Gaza War 2014

April 5th, 2017 by Gail Winston | Archived in: Gaza War 2014


Gaza War Diary Wed-Mon. April 5-10, 2017 Day 1313-1318 1 6pm

Dear Family & Friends,

Candlelighting For Pesach Seder Is Very Soon.

We have a beautiful night & day to celebrate with brilliant children & grandchildren to ask, discuss, debate all the Pesach questions. Lot of yummy food – smells wonderful.

Hope you all have a freilich & samaech Pesach, with health & joy.

“This year in Jerusalem, Re-built!”

All the very best, Gail/Geula/Savta/Savta Raba x 2/Mom

Our Website:

Passover Guide for the Perplexed, 2017

The Exodus has been an integral part of the American story since the Pilgrims landed on US soil. And it is much more.

By Amb. (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, Arutz Sheva 09/04/17 15:40 Share

Passover Seder – Flash 90

1. According to Heinrich Heine, the 19th century German poet, “Since the Exodus, freedom has always spoken with a Hebrew accent.”

2. Moses’ “Let my people go” paved the road to the Exodus. In 1850, it became a code song for black slaves, who were freed by Harriet Tubman’s (“Mama Moses”) “Underground Railroad.” Paul Robeson and Louis Armstrong enhanced its popularity through the lyrics: “When Israel was Egypt’s land, let my people go! Oppressed so hard they could not stand, let my people go! Go down Moses, way down in Egypt’s land; tell old Pharaoh to let my people go….!” On December 11, 1964, upon accepting the Nobel Prize, Martin Luther King, Jr., “the Moses of his age”, said: “The Bible tells the thrilling story of how Moses stood in Pharaoh’s court centuries ago and cried, ‘Let my people go!’”

3. The Exodus has been an integral part of the American story since the landing of the 17th century early Pilgrims, who considered themselves “the people of the modern day Exodus,” who departed from “the modern day Egypt” (Britain), rebelled against “the modern day Pharaoh,” (King James I and King Charles I), crossed “the modern day Red Sea” (the Atlantic Ocean) and headed toward “the modern day Promised Land” (America). Hence, the abundance of US sites bearing Biblical names, such as Jerusalem, Salem (the original name of Jerusalem), Bethel, Shiloh, Ephrata’, Tekoa’, Bethlehem, Moriah, Zion, etc.

4. The Exodus is mentioned 50 times in the Torah, equal to the 50 years of the Jubilee – the Biblical symbol of liberty – which is featured on the Liberty Bell (installed in 1751 – the 50thanniversary of William Penn’s Charter of Privileges): “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof (Leviticus, 25:10).” Moses received the Torah – which includes 50 gates of wisdom – 50 days following the Exodus, as celebrated by the Shavouot/Pentecost Holiday. And, there are 50 States in the United States, whose Hebrew name is ארצות הברית, the States of the Covenant.

5. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense – “the cement of the Revolution” – referred to King George as “the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England.” John Adams and Thomas Jefferson – the 2nd and 3rd US presidents – and Benjamin Franklin, proposed the Parting of the Sea as the official US seal. The proposal was tabled, but the chosen seal features thirteen stars (colonies), above the Eagle, in the shape of a Star of David. Ezra Stiles, the President of Yale University – which features on its shield “Urim and Thummim,” the power of the High Priest during the time the Jews were in the desert and then in the Land of israel – stated on May 8, 1873:

“Moses, the man of God, assembled three million people, the number of people in America in 1776.” Theodore White wrote in The Making of the President 1960: “It is as if Kennedy, a younger Moses, had led an elderly Joshua [LBJ] to the height of Mount Nebo…and there shown him the Promised Land which he himself would never be entering, but which Joshua would make his own.”

In 2017, the bust of Moses faces the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and eight statues and engravings of Moses and the Tablets are featured in the US Supreme Court.

6. A documentation of the Exodus – which took place in the second half of the 15th century BCE, during the reign of Egypt’s Amenhotep II – was provided by the late Prof. Yehudah Elitzur, one of Israel’s pioneers of Biblical research. Accordingly, the 40-year national coalescing of the Jewish people – while wandering in the desert – took place when Egypt was ruled by Thutmose IV. Joshua conquered Canaan when Egypt was ruled by Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV, who were preoccupied with domestic affairs, refraining from expansionist operations.

