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Rabbi Levi Shemtov: Terrorism Disrupts Our Life, But It Will Not Eliminate Our Spirit

Washington, DC – Commemorating the 13th Anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks, the Embassy of India hosted a solemn event to pay tribute to its victims. Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Sudhakar Dalela presided over the event, which was attended by Jennifer Larson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State; Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Vice President of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad); and community members.

Thirteen years ago, on the night of November 26, 2008, 10 heavily armed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists entered Mumbai via sea route and went on a rampage killing 166 people, and injured over 300 in coordinated attacks on the Chatrapati Shivaji terminus railway station, Leopold cafe, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Oberoi Trident hotel, and Nariman Point Chabad House that lasted for four days.

Deputy Chief of Mission, Sudhakar Dalela

In his remarks, DCM Dalela said, “These dastardly attacks were not just against India, but against the entire humanity. As we gather to mark the 13th anniversary of these heinous attacks, we mourn and pay tribute to the innocent lives lost, while also sharing the pain of those who were injured.” He recalled the honor and sacrifice of the valiant security personnel who laid down their lives. Expressing solidarity with the families of the victims, DCM Dalela spoke of the continuing threat that terrorism poses to humanity. “Terrorism continues to be the gravest threat to mankind, and it is critical for countries to be united against terrorism,” said DCM Dalela. He spoke of India’s initiative to pilot a draft of the convention on international terrorism with the objective of providing a comprehensive legal framework to combat terrorism. India is also a signatory to all the major conventions and protocols on terrorism adopted by the UN and is part of all global initiatives in that regard. Even after 13 years after this heinous terror attack the families of 166 victims from 15 countries across the globe still await closure, said DCM Dalela, reiterating the call upon the government of Pakistan to expeditiously bring the perpetrators of the horrific attack to justice. “This is not just the matter of Pakistan’s accountability to the families of the innocent victims, who fell to terrorists, but also international obligations. Both India and US have been victims of terrorism. Our two countries have a strong counter-terrorism partnership.”

In a joint statement issued by President Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Quad Summit in Washington DC in September 2021, both leaders “reaffirmed that the United States and India stand together in a shared fight against global terrorism” and “called for the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to be brought to justice.”

Rabbi Levi Shemtov

Rabbi Levi Shemtov recalled when he heard there was a shooting near Chabad House in Mumbai, he was flying back from Miami at the time. When his flight landed he learned that the shooting was actually in the building. He called Rabbi Holtzberg at Chabad House, but the cellphone was answered by one of the terrorists. “We opened up a conference call line for several hours where I kept repeatedly calling this cellphone of the rabbi which we soon realized had been taken from him by one of the terrorists. And whenever we could get through we had certain instructions of what to ask and what to do from intelligence here and abroad,” said Rabbi Shemtov. He then called up Ronen Sen, the Indian Ambassador to the US at the time, to tell him what was going on, and he immediately put him in touch with people who were manning the situation. “They connected me to authorities in New Delhi who saw a very precious development because they could now listen in on this number, because this terrorist wasn’t talking to me the whole time he was actually talking to other people.” Rabbi Shemtov said that it was because they were monitoring that cellphone that they actually heard the commandant of LeT telling the terrorists to kill people with commands. He spoke of Rabbi and Rivka Holtzberg’s housekeeper Sandra who risked her life to save their son, baby Moshe. “I was thinking about what terrorism does,” said Rabbi Shemtov, “It jars our life, it disrupts our life, but it will not eliminate our spirit. The spirit of friendship between the Indian people and the American people, and between the Indian people and the Jewish people is strong and it’s unshakeable and determined.” Rabbi Shemtov concluded his remarks with the words that heard from Ambassador Ronen Sen who said, Rabbi, these terrorists didn’t attack Jews, they attacked Indians. They attacked all of us. Over a billion people are now in sorrow because of what these monsters did. “And then he said something I will never forget,” added Rabbi Shemtov, ” For 2000 years Jewish people have been living in India, never a problem with the Indian people. Able to practice their religion freely. And these people came and tried to shatter that. We will have to make it even stronger. And indeed we know the relationship between Indian and Israel, and the relationship between India and the Jewish people became stronger as a result. So sure the terrorists can disrupt our life, but they can never make us change our course of constantly pursuing decency until the entire world will know only peace and harmony like the Indian people and the Jewish people have known for thousands of years.”

