles across the border into Palestinian territory

A missile from Israel's 'Iron Dome' defence system is launched to defend the border from Palestinian rocket attacks. The Iron Dome works to intercept the rockets and explode them in midair

A missile from Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ defence system is launched to defend the border from Palestinian rocket attacks. The Iron Dome works to intercept the rockets and explode them in midair

Palestinians inspect a destroyed car of Hamas member Hamed Al-Khodari after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Sunday

Smoke rises after Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes in Gaza City as part of Benjamin Netanyahu's retaliation front

Smoke rises after Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes in Gaza City as part of Benjamin Netanyahu’s retaliation front

Israel's troops are reportedly preparing to siege the Gaza border (airstrikes aftermath in the Strip) after Palestinian militants fired more than 450 rockets on to their territory which killed the first Israeli citizen since 2014

Israel’s troops are reportedly preparing to siege the Gaza border (airstrikes aftermath in the Strip) after Palestinian militants fired more than 450 rockets on to their territory which killed the first Israeli citizen since 2014

Seven Palestinians have also died, including a pregnant woman and a one-year-old-baby, in airstrikes which formed part of Israel's retaliation (pictured: building in the enclave destroyed)

Seven Palestinians have also died, including a pregnant woman and a one-year-old-baby, in airstrikes which formed part of Israel’s retaliation (pictured: building in the enclave destroyed)

Palestinians are seen in a damaged house near a totally collapsed building after Israeli army carried out airstrikes in Rafah, Gaza

Israelis take cover as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets from Gaza during cross-border hostilities in the southern city of Ashkelon

Israelis take cover as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets from Gaza during cross-border hostilities in the southern city of Ashkelon

Israeli airstrikes targeted the city of Rafah on the Gaza strip after Hamas militants launched a barrage of rockets across the border

I

In a statement to his cabinet this morning, Mr Netanyahu said: ‘I instructed the military this morning to continue its massive strikes on terror elements in the Gaza Strip and ordered it to reinforce the troops around the Gaza Strip with tanks, artillery and infantry force.’

Moshe Agadi, a 58-year-old father of four, was struck in the chest by shrapnel during a missile strike on the city of Ashkelon near the border and marked the fighting’s first Israeli fatality in five years.

Eight Palestinian militants have also died in airstrikes which formed part of Israel’s retaliation that Mr Netanyahu has vowed to continue.

A pregnant woman and a one-year-old baby were also killed, but Israel is claiming that their deaths were caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.

And Israeli Defence Forces are standing by to invade the blockaded Gaza strip, according to the Independent.

The fighting came as leaders from Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and the smaller armed faction Islamic Jihad, were in Cairo for talks with Egyptian mediators aimed at preventing a fraying ceasefire from collapsing altogether.

It also comes at a sensitive time for Israel, which is to mark its Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday this week, before hosting the Eurovision song contest in the middle of the month. Prolonged fighting could overshadow the Eurovision and potentially deter international travelers from coming in for the festive event.

On Saturday video footage of a family screaming in fear during rocket attacks was posted on social media.

Israel and Hamas, an Islamic group that opposes Israel’s existence, have fought three wars and dozens of smaller flare-ups of violence since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

A picture taken in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 5, 2019 shows an explosion following an airstrike by Israel

The fighting came as leaders from Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and the smaller armed faction Islamic Jihad, were in Cairo for talks with Egyptian mediators (pictured: A target explodes during airstrikes in Gaza City, May 4)

An explosion is pictured among buildings during an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City on May 4, 2019

Palestinians gather on the beach in Gaza City as smoke and fire billow following airstrikes by Israel in response to rockets fired by Palestinian militants

The Gaza health ministry reported a 22-year-old man as well as a 14-month-old baby and her pregnant mother killed, with 17 others wounded

The Gaza health ministry reported a 22-year-old man as well as a 14-month-old baby and her pregnant mother killed, with 17 others wounded

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military did not have any information on the incident involving the baby. The army said earlier it was targeting only military sites (pictured: Gaza City)

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military did not have any information on the incident involving the baby. The army said earlier it was targeting only military sites (pictured: Gaza City)

Missiles are fired from Israel's Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells,

Missiles are fired from Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells,

Gaza's militant strongholds came under fire (fireball pictured) from Israeli troops after they launched rockets into southern Israel

Gaza’s militant strongholds came under fire (fireball pictured) from Israeli troops after they launched rockets into southern Israel

One woman was seriously injured in a rocket strike on the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, some 13 miles from the Gaza border, police said (pictured: Gaza City)

One woman was seriously injured in a rocket strike on the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, some 13 miles from the Gaza border, police said (pictured: Gaza City)

They engaged in several days of heavy fighting in March before Egypt brokered a truce in which Israel agreed to ease a crippling blockade on Gaza in exchange for a halt in rocket fire.

In recent days, Hamas accused Israel of reneging on its pledges as militants began to fire rockets into Israel.

In a familiar scene, air raid sirens wailed across southern Israel throughout the day and into the evening as barrages of rockets were repeatedly fired.

Retaliatory airstrikes caused large explosions to thunder across Gaza, as plumes of smoke rose into the air. Outgoing Palestinian rockets left long trails of smoke behind them.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 14-month-old girl, Seba Abu Arar, was killed in an Israeli airstrike that hit their home in east Gaza City. Her pregnant mother, 37, was severely wounded and died later at the hospital, the ministry added. Another child was moderately injured.

Pictured: Smoke and flames rise following an Israeli airstrike on a building in Gaza city Israeli airstrike
Retaliatory airstrikes caused large explosions to thunder across Gaza, as plumes of smoke rose into the air. Outgoing Palestinian rockets left long trails of smoke behind them (pictured: An explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike)

Retaliatory airstrikes caused large explosions to thunder across Gaza, as plumes of smoke rose into the air. Outgoing Palestinian rockets left long trails of smoke behind them (pictured: An explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike)

The Israeli military accused the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad of instigating the latest round of violence by shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers Friday (pictured: Fire rises in Gaza on May 4)

The Israeli military accused the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad of instigating the latest round of violence by shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers Friday (pictured: Fire rises in Gaza on May 4)

In the morning, Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 22-year-old Palestinian man was killed by an Israeli airstrike, and 13 other Palestinians were wounded. Late on Saturday, health officials said a 25-year-old man was killed by an Israeli drone missile as he was traveling on a motorbike in northern Gaza.

In Israel, medical officials said an 80-year-old woman was severely wounded by rocket fire, a 50-year-old man was moderately wounded by shrapnel and a teenage boy was mildly hurt as he ran for cover. Israeli police said a house in the coastal city of Ashkelon was damaged.

The Israeli military accused the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad of instigating the latest round of violence by shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers Friday. It said the shooting was not coordinated with Hamas, but said it holds Hamas, as the territory’s ruling power, responsible for all fire emanating from Gaza.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said ‘the United States strongly condemns the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from Gaza upon innocent civilians and their communities across Israel.’

‘We stand with Israel and fully support its right to self defense against these abhorrent attacks,’ she said in a statement.

Smoke rises after Israeli army carried out airstrike in Rafah, Gaza on May 4, 2019

Smoke rises after Israeli army carried out airstrike in Rafah, Gaza on May 4, 2019

Israeli bomb squad inspect the remains of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli Kibbutz of Yad Mordechai

Israeli bomb squad inspect the remains of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli Kibbutz of Yad Mordechai

A picture taken from the southern Israeli village of Netiv Haasara shows an explosion caused by an Israeli air strike across the border in the Gaza Strip+28

A picture taken from the southern Israeli village of Netiv Haasara shows an explosion caused by an Israeli air strike across the border in the Gaza Strip

By nightfall, the army said militants had fired well over 200 rockets into Israel. It said dozens of the rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome rocket-defense system. But it closed roads near the Gaza border to civilian traffic and closed a popular beach as a security precaution.

The military said it struck some 120 targets in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad military compounds, a Hamas rocket-manufacturing site and a ‘high-end Islamic Jihad tunnel’ that it said stretched into Israel for use in attacks.

Late on Saturday, Israel struck a building that it said housed Hamas military intelligence offices in Gaza City. Another airstrike hit a six-story commercial and residential building. Journalists said the building housed the office of Turkey’s news agency Anadolu. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said it was closing the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast altogether and sealing Israel’s two land crossings with Gaza. The crossings are used by Palestinian medical patients to enter and exit the territory, and provide the main entry for cargo into the blockaded territory.

The U.N.’s Mideast envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, said the United Nations was working with Egypt to restore calm and called on all sides to ‘de-escalate’ and restore recent understandings.

A missile fired from Israel's Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells races towards Gaza

A missile fired from Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells races towards Gaza

Damage to a house is seen after a rocket fired from Gaza Strip hit in the southern Israeli city Kiryat Gat, May 4

Damage to a house is seen after a rocket fired from Gaza Strip hit in the southern Israeli city Kiryat Gat, May 4

A statement from Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, allied to Hamas, claimed responsibility for at least some of the rocket fire and said it was prepared for more if necessary (pictured, rocket fired from Gaza towards Israel)

‘Those who seek to destroy them will bear responsibility for a conflict that will have grave consequences for all,’ he said in a statement.

The European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, sharply criticized the rocket attacks on Twitter, saying ‘firing indiscriminately against civilians (is) unacceptable.’

Islamic Jihad, which sometimes acts independently of Hamas, threatened to fire longer range rockets toward Israel’s heartland. In a video that also was seen an implicit claim of responsibility, it showed archived footage of militants attaching warheads to rockets.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007.

Under the recent understandings, Israel agreed to expand a fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, increased imports into Gaza and allow the Gulf state of Qatar to deliver aid to cash-strapped Gaza. But like previous Egyptian-mediated agreements, those understandings have shown signs of unraveling in recent days.

On Friday, two Palestinians were fatally shot by Israeli forces during the weekly protests along Israel-Gaza perimeter fence. Palestinian militants also shot and wounded two Israeli soldiers along the border fence. No group claimed responsibility for the shooting. In response, Israeli aircraft carried out retaliatory strikes, killing two Hamas militants.

Hamas has hoped that Egyptian mediators could further ease the blockade, which has ravaged Gaza’s economy. For over a year, the Islamic group has orchestrated mass demonstrations each week along the Israeli frontier to draw attention to Gaza’s plight. More than 200 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier have been killed in the border protests.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6994193/Israels-army-ready-launch-ground-invasion-Gaza-militants-fired-450-rockets.html

Hamas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Hamas
حركة المقاومة الاسلامية
Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum
Chief of the Political Bureau Ismail Haniya
Deputy Chief of the Political Bureau Mousa Abu Marzouq and Khaled Mashal[1]
Founder Sheikh Ahmed YassinAbdel Aziz al-RantissiMahmoud Zahar and 4 others.
Founded 1987
Preceded by Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood
Headquarters GazaGaza Strip
Ideology
Religion Sunni Islam
International affiliation Muslim Brotherhood
Axis of Resistance
Colours Green
Legislative Council (2006)

74 / 132

Party flag
Flag of Hamas.svg
Website
hamas.ps/en

Hamas (Arabic: حماس Ḥamās, an acronym of حركة المقاومة الاسلامية Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah Islamic Resistance Movement) is a Palestinian SunniIslamist fundamentalist organization.[9][10] It has a social service wing, Dawah, and a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. It has been the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip since its takeover of that area in 2007.[11][12] During this period it fought several wars with Israel.[13] It is regarded, either in whole or in part, as a terrorist organization by several countries and international organizations, most notably by Israel, the United States and the European Union.[14][15][16] Russia, China, and Turkey are among countries who do not regard it so.[17][18][19][20]

Hamas was founded in 1987,[21][22] soon after the First Intifada broke out, as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood,[23][24] which in its Gaza branch had been non-confrontational towards Israel, refrained from resistance, and was hostile to the PLO.[25] Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin stated in 1987, and the Hamas Charter affirmed in 1988, that Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[26][27] The group has stated that it may accept a 10-year truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders and allows Palestinian refugees from 1948, including their descendants, to return to what is now Israel,[28][29][30][31] although clarifying that this does not mean recognition of Israel or the end of the conflict.[32] Hamas’s military wing objected to the truce offer.[33] Analysts have said that it seems clear that Hamas knows that many of its conditions for the truce could never be met.[34]

The military wing of Hamas has launched attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers, often describing them as retaliatory, in particular for assassinations of the upper echelon of their leadership.[35] Tactics have included suicide bombings and, since 2001, rocket attacks.[36][37][38][39] Hamas’s rocket arsenal, though mainly consisting of short-range homemade Qassam rockets,[40] also includes long-range weapons that have reached major Israeli cities including Tel Aviv and Haifa.[41][42] The attacks on civilians have been condemned as war crimes and crimes against humanity by human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch.[43][44] A 2017 Palestinian Center for Public Opinion poll in the Palestinian territories revealed that Hamas violence and rhetoric against Israelis are unpopular and that a majority of Palestinians would rather Hamas “accept a permanent two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.”[45]

In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a plurality in the Palestinian Parliament,[46] defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party. Following the elections, the Quartet (the United States, Russia, United Nations, and European Union) made future foreign assistance to the PA conditional upon the future government’s commitment to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas rejected those changes, which led to the Quartet suspending its foreign assistance program and Israel imposing economic sanctions on the Hamas-led administration.[47][48] In March 2007, a national unity government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas was briefly formed, but this failed to restart international financial assistance.[49] Tensions over control of Palestinian security forces soon erupted in the 2007 Battle of Gaza,[49] after which Hamas took control of Gaza, while its officials were ousted from government positions in the West Bank.[49] Israel and Egypt then imposed an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, on the grounds that Fatah forces were no longer providing security there.[50] In 2011, Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation agreement that provides for creation of a joint caretaker Palestinian government.[51] Progress stalled, until an April 2014 agreementto form a compromise unity government, with elections to be held in late 2014.[52]

