Tuesday, October 26, 2021

IDF launches ‘Southern Storm’ training exercise on Gaza border

The Israel Defense Forces launched a two-day exercise simulating war in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, to test how well the military learned the lessons from May’s conflict against terror groups in the enclave.

The drill — dubbed Southern Storm — will include a variety of scenarios for Israeli forces to counter, including surprise attacks by terror groups from the Strip, in order to better prepare the IDF Southern Command and Gaza Division for war, the military said.

“As part of the exercise, there will be noticeable movement of security forces and vehicles, explosions will be heard in the area, and roadblocks will be set up on a number of roadways in the area near the border,” the IDF said, clarifying that these would be simulated checkpoints only and that the roads would be open to civilians.

The military said the exercise was planned in advance as part of the 2021 training schedule, but with a focus on May’s conflict, known by Israel as Operation Guardian of the Walls.

“The exercise is meant to improve IDF troops’ preparedness to defend the area around the Gaza Strip, and it will test the way in which the lessons from Operation Guardian of the Walls were integrated, while putting troops through many possible offensive scenarios by terror groups in the Gaza Strip, including surprise scenarios,” the IDF said.

Israel fought a punishing 11-day conflict with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terror groups, in the Gaza Strip in May, after Hamas fired six rockets toward Jerusalem in response to clashes that took place in the city at the time. Thirteen people were killed in Israel during the fighting — 12 civilians and one soldier — and some 250 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, roughly half of them terrorist operatives.

Iranian gas stations hit by outage in widespread cyberattack

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian state television said Tuesday that a cyberattack has targeted gas stations across the Islamic Republic.

The announcement read on air came after long lines formed at stations in Tehran and elsewhere Tuesday. State TV quoted an official with Iran’s National Security Council confirming the attack.

Oil Ministry officials were holding an “emergency meeting” to solve the technical problem.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency said it saw those trying to buy fuel with a government-issued card through the machines instead receive a message reading “cyberattack 64411.” Most Iranians rely on those subsidies to fuel their vehicles, particularly amid the country’s economic problems.

While ISNA didn’t acknowledge the number’s significance, that number is associated to a hotline run through the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that handles questions about Islamic law. ISNA later removed its reports.

Farsi-language satellite channels abroad published videos apparently shot by drivers in Isfahan, a major Iranian city, showing electronic billboards there reading: “Khamenei! Where is our gas?” Another said: “Free gas in Jamaran gas station,” a reference to the home of the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. 

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the outage. However, the use of the number “64411” mirrored an attack in July targeting Iran’s railroad system that also saw the number displayed. Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point later attributed the train attack to a group of hackers that called themselves Indra, after the Hindu god of war.

Indra previously targeted firms in Syria, where President Bashar Assad has held onto power through Iran’s intervention in his country’s grinding war.

Iran has faced a series of cyberattacks, including one that leaked video of abuses its notorious Evin prison in August.

The country disconnected much of its government infrastructure from the internet after the Stuxnet computer virus — widely believed to be a joint US-Israeli creation — disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges in the country’s nuclear sites in the late 2000s.

IAEA: Iran expanding its enrichment of uranium at Natanz

Iran is expanding its enrichment of uranium beyond the highly enriched threshold of 20% purity at a Natanz plant where it is already enriching to 60%, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Monday.

However, the new activity does not involve keeping the product, said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a report seen by the Reuters news agency.

The move has prompted the IAEA to "increase the frequency and intensity of its safeguards activities" at the above-ground Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) at Natanz, the agency said.

The IAEA said in a statement outlining the report that Iran informed it last week of changes to the setup of centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium, at the plant - Iran would feed uranium enriched to up to 20% into limited numbers of extra centrifuges without collecting the product.

"On 25 October 2021, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding (uranium hexafluoride gas) enriched up to 20% U-235 into a single IR-6 centrifuge in R&D line 2 at PFEP and that the resulting product and tails streams were being re-combined," the IAEA report said, meaning that after separating the enriched product it was mixed with the centrifuge's waste and not kept.

Iran had said it planned to also feed uranium enriched to up to 20% into other single centrifuges or small- to medium-sized cascades, or clusters, of machines on the same line, but those were not being fed at the time, the IAEA said.

Iran last April reported an explosion at the Natanz plant which disrupted the electrical distribution grid at the site. An Iranian official blamed "sabotage" for the of the Natanz nuclear facility.

Iran’s top nuclear official condemned the attack on the Natanz plant as an act of “nuclear terrorism”, and hinted that Iran may retaliate. Then-Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed Israel for the incident and promised revenge.