Moreover, letters which were discovered in Tel el Amarna, the capital city of ancient Egypt, documented that the 14th century BCE Pharaoh, Amenhotep IV, was informed by the rulers of Jerusalem, Samaria and other parts of Canaan, about a military offensive launched by the “Habirus” (Hebrews and other Semitic tribes), which corresponded to the timing of Joshua’s offensive against the same rulers. Amenhotep IV was a determined reformer, who introduced monotheism, possibly influenced by the nationally and religiously game-changing Exodus. Further documentation of the Exodus is provided by Dr. Joshua Berman of Bar Ilan University.

7. Passover is the oldest Jewish national liberation holiday, highlighting the mutually-inclusive aspects of Judaism: religion, nationality, culture/morality, language and history. Passover highlights individual and national liberty and optimism, which have played a critical role in preserving Judaism, Jews and the yearning to reconstruct the Jewish Homeland, in defiance of the 40 years in the desert and the 2,500 year of exile, destruction, pogroms, the Holocaust, boycotts, wars, terrorism and anti-Semitism.

8. Passover stipulates that human rejuvenation – just like the rejuvenation of nature – must be driven by roots/memory/history. Therefore, parents are instructed to educate their children about the lessons of Passover. Passover was an early edition of the 19th century Spring of Nations. It is celebrated in the spring, the bud of nature. Spring is mentioned 3 times in the Torah, all in reference to the Exodus.

Renowned Torah Sage Rabbi Avraham Kook, Jewish thinker, Halakhist, Kabbalist and Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, said that “the Exodus from Egypt will forever be the Spring of the entire world”.

Passover – which commemorates the creation of the Jewish nation – lasts seven days, just like the creation of the universe.

9. Passover’s centrality in Judaism is highlighted by the first of the Ten Commandments: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” The Passover ethos is included in daily Jewish prayers, Shabbat and holiday prayers, the blessing over the wine, the blessing upon circumcision, the prayer fixed in the Mezuzah (doorpost) and in the annual family retelling of the Exodus on the eve of Passover. Passover symbolizes the unity of – and interdependence between – the People of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the Land of Israel.

10. Passover highlights the central role of women: Yocheved, Moses’ mother, hid Moses and then breastfed him at the palace of Pharaoh, posing as a nursemaid; Miriam, Moses’ older sister, was her brother’s keeper; Batyah, the daughter of Pharaoh saved and adopted Moses (Numbers 2:1-10); Shifrah and Pou’ah, two Jewish midwives, risked their lives, sparing the lives of Jewish male babies, in violation of Pharaoh’s command (Numbers 1:15-19); Tziporah, Moses’ wife, saved the life of Moses and set him back on the Jewish course (Numbers, 4:24-27). They followed in the footsteps of Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel, the Matriarchs who engineered, in many respects, the roadmap of the Patriarchs.

11. Passover is the first of the three Jewish pilgrimages to Jerusalem, followed by Shavouot (Pentecost), which commemorates the receipt of the Ten Commandments, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) and named after Sukkota – the first stop in the Exodus.

12. The Passover Seder is concluded by the declaration: “Next Year in the rebuilt, unified Jerusalem!”

Based on ancient Jewish sages

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger is head of “Second Thought: a U.S.-Israel initiative” and a consultant on US affairs, as well as former Minister for Congressional Affairs and former Consul General in Houston, Texas.

Passover Guide for the Perplexed, 2017

Here are your Dry Bones blog updates for

Dry Bones by Ya’acov Kirschen “The New U.S. Ambassador”

Welcoming our new U.S. Ambassador.

UNRWA does not have the power or authority to change their school textbooks.

Center For Near East Policy Research Lt

From: Center For Near East Policy Research Ltd<>

Date: Sun, Apr 9, 2017

UNRWA does not have power or authority to change their school textbooks.