Contents

Etymology

Hamas is an acronym of the Arabic phrase حركة المقاومة الاسلامية or Harakat al-Muqāwama al-Islāmiyya, meaning “Islamic Resistance Movement”. The Arabic word ‘hamas’ (حماس) means “courage” or “zeal”.[53] The Hamas covenant interprets its name to mean “strength and bravery”.[54][55]

Aims

Hamas, as its name (Islamic Resistance Movement) implies, aims to liberate Palestine from the Israeli occupation by resisting it.[56] And according to Hamas armed branch Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades:

To contribute in the effort of liberating Palestine and restoring the rights of the Palestinian people under the sacred Islamic teachings of the Holy Quran, the Sunnah (traditions) of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the traditions of Muslims rulers and scholars noted for their piety and dedication.[57]

Al-Qassam Brigades aims to liberate all of Palestine from what they describe as Zionist occupation, and to achieve the rights of the Palestinian people that were robbed by the occupation, and it consider itself part of the movement of a project of national liberation.[58]

Leadership and structure

Map of key Hamas leadership nodes. 2010

Longtime leader, Khaled Meshaal

Hamas inherited from its predecessor a tripartite structure that consisted in the provision of social services, of religious training and military operations under a Shura Council. Traditionally it had four distinct functions: (a) a charitable social welfare division (dawah); (b) a military division for procuring weapons and undertaking operations (al-Mujahideen al Filastinun); (c) a security service (Jehaz Aman); and (d) a media branch (A’alam).[59] Hamas has both an internal leadership within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and an external leadership, split between a Gaza group directed by Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook from his exile first in Damascus and then in Egypt, and a Kuwaiti group (Kuwaidia) under Khaled Mashal.[60] The Kuwaiti group of Palestinian exiles began to receive extensive funding from the Gulf States after its leader Mashal broke with Yasser Arafat‘s decision to side with Saddam Hussein in the Invasion of Kuwait, with Mashal insisting that Iraq withdraw.[61] On 6 May 2017, Hamas’ Shura Council chose Ismail Haniya to become the new leader, to replace Mashal.[62]

The exact nature of the organization is unclear, secrecy being maintained for fear of Israeli assassinations and to conceal operational activities. Formally, Hamas maintains the wings are separate and independent. Matthew Levitt maintains this is a public myth. Davis argues that they are both separate and combined for reasons of internal and external political necessity. Communication between the political and military wings of Hamas is difficult, owing to the thoroughness of Israeli intelligence surveillance and the existence of an extensive base of informants. After the assassination of Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi the occasional political direction of the militant wing diminished, with field commanders given discretional autonomy on operations.[63]

Consultative councils

The governing body is the Majlis al-Shura. The principle behind the Council is based on the Qur’anic concept of consultation and popular assembly (shura), which Hamas leaders argue provides for democracy within an Islamic framework.[64] As the organization grew more complex and Israeli pressure increased it needed a broader base for decisions, the Shura Council was renamed the ‘General Consultative Council’, elected from members of local council groups and this in turn elected a 15-member Politburo (al-Maktab al-Siyasi)[65] that made decisions at the highest level. Representatives come from Gaza, the West Bank, leaders in exile and Israeli prisons.[66] This organ was located in Damascus until the Syrian Civil War led it to transfer to Qatar in January 2012, when Hamas sided with the civil opposition against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.[66][67]

Social services wing

Hamas developed its social welfare programme by replicating the model established by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.For them, charity and the development of one’s community are prescribed by religion, and, at the same time, are to be understood as forms of resistance.[68] In Islamic tradition dawah (lit.’the call to God’) obliges the faithful to reach out to others by both proselytising and by charitable works, and typically the latter centre on the mosques which make use of both waqf endowment resources and charitable donations (zakat) to fund grassroots services like nurseries, schools, orphanages, soup kitchens, women’s activities, library services and even sporting clubs within a larger context of preaching and political discussions.[69] In the 1990s, some 85% of its budget was allocated to the provision of social services.[70] It has been called perhaps the most significant social services actor in Palestine. By 2000 it or its affiliated charities ran roughly 40% of the social institutions in the West Bank and Gaza and, with other Islamic charities, by 2005 was supporting 120,000 individuals with monthly financial support in Gaza.[71] Part of the appeal of these institutions is that they fill a vacuum in the administration by the PLO of the Palestinian territories, which had failed to cater to the demand for jobs and broad social services, and is widely viewed as corrupt.[72] As late as 2005, the budget of Hamas, drawing on global charity contributions, was mostly tied up in covering running expenses for its social programmes, which extended from the supply of housing, food and water for the needy to more general functions like financial aid, medical assistance, educational development and religious instruction. A certain accounting flexibility allowed these funds to cover both charitable causes and military operations, permitting transfer from one to the other.[73]

The dawah infrastructure itself was understood, within the Palestinian context, as providing the soil from which a militant opposition to the occupation would flower.[74] In this regard it differs from the rival Palestinian Islamic Jihadwhich lacks any social welfare network, and relies on spectacular terrorist attacks to recruit adherents.[75] In 2007, through funding from Iran, Hamas managed to allocate at a cost of $60 million, monthly stipends of $100 for 100,000 workers, and a similar sum for 3,000 fishermen laid idle by Israel’s imposition of restrictions on fishing offshore, plus grants totalling $45 million to detainees and their families.[76] Matthew Levitt argues that Hamas grants to people are subject to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis of how beneficiaries will support Hamas, with those linked to terrorist activities receiving more than others.[77] Israel holds the families of suicide bombers accountable and bulldozes their homes, whereas the families of Hamas activists who have been killed or wounded during militant operations are given an initial, one-time grant varying between $500–$5,000, together with a $100 monthly allowance. Rent assistance is also given to families whose homes have been destroyed by Israeli bombing though families unaffiliated with Hamas are said to receive less.[78][79]

Until 2007, these activities extended to the West Bank, but, after a PLO crackdown, now continue exclusively in the Gaza Strip.[80] After the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état deposed the elected Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Hamas found itself in a financial straitjacket and has since endeavoured to throw the burden of responsibility for public works infrastructure in the Gaza Strip back onto the Palestinian National Authority, but without success.[81]

Military wing

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing was formed in either mid-1991[82][83] or 1992, under the direction of Yahya Ayyash, a Hamas field-commander and bomb-maker assassinated by Israel in 1996. It was constituted from units associated with the earlier al-Jihad wa Da’wa, an umbrella group that had gathered in militants from various Islamic resistance cells like the Al-Mujahidun al-Filastiniun (Palestinian fighters).[84][85] established by Salah Shehade in 1986.[86]

The wing takes its name from the prewar militant Palestinian nationalist Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, though Hamas cells sometimes refer to themselves as “Students of Ayyash”, “Students of the Engineer”, or “Yahya Ayyash Units”.[85] At the outset, weapons were hard to come by, and the organization began to resort to intermittent kidnappings of soldiers to secure arms and munitions. This approach had been justified two years earlier when, in the wake of the killing of some 20 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces dispersing protestors at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1990, Hamas had declared every Israeli soldier a legitimate target.[87]

Weapons found in a mosque during Operation Cast Lead, according to the IDF

Ayyash, with a degree in electrical engineering, quickly improved Hamas’s strike capacity by developing IEDs and promoting the tactic of suicide bombings.[88] By the time of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Hamas’s laboratories had devised a primitive form of rocketry, the Qassam 1, which they first launched in October 2000, carrying a 500 gram warhead with a throw range of 4 kilometres. Both propellant and the explosive were manufactured from chemical fertilizers, though TNT was also tried.[89] Over the next five years of the conflict, a 3-kilogram-warhead-armed version with a strike range of 6–8 kilometres, the Qassam 2, was also produced[90] and in an incremental rise, these rocket types were fired towards Israeli settlements along the Gaza Strip: 4 in 2001, 35 in 2002, 155 in 2003, 281 in 2004, and 179 in 2005. By 2005, the Qassam 3 had been engineered with a 12–14 kilometre range and a 15 kilo warhead. By 2006, 942 such rockets were launched into southern Israel.[91] During the War with Israel in 2008–2009, Hamas deployed 122-mm Grad rocketry with a 20–40 kilometre range and a 30 kilogram warhead and a variety of guided Kornet antitank missiles.[92] By 2012 Hamas had engineered a version of the Fajr-5 rocket, which was capable of reaching as far as Tel Aviv, as was shown after the assassination of Ahmed Jabari in that year. In the 2014 war its advanced rocketry reached Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.[93] Hamas deployed its increasingly sophisticated[dubious] rocketry to replace its martyrdom operations.[94]

While the number of members is known only to the Brigades leadership, Israel estimates the Brigades have a core of several hundred members who receive military style training, including training in Iran and in Syria (before the Syrian Civil War).[85] Additionally, the brigades have an estimated 10,000–17,000 operatives,[95][96] forming a backup force whenever circumstances call for reinforcements for the Brigade. Recruitment training lasts for two years.[85]

The group’s ideology outlines its aim as the liberation of Palestine and the restoration of Palestinian rights under the dispensations set forth in the Qur’an, and this translates into three policy priorities:

To evoke the spirit of Jihad (Resistance) among Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims; to defend Palestinians and their land against the Zionist occupation and its manifestations; to liberate Palestinians and their land that was usurped by the Zionist occupation forces and settlers.[97]

According to its official stipulations, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades’ military operations are to be restricted to operating only inside Palestine, engaging with Israeli soldiers, and in exercising the right of self-defense against armed settlers. They are to avoid civilian targets, to respect the enemy’s humanity by refraining from mutilation, defacement or excessive killing, and to avoid targeting Westerners either in the occupied zones or beyond.[98]

In practice, Hamas altered its approach restricting actions to ‘legitimate military targets’ by extended them to Israeli civilians after 7 years.[96] Though between 1996 and 2001 it generally refrained from targeting Israeli civilians,[99] it adopted sporadic suicide bombings in the wake of the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, when an Israeli settler in military fatigues, Baruch Goldstein, shot dead 29 Muslims at prayer in 1993.[100][101][102] After the Al Aqsa revolt, the Brigades were behind most of the suicide bombings in Israel, a measure it defended as a form of “reciprocity”.[99]

Down to 2007, the Brigades are estimated to have lost some 800 operatives in conflicts with Israeli forces. The leadership has been consistently undermined by targeted assassinations. Aside from Yahya Ayyash (5 January 1996), it has lost Emad Akel (24 November 1993) Salah Shehade, (23 July 2002), Ibrahim al-Makadmeh, (8 March 2003) Ismail Abu Shanab, (21 August 2003) Ahmed Yassin (March 22, 2004) and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi,( April 17, 2004).,[54][94][103]

After Israel arrested hundreds of its members in May 1989, Hamas regionalized its command system to make its operative structure more diffuse,[72] and minimize the chances of being detected.[104] The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades groups its fighters in 4–5 man cells, which in turn are integrated into companies and battalions. Unlike the political section, which is split between an internal and external structure, the Brigades are under a local Palestinian leadership, and disobedience with the decisions taken by the political leadership have been relatively rare.[105]

Although the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades are an integral part of Hamas, the exact nature of the relationship is hotly debated. They appear to operate at times independently of Hamas, exercising a certain autonomy.[106][107][108][109][110] Some cells have independent links with the external leadership, enabling them to bypass the hierarchical command chain and political leadership in Gaza.[104] Ilana Kass and Bard O’Neill, likening Hamas’s relationship with the Brigades to the political party Sinn Féin‘s relationship to the military arm of the Irish Republican Army. quote a senior Hamas official as stating: “The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade is a separate armed military wing, which has its own leaders who do not take their orders from Hamas and do not tell us of their plans in advance.”[111] Matthew Levitton the other hand argues vocally for the idea that Hamas’s welfare institutions act as a mere façade or front for the financing of terrorism, and dismisses the idea of two wings as a ‘myth’.[107] He cites Sheikh Ahmad Yassin stating in 1998: “We can not separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly. Hamas is one body.”[112]

Finances and funding

At the 1993 Philadelphia conference, Hamas leaders’ statements indicated that they read George H. W. Bush‘s outline of a New World Order as embodying a tacit aim to destroy Islam, and that therefore funding should focus on enhancing the Islamic roots of Palestinian society and promoting jihad in the occupying territories.[113]

Hamas’s budget, calculated to be roughly US$70 million (2011), is derived in large part (85%)[114] from foreign, rather than internal Palestinian, sources. Only two Israeli-Palestinian sources figure in a list seized in 2004, while the other contributors were donor bodies located in Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Britain, Germany, the United States, United Arab Emirates, Italy and France. Much of the money raised comes from sources that direct their assistance to what Hamas describes as its charitable work for Palestinians, but investments in support of its ideological position are also relevant, with Persian Gulf States and Saudi Arabia prominent in the latter. Matthew Levitt states that Hamas also taps money from corporations, criminal organizations and financial networks that support terror,[115]and is believed to engage in cigarette and drug smuggling, multimedia copyright infringement and credit card fraud.[114] Vittori states that, more than other similar organizations, it is particularly careful about keeping resources for its militant, political and public works activities separate.[114] The United States, Israel and the EU have shut down many charities and organs that channel money to Hamas, such as the Holy Land Foundation for Relief.[116] Between 1992 and 2001 this group is said to have provided $6.8 million to Palestinian charities of the $57 million collected. By 2001 it was alleged to have given Hamas $13 million, and was shut down shortly afterwards.[117]