The IAEA later said that Iran has installed extra advanced centrifuges at the underground uranium enrichment plant and plans to add even more.

In July, diplomats said Iran had been restricting UN nuclear inspectors’ access to its main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, citing security concerns following the April attack on the site.

Poll: American Jews increasingly fear far-left anti-Semitism

Fear of antisemitism spurred 40% of American Jews to change their behavior over the past year, according to a new survey about antisemitism in America.

The survey, released Monday, is the latest in an annual series commissioned by the American Jewish Committee to understand how Jewish Americans and the general public experience and perceive antisemitism.

A survey of American Jews found that over the last year, 17% said they “avoided certain places, events, or situations,” 22% avoided making themselves visually identifiable as a Jew and 25% refrained from posting Jewish-related content online.

A companion survey of the general public, meanwhile, found that the proportion of Americans who say they understand what antisemitism is rose sharply in the last year, from 53% in 2020 to 65% this year.

Last year’s survey was taken shortly before the presidential election in which Joe Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump. At the time, just 4% of American Jews said they felt more secure than they had in the past; this year that proportion was significantly higher, at 10%.

“Almost 40% of Jews have changed their behavior. This is horrible and heartbreaking data,” Holly Huffnagle, the AJC’s U.S. director for combating antisemitism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about this year’s findings.

“But I think we can’t hide the fact that more Jews feel secure today,” she added, noting that when the surveyors asked for an explanation, “The change in the administration was by far the biggest response to that.”

This year’s surveys were taken in September and early October and included 1,214 Americans overall and 1,433 Jews. The margin of error for each survey was 3.9%. In a shift, the majority of the surveys were completed online, rather than by phone, although Huffnagle said researchers had concluded that the change had not influenced results in any particular way.

Some of the results, including the finding about the proportion of American Jews who changed their behavior out of fear, cannot be directly compared to the AJC’s past antisemitism surveys because this year’s version asked about experiences only in the last year. Previous surveys asked about experiences and perceptions in the past two or five years.

“We decided to lose the trend data in favor of accurate information,” Huffnagle said. READ MORE

What would a religious run government of Israel be like?

The fact that a small minority party was able to attain premiership in the current Israeli government has opened a wide array of political possibilities that until now were never given real consideration. One such possibility is having a religious party being selected to lead the State of Israel. In fact, Aryeh Deri of the Shas Party was actually offered a rotational premiership opportunity by Netanyahu in the previous coalition negotiations as reported here:

This begs the question, what would a religious run government of Israel look like, and what would its policies be?

What would such a government’s position be on sovereignty in Judea and Samaria?

Would it continue the current government’s reactive approach vis a vis its enemies or would it take a more proactive approach?

To what extent would diplomacy and military policy be restrained by its reliance on the US and other world powers?

Would such a government finally prioritize Israel’s Jewish character over its democratic one?

One intriguing factor to consider in such a scenario is that the haredi religious parties are guided and directed by Torah sages. Therefore if a haredi religious party were to lead the government, the effective Prime Minister would be the Gadol Hador (Torah leader of the generation). When was the last time that there was a leader in Israel who was both a great sage of the generation and the effective political leader?

Would the Gadol Hador agree to take on that responsibility given the monumental risks and unimaginable opportunities? If he accepted this responsibility, what would his approach be to policy making- not as the leader of a fledgling minority, but as the leader of the entire country? READ MORE

'Woke employees pressured Facebook to censor conservative media'

Monday, October 25, 2021

Turkey's expulsion of Western ambassadors cements authoritarian shift - analysis

Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered ambassadors from 10 leading democracies to be declared “persona non grata,” cementing Ankara’s shift toward authoritarianism and its alliance with countries which oppose the US and the West.

The attack was made by Ankara after the US and other countries critiqued Turkey for continuing to imprison philanthropist Osman Kavala
Kavala is one of tens of thousands of Turks who have been imprisoned on false charges by Ankara as part of a purge led by the ruling AKP party that targets liberals, college students, LGBT activists, Kurds, opposition members of the HDP, women, media and critics of all stripes.


Recently Ankara’s government has gone back to 2013 and 2014 to find activists involved in any protests against the AKP and imprison them. Turkey is the world’s larger jailor of journalists. Despite being a member of NATO, Turkey has routinely crushed the media, bulldozed Turkish neighborhoods in cities as part of claims it is fighting “terrorism” and has launched invasions of Syria, ethnically cleansing Kurds, Yazidis and other minorities.  
The envoys from a number of key democracies have put a spotlight on the Kavala case as an egregious miscarriage of justice. Turkey has now threatened to expel ambassadors from the US, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and New Zealand.

