Middle East Snap Shot October 10

This week from watch.org these stories and more:

Abbas working to restore calm in West Bank, Israeli defense sources say

Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas is exerting his influence in an attempt to ease tensions and restore quiet on the ground in the West Bank, Israeli defense sources told Israel Radio on Friday.

According to the report, Israeli security heads are trying to figure out ways to adequately cope with “lone wolf” attackers.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, accused Abbas of “treason” on Friday for maintaining security cooperation with Israel.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of the Hamas political bureau, told supporters in Gaza on Friday that the group’s chief rival, Abbas, was guilty of “a crime” and that the PA head would one day “stand trial.”

OCTOBER 9, 2015

Hamas leader declares ‘intifada’ in the West Bank

Hamas’s chief in Gaza on Friday called violence that has hit Israel and the West Bank in recent days an “intifada” and urged further unrest.

“We are calling for the strengthening and increasing of the intifada… It is the only path that will lead to liberation,” Ismail Haniyeh said during a sermon for weekly Muslim prayers at a mosque in Gaza City.

“Gaza will fulfill its role in the Jerusalem intifada and it is more than ready for confrontation,” he added.

OCTOBER 8, 2015

Netanyahu: The Islamist extremism plaguing the Middle East has arrived at Israel’s doorstep

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at special press conference to address wave of terror attacks, Oct. 8. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out Thursday amid a wave of terror attacks that have hit Israel in recent days, saying that the Islamist extremism plaguing the Middle East has arrived at Israel’s doorstep as well.

“Hateful terrorists are trying to hurt our people,” Netanyahu said, praising security forces for their bravery in combating the attacks.

Israel has always known how to push back the terrorists and build the country and “we will defeat them this time as well,” Netanyahu said.

He said that the terror was not organized, but nonetheless came as the result of a campaign of incitement by Hamas, the Islamic Movement in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and countries in the region, particularly lies about Israel seeking to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, a flashpoint for violence during the recent tensions.

OCTOBER 8, 2015

Putin’s boost in battle against ISIS: China preparing to ‘team up with Russia in Syria’

Reports from Russia and the Middle East have both said China’s armed forces are on the way to Syria

Russia has carried out a series of deadly airstrikes against the terrorist group over the last few days and Vladimir Putin has now sent the country’s most elite special forces team into the war zone.

And speculation is heightening that offensive will be bolstered by the China’s People’s Liberation Army, following a number of reports of military movements in the region backed up by strong words from a senior government member at a United Nations meeting.

Reports emanating from the Middle East last week said China was planning on joining the fight against ISIS “in the coming weeks”, according to a Syrian army official.

While Beijing insists it will abide by the United Nations (UN) in the region, hints of an action were backed up when it spoke strongly about a coordinated response to the rising terrorist threat.

OCTOBER 8, 2015

FBI: Dozens in U.S. in Secret Conversations With ISIS

FBI Director James Comey says dozens of people in the U.S. are using encryption software to communicate with ISIS supporters. 

At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the terror threat on Thursday, Comey repeated his concern, expressed over the past several months, that people in the U.S. who begin conversations with ISIS supporters on Twitter and other social media then shift to encrypted conversations that the FBI cannot monitor, even with a court order. 

Asked today to put a number on the problem, Comey responded simply, “dozens.”

OCTOBER 8, 2015

Russia’s Syria intervention may force choice on Obama: Act or Yield.

Russia’s military moves in Syria are fundamentally changing the face of the country’s civil war, putting President Bashar al-Assad back on his feet, and may complicate the Obama administration’s plans to expand its air operations against the Islamic State.

So far, the administration has not budged in its twofold strategy — direct airstrikes against the Islamic State and significant aid for those fighting against it, and a push for negotiations to end what has been the largely separate Syrian civil war.

Senior administration officials acknowledge that Russia has already made some tactical gains in the civil war, even as they insist President Vladi­mir Putin will ultimately pay for what they describe as a strategic blunder that will undercut his already tenuous reputation in the world and encourage the spread of militants.