About half of Hamas’s funding came from states in the Persian Gulf down to the mid 2000s. Saudi Arabia supplied half of the Hamas budget of $50 million in the early 2000s,[118] but, under U.S. pressure, began cut its funding by cracking down on Islamic charities and private donor transfers to Hamas in 2004,[114] which by 2006 drastically reduced the flow of money from that area. Iran and Syria, in the aftermath of Hamas’s 2006 electoral victory, stepped in to fill the shortfall.[119][120] Saudi funding, negotiated with third parties like Egypt, remained supportive of Hamas as a Sunni group but chose to provide more assistance to the PNA, the electoral loser, when the EU responded to the outcome by suspending its monetary aid.[121] Iran in the 1980s began by providing 10% of Hamas’s funding, which it increased annually until by the 1990s it supplied $30 million.[118] It accounted for $22 million, over a quarter of Hamas’s budget, by the late 2000s.[114] According to Matthew Levitt, Iran preferred direct financing to operative groups rather than charities, requiring video proof of attacks.[114][122] Much of the Iran funding is said to be channeled through Hezbollah.[114] After 2006 Iran’s willingness to take over the burden of the shortfall created by the drying up of Saudi funding also reflected the geopolitical tensions between the two, since, though Shiite, Iran was supporting a Sunni group traditionally closely linked with the Saudi kingdom.[123] The US imposed sanctions on Iran’s Bank Saderat, alleging it had funneled hundreds of millions to Hamas.[124] The US has expressed concerns that Hamas obtains funds through Palestinian and Lebanese sympathizers of Arab descent in the Foz do Iguaçu area of the tri-border region of Latin America, an area long associated with arms trading, drug trafficking, contraband, the manufacture of counterfeit goods, money-laundering and currency fraud. The State Department adds that confirmatory information of a Hamas operational presence there is lacking.[125]

After 2009, sanctions on Iran made funding difficult, forcing Hamas to rely on religious donations by individuals in the West Bank, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Funds amounting to tens of millions of dollars raised in the Gulf states were transferred through the Rafah Border Crossing. These were not sufficient to cover the costs of governing the Strip and running the al Qassam Brigades, and when tensions arose with Iran over support of President Assad in Syria, Iran dropped its financial assistance to the government, restricting its funding to the military wing, which meant a drop from $150 million in 2012 to $60 million the following year. A further drop occurred in 2015 when Hamas expressed its criticisms of Iran’s role in the Yemeni Civil War.[126]

History

Gaza Islamic roots and establishment of Hamas

Hamas rose as an offshoot of the Gaza Mujama al-Islamiya branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood,[127][128] which had been actively encouraged by Israel to expand as a counterweight to the influence of the secular Palestine Liberation Organization[23][129][130][131][132] and had since 1973 been quiescent and non-confrontational towards Israel.[133] Aside from developing Islamic charities to provide humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, it emphasized social justice (adala) and the subordination of the world to the sovereignty of God (hakmiyya).[103][134] Hamas was founded in 1987,[103][135] soon after the outbreak of the First Intifada, the first popular uprising against the Israeli occupation. Creating Hamas to participate in the revolt was regarded as a survival measure to enable the Brotherhood itself, which refused to fight against Israel,[136] to hold its own against other competing Palestinian nationalist groups. By forming a military wing distinct from its social charity organizations, it was hoped that the latter would be insulated from being targeted by Israel.[137] Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin was convinced that Israel was endeavouring to destroy Islam, and concluded that loyal Muslims had a religious obligation to destroy Israel.[134] The short term goal of Hamas was to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from Israeli occupation. The long-term aim sought to establish an Islamic state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.[138]

Hamas Charter (1988)

The foundational document, the Hamas Charter (mīthāq ḥarakat), is dated 18 August 1988, and contains both antisemitic passages, characterizations of Israeli society as Nazi-like in its cruelty,[139] and irredentist claims that have never been revoked despite what some observers say are later policy changes in the organization regarding Israel[140][141] and the Jews.[142][143] It declares all of Palestine waqf property endowed by God to Muslims,[144] with religious coexistence under Islam’s wing.[145] The charter rejects a two-state solution, envisaging no peaceful settlement of the conflict apart from jihad.[146][147] It states that the movement’s aim is to

raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned’ (Article 6)[148][149]

and adds that, ‘when our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims’,[150] for which the whole of the land is non-negotiable, a position likened, without the racist sentiments present in the Hamas charter, to that in the Likud party platform and in movements like Gush Emunim. For Hamas, to concede territory is seen as equivalent to renouncing Islam itself.[151][152][153][154][155][156][157][158]

Decades down the line, Hamas’s official position changed with regard to a two-state solution. Khaled Mashaal, its leader, has publicly affirmed the movement’s readiness to accept such a division.[159][160] When Hamas won a majority in the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, Haniyeh, then president-elect, sent messages to both George Bush and Israel’s leaders asking to be recognized and offering a long-term truce (hudna), along the 1967 border lines. No response was forthcoming.[161]

Mousa Marzook said in 2007 that the charter could not be altered because it would look like a compromise not acceptable to the ‘street’ and risk fracturing the party’s unity. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has stated that the Charter is “a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons”. Ahmed Yousef, senior adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, added in 2011 that it reflected the views of the Elders in the face of a ‘relentless occupation.’ The details of its religious and political language had not been examined within the framework of international law, and an internal committee review to amend it was shelved out of concern not to offer concessions to Israel, as had Fatah, on a silver platter.[162] While Hamas representatives recognize the problem, one official notes that Arafat got very little in return for changing the PLO Charter under the Oslo Accords, and that there is agreement that little is gained from a non-violent approach.[163] Richard Davis says the dismissal by contemporary leaders of its relevance and yet the suspension of a desire to rewrite it reflects the differing constituencies Hamas must address, the domestic audience and international relations.[164] The charter itself is considered an ‘historical relic.’[165]

In March 2006, Hamas released its official legislative program. The document clearly signaled that Hamas could refer the issue of recognizing Israel to a national referendum. Under the heading “Recognition of Israel,” it stated simply (AFP, 3/11/06): “The question of recognizing Israel is not the jurisdiction of one faction, nor the government, but a decision for the Palestinian people.” This was a major shift away from their 1988 charter.[166] A few months later, via University of Maryland‘s Jerome Segal, the group sent a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush stating they “don’t mind having a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders”, and asked for direct negotiations: “Segal emphasized that a state within the 1967 borders and a truce for many years could be considered Hamas’s de facto recognition of Israel.”[167]

In an April 2008 meeting between Hamas leader Khaled Mashal and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, an understanding was reached in which Hamas agreed it would respect the creation of a Palestinian state in the territory seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, provided this were ratified by the Palestinian people in a referendum. Hamas later publicly offered a long-term truce with Israel if Israel agreed to return to its 1967 borders and grant the “right of return” to all Palestinian refugees.[168] In November 2008, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh re-stated that Hamas was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and offered Israel a long-term truce “if Israel recognized the Palestinians’ national rights”.[169] In 2009, in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Haniyeh repeated his group’s support for a two-state settlement based on 1967 borders: “We would never thwart efforts to create an independent Palestinian state with borders [from] June 4, 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital.”[170] On December 1, 2010, Ismail Haniyeh again repeated, “We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees,” and “Hamas will respect the results [of a referendum] regardless of whether it differs with its ideology and principles.”[171]

In February 2012, according to the Palestinian authority, Hamas forswore the use of violence. Evidence for this was provided by an eruption of violence from Islamic Jihad in March 2012 after an Israeli assassination of a Jihad leader, during which Hamas refrained from attacking Israel.[172] “Israel –– despite its mantra that because Hamas is sovereign in Gaza it is responsible for what goes on there – almost seems to understand,” wrote Israeli journalists Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, “and has not bombed Hamas offices or installations”.[173]

Israel has rejected some truce offers by Hamas because it contends the group uses them to prepare for more fighting rather than peace.[174] The Atlantic magazine columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, along with other analysts, believes Hamas may be incapable of permanent reconciliation with Israel.[175][176] Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University, writes that Hamas talks “of hudna [temporary ceasefire], not of peace or reconciliation with Israel. They believe over time they will be strong enough to liberate all historic Palestine.”[177]

1990s

Hamas carried out its first attack against Israel in 1989, abducting and killing two soldiers. The Israel Defense Forces immediately arrested Yassin and sentenced him to life in prison, and deported 400 Hamas activists, including Zahar, to South Lebanon, which at the time was occupied by Israel. During this time Hamas built a relationship with Hezbollah. Hamas’s military branch, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was created in 1991.[178] During the 1990s the al-Qassam Brigades conducted numerous attacks on Israel, with both civilian and military victims. In April 1993, suicide bombings in the West Bank began.[179] After the February 1994 massacre by Baruch Goldstein of 30 Muslim civilians in a Hebron mosque, the al-Qassam Brigades began suicide attacks inside Israel.[180]

In December 1992 Israel responded to the killing of a border police officer by deporting 415 leading figures of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to Lebanon, which provoked international condemnation and a unanimous UN Security Council resolution condemning the action.[181][182] Although the suicide attacks by the al-Qassam Brigades and other groups violated the 1993 Oslo accords (which Hamas opposed[183]), Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was reluctant to pursue the attackers and may have had inadequate means to do so.[184] Some analysts state that the Palestinian Authority could have stopped the suicide and other attacks on civilians but refused to do so.[185] According to the Congressional Research Service, Hamas admitted to having executed Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israeli authorities in the 1990s. A transcript of a training film by the al-Qassam Brigades tells how Hamas operatives kidnapped Palestinians accused of collaboration and then forced confessions before executing them.[24] In 1996, Yahya Ayash, the chief bombmaker of Hamas and the leader of the West Bank battalion of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was assassinated by the Israeli secret service.[184][186]

In September 1997, Israeli agents in Jordan attempted but failed to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, leading to chilled relations between the two countries and release of Sheikh Yassin, Hamas’s spiritual leader, from Israeli prison. Two years later Hamas was banned in Jordan, reportedly in part at the request of the United States, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.[187] Jordan’s King Abdullah feared the activities of Hamas and its Jordanian allies would jeopardize peace negotiations with Israel, and accused Hamas of engaging in illegitimate activities within Jordan.[188][189] In mid-September 1999, authorities arrested Hamas leaders Khaled Mashal and Ibrahim Ghosheh on their return from a visit to Iran, and charged them with being members of an illegal organization, storing weapons, conducting military exercises, and using Jordan as a training base.[188][189][190] Hamas leaders denied the charges.[187] Mashal was exiled and eventually settled in Syria. He fled to Qatar in 2012 as a result of the Syrian civil war.[citation needed]

Second Intifada

The aftermath of a bus bombing in Haifa in 2003.

Al-Qassam Brigades militants were among the armed groups that launched both military-style attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli civilian and military targets during the Second Intifada (also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada (Arabicانتفاضة الأقصى‎, Intifāat El AqaHebrewאינתיפאדת אל-אקצה‎, Intifādat El-Aqtzah), which began in late September 2000. This Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the occupied territories was much more violent than the First Intifada. The military and civilian death toll is estimated at 5500 Palestinians and more than 1100 Israelis, as well as 64 foreigners.[191] A 2007 study of Palestinian suicide bombings during the second intifada (September 2000 through August 2005) found that about 40 percent were carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades.[192]

The immediate trigger for the uprising is disputed, but a more general cause, writes U.S. political science professor Jeremy Pressman, was “popular Palestinian discontent [that] grew during the Oslo peace process because the reality on the ground did not match the expectations created by the peace agreements”.[193] Hamas would be the beneficiary of this growing discontent in the 2006 Palestinian Authority legislative elections.