Erdogan said that foreign ambassadors “cannot dare to come to the Turkish foreign ministry and give orders… I gave the necessary order to our foreign minister and said what must be done: these 10 ambassadors must be declared persona non grata at once.” He also was quoted as saying “they will know and understand Turkey. The day they do not know and understand Turkey, they will leave.”
This is part of Ankara’s growing extremism. Already a repressive authoritarian state, Ankara has become increasingly hostile to NATO and western countries. It often threatens Greece and has threatened France. In October 2020, last year, Ankara’s incitement against France likely radicalized a terrorist that caused an attack in Nice. The incident came after Ankara’s leaders began to invent new claims of being offended by France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine.
Turkey’s leadership, which backs the Muslim Brotherhood, has tended to use religion as a unifier and as a weapon. It has sought to encourage Turkish society to become more Islamist and see “Islamic” causes as their own, whether that means Ankara meddling in Kashmir, or trying to pretend it supports the Palestinians. Turkey has hosted Hamas officials several times, leading to condemnation from the US, and reports two years said that Hamas had planned attacks from Turkey. Turkey also hosted the Taliban and extremist groups from Syria. READ MORE

Israeli helicopters said to strike Hezbollah-linked targets in southern Syria

Israeli helicopters hit three targets in Syria near the border in the early hours of Monday, Syrian media reported.

According to the reports, the missiles struck targets connected to the Hezbollah terror group on the outskirts of the town of al-Baath as well as other locations in southern Syria.

The three sites were all reportedly connected to Hezbollah’s so-called Golan File, its efforts to establish a front along the Golan border from which it can carry out attacks against Israel.

According to Syrian media, two of the sites were observation posts used by the Lebanese terror group, while the third target was a site just next to a Syrian military facility that Israel has long claimed was working with Hezbollah, the offices of Cpt. Bashar al-Hussein, commander of a reconnaissance company in the Syrian army’s 90th Brigade.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-Syrian opposition organization of unclear funding, said the strikes caused “material damage,” but there was no immediate word on casualties.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces, in line with its policy of only publicly acknowledging strikes that are in response to attacks from Syria.

Later on Monday morning, in a tacit threat, the Israeli military reportedly dropped leaflets in the Syrian Golan mentioning Hussein by name and warning Syrian troops to avoid cooperating with Hezbollah. The IDF did not immediately confirm dropping the fliers, but the pages were marked with the eagle symbol of the Israeli military’s 210th “Bashan” Division, which defends that area of the border with Syria. READ MORE


A timeline of events in Sudan from the fall of Bashir until the apparent coup

KHARTOUM — Here is a recap of events in Sudan since autocratic president Omar al-Bashir was toppled over two years ago:

2019: Bashir ousted

On April 11, 2019, four months after mass protests sparked by a hike in bread prices spiral into demands for wholesale reform, Sudan’s army removes Bashir from power.

He is replaced by a transitional military government.

Thousands camp in front of army headquarters demanding civilian rule.

Talks between the generals and protest leaders break down.

Bloody crackdown

Armed men move in on the protest camp on June 3, 2019 and dozens are killed in a days-long crackdown.

A feared paramilitary group that sprang from the notorious Janjaweed militia, accused of war crimes in the 2003 Darfur conflict, is blamed for the violence, but rejects allegations it was involved.

Power-sharing

After the African Union intervenes, civilian and military factions agree to share power in a three-year transition to full civilian rule.

On August 17, 2019 a “constitutional declaration” is signed and a sovereign council comprising leading military and civilian figures is formed three days later.

In October, the government and rebel groups who had fought Bashir’s iron-fisted rule for decades agree to a “permanent ceasefire” in the country’s three war zones.

Bashir convicted

On December 14, 2019 Bashir is convicted of corruption and sentenced to two years in a correctional center.

The toppled autocrat has long been wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague over charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the 2003 Darfur conflict in which 300,000 people were killed.

A Khartoum prosecutor rejects extradition as not “necessary.”

2020: Unrest spreads

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok survives an assassination attempt on March 9, 2020, which many see as a bid to derail the transition. READ MORE

Michael Oren rips Biden administration for 'anti-Semitic' policies

A former Israeli diplomat and lawmaker has accused the Biden administration of pursuing an ‘anti-Semitic’ policy, and urged the Israeli government to challenge the planned reopening of the American consulate in eastern Jerusalem.