UNRWA has contracted its schools in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza to require these schools to only use the school books given to the schools by the Palestinian Authority, which means that UNRWA cannot unilaterally mandate or direct any changes in UNRWA school books used for 492,000 school children in its schools in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza

UNRWA now runs a campaign in which it shows itself to be demanding specific changes in the textbooks used in UNRWA schools, as circulated by some pro Israel organizations, even though UNRWA cannot make any changes in their school books.

UNRWA is being praised by Israeli gov’t officials for their intentions, even though UNRWA cannot make any changes in their school books.

The spokeswoman for COGAT went so far as to tell our office on the phone that UNRWA is about to implement these changes into the UNRWA school books, even though UNRWA cannot make any changes in their school books

At no time does UNRWA say that they will remove members of terror groups from payroll of UNRWA in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza.

Nor is anyone currently asking UNRWA to remove terrorists from their schools.

The context of the campaign: The new UN sec’y general launches a new campaign to renew UNRWA’s $1.2 billion budget


68 donor nations to UNRWA:

A funder of American Friends of UNRWA, Daniel Levy, a funder and founder of J Street, will orchestrate a campaign to fund UNRWA once again.

Canada’s role as Gavel holder of the RWG

We will now seek sponsors to renew filming of UNRWA schools, of actual texts now used in UNRWA schools & of terrorists now on the payroll of UNRWA schools.


David Bedein, MSW​, Director – Israel Resource News Agency

Center for Near East Policy Research Beit Agron 37 Hillel Street, Suite 105-106

Jerusalem 94581 Israel +972-547-222-661

Twitter: @DavidBedein Facebook: Skype: david.bedein2

UNRWA does not have the power or authority to change their school textbooks.

WATCH: Trump granddaughter a viral sensation in China (3min) April 10, 2017

Ivanka Trump posted a video to her twitter account of her two older children, Arabella, 5, and Joseph, 3, singing Mo Li Hua (Jasmine Flower) and reciting text from Confucius and poems from the Tang dynasty for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan during their official visit to the US. Arabella is already a viral sensation in China for her Mandarin songs and poetry.

Trump granddaughter a viral sensation in China

Here are your Dry Bones blog updates for

Dry Bones by Ya’acov Kirschen “Turkish Displeasure”

The story according to Reuters:

Erdogan says Turks in Europe should defy ‘grandchildren of Nazism’

Erdogan: “Turks in Europe should defy ‘grandchildren of Nazism’”




President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday called on Turkish voters in Europe to defy the “grandchildren of Nazism” and back a referendum this month on changing the constitution, comments likely to cause further ire in Europe.

Erdogan has repeatedly lashed out at European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, in campaigning for the referendum, accusing them of “Nazi-like” tactics for banning his ministers from speaking to rallies of Turkish voters abroad.

Both the Germans and Dutch have been incensed by the comparisons to Nazism and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the references must stop.

“With this determination, we will never allow three or four European fascists … from harming this country’s honor and pride,” Erdogan told a packed crowd of flag-waving supporters in the Black Sea city of Rize, where his family comes from.

“I call on my brothers and sisters voting in Europe…give the appropriate answer to those imposing this fascist oppression and the grandchildren of Nazism.”

Erdogan is counting on the support of expatriates in Europe, including the 1.4 million Turks eligible to vote in Germany, to pass constitutional changes that would give him sweeping presidential powers.

But ties with Europe have deteriorated in the run-up to the campaign. Erdogan last month said Turkey would reevaluate its relationship with the bloc, and may even hold a second referendum on whether to continue accession talks.

On Monday, he said he could take the issue of whether Turkey should restore the death penalty to referendum if necessary.

“The European Union will not like this. But I don’t care what Hans, George or Helga say, I care what Hasan, Ahmet, Mehmet, Ayse and Fatma say. I care what God says… If necessary, we will take this issue to another referendum as well,” he told the rally.

Turkey abandoned capital punishment more than a decade ago as part of its bid to join the European Union, but Erdogan has repeatedly told crowds calling for it following the July 15 failed coup that he would approve its restoration if parliament passed it.

Restoring capital punishment would all but end Turkey’s bid to join the EU, officials from the bloc Pamuk)have said.