In January 2004, Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said that the group would end armed resistance against Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state in the West BankGaza Strip, and east Jerusalem, and that restoring Palestinians’ “historical rights” (relating to the 1948 Palestinian exodus) “would be left for future generations”.[194] On January 25, 2004, senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi offered a 10-year truce, or hudna, in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state and the complete withdrawal by Israel from the territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.[194] Al-Rantissi stated that Hamas had come to the conclusion that it was “difficult to liberate all our land at this stage, so we accept a phased liberation”.[194][195] Israel immediately dismissed al-Rantissi’s statements as insincere and a smokescreen for military preparations.[195] Yassin was assassinated on March 22, 2004, by a targeted Israeli air strike,[196] and al-Rantisi was assassinated by a similar air strike on April 18, 2004.[197]

2006 presidential and legislative elections

While Hamas boycotted the 2005 Palestinian presidential election, it did participate in the 2005 municipal elections organized by Yasser Arafat in the occupied territories. In those elections it won control of over one third of Palestinian municipal councils, besting Fatah, which had for long been the biggest force in Palestinian politics.[198] In its election manifesto for the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, Hamas omitted a call for an end to Israel, though it did still call for armed struggle against the occupation.[199][200] Hamas won the 2006 elections, winning 76 of the 132 seats to Fatah’s 43.[201] Seen by many as primarily a rejection of the Fatah government’s corruption and ineffectiveness, the Hamas victory seemingly had brought to an end 40 years of PLO domination of Palestinian politics.[201][202]

Following its electoral victory, Hamas assumed the administration of the Gaza strip and introduced radical changes. Writing in Foreign AffairsDaniel Byman stated that

After it took over the Gaza Strip Hamas revamped the police and security forces, cutting them 50,000 members (on paper, at least) under Fatah to smaller, efficient forces of just over 10,000, which then cracked down on crime and gangs. No longer did groups openly carry weapons or steal with impunity. People paid their taxes and electric bills, and in return authorities picked up garbage and put criminals in jail. Gaza-neglected under Egyptian and then Israeli control, and misgoverned by Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and his successors-finally has a real government.’ [203]

In early February 2006, Hamas offered Israel a 10-year truce “in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem,”[46] and recognition of Palestinian rights including the “right of return”.[204]Mashal added that Hamas was not calling for a final end to armed operations against Israel, and it would not impede other Palestinian groups from carrying out such operations.[205] After the election, the Quartet on the Middle East (the United States, Russia, the European Union (EU), and the United Nations) stated that assistance to the Palestinian Authority would only continue if Hamas renounced violence, recognized Israel, and accepted previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, which Hamas refused to do.[206] The Quartet then imposed a freeze on all international aid to the Palestinian territories.[207] In 2006 after the Gaza election, Hamas leader sent a letter addressed to George W. Bush where he among other things declared that Hamas would accept a state on the 1967 borders including a truce. However, the Bush administration did not reply.[208]

Legislative policy and reforming the judiciary

Stress the separation between the three powers, the legislative, executive and judicial; activate the role of the Constitutional Court; re-form the Judicial Supreme Council and choose its members by elections and on the basis of qualifications rather than partisan, personal, and social considerations … ; enact the necessary laws that guarantee the neutrality of general prosecutor … [and] laws that will stop any transgression by the executive power on the constitution.[209]

Public freedoms and citizen rights

“Achieve equality before the law among citizens in rights and duties; bring security to all citizens and protect their properties and assure their safety against arbitrary arrest, torture, or revenge; stress the culture of dialogue … ; support the press and media institutions and maintain the right of journalists to access and to publish information; maintain freedom and independence of professional syndicates and preserve the rights of their membership”.[209]

Hamas–Fatah conflict

Hamas rally in Bethlehem

After the formation of the Hamas-led cabinet on March 20, 2006, tensions between Fatah and Hamas militants progressively rose in the Gaza strip as Fatah commanders refused to take orders from the government while the Palestinian Authority initiated a campaign of demonstrations, assassinations and abductions against Hamas, which led to Hamas responding.[210] Israeli intelligence warned Mahmoud Abbas that Hamas had planned to kill him at his office in Gaza. According to a Palestinian source close to Abbas, Hamas considers president Abbas to be a barrier to its complete control over the Palestinian Authority and decided to kill him. In a statement to Al Jazeera, Hamas leader Mohammed Nazzal, accused Abbas of being party to besieging and isolating the Hamas-led government.[211]

On June 9, 2006, during an Israeli artillery operation, an explosion occurred on a busy Gaza beach, killing eight Palestinian civilians.[212][213] It was assumed that Israeli shellings were responsible for the killings, but Israeli government officials denied this.[214][215] Hamas formally withdrew from its 16-month ceasefire on June 10, taking responsibility for the subsequent Qassam rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israel.[216]

On June 25, two Israeli soldiers were killed and another, Gilad Shalit, captured following an incursion by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam BrigadesPopular Resistance Committees and Army of Islam. In response, the Israeli military launched Operation Summer Rains three days later, to secure the release of the kidnapped soldier,[217][218][219] arresting 64 Hamas officials. Among them were 8 Palestinian Authority cabinet ministers and up to 20 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council,[219] The arrests, along with other events, effectively prevented the Hamas-dominated legislature from functioning during most of its term.[220][221] Shalit was held captive until 2011, when he was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.[222] Since then, Hamas has continued building a network of internal and cross-border tunnels,[223] which are used to store and deploy weapons, shield militants, and facilitate cross-border attacks. Destroying the tunnels was a primary objective of Israeli forces in the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.[224][225]

In February 2007 Saudi-sponsored negotiations in Mecca produced agreement on a signed by Mahmoud Abbas on behalf of Fatah and Khaled Mashal on behalf of Hamas. The new government was called on to achieve Palestinian national goals as approved by the Palestine National Council, the clauses of the Basic Law and the National Reconciliation Document (the “Prisoners’ Document”) as well as the decisions of the Arab summit.[226]

In March 2007, the Palestinian Legislative Council established a national unity government, with 83 representatives voting in favor and three against. Government ministers were sworn in by Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, at a ceremony held simultaneously in Gaza and Ramallah. In June that year, renewed fighting broke out between Hamas and Fatah.[227] In the course of the June 2007 Battle of Gaza, Hamas exploited the near total collapse of Palestinian Authority forces in Gaza, to seize[228] control of Gaza, ousting Fatah officials. President Mahmoud Abbas then dismissed the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government.[229] and outlawed the Hamas militia.[230] At least 600 Palestinians died in fighting between Hamas and Fatah.[231] Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based group, accused both sides in the conflict of torture and war crimes.[232]

Human Rights Watch estimates several hundred Gazans were “maimed” and tortured in the aftermath of the Gaza War. 73 Gazan men accused of “collaborating” had their arms and legs broken by “unidentified perpetrators” and 18 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel, who had escaped from Gaza’s main prison compound after Israel bombed the facility, were executed by Hamas security officials in the first days of the conflict.[233][234] Hamas security forces attacked hundreds Fatah officials who supported Israel. Human Rights Watch interviewed one such person:

There were eight of us sitting there. We were all from Fatah. Then three masked militants broke in. They were dressed in brown camouflage military uniforms; they all had guns. They pointed their guns at us and cursed us, then they began beating us with iron rods, including a 10-year-old boy whom they hit in the face. They said we were “collaborators” and “unfaithful”.

They beat me with iron sticks and gun butts for 15 minutes. They were yelling: “You are happy that Israel is bombing us!” until people came out of their houses, and they withdrew.[233]

In March 2012 Mahmoud Abbas stated that there were no political differences between Hamas and Fatah as they had reached agreement on a joint political platform and on a truce with Israel. Commenting on relations with Hamas, Abbas revealed in an interview with Al Jazeera that “We agreed that the period of calm would be not only in the Gaza Strip, but also in the West Bank,” adding that “We also agreed on a peaceful popular resistance [against Israel], the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders and that the peace talks would continue if Israel halted settlement construction and accepted our conditions.”[235][236] Progress has stalled, until an April 2014 agreement to form a compromise unity government, with elections to be held in late 2014.[52]

2008–2009 Gaza War

On June 17, 2008, Egyptian mediators announced that an informal truce had been agreed to between Hamas and Israel.[237][238] Hamas agreed to cease rocket attacks on Israel, while Israel agreed to allow limited commercial shipping across its border with Gaza, barring any breakdown of the tentative peace deal; Hamas also hinted that it would discuss the release of Gilad Shalit.[239] Israeli sources state that Hamas also committed itself to enforce the ceasefire on the other Palestinian organizations.[240] Even before the truce was agreed to, some on the Israeli side were not optimistic about it, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin stating in May 2008 that a ground incursion into Gaza was unavoidable and would more effectively quell arms smuggling and pressure Hamas into relinquishing power.[241]

While Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire, the lull was sporadically violated by other groups, sometimes in defiance of Hamas.[240][242][243] For example, on June 24 Islamic Jihad launched rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot; Israel called the attack a grave violation of the informal truce, and closed its border crossings with Gaza.[244] On November 4, 2008, Israeli forces, in an attempt to stop construction of a tunnel, killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid inside the Gaza Strip.[245][246] Hamas responded by resuming rocket attacks, a total of 190 rockets in November according to Israel’s military.[247]

Destroyed building in Rafah, 12 January 2009

With the six-month truce officially expired on December 19, Hamas launched 50 to more than 70 rockets and mortars into Israel over the next three days, though no Israelis were injured.[248][249] On December 21, Hamas said it was ready to stop the attacks and renew the truce if Israel stopped its “aggression” in Gaza and opened up its border crossings.[249][250]

On December 27 and 28, Israel implemented Operation Cast Lead against Hamas. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said “We warned Hamas repeatedly that rejecting the truce would push Israel to aggression against Gaza.” According to Palestinian officials, over 280 people were killed and 600 were injured in the first two days of airstrikes.[251] Most were Hamas police and security officers, though many civilians also died.[251] According to Israel, militant training camps, rocket-manufacturing facilities and weapons warehouses that had been pre-identified were hit, and later they attacked rocket and mortar squads who fired around 180 rockets and mortars at Israeli communities.[252] Chief of Gaza police force Tawfiq Jabber, head of the General Security Service Salah Abu Shrakh,[253] senior religious authority and security officer Nizar Rayyan,[254] and Interior Minister Said Seyam[255] were among those killed during the fighting. Although Israel sent out thousands of cell-phone messages urging residents of Gaza to leave houses where weapons may be stored, in an attempt to minimise civilian casualties,[252] some residents complained there was nowhere to go because many neighborhoods had received the same message.[252][256][257] Israeli bombs landed close to civilian structures such as schools,[258][259] and some alleged that Israel was deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians.[260]

Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on January 17, 2009.[261] Hamas responded the following day by announcing a one-week ceasefire to give Israel time to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.[262] Israeli, Palestinian, and third-party sources disagreed on the total casualty figures from the Gaza war, and the number of Palestinian casualties who were civilians.[263][264] In November 2010, a senior Hamas official acknowledged that up to 300 fighters were killed and “In addition to them, between 200 and 300 fighters from the Al-Qassam Brigades and another 150 security forces were martyred.” These new numbers reconcile the total with those of the Israeli military, which originally said were 709 “terror operatives” killed.[265][266]

After the Gaza War

On August 16, 2009, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal stated that the organization is ready to open dialogue with the Obama administration because its policies are much better than those of former U.S. president George W. Bush: “As long as there’s a new language, we welcome it, but we want to see not only a change of language, but also a change of policies on the ground. We have said that we are prepared to cooperate with the US or any other international party that would enable the Palestinians to get rid of occupation.”[267]Despite this, an August 30, 2009 speech during a visit to Jordan[268] in which Mashal expressed support for the Palestinian right of return was interpreted by David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as a sign that “Hamas has now clearly opted out of diplomacy.”[269] In an interview in May 2010, Mashal said that if a Palestinian state with real sovereignty was established under the conditions he set out, on the borders of 1967 with its capital Jerusalem and with the right of return, that will be the end of the Palestinian resistance, and then the nature of any subsequent ties with Israel would be decided democratically by the Palestinians.[270][271] In July 2009, Khaled Mashal, Hamas’s political bureau chief, stated Hamas’s willingness to cooperate with a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which included a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, provided that Palestinian refugees be given the right to return to Israel and that East Jerusalem be recognized as the new state’s capital.[272]

In 2011, after the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, Hamas distanced itself from the Syrian regime and its members began leaving Syria. Where once there were “hundreds of exiled Palestinian officials and their relatives”, that number shrunk to “a few dozen”.[273] In 2012, Hamas publicly announced its support for the Syrian opposition.[274] This prompted Syrian state TV to issue a “withering attack” on the Hamas leadership.[275] Khaled Mashal said that Hamas had been “forced out” of Damascus because of its disagreements with the Syrian regime.[276] In late October, Syrian Army soldiers shot dead two Hamas leaders in Daraa refugee camp.[277] On November 5, 2012, the Syrian state security forces shut down all Hamas offices in the country.[278] In January 2013, another two Hamas members were found dead in Syria’s Husseinieh camp. Activists said the two had been arrested and executed by state security forces.[279] In 2013, it was reported that the military wing of Hamas had begun training units of the Free Syrian Army.[280] In 2013, after “several intense weeks of indirect three-way diplomacy between representatives of Hamas, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority”, no agreement was reached.[281] Also, intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks stalled and, as a result, during Obama’s visit to Israel, Hamas launched five rocket strikes on Israel.[281] In November, Isra Almodallal was appointed the first spokeswoman of the group.[282]

2014 Israel–Gaza conflict

On 8 July 2014 Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to counter increased Hamas rocket fire from Gaza. The conflict ended with a permanent cease-fire after 7 weeks, and more than 2,200 dead. 64 of the dead were Israeli soldiers, 7 were civilians in Israel (from rocket attacks), and 2,101 were killed in Gaza, of which according to UN OCHA at least 1,460 were civilians. Israel says 1,000 of the dead were militants. Following the conflict, Mahmoud Abbas president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Hamas of needlessly extending the fighting in the Gaza Strip, contributing to the high death toll, of running a “shadow government” in Gaza, and of illegally executing scores of Palestinians.[283][284][285] Hamas has complained about the slow delivery of reconstruction materials after the conflict and announced that they were diverting these materials from civilian uses to build more infiltration tunnels.[286]

Reconciliation attempts

In 2016, Hamas began security co-ordination with Egypt to crack down on Islamic terrorist organizations in Sinai, in return for economic aid.[287]

In May 2017, Hamas unveiled its new charter, in an attempt to moderate its image. The charter no longer calls for Israel’s destruction, but still calls for liberation of Palestine and to ‘confront the Zionist project’. It also confirms acceptance of the 1967 borders as the basis for establishing a Palestinian state as well as not being an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.[288][289]

In October 2017, Fatah and Hamas signed yet another reconciliation agreement. The partial agreement addresses civil and administrative matters involving Gaza and the West Bank. Other contentious issues such as national elections, reform of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and possible demilitarization of Hamas were to be discussed in the next meeting in November 2017, due to a new step-by-step approach.[290]