Speaking with Radio 103FM Monday morning, former Israeli Ambassador to the US and former MK Michael Oren excoriated the Biden White House over its plans to reopen a consulate in eastern Jerusalem which in the past served as a de facto mission to the Palestinian Authority.

Israel lauded the Trump administration for closing the consulate in 2019, arguing that the presence of such a consulate for the PA in Jerusalem negated Israeli sovereignty over its capital city.

The move came after the Trump White House relocated the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Now, Oren argued Monday, the Biden administration is working to undermine that recognition, effectively reversing US policy vis-à-vis Jerusalem.

“This is a pivotal reversal on American recognition of Jerusalem as our capital,” Oren said. “It effectively makes American policy similar to that of Russia, which recognizes the western part of the city as our capital, but not all of it.”

Noting the use of the consulate prior to 2019 to offer services to Palestinian Arabs, Oren said the situation before the consulate closure was “absurd”.

“It was a totally absurd situation. Not only are these American policies impractical, they’re anti-Semitic,” Oren continued, slamming US opposition to Israeli residential neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.

“This is the only place in the world where Jews are prohibited from living in certain neighborhoods. Would anyone dare pass such a law in New York?”

“Basically what the Americans did is to recognize the eastern part of the city as not being part of Israel, then went on to ban Israeli Jews from living there. If you ever visited the eastern Jerusalem consulate’s website, you’d think there aren’t any Jews living in the city. There wasn’t any Hebrew there at all.”

Israel, Oren said, should challenge the plans to reopen the consulate, but avoid a serious break with the US.

“We need to take the cost of a diplomatic break with the US into account. Everything has a cost, and we need to be mindful of the fact that the US is an important ally that helps us military, and there will be a cost politically. I don’t say we should oppose them at any cost, I’m saying that we need to strongly oppose this.”

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Advanced air/sea Russian hardware for Iran amid Putin’s warm welcome for Bennett at Sochi

At Sochi, President Vladimir Putin prolonged his talks with visiting Prime Minister Naftali Bennett from two to five hours on Friday, Oct. 22 as they strolled through his Black Sea estate and private residence at Sochi. Bennett failed to elicit from his host supports on the Iranian nuclear issue. Their interpreter, Israel’s Housing Minister Zeev Elkin reported later that Putin had urged his guest to continue the policy of his predecessor, Netanyahu, on relations with Moscow. He indicated that Israel’s campaign of air strikes for curtailing Iranian and proxy presence in Syria could continue, so long as PM Bennett was careful to avoid upsetting the Assad regime in which Moscow was heavily invested.

But the Russian ruler essentially operated that day on two tracks. In Moscow, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov sat down with Iran’s armed forces chief Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri to wind up a hefty multi-billion string of arms transactions. 


According to DEBKAfile’s sources, one set covered the sale to Iran of Russian warships, including cruisers, guided missile destroyers and submarines; the other consisted of advanced Russian fighter jets for the Iranian air force and a variety of rockets.


The marine deals follow Tehran’s decision to overhaul and modernize its navy to avoid falling behind in the power contest ongoing in the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea, where the US holds the upper hand. A boosted Iranian naval presence in the Red Sea would directly affect Israel security from the south and its shipping routes to the Far East.


From Oct 17 util he departed on the 21st, Gen. Baghari visited Navy command headquarters at St. Petersburg and was escorted on a tour of bases by Russian Navy Deputy Chief Vice Adm. Vladimir Kasatonov.  He also visited the Russian Navy’s Baltic naval base at Kronshtadt, 30km west of St. Petersburg, where he was given the chance to board a number of warships and submarines for a closer look.


On his return home, Iran’s army chief told a state radio interviewer on Oct. 22: “The conclusion of arms agreements [with Moscow] and their implementation in the near future will considerably deepen our relations.”

IAEA chief: Monitoring ‘no longer intact’ at Iran site allegedly hit by Israel

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said the watchdog’s monitoring program in Iran is no longer “intact” after Tehran refused requests to repair surveillance equipment damaged in a June attack on an Iranian nuclear site that has been blamed on Israel.

The drone attack in June reportedly hit the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company, or TESA, in the city of Karaj, northwest of Tehran. According to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the blast destroyed one of its cameras at the site and heavily damaged another. It is unknown how many cameras are there.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in a Saturday interview with NBC News that Iran cited its ongoing investigation into the attack in refusing the United Nations watchdog access to the site or the ability to replace the damaged cameras.