· North Korea test-fires missile into sea ahead of Trump-Xi summit

Reporting by Ece Toksabay & Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Humeyra

Erdogan: “Turks in Europe should defy ‘grandchildren of Nazism’”

Israel’s Release of Second Ramallah Lynch Murderer Violates International Law

By Prof. Louis René Beres April 5, 2017

Aziz Salha waves his hands during lynching in Ramallah, via Wikipedia

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 441, April 5, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: All states share a common and binding obligation to apprehend and punish terrorists. Although Israel remains on the front line of this rule and does everything possible to comply with operational terms, it has a corollary obligation to keep sentenced terrorist murderers in confinement. When Haitham Muari, one of the Hamas murderers convicted in the grotesque 2004 mutilation murders of two Israelis in Ramallah, was recently set free, it placed Israel in the regrettable position of initiating yet another lawless terrorist release. The official explanation from Jerusalem – that Muari had “only” been involved in the pre-mutilation beating of Sgt. Maj. Yosef Avrahami, and should therefore be released after a much briefer period of imprisonment – is wrongly exculpatory, legally contrived, and nationally self-destructive.

Israel has just released one of several Palestinians convicted in the October 2000 Ramallah lynching of two IDF soldiers. Haitham Muari was convicted in 2004 of the grotesque murder and mutilation of one of the two victims, Sgt. Maj. Yosef Avrahami, and sentenced to life in prison. New evidence allegedly suggested, however, that Muari was “only” complicit in the pre-mutilation beating of the soldiers. This beating followed the two reservists’ accidental entry into Ramallah, and their wholly unwarranted arrest by Palestine Authority policemen.

With active PA police cooperation, therefore, this “official” Palestinian venue became the location of both Ramallah murders.

On its face, this latest Israeli terrorist release is legally unacceptable. Being “only” an admitted accomplice to murder – in this case, a savagely ritualistic homicide that involved the literal dipping of perpetrator hands into the victims’ internal organs – is hardly exculpatory. Nor was this the first instance when Israel violated jus cogens, or the peremptory expectation of every civilized domestic legal system. This norm was similarly violated during the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner “exchange”, when Aziz Salha, the other Palestinian murderer – who had been wildly cheered when, from the PA police station window, he proudly raised his hands in a perverse gesture of victory while drenched in his victims’ blood – was released by Israel.

All countries, including Israel, coexist under the authority of a planet-wide law of nations. A core element of longstanding international law is the rule Nullum crimen sine poena, or “No crime without punishment.” This immutable principle was strongly reaffirmed – with particular significance for the self-defined Jewish State – at the post-WWII Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46.

This principle imposes upon every state the basic obligation under international law to prosecute and punish terrorists. “No crime without punishment” is directly codified in many jurisprudential sources, and is also deducible from the binding and intersecting Nuremberg Principles (1950). According to Principle 1, “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.”

“No crime without punishment” remains a conspicuous part of civilized national legal systems, as it should. In June 2003, Shurat HaDin, or the Israel Law Center, condemned Israel’s intended freeing of 100 Palestinian terrorists in astute anticipation of then-planned wider terrorist releases. Later, almost five times that number were set free by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Shurat HaDin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner wrote that wrongly releasing terrorists would only reignite Arab terrorism against defenseless Jewish men, women, and children.

Darshan-Leitner was proven correct. Soon thereafter, several newly released Fatah-linked terrorists launched multiple suicide bomb attacks in Israel. In one of these attacks, the “military target” of the Palestinian “fighters” was a cafe filled with mothers and their young children.

Terrorism is a serious crime under international law. The precise offenses that comprise this crime can be found, inter alia, at the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. Notwithstanding Israeli government assurances that this would not occur, some released Palestinian terrorists have been guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. These Nuremberg-category crimes are so manifestly egregious that the perpetrators are known in law as Hostes humani generis, or “Common enemies of humankind.”