Media

In 2005, Hamas announced its intention to launch an experimental TV channel, Al-Aqsa TV. The station was launched on January 7, 2006, less than three weeks before the Palestinian legislative elections. It has shown television programs, including some children’s television, which deliver anti-semitic messages.[291] Hamas has stated that the television station is “an independent media institution that often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement,” and that Hamas does not hold anti-semitic views.[292] Hamas produced several propaganda songs aimed to scare Israeli citizen including Shock Israel’s Security and “Go, call a Gazan to rip Giv’ati“.[293]

Children’s magazine

Al-Fateh (“the conqueror”) is the Hamas children’s magazine, published biweekly in London, and also posted in an online website. It began publication in September 2002, and its 108th issue was released in mid-September 2007. The magazine features stories, poems, riddles, and puzzles, and states it is for “the young builders of the future”.[294]

According to MEMRI (three of whose seven founding staff had formerly served in the IDF), the magazine includes incitement to jihad and martyrdom and glorification of terrorist operations and of their planners and perpetrators. as well as characterizations of Jews as “murderers of the prophets” and laudatory descriptions of parents who encourage their sons to kill Jews. In each issue, a regular feature titled “The Story of a Martyr” presents the “heroic deeds” of a mujahid from one of the organizations who died in a suicide operation, including operations against civilians, or who was killed by the IDF. MEMRI also noted that the magazine includes illustrations of figures, including child warriors, who embody the ethos of jihad and martyrdom, presenting them as role models. These include the magazine’s titular character, Al-Fateh (“The Conqueror”) – a small boy on a horse brandishing a drawn scimitar – as well as children carrying guns, and photos of Hamas fighters launching Qassam rockets.[295][296]

Al-Aqsa TV

Al-Aqsa TV is a television channel founded by Hamas.[297] The station began broadcasting in the Gaza Strip on January 9, 2006.[298][299] Its programming includes ideologically tinged children’s shows, news talk, and religiously inspired entertainment.[300] According to the Anti-Defamation League, the station promotes terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis.[299] Hamas has stated that the television station is “an independent media institution that often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement,” and that Hamas does not hold anti-semitic views.[292] Al-Aqsa TV is headed by Fathi Ahmad Hammad, chairman of al-Ribat Communications and Artistic Productions – a Hamas-run company that also produces Hamas’s radio station, Voice of al-Aqsa, and its biweekly newspaper, The Message.[301]

Islamization efforts

In the Gaza Strip

The gender ideology outlined in the Hamas charter, the importance of women in the religious-nationalist project of liberation is asserted, while defining that role as one of manufacturing males and caring for their upbringing and rearing. This is not so different from Fatah’s view of women in the First Intifada and it also resembles the outlook of Jewish settlers, and over time it has been subjected to change.[302][303]

In 1989, during the First Intifada, a small number of Hamas followers[304] campaigned for the wearing of the hijab, which is not a part of traditional women’s attire in Palestine,[305] for polygamy, and also insisted women stay at home and be segregated from men. In the course of this campaign, women who chose not to wear the hijab were verbally and physically harassed, with the result that the hijab was being worn ‘just to avoid problems on the streets’.[306] The harassment dropped drastically when, after 18 months UNLU condemned it,[307] though similar campaigns reoccurred.

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, some of its members have attempted to impose Islamic dress or the hijab head covering on women.[177][308] Also, the government’s “Islamic Endowment Ministry” has deployed Virtue Committee members to warn citizens of the dangers of immodest dress, card playing, and dating.[309] However, there are no government laws imposing dress and other moral standards, and the Hamas education ministry reversed one effort to impose Islamic dress on students.[177] There has also been successful resistance to attempts by local Hamas officials to impose Islamic dress on women.[310]

Hamas officials deny having any plans to impose Islamic law, one legislator stating that “What you are seeing are incidents, not policy,” and that Islamic law is the desired standard “but we believe in persuasion”.[309] The Hamas education ministry reversed one effort to impose Islamic dress on students.[177] When the BBC in 2010 interviewed five “middle-class” women in Gaza City, the subjects generally indicated Hamas attempts to enforce conservative religious standards of dress had been largely rejected by the local population, with some expressing concern that the closure of Gaza would allow the proliferation of extremist enforcement attempts by low-level Hamas officials, and others indicating they were happy to see Hamas enforcing such requirements. They also cited examples of leniency by Hamas authorities, such as allowing widowed women to keep custody of their children so long as they did not remarry, and other relaxations in the enforcement of Shariah law. One woman noted that the environment was “not as bad” as during the First Intifada, when women were subject to public criticism and stonings for failure to obey conservative Islamic standards of dress. One woman complained that women were not free to speak their minds or travel alone, and added: “Hamas want to force themselves onto the people. They want the people to submit to them, this is their cover. They destroyed the reputation of Islam, by saying we’re doing this because it is religion. This is how they won the elections.”[311]

In 2013, UNRWA canceled its annual marathon in Gaza after Hamas rulers prohibited women from participating in the race.[312]

In the West Bank

In 2005, the human rights organization Freemuse released a report titled “Palestine: Taliban-like attempts to censor music”, which said that Palestinian musicians feared that harsh religious laws against music and concerts will be imposed since Hamas group scored political gains in the Palestinian Authority local elections of 2005.[313]

The attempt by Hamas to dictate a cultural code of conduct in the 1980s and early 1990s led to a violent fighting between different Palestinian sectors. Hamas members reportedly burned down stores that stocked videos they deemed indecent and destroyed books they described as “heretical”.[314]

In 2005, an outdoor music and dance performance in Qalqiliya were suddenly banned by the Hamas led municipality, for the reason that such an event would be forbidden by Islam, or “Haram“.[315] The municipality also ordered that music no longer be played in the Qalqiliya zoo, and mufti Akrameh Sabri issued a religious edict affirming the municipality decision.[314] In response, the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish warned that “There are Taliban-type elements in our society, and this is a very dangerous sign.”[313][314][316][317]

The Palestinian columnist Mohammed Abd Al-Hamid, a resident of Ramallah, wrote that this religious coercion could cause the migration of artists, and said “The religious fanatics in Algeria destroyed every cultural symbol, shattered statues and rare works of art and liquidated intellectuals and artists, reporters and authors, ballet dancers and singers – are we going to imitate the Algerian and Afghani examples?”[314]

Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey as a role model

Some Hamas members stated that the model of Islamic government that Hamas seeks to emulate is that of Turkey under the rule of Tayyip Erdoğan. The foremost members to distance Hamas from the practices of Taliban and to publicly support the Erdoğan model were Ahmad Yousef and Ghazi Hamad, advisers to Prime Minister Hanieh.[318][319] Yusuf, the Hamas deputy foreign minister, reflected this goal in an interview to a Turkish newspaper, stating that while foreign public opinion equates Hamas with the Taliban or al-Qaeda, the analogy is inaccurate. Yusuf described the Taliban as “opposed to everything,” including education and women’s rights, while Hamas wants to establish good relations between the religious and secular elements of society and strives for human rights, democracy and an open society.[320] According to professor Yezid Sayigh of the King’s College in London, how influential this view is within Hamas is uncertain, since both Ahmad Yousef and Ghazi Hamad were dismissed from their posts as advisers to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniehin October 2007.[318] Both have since been appointed to other prominent positions within the Hamas government. Khaled al-Hroub of the West Bank-based and anti-Hamas[321] Palestinian daily Al Ayyam added that despite claims by Hamas leaders that it wants to repeat the Turkish model of Islam, “what is happening on the ground in reality is a replica of the Taliban model of Islam.”[322]

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism

According to academic Esther Webman, antisemitism is not the main tenet of Hamas ideology, although antisemitic rhetoric is frequent and intense in Hamas leaflets. The leaflets generally do not differentiate between Jews and Zionists. In other Hamas publications and interviews with its leaders, attempts at this differentiation have been made.[323] In 2009 representatives of the small Jewish sect Neturei Karta met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, who stated that he held nothing against Jews but only against the state of Israel.[324] Some commentators have pointed out parallels between Hamas’s youth organization and Hitler Youth.[325] According to writer Tom Doran, Hamas is not recognized as a neo-Nazi group because its members are not “white Christians”.[326]

Hamas has made conflicting statements about its readiness to recognize Israel. In 2006 a spokesman signaled readiness to recognize Israel within the 1967 borders. Speaking of requests for Hamas to recognize agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, senior Hamas member Khaled Suleiman said that “these agreements are a reality which we view as such, and therefore I see no problem.”[327] Also in 2006, a Hamas official ruled out recognition of Israel with reference to West and East Germany, which never recognized each other.[328]

Hamas Charter (1988)

  • Article 7 of the Hamas Covenant provides the following quotation, attributed to Muhammad:

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree (evidently a certain kind of tree), would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.[148]

You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.[329]

Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another. The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.[148]

Statements by Hamas members and clerics to an Arab audience

In 2008, Imam Yousif al-Zahar of Hamas said in his sermon at the Katib Wilayat mosque in Gaza that “Jews are a people who cannot be trusted. They have been traitors to all agreements. Go back to history. Their fate is their vanishing.”[175][330]

Another Hamas legislator and imam, Sheik Yunus al-Astal, discussed a Koranic verse suggesting that “suffering by fire is the Jews’ destiny in this world and the next.” He concluded “Therefore we are sure that the Holocaust is still to come upon the Jews.”[175][330]

Following the rededication of the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem in March 2010, senior Hamas figure al-Zahar called on Palestinians everywhere to observe five minutes of silence “for Israel’s disappearance and to identify with Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa mosque”. He further stated that “Wherever you have been you’ve been sent to your destruction. You’ve killed and murdered your prophets and you have always dealt in loan-sharking and destruction. You’ve made a deal with the devil and with destruction itself – just like your synagogue.”[331][332]

On August 10, 2012, Ahmad Bahr, Deputy Speaker of the Hamas Parliament, stated in a sermon that aired on Al-Aqsa TV:

If the enemy sets foot on a single square inch of Islamic land, Jihad becomes an individual duty, incumbent on every Muslim, male or female. A woman may set out [on Jihad] without her husband’s permission, and a servant without his master’s permission. Why? In order to annihilate those Jews. … O Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. O Allah, destroy the Americans and their supporters. O Allah, count them one by one, and kill them all, without leaving a single one.[333][334][335][336]

In an interview with Al-Aqsa TV on September 12, 2012, Marwan Abu Ras, a Hamas MP, who is also a member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, stated (as translated by MEMRI):

The Jews are behind each and every catastrophe on the face of the Earth. This is not open to debate. This is not a temporal thing, but goes back to days of yore. They concocted so many conspiracies and betrayed rulers and nations so many times that the people harbor hatred towards them. … Throughout history – from Nebuchadnezzar until modern times. … They slayed the prophets, and so on. … Any catastrophe on the face of this Earth – the Jews must be behind it.[337]

On December 26, 2012, Senior Hamas official and Jerusalem bureau chief Ahmed Abu Haliba, called on “all Palestinian factions to resume suicide attacks … deep inside the Zionist enemy” and said that “we must renew the resistance to occupation in any possible way, above all through armed resistance.” Abu Haliba suggested the use of suicide bombings as a response to Israel’s plans to build housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.[338]

In an interview on Lebanese television on July 28, 2014, Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan repeated the blood libel myth:

We all remember how the Jews used to slaughter Christians, in order to mix their blood in their holy matzos… It happened everywhere.[339]

Statements by Hamas members and clerics to an international audience

In an interview with CBS This Morning on July 27, 2014, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stated:

We are not fanatics. We are not fundamentalists. We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers.[340]

On January 8, 2012, during a visit to Tunis, Gazan Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh told The Associated Press on that he disagrees with the anti-Semitic slogans. “We are not against the Jews because they are Jews. Our problem is with those occupying the land of Palestine,” he said. “There are Jews all over the world, but Hamas does not target them.”[341] In response to a statement by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas that Hamas preferred non-violent means and had agreed to adopt “peaceful resistance,” Hamas contradicted Abbas. According to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri, “We had agreed to give popular resistance precedence in the West Bank, but this does not come at the expense of armed resistance.”[342]

In May 2009, senior Hamas MP Sayed Abu Musameh said, “in our culture, we respect every foreigner, especially Jews and Christians, but we are against Zionists, not as nationalists but as fascists and racists.”[343] In the same interview, he also said, “I hate all kinds of weapons. I dream of seeing every weapon from the atomic bomb to small guns banned everywhere.” In January 2009, Gazan Hamas Health Minister Basim Naim published a letter in The Guardian, stating that Hamas has no quarrel with Jewish people, only with the actions of Israel.[344] In October 1994, in a response to Isreael’s crackdown on Hamas militants following a suicide bombing on a Tel Aviv bus, Hamas promised retaliation: “Rabin must know that Hamas loves death more than Rabin and his soldiers love life.”[345]

Statements on the Holocaust

Hamas has been explicit in its Holocaust denial. In reaction to the Stockholm conference on the Jewish Holocaust, held in late January 2000, Hamas issued a press release that it published on its official website, containing the following statements from a senior leader:

This conference bears a clear Zionist goal, aimed at forging history by hiding the truth about the so-called Holocaust, which is an alleged and invented story with no basis. (…) The invention of these grand illusions of an alleged crime that never occurred, ignoring the millions of dead European victims of Nazism during the war, clearly reveals the racist Zionist face, which believes in the superiority of the Jewish race over the rest of the nations. (…) By these methods, the Jews in the world flout scientific methods of research whenever that research contradicts their racist interests.[346]

In August 2003, senior Hamas official Dr Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi wrote in the Hamas newspaper Al-Risala that the Zionists encouraged murder of Jews by the Nazis with the aim of forcing them to immigrate to Palestine.[347]