Grossi told the network that without that access, the IAEA’s monitoring and verification program in Iran is “no longer intact.”

“It hasn’t paralyzed what we are doing there, but [the] damage that has been done, [it has the] potential of us not being able to reconstruct the picture,” of what the Iranians have been doing at the site,” he said.

“If and when the JCPOA will be restarted, I know that for the JCPOA partners to go back to an agreement, they will have to know where they are putting their feet,” Grossi added, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Last month, Iran acknowledged that it had removed several damaged surveillance cameras installed by the IAEA at the Karaj site.

In July, Iran accused Israel of mounting the sabotage attack on the site, which makes components for machines used to enrich uranium. Without disclosing details of the assault, Iranian authorities acknowledged the strike had damaged the building.

The attack on Karaj was just the latest in a series of suspected assaults targeting Iran’s nuclear program that have heightened regional hostilities in recent months, as world powers attempt to salvage the now-collapsed nuclear deal. Israel is widely believed to have carried out the sabotage, though it has not claimed responsibility.

Grossi’s warning came amid stalled EU-brokered negotiations to revive a 2015 landmark agreement scaling back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

That deal started to fall apart in 2018 when the United States withdrew from it and reinstated sanctions. Iran in turn again started to ramp up its nuclear activities.

Talks began in April in Vienna between Tehran and the remaining five parties to the 2015 deal, aimed at bringing Washington back into the agreement.

But that dialogue has been stalled since June, when ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi won Iran’s presidential election.

Grossi also told NBC that he had not yet spoken to Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who was appointed by Raisi in August.

Top Iran official says if Israel attacks, response will cost trillions in damage

One of Iran’s most senior leaders threatens that if Israel attacks, Tehran’s response will require the Jewish state to spend “tens of thousands of billion dollars” to reconstruct the country.

Tweeting in English, Hebrew, Arabic and Persian, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, comments on reports last week that Israel has approved a budget of some NIS 5 billion ($1.5 billion) to be used to prepare the military for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear program.

“Instead of allocating 1.5 billion dollars budget for atrocities against #Iran, the Zionist regime should focus on providing tens of thousands of billion dollars funding to repair the damage that is going to be caused by Iran’s shocking response,” says Shamkhani in his English tweet.

Senior Al-Qaeda leader killed in US air strike in Syria

A senior Al-Qaeda leader was killed in a US drone strike in Syria, the Pentagon said Friday, according to AFP.

The strike came two days after a base in southern Syria, used by the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, was assaulted.

"A US air strike today in northwest Syria killed senior Al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar," said Central Command spokesman Army Major John Rigsbee in a statement.

There were no other known casualties from the strike, he said, adding it was conducted using an MQ-9 aircraft.

"The removal of this Al-Qaeda senior leader will disrupt the terrorist organization's ability to further plot and carry out global attacks," he said.

At the end of September, the Pentagon killed Salim Abu-Ahmad, another senior Al-Qaeda commander in Syria, in an air strike near Idlib.

"Al-Qaeda continues to present a threat to America and our allies. Al-Qaeda uses Syria as a safe haven to rebuild, coordinate with external affiliates, and plan external operations," Rigsbee said, according to AFP.

Last October, the US Army said it had carried out a drone strike against Al-Qaeda leaders in northwest Syria near the border.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 14 jihadists were killed in the strike, including five foreigners and six commanders.

Four years ago, a drone strike led by the US-coalition killed the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri.

That year, an American air strike killed another Al-Qaeda leader in northern Syria, Mohammad Habib Boussadoun al-Tunisi.

Bennett: Putin was very attentive to Israel's concerns

During the cabinet meeting this morning (Friday), Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke about his lengthy meeting on Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was also attended by Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Elkin.

Bennett said: '' After four hours in a meeting with Putin, Elkin fell asleep because we did not sleep all night, we had a 'white night' on the flight. So I give him an elbow and Putin laughs and says, 'I see you weren't on call with him.'"

Elkin remarked with a smile: "Sorry, when you started to fall asleep you asked for a cup of coffee - I was not even offered a glass of water."

Economy Minister Orna Barbivai wondered about the bag Elkin was holding in his hands on his way to the meeting in Sochi. "There were classified materials in the bag, and we cannot take them by hand because we were photographed," Minister Elkin replied.

