Rutgers Israel Public Affairs Committee Israel Update

Gaza Billboards Thank Iran for Missiles Used Against Israel

Gazans offered very public thanks to Iran on Tuesday, November 27 for helping them in this month’s fight against Israel, when Iranian-made missiles were fired out of the Palestinian enclave towards Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Reuters reported. “Thank you Iran,” said large billboards on three major road junctions in the Gaza Strip – the first time there has been such public acknowledgement of Iran’s role in the arming of Islamic terrorists in the territory. The posters also depicted the Iranian Fajr 5 rockets that were used for the first time to target Israel’s two largest population centers. Senior Islamic Jihad official Khader Habib said it was only natural to show gratitude for Iran’s role in the conflict. “We have distinctive, good relations with Iran and such a relationship will continue as long as Iran supports the Palestinian people and backs up the resistance,” he said.

U.S.: Palestinian U.N. Bid Is a ‘Mistake’

The United States on Tuesday, November 27 reiterated its opposition to the Palestinian bid to upgrade its United Nations status to that of non-member observer, two days before the General Assembly was to vote on the draft resolution, Haaretz reported. “We think it’s going to be a mistake,” said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. The Palestinians distributed the final draft of the General Assembly resolution early on Tuesday morning in New York and are refusing to pursue any further discussions on the matter. Over the past two days, the United States has made attempts to alter the wording of the resolution in order to minimize the political damage that will likely result from the General Assembly vote, in which the Palestinians are expected to garner a large majority.

Senate Working on New Package of Iran Sanctions

New sanctions aimed at reducing global trade with Iran in the energy, shipping and metals sectors may soon be considered by the U.S. Senate as part of an annual defense policy bill, Reuters reported Tuesday, November 27. The sanctions legislation would build on current U.S. sanctions, passed almost a year ago, that have slashed Iran’s oil revenues. The goal is to pressure Tehran to stop efforts to enrich uranium to levels that could be used in weapons. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Republican Mark Kirk have crafted new sanctions that would punish foreign banks that handle transactions for a broad sector of industries, including shipping, ports, ship building and more types of energy. The package seeks to ban financial transactions with any person or organization blacklisted for their association with the Iranian government, as well as sales of metallurgical coal and precious metals.

Car Bombs Kill Dozens Near Syria’s Capital

Syrian state media said on Wednesday, November 28 that at least 34 people had died in twin car bombings in a suburb populated by minorities only a few miles from the center of Damascus, as the civil war swirls from north to south claiming ever higher casualties, The New York Times reported. The SANA news agency said the explosions in Jaramana were the work of “terrorists,” the word used by the authorities to denote rebel forces seeking the overthrow of President Bashar Assad. There were also reports that for the second successive day insurgents had shot down a government aircraft in the north of the country, offering further evidence that the rebels are seeking a major shift by challenging the government’s dominance of the skies. On Tuesday, Syrian rebels said they shot down a military helicopter with a surface-to-air missile outside Aleppo.

Egyptians Rally Against President

Tens of thousands of Egyptians descended on central Cairo Tuesday, November 27 to challenge new claims to power by President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist allies, The Wall Street Journal reported. Activists pitched dozens of tents in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak nearly two years ago, and said they would stay in place until Morsi rescinds a controversial decree issued last week. Morsi said Thursday that his decisions as president would be immune from judicial review, in a decree that would prevent judges from dissolving the committee—dominated by Islamist politicians from the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, which Morsi once led—that is responsible for drafting a new Egyptian constitution. In awarding himself expansive powers, Morsi provoked a popular backlash against him and other Islamists in the government.