In 2005, Khaled Mashal called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s December 14, 2005 statements on the Holocaust that Europeans had “created a myth in the name of Holocaust”[348]) as “courageous”.[349] Later in 2008, Basim Naim, the minister of health in the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government in Gaza countered holocaust denial, and said “it should be made clear that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian government in Gaza denies the Nazi Holocaust. The Holocaust was not only a crime against humanity but one of the most abhorrent crimes in modern history. We condemn it as we condemn every abuse of humanity and all forms of discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender or nationality.”[350]

In an open letter to Gaza Strip UNRWA chief John Ging published August 20, 2009, the movement’s Popular Committees for Refugees called the Holocaust “a lie invented by the Zionists,” adding that the group refused to let Gazan children study it.[351] Hamas leader Younis al-Astal continued by saying that having the Holocaust included in the UNRWA curriculum for Gaza students amounted to “marketing a lie and spreading it”. Al-Astal continued “I do not exaggerate when I say this issue is a war crime, because of how it serves the Zionist colonizers and deals with their hypocrisy and lies.”[352][353]

In February 2011, Hamas voiced opposition to UNRWA’s teaching of the Holocaust in Gaza. According to Hamas, “Holocaust studies in refugee camps is a contemptible plot and serves the Zionist entity with a goal of creating a reality and telling stories in order to justify acts of slaughter against the Palestinian people.”[354][355] In July 2012, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, denounced a visit by Ziad al-Bandak, an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to the Auschwitz death camp, saying it was “unjustified” and “unhelpful” and only served the “Zionist occupation” while coming “at the expense of a real Palestinian tragedy”. He also called the Holocaust an “alleged tragedy” and “exaggerated”.[356][357][358][359] In October 2012, Hamas said that they were opposed to teaching about the Holocaust in Gaza Strip schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency. The Refugee Affairs Department of Hamas said that teaching the Holocaust was a “crime against the issue of the refugees that is aimed at canceling their right of return”.[360]

Violence and terrorism

Hamas has used both political activities and violence in pursuit of its goals. For example, while politically engaged in the 2006 Palestinian Territories parliamentary election campaign, Hamas stated in its election manifesto that it was prepared to use “armed resistance to end the occupation”.[361]

From 2000 to 2004, Hamas was responsible for killing nearly 400 Israelis and wounding more than 2,000 in 425 attacks, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 2001 through May 2008, Hamas launched more than 3,000 Qassam rockets and 2,500 mortar attacks into Israel.[362]

Attacks on civilians

In the first years of the First Intifada (1987–1993), Hamas violence was directed first at collaborators with Israel and at individuals it considered moral deviants, and then later at the Israeli military.[363] A new direction began with the formation of the al-Qassam Brigades militia in 1992, and in 1993 suicide attacks began against Israeli targets on the West Bank.[364]

Aftermath of 1996 Jaffa Road bus bombings in which 26 people were killed

The first such attack occurred on April 16, 1993, when an al-Qassam Brigades operative detonated explosives in a car he parked next to two buses, one military and one civilian, in the West Bank town of Mehola, killing a Palestinian civilian and wounding 8 Israeli soldiers.[365] After the February 1994 massacre by Baruch Goldstein of 30 Muslim civilians in a Hebron mosque, the al-Qassam Brigades expanded suicide attacks to target primarily civilians.[180] The first of the suicide bombings that targeted civilians was at Afula on April 16, 1994, when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden car next to a bus, killing nine (including the bomber) and wounding 50. The most deadly suicide bombing was an attack on a Netanya hotel on March 27, 2002, in which 30 people were killed and 140 were wounded. The attack has also been referred to as the Passover massacre since it took place on the first night of the Jewish festival of Passover at a Seder.

Hamas has defended suicide attacks as a legitimate aspect of its asymmetric warfare against Israel. In 2003, according to Stephen Atkins, Hamas resumed suicide bombings in Israel as a retaliatory measure after the failure of peace talks and an Israeli campaign targeting members of the upper echelon of the Hamas leadership.[35] but they are considered as crimes against humanity under international law.[366][367] In a 2002 report, Human Rights Watchstated that Hamas leaders “should be held accountable” for “war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed by the al-Qassam Brigades.[368][369][370]

In May 2006 Israel arrested a top Hamas official, Ibrahim Hamed, who Israeli security officials alleged was responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks on Israelis.[371] Hamed’s trial on those charges has not yet concluded.[372] In 2008, Hamas explosives engineer Shihab al-Natsheh organized a deadly suicide bombing in Dimona.[373][374]

Since 2002, paramilitary soldiers of al-Qassam Brigades and other groups have used homemade Qassam rockets to hit Israeli towns in the Negev, such as Sderot. Al-Qassam Brigades was estimated in 2007 to have launched 22% of the rocket and mortar attacks,[375] which killed fifteen people between the years 2000 and 2009 (see Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel).[376] The introduction of the Qassam-2 rocket in 2008 enabled Palestinian paramilitary groups to reach, from Gaza, such Israeli cities such as Ashkelon.[377]

In 2008, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, offered that Hamas would attack only military targets if the IDF would stop causing the deaths of Palestinian civilians.[378] Following a June 19, 2008 ceasefire, the al-Qassam Brigades ended its rocket attacks and arrested Fatah militants in Gaza who had continued sporadic rocket and mortar attacks against Israel. The al-Qassam Brigades resumed the attacks after the November 4 Israeli incursion into Gaza.[240][379]

On 15 June 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hamas of involvement in the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers (including one who held American citizenship), saying “This has severe repercussions.”[380]On 20 July 2014, nearly two weeks into Operation Protective Edge, Netanyahu in an interview with CNN described Hamas as “genocidal terrorists.”[381]

On 5 August 2014 Israel announced that Israeli security forces arrested Hussam Kawasme, in Shuafat, in connection with the murders.[382] During interrogation, Kawasme admitted to being the mastermind behind the attack, in addition to securing the funding from Hamas.[383] Officials have stated that additional people arrested in connection with the murders are still being held, but no names have been released.[384]

On 20 August, Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas leader in exile in Turkey, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens. He delivered an address on behalf of Khaled Mashal at the conference of the International Union of Muslim Scholars in Istanbul, a move that might reflect a desire by Hamas to gain leverage.[385] In it he said: “Our goal was to ignite an intifada in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as within the 1948 borders. … Your brothers in the Al-Qassam Brigades carried out this operation to support their imprisoned brothers, who were on a hunger strike. … The mujahideen captured these settlers in order to have a swap deal.”[386] Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal accepted that members of Hamas were responsible, stating that he knew nothing of it in advance and that what the leadership knew of the details came from reading Israeli reports.[387] Meshaal, who has headed Hamas’s exiled political wing since 2004, has denied being involved in the “details” of Hamas “military issues”, but “justified the killings as a legitimate action against Israelis on “occupied” lands.”[388]

Hamas suicide attacks on Israeli civilians have largely disappeared since 2005; this has coincided with an increase in rocket attacks. One analysis suggests that the decline in suicide attacks is not motivated by any lack of supplies or volunteers to carry out such operations, by enhanced Israeli security measures such as the West Bank barrier (if Israeli actions were the reason, one would expect to see an equal decline in suicide attacks by all Palestinian factions, which is not observed), or by a newfound desire for reconciliation with Israel on the part of Hamas. Rather, suicide bombings provoked targeted killings that decimated the leadership of Hamas, whereas rocket attacks have elicited weaker Israeli reprisals that have tended to harm the Palestinian population as a whole more than Hamas (such as the blockade of the Gaza Strip) – thereby paradoxically increasing Hamas’s popular support.[389]

Rocket attacks on Israel

Rocket attacks by Hamas have been condemned by Human rights organizations as war crimes, both because they usually take aim at civilians and because the weapons’ inaccuracy would disproportionately endanger civilians even if military targets were chosen. After Operation Pillar of Defense, Human Rights Watch stated that armed Palestinian groups fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities, violating international humanitarian law, and that statements by Palestinian groups that they deliberately targeted Israeli civilians demonstrated an “intent to commit war crimes”. HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said that Palestinian groups made clear that “harming civilians was their aim” and said that launching rockets at populated areas had no legal justification. International humanitarian law prohibits deliberate attacks on civilians and intentional violations can be war crimes.[390]

According to Human Rights Watch, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have launched thousands of rockets into Israel since 2001, killing 15 civilians, wounding many more, and posing an ongoing threat to the nearly 800,000 Israeli civilians who live and work in the weapons’ range. Hamas officials have said that the rockets were aimed only at military targets, saying that civilian casualties were the “accidental result” of the weapons’ poor quality. According to Human Rights Watch, statements by Hamas leaders suggest that the purpose of the rocket attacks was indeed to strike civilians and civilian objects. From January 2009, following Operation Cast Lead, Hamas largely stopped launching rocket attacks on Israel and has on at least two occasions arrested members of other groups who have launched rockets, “showing that it has the ability to impose the law when it wants”.[391] In February 2010, Hamas issued a statement regretting any harm that may have befallen Israeli civilians as a result of Palestinian rocket attacks during the Gaza war. It maintained that its rocket attacks had been aimed at Israeli military targets but lacked accuracy and hence sometimes hit civilian areas. Israel responded that Hamas had boasted repeatedly of targeting and murdering civilians in the media.[392]

According to one report, commenting on the 2014 conflict, “nearly all the 2,500–3,000 rockets and mortars Hamas has fired at Israel since the start of the war seem to have been aimed at towns”, including an attack on “a kibbutz collective farm close to the Gaza border”, in which an Israeli child was killed.[393] Former Israeli Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi stated that “Hamas has expressed pride in aiming long-range rockets at strategic targets in Israel including the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the chemical plants in Haifa, and Ben-Gurion Airport”, which “could have caused thousands” of Israeli casualties “if successful”.[394]

In July 2008 Barack Obama, then the Democratic presidential candidate, said: “If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”[395] On December 28, 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement: “the United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”[396] On March 2, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attacks.[397]

Attempts to derail 2010 peace talks

In 2010, Hamas, who have been actively sidelined from the peace talks by Israel, spearheaded a coordinated effort by 13 Palestinian militant groups, in attempt to derail the stalled peace talks between Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority. According to the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major Gen. Eitan Dangot, Israel seeks to work with Salam Fayyad, to help revive the Palestinian economy, and hopes to ease restrictions on the Gaza Strip further, “while somehow preventing the Islamic militants who rule it from getting credit for any progress”. According to Dangot, Hamas must not be seen as ruling successfully or be allowed to “get credit for a policy that would improve the lives of people”.[398] The campaign consists of attacks against Israelis in which, according to a Hamas declaration in early September, “all options are open”.[399][400][401][402] The participating groups also include Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and an unnamed splinter group of Fatah.[403]

As part of the campaign, on August 31, 2010, 4 Israeli settlers, including a pregnant woman, were killed by Hamas militants while driving on Route 60 near the settlement Kiryat Arba, in the West bank. According to witnesses, militants opened fire on the moving vehicle, but then “approached the car” and shot the occupants in their seats at “close range”. The attack was described by Israeli sources as one of the “worst” terrorist acts in years.[404][405][406] A senior Hamas official said that Israeli settlers in the West Bank are legitimate targets since “they are an army in every sense of the word”.[407][408]

Themes of martyrdom

According to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch, in 2008, Fathi Hamad, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, stated on Al-Aqsa TV, “For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly (Palestinians) created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘We desire death as you desire life.'”[409]

In 2010, Hamas speaker Ahmad Bahr praised the virtues of martyrdom and Jihad, and said that 2.5 million black-eyed virgins were waiting in the Garden of Eden, which could be entered only by prophets, by the righteous, and by martyrs. He continued by saying that nobody on Earth “will be able to confront the resistance, or to confront the mujahideen, those who worship Allah and seek martyrdom”.[410]

Guerrilla warfare

Hamas anti-tank rockets, captured by Israel Defense Forces during Operation Protective Edge

Hamas has made great use of guerrilla tactics in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser degree the West Bank.[411] It has successfully adapted these techniques over the years since its inception. According to a 2006 report by rival Fatah party, Hamas had smuggled between several hundred and 1,300 tons of advanced rockets, along with other weaponry, into Gaza.[411]

Hamas has used IEDs and anti-tank rockets against the IDF in Gaza. The latter include standard RPG-7 warheads and home-made rockets such as the Al-Bana, Al-Batar and Al-Yasin. The IDF has a difficult, if not impossible time trying to find hidden weapons caches in Palestinian areas – this is due to the high local support base Hamas enjoys.[412]

Extrajudicial killings of rivals

In addition to killing Israeli civilians and armed forces, Hamas has also murdered suspected Palestinian Israel collaborators and Fatah rivals.[413] Hundreds of Palestinians were executed by both Hamas and Fatah during the First Intifada.[414] In the wake of the 2006 Israeli conflict with Gaza, Hamas was accused of systematically rounding up, torturing and summarily executing Fatah supporters suspected of supplying information to Israel. Human Rights Watch estimates several hundred Gazans were “maimed” and tortured in the aftermath of the conflict. Seventy-three Gazan men accused of “collaborating” had their arms and legs broken by “unidentified perpetrators” and 18 Palestinians accused of helping Israel were executed by Hamas security officials in the first days of the conflict.[233][234][415] In November 2012, Hamas’s Izzedine al-Qassam brigade publicly executed six Gaza residents accused of collaborating with Israel. According to the witnesses, six alleged informers were shot dead one by one in Gaza City, while the corpse of the sixth victim was tied by a cable to the back of a motorcycle and dragged through the streets.[416] In 2013, Human Rights Watch issued a statement condemning Hamas for not investigating and giving a proper trial to the 6 men. Their statement was released the day before Hamas issued a deadline for “collaborators” to turn themselves in, or they will be pursued “without mercy”.[417] In August 2014, during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, at least 22 accused collaborators were executed by Hamas shortly after three of its commanders were assassinated by Israeli forces.[418] An Israeli source denied that any of the commanders had been targeted on the basis of human intelligence.[419]