International law presumes solidarity between all states in the common fight against crime, including the crime of terrorism. This longstanding presumption was mentioned as long ago as the seventeenth century, in The Law of War and Peace by Hugo Grotius (1625). Although Israel has unequivocally clear jurisdiction to punish all terrorist crimes committed on its territory, it may also sometimes have the right to act under certain broader principles of “universal jurisdiction.”[1]

Jerusalem’s case for wider jurisdiction, which would partially derive from a reasonable legal expectation of interstate solidarity, is found, among other sources, in the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949. These conventions imposed upon the contracting parties the sober obligation to punish all “Grave Breaches” of humanitarian international law.

No government has any legal right to free terrorists as a presumptively pragmatic gesture. Rather, terrorism is always a criminally sanctionable violation of international law, one that is never subject to even the most well-intentioned national modifications. To wit, in the US, it is clear from the Constitution that the president’s power to pardon does not encompass violations of international law. This power is always limited very narrowly and unambiguously to “Offenses against the United States.”

In its original capture and punishment of the Palestinian Ramallah terrorists, Israel acted, however unwittingly, on behalf of all civilized states. No state possesses any authority to pardon violations of international law, especially the uniquely cruel violations committed by Haitham Muari and Aziz Salha in Ramallah in 2000. No matter what might be permissible under Israel’s own Basic Law, any freeing of terrorists by Israel must always be judged impermissible.

In this most recent case, however well-meant, Israel’s narrowly legalistic decision to release because the perpetrator had “only” participated in the pre-mutilation beating is worse than mere chicanery or contrivance. At best, it is utterly confused, and overlooks the decision’s full implications.

A fundamental principle has been established in law that by virtue of any such unwarranted release, the releasing state must itself assume direct legal responsibility for pertinent past criminal acts, as well as for future ones. Under international law, therefore, Israel’s release of Haitham Muari, effectively analogous to the national pardoning of an international criminal, implicates Israel in a “denial of justice.”

This implication could have profound practical as well as jurisprudential consequences. Although it is arguable that punishment, always central to justice, does not necessarily deter future crimes, Israel’s indefensible freeing of Ramallah-lynch murderers will nonetheless undermine the country’s irremediable obligation to incapacitate terrorists.

A final question arises. What sort of national government would repeatedly agree to free the unrepentant murderers of its own women and children without any remotely plausible expectation of reciprocal peace or justice? In many ways, this non-legal question is even more important than the critically pertinent matters of international law.

But who in Jerusalem will dare to answer?

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Louis René Beres is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue and the author of twelve books and several hundred articles on nuclear strategy and nuclear war. His newest book is Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Israel’s Release of Second Ramallah Lynch Murderer Violates International Law

‘The terrorist raised his hands, knowing they wouldn’t shoot’

Family of soldier murdered near Ofra meets with Defense Minister, says terrorist knew that he wouldn’t die as a result of Azariya trial. Arutz Sheva Staff, 09/04/17 09:31 Share

Soldier Elhai Taharlev Hy”d (on duty) – Courtesy of the family

The family of Elhai Taharlev, the soldier murdered on Thursday in a car-ramming attack near Ofra, held a meeting with Defense Minister Liberman on Friday.

At the meeting, the family asserted that the terrorist Hamad Maalak knew that he wouldn’t die, as a result of soldiers’ fear of punishment following the Azariya trial.

“The terrorist sat in the car with hands raised and mumbled that he was sorry,” one of the siblings said, according to Yisrael Hayom.

Elhai’s brother, Eitam, emphasized that “things like this cannot continue, that a man comes and kills soldiers, knowing that they can’t do anything. He comes out of the incident with his hands raised. He knows that he will continue to live in jail. I don’t know what it’s possible to do to him. [On the one hand,] we can’t be the Wild West, we can’t just kill everyone. It’s not possible, it’s forbidden to do something like that. [But] I don’t know what we can do.”

In response, Liberman said that “we need to prevent it first of all, and those who are caught – they cannot be released.”

Elhai’s father, Rabbi Ohad Taharlev called on Liberman to protect the IDF: “The IDF is the most important entity today in Israeli society.”