At the beginning of the cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister said: "We landed a few hours ago from Sochi, Russia, for a week full of significant, reality-changing decisions. The meeting with President Putin was very good and very in-depth, and I would like to thank Minister Elkin for his exceptional work, both in the preparation for the meeting and during it."

"President Putin and I talked about the situation in Syria, of course, because in a sense the Russians are our neighbors to the north, and it is important that we manage the delicate and complex situation there smoothly and without incident.

Bennett added: "We have reached good and stable conclusions, and I found that President Putin's ear is attentive to Israel's security needs. We also talked about the Iranian nuclear program, which is a cause for concern for everyone."

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Take a look at this

 


Facebook fed QAnon conspiracy theories to its own security researchers – reports

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook held back from doing all it could to stop users from being radicalized and US election misinformation from flooding the social network, according to media reports Friday.

An array of US news outlets cited documents from former Facebook worker Frances Haugen, adding to a series of critical revelations already published based on information she provided.

Articles in the New York Times, Washington Post and elsewhere on Friday focused on how Facebook apparently intensified political division.

Examples included an internal finding that 10 percent of political content viewed by US users in the days after the election perpetuated the falsehood that the vote had been rigged.

What has come to be known as the “Big Lie” has been repeated relentlessly by former US President Donald Trump and enraged his supporters, who stormed the US Capital in a deadly attack on January 6.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms banned Trump from their platforms for encouraging the violent effort to thwart the democratic process.

Revelations published Friday indicated that Facebook could have anticipated such trouble.

‘Carol’s journey’

The information was reportedly found in the thousands of internal documents Haugen provided to regulators at the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Haugen told US lawmakers early this month that the social media giant fuels division, harms children and urgently needs to be regulated, drawing pledges Congress would take up long-delayed action.

The testimony by Haugen has fueled one of Facebook’s most serious crises yet, and prompted a denial from CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said in a post on his account that her claim the company prioritizes profit over safety was “just not true.” READ MORE

Israel says Russia agreed to not hamper IDF air campaign over Syria

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed during their meeting in Sochi on Friday that the two nations would continue to implement the so-called deconfliction mechanism that works to prevent Israeli and Russian forces from clashing in Syria, a senior Israeli official said.

Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who accompanied Bennett to act as a translator and advisor, said talks revolved around the theme of maintaining continuity in the countries’ relationship after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was replaced by Bennett earlier this year.

According to Elkin, that included making sure the countries continued to work at avoiding conflict over Syria, where Russia is a main player backing the Syrian government and where Israel has waged a years-long campaign of airstrikes aimed at pro-Iranian fighters there.

There were “very wide” talks regarding the situation in Syria aimed at “safeguarding the coordination mechanism,” Elkin said.

“The prime minister presented his world view on ways to stop Iran’s nuclear drive and Iran’s entrenchment in Syria,” he said in a statement. “It was decided to keep policies vis-à-vis Russia in place (regarding airstrikes in Syrian territory.)”

“Russia is a very important player in our region, a kind of neighbor for us in the north,” Bennett said after the leaders met at the Black Sea resort town for their first face-to-face talks since Bennett took office earlier this year, referring to Russia’s large military presence in Syria.

“As such, our relationship with Russia is strategic, but also on an almost daily basis, and we need to maintain this direct and intimate discourse,” Bennett wrote in a Facebook post. READ MORE

Liberman: A confrontation with Iran is only a matter of time

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Thursday that "a confrontation with Iran is only a matter of time, and not a lot of time."

Speaking to Walla! and quoted by i24NEWS, Liberman stated that "no diplomatic move or agreement will stop the Iranian nuclear program."

"This is a problem of the international community but first of all ours because they have stated that their policy is the destruction of Israel, and they do mean it," he added.

Liberman also commented on Israeli government’s approval of a 5 billion shekel ($1.5 billion) package designed to build up Israel's capabilities to strike at Iran's nuclear program.

"They were surprised why such a large budget was approved for the IDF. The money goes to empowerment and the purchase of advanced systems," Liberman said.

The interview with Liberman comes as talks between Iran and world powers on the 2015 nuclear deal remain stalled.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with world powers in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

The previous Iranian government, headed by former President Hassan Rouhani, had been holding indirect talks with the Biden administration on a return to the agreement.

However, the negotiations were adjourned on June 20, two days after Ebrahim Raisi won Iran's presidential election, and no date has been set for a resumption of dialogue.

On Monday, Raisi said that the United States should lift the sanctions on his country to prove it is serious about restarting stalled nuclear talks in Vienna.

“Lifting sanctions is an indication of seriousness of the other party,” he stated.