Frequent killings of unarmed people have also occurred during Hamas-Fatah clashes.[420][421] NGOs have cited a number of summary executions as particular examples of violations of the rules of warfare, including the case of Muhammad Swairki, 28, a cook for Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential guard, who was thrown to his death, with his hands and legs tied, from a 15-story apartment building in Gaza City.[422] Hamas security forces reportedly shoot and torture Palestinians who opposed Hamas rule in Gaza.[233] In one case, a Palestinian had criticized Hamas in a conversation on the street with some friends. Later that day, more than a dozen armed men with black masks and red kaffiyeh took the man from his home, and brought him to a solitary area where they shot him three times in the lower legs and ankles. The man told Human Rights Watch that he was not politically active.[233]

On August 14, 2009, Hamas fighters stormed the Mosque of cleric Abdel-Latif Moussa.[423] The cleric was protected by at least 100 fighters from Jund Ansar Allah (“Army of the Helpers of God”), an Islamist group with links to Al-Qaeda. The resulting battle left at least 13 people dead, including Moussa and 6 Hamas fighters, and 120 people injured.[424] According to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, during 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, Hamas killed more than 120 Palestinian youths for defying house arrest imposed on them by Hamas, in addition to 30–40 Palestinians killed by Hamas in extrajudicial executions after accusing them of being collaborators with Israel.[425] Referring to the killing of suspected collaborators, a Shin Bet official stated that “not even one” of those executed by Hamas provided any intelligence to Israel, while the Shin Bet officially “confirmed that those executed during Operation Protective Edge had all been held in prison in Gaza in the course of the hostilities”.[419]

2011–2013 Sinai insurgency

Hamas has been accused of providing weapons, training and fighters for Sinai-based insurgent attacks,[426][427] although Hamas strongly denies the allegations, calling them a smear campaign aiming to harm relations with Egypt.[426] According to the Egyptian Army, since the ouster of Egypt’s Muslim-Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, over 600 Hamas members have entered the Sinai Peninsula through smuggling tunnels.[428] In addition, several weapons used in Sinai’s insurgent attacks are being traced back to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to the army.[428] The four leading insurgent groups in the Sinai have all reportedly maintained close ties with the Gaza Strip.[429] Hamas is also accused of helping Morsi and other high-ranking Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members break out of the Wadi Natroun prison in Cairo during the 2011 revolution.[430] Hamas called the accusation a “dangerous development”.[431] Egyptian authorities stated that the 2011 Alexandria bombing was carried out by the Gaza-based Army of Islam, which has received sanctuary from Hamas and earlier collaborated in the capture of Gilad Shalit.[429][432][433][434] Army of Islam members linked to the August 2012 Sinai attack have reportedly sought refuge in the Gaza Strip.[429] Egypt stated that Hamas directly provided logistical support to the Muslim Brotherhood militants who carried out the December 2013 Mansoura bombing.[435]

International designations as a terrorist organization

Hamas, together with several charities it runs,[436] has been designated by several governments and some academics as a terrorist organization. Others regard Hamas as a complex organization with terrorism as only one component.[437][438] Israel outlawed Hamas in September 1989[439] The United States followed suit in 1995, as did Canada in November 2002.[440] The European Union outlawed Hamas’s military wing in 2001 and included Hamas in its list of terrorist organizations in 2003,[441] which Hamas successfully challenged in the courts,[442] and continued to do so under American and Israeli pressure.[443] The basis of Hamas’s challenge to the EU classification in 2007 was that it was drawn up on the basis of media reports, rather than grounded in any analysis of Hamas’s history. In July 2017, the European Court of Justice overruled this challenge, citing that the evidence of media reports was only used for keeping Hamas on the list, rather than to add it to the list in the first place.[444]

The European General Court found in favour of Hamas in 2014, though the verdict was appealed by the EU countries. In September 2016 a legal advisor to the European Court of Justice, Eleanor Sharpston, provided an advisory opinion, in favour of cancelling the listing of Hamas as a terrorist organization. She argued that the determination originally adopted was flawed, and that the EU cannot “rely on facts and evidence found in press articles and information from the internet” in order to list organizations as terrorists.[445] Egypt,[446]Saudi Arabia,[447] Japan,[448] New Zealand,[449] Australia and the United Kingdom[450] have designated the military wing of Hamas as a terrorist organization.[451] The organization is banned in Jordan.[452] It is not regarded as a terrorist organization by Iran,[453]Russia,[454] Norway,[455] Switzerland,[456] Turkey, China,[457] and Brazil.[458]

Criticism

Human shields

A Hamas rocket launch site and its civilian surroundings.

After Operation Pillar of Defense, Human Rights Watch stated that Palestinian groups had endangered civilians by “repeatedly fired rockets from densely populated areas, near homes, businesses, and a hotel” and noted that under international law, parties to a conflict may not to place military targets in or near densely populated areas. One rocket was launched close to the Shawa and Housari Building, where various Palestinian and international media have offices; another was fired from the yard of a house near the Deira Hotel.[390][459] The New York Times journalist Steven Erlanger reported that “Hamas rocket and weapons caches, including rocket launchers, have been discovered in and under mosques, schools and civilian homes.”[460] Another report published by Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center revealed that Hamas used close to 100 mosques to store weapons and as launch-pads to shoot rockets. The report contains testimony from variety Palestinian sources, including a Hamas militant Sabhi Majad Atar, who said he was taught how to shoot rockets from inside a mosque.[461] Hamas has also been criticized by Israeli officials for blending into or hiding among the Palestinian civilian population During the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict.[462] The Israeli government published what it said was video evidence of human shield tactics by Hamas.[463] Israel said that Hamas frequently used mosques and school yards[464] as hideouts and places to store weapons,[465][466] and that Hamas militants stored weapons in their homes, making it difficult to ensure that civilians close to legitimate military targets are not hurt during Israeli military operations.[467] Israeli officials also accused the Hamas leadership of hiding under Shifa Hospital during the conflict, using the patients inside to deter an Israeli attack.[460][468]

The Israeli government filed a report entitled “Gaza Operations Investigation: Second Update” to the United Nations accusing Hamas of exploiting its rules of engagement by shooting rockets and launching attacks within protected civilian areas.[469][470][471] Israel says 12,000 rockets and mortars were fired at it between 2000 and 2008 – nearly 3,000 in 2008 alone.[472] In one case, an errant Israeli mortar strike killed dozens of people near a UN school. Hamas said that the mortar killed 42 people and left dozens wounded. Israel said that Hamas militants had launched a rocket from a yard adjacent to the school and one mortar of three rounds hit the school, due to a GPS error. According to the Israeli military probe, the remaining two rounds hit the yard used to launch rockets into Israel, killing two members of Hamas’s military wing who fired the rockets.[473] Human Right Watch called Hamas to “publicly renounce” the rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and hold those responsible to account. Human Right Watch program director Iain Levine said the attacks by Hamas were “unlawful and unjustifiable, and amount to war crimes”, and accused Hamas of putting Palestinians at risk by launching attacks from built-up areas.[472] Hamas spokesman relied that the report was “biased” and he denied that Hamas uses human shields.[472]

Human Rights Watch investigated 19 incidents involving 53 civilian deaths in Gaza that Israel said were the result of Hamas fighting in densely populated areas and did not find evidence for existence of Palestinian fighters in the areas at the time of the Israeli attack. In other cases where no civilians had died, the report concluded that Hamas may have deliberately fired rockets from areas close to civilians.[474] HRW also investigated 11 deaths that Israel said were civilians being used as human shields by Hamas. HRW found no evidence that the civilians were used as human shields, nor had they been shot in crossfire.[475] The Israeli ‘human shields’ charge against Hamas was called “full of holes” by The National (UAE), which stated that only Israel accused Hamas of using human shields during the conflict, though Hamas “may be guilty” of “locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas” and for “deliberately firing indiscriminate weapons into civilian populated areas”.[476]

On July 8, 2014, Hamas’s spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri encouraged the “policy of people confronting the Israeli warplanes with their bare chests in order to protect their homes”, saying it has proven itself.[477] Israeli soldiers recounted “Suddenly, a small boy appeared, and the terrorist grabbed him and escaped with him”;[478] “I saw with my own eyes someone using another person, a woman, as a shield. … And I can see very clearly that the woman doesn’t want to be there and he’s pulling her with him”;[479] and “We even found explosives in nurseries. The whole neighborhood was practically a terrorist base.”[480]

Israel has accused Hamas of using children as human shields. The Israeli government released video footage in which it claims two militants are shown grabbing a young boy’s arm from behind holding him to walk in front of them toward a group of people waiting near a wall. The IDF argues the militants were placing the boy between themselves and an Israeli sniper. The second scene shows an individual, described as a terrorist, grabbing a school boy off of a floor, where he is hiding behind a column from IDF fire, and using him as a human shield to walk to a different location.[481] After 15 alleged militants sought refuge in a mosque from Israeli forces, the BBC reported that Hamas radio instructed local women to go the mosque to protect the militants. Israeli forces later opened fire and killed two women.[482]

In November 2006, the Israeli Air Force warned Muhammad Weil Baroud, commander of the Popular Resistance Committees who are accused of launching rockets into Israeli territory, to evacuate his home in a Jabalya refugee camp apartment block in advance of a planned Israeli air strike. Baroud responded by calling for volunteers to protect the apartment block and nearby buildings and, according to The Jerusalem Post, hundreds of local residents, mostly women and children, responded. Israel suspended the air strike. Israel termed the action an example of Hamas using human shields.[483] In response to the incident, Hamas proclaimed: ‘We won. From now on we will form human chains around every house threatened with demolition.'”[484] In a November 22 press release, Human Rights Watch condemned Hamas, stating: “There is no excuse for calling civilians to the scene of a planned attack. Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm’s way is unlawful.”[485] Following criticism, Human rights Watch issued a statement saying that their initial assessment of the situation was in error. They stated that, on the basis of available evidence, the home demolition was in fact an administrative act, viewed in the context of Israel’s longstanding policy of punitive home demolitions, not a military act and thus would not fall within the purview of the law regulating hostilities during armed conflict, which had been the basis for their initial criticism of Hamas.[482]

When the UN-sponsored Goldstone Commission Report on the Gaza War was commissioned in 2009, it stated that it “found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack” though they deemed credible reports that Palestinian militants were “not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians”.[486] Hamas MP Fathi Hamed stated that “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel…the elderly excel at this…and so do the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children.”[487] Following the release of the Goldstone Report, the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan Col. Richard Kemp was invited to testify at the UN Human Rights Council 12th Special Session that during Operation Cast Lead Israel encountered an “enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population”.[488][489][490]

Children as combatants

The Israeli government released a video compiled mostly from Arab news sources showing Palestinian children under the age of 15 going through military training and carrying and firing arms. The video’s narration explains that Hamas indoctrinates these child combatants and that Hamas operators send the children “on missions from which they would not risk their own lives”. According to the Israeli government, the children are used as spotters, to transport explosives and weapons, sent to play in areas to deter Israeli attacks and are sent unknowingly with explosive devices in their schoolbags to be blown up in the vicinity of Israelis.[491] The United Nations defines the use of children for military purposes as a war crime and a form of slavery. See Military use of children.