‘The terrorist raised his hands, knowing they wouldn’t shoot’


Liberman: ‘The chemical weapons attack was carried out at Assad’s bidding’

Defense Minister is ‘100% certain’ that Assad gave the order for the shocking massacre in Syria’s Idlib. He slams the world’s weak response. By Orli Harari, Arutz Sheva 06/04/17 07:44 Share

Avigdor Liberman – Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) addressed the recent chemical weapons massacre in Syria’s Idlib province, and attacked the world’s back-turning on the difficult civil war in the country.

Speaking to Yediot Aharonot, Liberman said that “the two murderous chemical weapons attacks on civilians in the Idlib region in Syria and on the local hospital were carried out by direct and premeditated order of Syrian President Bashar Assad, with Syrian planes. I say this with 100 percent certainty.”

“The cruelest thing,” he added, “is that those who were evacuated from the area of the bombing to the hospital were attacked a second time with chemical weapons as Syrian army planes bombed the hospital.”

Liberman attacked the indifference of the world in the face of the chemical weapons attack which claimed the lives of dozens of people, including many children. “The reaction of the international community is zero. It simply does not exist. It brings me back to the conclusion that the State of Israel must rely only on itself. Assad tried in the past to obtain nuclear weapons through North Korea, and the other ‘masters’ in the area like Hezbollah and Nasrallah are no different from he is.”

Liberman added: “What we have here is people who are cannibals. When they ask me why there isn’t peace in the Middle East it’s like asking if a cannibal can be a vegetarian. The word ‘peace’ is not relevant to the Middle East. We can come to regional arrangements, but not to peace.”

To the question of whether Israel needs to respond to occurrences in Syria, the Defense Minister responded: “why do we need to save the castle from the fire? It’s the responsibility of the international community. I am not ready for Israel to be the poor slob that the whole world pisses on. The world needs to take responsibility and, instead of just talking, needs to do something.”

‘The chemical weapons attack was carried out at Assad’s bidding’

Sarin may have been used in Syria attack United States believes Sarin was used in attack in Idlib province.

By Ben Ariel, 05/04/17 Arutz Sheva 01:07 Share

Aftermath of Idlib chemical attack – Reuters

The United States government believes the chemical agent sarin was used in Tuesday’s chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province, a government source told Reuters on Tuesday.

The source added that it was “almost certainly” carried out by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

At least 100 people were killed and 400 more were injured in Tuesday’s attack.

A human rights organization in Syria quoted medical sources who treated victims of the attack as saying that the victims were suffering from fainting spells and suffocation. Others were suffering from palpitations and other symptoms of gas attacks.

The Syrian military denied responsibility and said it would never use chemical weapons.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has in the past found that some people in Syria may have been exposed to sarin or a sarin-like gas.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, meanwhile, reacted to the chemical weapons attack and said it shows how Assad operates with “brutal and unabashed barbarism”.

“Those who defend and support him, including Russia and Iran, should have no illusions about Assad or his intentions,” Tillerson said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

“Anyone who uses chemical weapons to attack his own people shows a fundamental disregard for human decency and must be held accountable,” he added.

The Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Russia and Iran bear “great moral responsibility” for the deaths from the chemical weapons attack, because they declared themselves to be the guarantors of a ceasefire they helped broker in Kazakhstan.

The White House said earlier on Tuesday that the Obama administration is responsible for creating conditions allowing for the chemical attack in the Idlib province.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a briefing, “These heinous actions by the Bashar Al-Assad regime are a consequence of the last administration’s weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing.”

Sarin may have been used in Syria attack

Syria Chemical Weapon Attack in Idlib: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Published 2:21 pm EDT, April 8, 2017 Updated 1:13 am EDT, April 9, 2017 By Jessica McBride

Syrians bury the bodies of victims of a a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a nearby rebel-held town in Syrias northwestern Idlib province, on April 5, 2017. (Getty)

The chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-controlled Idlib area of Syria has horrified the world. (Warning: Some of the photos in this article are graphic.)

It was also the pretext given by President Donald Trump for launching missiles to destroy a Syrian airfield. The American president says that airfield was used to stage the earlier gas attack that killed men, women, and children.

On April 8, apparently undeterred, the Syrian government launched another attack on Khan Sheikhoun (sometimes called Shikhun), in Idlib province. The regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his Russia allies claim they are bombing ISIS and other terrorists; the U.S. accuses Syria of using ISIS as a cover to brutally clamp down on anti-Assad rebels in the Syrian Civil War.

What’s really going on in Idlib? What is Idlib and where is it located? Is ISIS there? What happened in the chemical gas attack? Is Syria bombing ISIS?

Here’s what you need to know:



1. The Poison Gas Smelled Like ‘Rotten Eggs’ as it Wafted Through the Town, Killing Small Children

An unconscious Syrian child receives treatment at a hospital in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following a suspected toxic gas attack on 4/4/17. (Getty)

The stories coming out of Idlib – and the town of Khan Sheikhoun within it – are horrific and have outraged the world. Idlib (sometimes called Idleb) is a northern province in Syria.

According to Al-Jazeera, at least 86 people died and hundreds more were sickened, “including people foaming at the mouth” after the chemical weapons attack on April 4.

The UN is investigating the attack as a war crime, and many – including Trump – blame Assad. According to Al-Jazeera, Syria and its Russian ally deny responsibility. Al-Jazeera reports that Assad claims “the Syrian army had bombed a warehouse belonging to rebels that contained chemical weapons,” a claim the rebels deny.

Amnesty International has been gathering detailed accounts on what happened in Khan Sheikhoun.

A senior director of research for Amnesty International laid the blame at the feet of Syria and Russia, writing on the site’s website, “Security Council members, and in particular Russia and China, have displayed callous disregard for human life in Syria by repeatedly failing to pass resolutions that would allow for punitive measures to be taken against those committing war crimes and other serious violations in Syria.”

Amnesty argues the victims were likely poisoned by the nerve agent, Sarin, and many died while sleeping in their beds. According to the humanitarian organization, it has authenticated 25 videos of the attack, which show horrors, including people with pinpoint pupils, “twitching and jerking movements,” and trembling. “One piece of footage, which Amnesty International has corroborated with other available content, shows nine children lying lifeless in the back of a pick-up truck. The children, little girls and boys, are naked or partially dressed; they appear to have died in their bed,” reports the organization.

One of the most horrific images to circulate around the world showed a father cradling his two deceased twins. A nurse told the organization he heard a thump like something was dropped, and then patients started coming into the hospital. The nurse told Amnesty International, “The smell reached us here in the centre; it smelled like rotten food. We’ve received victims of chlorine attacks before – this was completely different. Victims had vomit from the nose and mouth, a dark yellow colour, sometimes turning to brown. Paralysis in respiratory functions – children were dying faster than adults because of this. We tried injections … but it just didn’t work. Victims were unable to swallow, they were unconscious, completely unresponsive.”



2. Trump Says Airfield Was Used to Stage the Attack & Khan Sheikhoun Was Already Struck Again

The Trump missile attack on Syria. (Twitter)

Trump struck the airfield with missiles in the wake of the chemical attack, saying the air base was used to stage the attack and describing how children had perished in it. No “child of God” should have to suffer such horrors, the American president said.

If the Trump air strikes were intended to get Syria to back off the people of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, that isn’t happening. It took the Syrians all of two days to regroup and hit the town again, CNN reports.

At least it appears that way. According to CNN, new airstrikes “targeted the town” on April 8, and only Syria and Russia conduct airstrikes in the region.

A woman was killed in a residential neighborhood and others were injured during the new strikes, reported CNN, adding that it wasn’t clear where they were launched from since the airfield was demolished by Trump’s missiles.



3. Idlib Was the Rebels’ ‘Final Stronghold’ in the Fight to Topple Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (Getty)

Why Idlib? What’s the reason that Assad is focusing the tip of his spear there? It’s a rebel hotbed, and, in 2016, was regarded as the rebellion’s final stronghold against the Syrian leader.

In late December, the rebels lost Aleppo, which was regarded as a strategic prize, according to ABC News, because it was “the most densely populated and prosperous region under their control” and even a “de facto capital.” ABC News reports that the government took back Aleppo because, with the help of Russian air cover, it cut the supply link between Aleppo and Turkey and then hammered the city.