Although Hamas admits to sponsoring summer schools to train teenagers in handling weapons they condemn attacks by children. Following the deaths of three teenagers during a 2002 attack on Netzarim in central Gaza, Hamas banned attacks by children and “called on the teachers and religious leaders to spread the message of restraint among young boys”.[492][493] Hamas’s use of child labor to build tunnels with which to attack Israel has also been criticized, with at least 160 children killed in the tunnels as of 2012.[494]

Political freedoms

Hamas mural in the West Bank

Human rights groups and Gazans have accused the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip of restricting freedom of the press and forcefully suppressing dissent. Both foreign and Palestinian journalists report harassment and other measures taken against them.[495][496] In September 2007 the Gaza Interior Ministry disbanded the Gaza Strip branch of the pro-Fatah Union of Palestinian Journalists, a move criticized by Reporters without borders.[497] In November of that year the Hamas government arrested a British journalist and for a time canceled all press cards in Gaza.[498][499] On February 8, 2008, Hamas banned distribution of the pro-Fatah Al-Ayyam newspaper, and closed its offices in the Gaza Strip because it ran a caricature that mocked legislators loyal to Hamas.[500][501] The Gaza Strip Interior Ministry later issued an arrest warrant for the editor.[502]

More widely, in late August 2007 the group was accused in The Telegraph, a conservative British newspaper, of torturing, detaining, and firing on unarmed protesters who had objected to policies of the Hamas government.[503] Also in late August, Palestinian health officials reported that the Hamas government had been shutting down Gaza clinics in retaliation for doctor strikes – The Hamas government confirmed the “punitive measure against doctors” because, in its view, they had incited other doctors to suspend services and go out on strike.[504] In September 2007 the Hamas government banned public prayers, after Fatah supporters began holding worship sessions that quickly escalated into raucous protests against Hamas rule. Government security forces beat several gathering supporters and journalists.[505] In October 2008, the Hamas government announced it would release all political prisoners in custody in Gaza. Several hours after the announcement, 17 Fatah members were released.[506]

On August 2, 2012, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) accused Hamas of harassing elected officials belong to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) in Gaza. The IFJ said that journalists’ leaders in Gaza have faced a campaign of intimidation, as well as threats designed to force them to stop their union work. Some of these journalists are now facing charges of illegal activities and a travel ban, due to their refusal “to give in to pressure”. The IFJ said that these accusations are “malicious” and “should be dropped immediately”. The IFJ explained that the campaign against PJS members began in March 2012, after their election, and included a raid organized by Hamas supporters who took over the PJS offices in Gaza with the help of the security forces, and subsequently evicted the staff and elected officials. Other harassment includes the targeting of individuals who were bullied into stopping union work. The IFJ backed the PJS and called on Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to intervene to stop “his officials’ unwarranted interference in journalists’ affairs”.[507] In November 2012, two Gazan journalists were prevented from leaving Gaza by Hamas. There were scheduled to participate in a conference in Cairo, Egypt. After being questioned by security forces, their passports were confiscated.[508] In 2016 Reporters Without Borders condemned Hamas for censorship and for torturing journalists. Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said “As living conditions in the Gaza Strip are disastrous, Hamas wants to silence critics and does not hesitate to torture a journalist in order to control media coverage in its territory.”[509]

Human rights abuses

In June 2011, the Independent Commission for Human Rights based in Ramallah published a report whose findings included that the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were subjected in 2010 to an “almost systematic campaign” of human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as by Israeli authorities, with the security forces belonging to the PA and Hamas being responsible for torture, arrests and arbitrary detentions.[510]

In 2012, the Human Rights Watch presented a 43 page long list of human rights violation committed by Hamas. Among actions attributed to Hamas the HRW report mentions beatings with metal clubs and rubber hoses, hanging of alleged collaborationists with Israel, and torture of 102 individuals. According to the report, Hamas also tortured civil society activists and peaceful protesters. Reflecting on the captivity of Gilad Shalit, the HRW report described it as “cruel and inhuman”. The report also slams Hamas for harassment of people based on so called morality offenses and for media censorship.[511][512] In a public statement Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East director of HRW claimed, “after five years of Hamas rule in Gaza, its criminal justice system reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainees’ rights and grants impunity to abusive security services.” Hamas responded by denying charges and describing them as “politically motivated”[513]

On May 26, 2015 Amnesty International released a report saying that Hamas carried out extrajudicial killings, abductions and arrests of Palestinians and used the Al-Shifa Hospital to detain, interrogate and torture suspects during the Israel–Gaza conflict in 2014. It details the executions of at least 23 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel and torture of dozens of others, many victims of torture were members of the rival Palestinian movement, Fatah.[514][515]

In 2019, Osama Qawassmeh, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, accused Hamas of “kidnapping and brutally torturing Fatah members in a way that no Palestinian can imagine.” Qawassmeh accused Hamas of kidnapping and torturing 100 Fatah members in Gaza. The torture allegedly included the practice called “shabah” – the painful binding of the hands and feet to a chair. Also in 2019, Fatah activist from Gaza Raed Abu al-Hassin was beaten and had his two legs broken by Hamas security officers. Al-Hassin was taken into custody by Hamas after he participated in a pro-Abbas demonstration in the Gaza Strip.[516]

International support

Hamas has always maintained leadership abroad. The movement is deliberately fragmented to ensure that Israel cannot kill its top political and military leaders.[517] Hamas used to be strongly allied with both Iran and Syria. Iran gave Hamas an estimated $13–15 million in 2011 as well as access to long-range missiles. Hamas’s political bureau was once located in the Syrian capital of Damascus before the start of the Syrian civil war. Relations between Hamas, Iran, and Syria began to turn cold when Hamas refused to back the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Instead, Hamas backed the Sunni rebels fighting against Assad. As a result, Iran cut funding to Hamas, and their terror proxy Hezbollah ordered Hamas members out of Lebanon.[518] Hamas was then forced out of Syria. Since then, Iran and Hezbollah have tried to mend fences with Hamas.[518] Hamas contacted Jordan and Sudan to see if either would open up its borders to its political bureau. But both countries refused – though they welcomed many Hamas members leaving Syria.[519] In 2012 Hamas headquarters subsequently moved to Doha, Qatar.[520]

From 2012 to 2013, under the leadership of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, Hamas had the support of Egypt. However, when Morsi was removed from Office, his replacement Abdul Fattah al-Sisi outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood and destroyed the tunnels Hamas built into Egypt. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are likewise hostile to Hamas. Like Egypt, they designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and Hamas was viewed as its Palestinian equivalent.[518]

Qatar and Turkey

According to Middle East experts, now Hamas has two firm allies: Qatar and Turkey. Both give Hamas public and financial assistance estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Shashank Joshi, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, says that “Qatar also hosts Hamas’s political bureau which includes Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.” Meshaal also visits Turkey frequently to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.[518] Erdogan has dedicated himself to breaking Hamas out of its political and economic seclusion. Last year on U.S. television Erdogan said, “I don’t see Hamas as a terror organization. Hamas is a political party.”[517]

In 2007, Qatar was, with Turkey, the only country to back Hamas after the group ousted the Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip.[518] The relationship between Hamas and Qatar strengthened in 2008 and 2009 when Khaled Meshaal was invited to attend the Doha Summit where he was seated next to the then Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who pledged $250 million to repair the damage caused by the Israel in the Israeli war on Gaza.[519] These events caused Qatar to become the main player in the “Palestinian issue”. Qatar called Gaza’s blockade unjust and immoral, which prompted the Hamas government in Gaza, including former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, to thank Qatar for their “unconditional” support. Qatar then began regularly handing out political, material, humanitarian and charitable support for Hamas.[519]

In 2012, Qatar’s former Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, became the first head of state to visit Gaza under Hamas rule. He pledged to raise $400 million for reconstruction. Some have argued that the money Qatar gives to reconstruct Palestine is an excuse to pour even more money into Hamas.[520] Qatar’s reason for funding Hamas, which is shared by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is allegedly that Islamist groups are growing and will eventually play a role in the region; thus it is important for Qatar (and Turkey) to maintain ties. During the Arab Spring, for example, Qatar backed the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Islamist group whose offshoot is Hamas.[521] Other sources say that advocating for Hamas is politically beneficial to Turkey and Qatar because the Palestinian cause draws popular support amongst their citizens at home.[522]

Some began to label Qatar a terrorist haven in part because it is harboring Hamas leader Meshaal.[521] They also harbor Husam Badran, former leader of Hamas’s military wing in the northern West Bank.[523] Husam Badran, current media spokesman for Hamas, was the instigator of several of the deadliest suicide bombings of the second intifada, including the Dolphinarium discotheque bombing in Tel Aviv, which killed 21 people.[524] Turkey has also been criticized for housing terrorists including Saleh al-Arouri, the senior Hamas officer, known for his ability to mastermind attacks from abroad. Al-Arouri is alleged to have orchestrated the June 2014 abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers and to have started the 50-day war between Israel and Palestine, and now lives in Turkey.[525]

Speaking in reference to Qatar’s support for Hamas, during a 2015 visit to Palestine, Qatari official Mohammad al-Emadi, said Qatar is using the money not to help Hamas but rather the Palestinian people as a whole. He acknowledges however that giving to the Palestinian people means using Hamas as the local contact. Emadi said, “You have to support them. You don’t like them, don’t like them. But they control the country, you know.”[526] Some argue that Hamas’s relations with Qatar are putting Hamas in an awkward position because Qatar has become part of the regional Arab problem.

But Hamas claims that having contacts with various Arab countries establishes positive relations which will encourage Arab countries to do their duty toward the Palestinians and support their cause by influencing public opinion in the Arab world.[519] In March 2015, Hamas has announced its support of the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.[527]

In May 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tweeted to the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu that Hamas is not a terrorist organization but a resistance movement that defends the Palestinian homeland against an occupying power. During that period there were conflicts between Israeli troops and Palestinian protestors in the Gaza Strip, due to the decision of the United States to move their embassy to Jerusalem.[528]

China

After the Hamas victory in 2006, China did not label it a “terrorist organization” and welcomed Hamas’ foreign minister, Mahmoud al-Zahar, to Beijing for the China-Arab Cooperation Forum ignoring protests by both the United States and Israel but receiving praise from Mahmoud Abbas.[529][530] China has harshly criticised Israel for its economic blockade of Gaza since 2007 when Hamas assumed control of the territory.[531][529] Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao stated, “We believe that the Palestinian government is legally elected by the people there and it should be respected”.[532] In April 2011, a spokesman from China’s foreign ministry embraced the Hamas-Fatah agreement to form an interim government.[533]

In 2014 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Israel to lift its blockade and advised both Israel and Hamas to cease fighting. He reaffirmed support from China to the Palestinian people’s right to establish an independent state. He told a joint press conference, “China will grant $1.5 million in emergency humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.”[534]

In June 2018, China voted in support of a United Nations Security Council resolution vetoed by the US that criticized Israel of excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in Gaza during the 2018 Gaza border protests. Later the same day, China abstained from voting on a US drafted resolution that blamed Hamas for the escalated violence.[535][536]

U.S.-based support

Several U.S. organizations were either shut down or held liable for financing Hamas in early 2001, groups that have origins from the mid-1990s: the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), and Kind Hearts. The U.S. Treasury Department specially designated the HLF in 2001 for terror ties: “from 1995 to 2001 the HLF transferred “approximately $12.4 million outside of the United States with the intent to contribute funds, goods, and services to Hamas.” According to the Treasury Department, Khaled Meshal identified one of HLF’s officers, Mohammed El-Mezain as “the Hamas leader for the U.S.” In 2003, IAP was found liable for financially supporting Hamas, and in 2006, Kind Hearts had their assets frozen for supporting Hamas.[537] According to congressional testimony by Jonathan Schanzer in 2016, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel includes a web of Hamas supporters from the Illinois-based organization American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).[538]

See also

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas

Story 3: President Trump Threatens To Impose a 25% Tariff on $200 Billion of Chinese Exports into United States After Chinese Communist Renege on Trade Deal Commitments — Time To Pull The Trigger on 25% Tariff on Chinese Goods — Walk Away Renee — Videos

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The Four Tops – Walk Away Renee (with lyrics on screen)

Walk Away Renee – The left Banke

THE LEFT BANKE- WALK AWAY RENEE- PERFORMED @ DROM.mov

Walk Away Renee

And when I see the sign that points one way
The lot we used to pass by every day
Just walk away Renee
You won’t see me follow you back home
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same
You’re not to blame
From deep inside the tears that I’m forced to cry
From deep inside the pain that I chose to hide
Just walk away Renee
You won’t see me follow you back home
Now as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes
For me it cries
Just walk away Renee
You won’t see me follow you back home
Now as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes
For me it cries
Your name and mine inside a heart upon a wall
Still finds a way to haunt me, though they’re so small
Just walk away Renee
You won’t see me follow you back home
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same
You’re not to blame
Songwriters: Bob Calilli / Mike Brown / Tony Sansone

Trump administration accuses China of “reneging” on trade deal commitments

Trump and Liu He
Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said in a briefing with reporters Monday he will put out a Federal Register notice tomorrow saying that the Trump administration will raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%, and that importers will begin paying the new tariffs “the first minute of Friday.”

Why it matters: The business community and markets had been cautiously hopeful that Trump’s Sunday tweets were an empty threat to create leverage over China and that he’d ultimately back down. That’s still possible, of course, but Lighthizer made clear he didn’t think that was going to happen.

Driving the news: Lighthizer said he still expects the top Chinese negotiator, Liu He, to come to Washington on Thursday, though he said he hadn’t spoken to the vice premier since he and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin left Beijing last week. Mnuchin, who was also in the briefing, said he hadn’t spoken to Liu He either since he left China.

  • Mnuchin said he thought until recent days that the Trump administration was on the precipice of a “historic” deal with China — one that was hyper-detailed, running to almost 150 pages.
  • He said the past week had brought a “big change in direction for the negotiations” with the Chinese backtracking on specific commitments that they had made in writing.

Mnuchin and Lighthizer wouldn’t say what, specifically, the Chinese were trying to re-trade. But they both stressed that China’s team wasn’t squabbling over small stuff. Lighthizer and Mnuchin used words like “substantive” and “substantial” to characterize the attempted Chinese backflip.

Between the lines: Mnuchin left slightly more room for another twist this week. He made a point of saying that Liu He had been “very helpful to work with” and he’d built a strong relationship with the vice premier. He said President Trump had been willing to extend the deadline on tariff hikes previously because of the “substantial progress” they’d made.

  • Lighthizer said his interpretation of what happened was that some on the Chinese side found the commitments the negotiating team had already agreed on to be unacceptable. (Translation: The Chinese side has hardliners, too.) “I would use the word reneging on prior commitments,” Lighthizer said.
  • Mnuchin, who is less hawkish on China, left slightly more room for a last minute plot twist. He said if the Chinese come to Washington and are willing to go back to their original commitments and negotiate in good faith, then of course he and Lighthizer would take that to President Trump. But as of now, the tariffs are going ahead, he said.

What’s next? A reporter asked Lighthizer what he would say to American businesses who already have goods on the water headed to U.S. ports, which will face significantly higher costs if the tariffs go into effect. Lighthizer said, “There’ll be ways to work out” the situation but he gave no specifics. He said it’s been clear for some time that something like this — a dramatic tariff increase — could happen. U.S. businesses, in other words, should have been prepared for this.

 

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