How does Idlib fit in? According to ABC News, Idlib is the neighboring province of Aleppo, and it’s the location where the rebel fighters and families were bused to after Aleppo was seized back by Assad. ABC News reported, “Idlib still has a strong supply line from neighboring Turkey but as a strategic base it is deeply compromised.” The network says it’s “home to a large displaced population” and is dominated by “two extremist groups.”

Which brings us back to the Syrian and Russian claims that Assad is bombing ISIS.



4. Both Extremist Groups & Moderate Rebels Fight in the Same Area

Bodies lie in the parking area of a hospital in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following a suspected toxic gas attack on April 4, 2017. (Getty)

So what’s the truth? Is Syria really bombing religious-focused terrorists? Or is it using that angle as a cover story to stifle the rebellion so the secular Assad can maintain control of the country?

According to ABC News, at least 2 extremist groups are active in Idlib: Ahrar al Sham & Jabhat Fateh al Sham (JFS), which was founded by Al-Qaeda. It gets really complicated. “More moderate rebels & the extremists” are “crammed now into just one major redoubt,” reported ABC News.

Ahrar al-Sham is also known as “Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya, or the Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant,” according to Stanford University.

Stanford describes the group as “a Sunni Salafist militant group operating in Syria that aims to replace the Assad Regime with an Islamic government.” The group was founded by men Assad had imprisoned but released during the Arab Spring.

According to Stanford, the group worked with ISIS until January 2014, when ISIS killed one of its fighters after its leader, Hassan Abboud “criticized IS commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for rejecting reconciliation efforts between Syrian Sunni militant groups and classifying other jihadists as infidels.” In response, the organization pushed ISIS out of Raqqa. Stanford says it has pioneered the use of IEDs in Syria and targets military bases.

Jabhat Fateh al Sham cut its ties to Al-Qaeda in 2016, reported BBC.

According to BBC, “The former Nusra front was formed at the end of 2011, the result of al-Qaeda in Iraq’s leader (and now leader of so-called Islamic State (IS)) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ordering Abu Muhammed al-Julani to organise jihadist groups in the region.”

The group has claimed it was behind suicide bombings and rejected an overture to align with ISIS, choosing to align with Al-Qaeda instead, reported BBC. Idlib was its power base, according to BBC, which reports, “By the summer of 2015, the Nusra Front controlled most of Idlib province, including the capital, establishing Sharia courts and taking over government services.”

These two extremist groups, reports BBC, “were key to taking over Idlib from the Syrian government,” but they are mostly Syrian fighters, not foreign Jihadis.



5. Moderate Groups Are Also Operating in Idlib

A Syrian child receives treatment at a small hospital in the town of Maaret al-Noman following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a nearby rebel-held town in Syrias northwestern Idlib province, on April 4, 2017. (Getty)

The rebel groups do not all get along, according to Al-Jazeera. The news site reported that “six armed opposition factions in Syria” joined Ahrar al-Sham, “one of the country’s largest rebel groups.”

They did so after Jabhat Fateh al-Sham “attacked their positions in Idlib and Aleppo provinces,” reported Al-Jazeera.

Also in the mix: The Free Syrian Army. Hareetz reports that the The Free Syrian Army “began with a core group of senior officers who defected from the Syrian army and recruited thousands of soldiers and civilians.”

It was believed that the Army – affiliated with Turkey – could overthrow Assad but three years ago, the Free Syrian Army fractured into “six large militias, which are organized into brigades and battalions that operate in a number of areas in Syria without a central command,” reports Haaretz. The Free Syrian Army is helping Turkey fight ISIS, reports Haaretz.

Jessica McBride is a Heavy contributor. She was a crime, government, and breaking news reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and reporter for the Waukesha Freeman newspaper. Her award-winning work has appeared in numerous magazine, newspaper, and online publications. She has also appeared as a crime reporter on Investigation Discovery Channel, History Channel, and Oxygen Channel. She can be reached by email at
April 9, 2017 1:13 am

Syria Chemical Weapon Attack in Idlib


About the Author

Gail Winston is co-founder of the Winston International Institute for the Study of Prejudice.

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