Deputy Secretary of State, SCA, Jennifer Larson

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Jennifer Larson, spoke of the last four years in Mumbai where she was the Deputy Consul General. “I had the great privilege of visiting the sites we are talking about today and meeting some of the brave rescuers and survivors that 13 years ago were put to an extremely difficult test. I have spent many wonderful hours at Chabad house and I have heard this rabbi’s story a couple of times from the rabbi there, which is truly something to be thankful for. It is the spirit of thanksgiving here in the United States and I am grateful for the partnership and the opportunities that we have as the United States with India as a deep and cherished friend.”

The Mumbai Attacks transformed India’s perception towards national security, leading to enhanced maritime surveillance, inter-agency coordination, and information dissemination. Nine terrorists were killed by the security forces. Hemant Karkare (Former ATS Chief), Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Ashok Kamte (Addl Police Commissioner, Mumbai), senior Police Inspector Vijay Salaskar were among those killed in the attack. Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only terrorist to be captured alive, was hung 4 years later on November 21, 2012.

The families of 166 victims – which included six American citizens – still await justice, while the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba masterminds of the attacks are safely under the protection of Pakistan’s army and intelligence agencies.

Thirteen Years After the Mumbai Terror Attacks, Perpetrators Yet to Face Justice

Washington, DC – Thirteen years after the Mumbai terrorist attack, the families of 166 victims – which included six American citizens – still await justice, while the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba masterminds of the attacks are safely under the protection of Pakistan’s army and intelligence agencies.

In response to Global Strat View’s (GSV) question about what steps the US is taking to bring the Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders to justice, a State Department spokesperson responded, “The United States remains committed to bringing those who planned and supported the 2008 Mumbai attack to justice. We continue to encourage the Government of Pakistan to take action against all militant and terrorist groups without distinction, including those responsible for Mumbai.”

In a phone interview with GSV, former Canadian diplomat and politician Chris Alexander said that this reflects the reality that the Biden administration, as with most US administrations in recent decades, has chosen to engage with Pakistan without proactive efforts or coercive diplomacy such as sanctions to change longstanding Pakistani behavior — this in spite of evidence that Pakistan remains a prolific state sponsor of terrorism.

Alexander, who served as the first resident Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003-05, commented, “It is a policy paradox for a nation that has worked to counter terrorism around the world. This is a source of weakness for US policy, speaking to a pattern of inconsistency, especially with regard to Pakistan, that has harmed US national interests and the collective interests of US allies.”

In a joint statement issued by President Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Quad Summit in Washington DC in September 2021, both leaders “reaffirmed that the United States and India stand together in a shared fight against global terrorism” and “called for the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to be brought to justice.”

Pakistan’s support of terrorism continues unabated, while the US continues to say that Pakistan is an important partner in the war against terror. Earlier this year, a three-member bench of Pakistan’s supreme court headed by Justice Mushir Alam, acquitted Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, who is accused of beheading US journalist Daniel Pearl. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has referred to Osama bin Laden as a martyr, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi refused to condemn bin Laden. Pakistan continues to remain under increased monitoring (grey list) by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), but has so far remained off the black list.

As Dr. Christine Fair, Professor in the Security Studies Program within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, commented, “If one were to apply the criteria with reference only to the facts, of course, it would have to be blacklisted. The US and the UK consistently argue that it should remain on the grey list as a black listing would preclude Pakistan from access to IMF funding, which the UK and the US believe is critical to Pakistan.”

“Ordinary citizens worldwide understand that Pakistan has been duplicitous, that it has been the driving force behind the invasion of Afghanistan, and that it is the state sponsor responsible for the existence of these terror groups,” commented Alexander. “But the current US approach seems to be based on a form of policy Stockholm Syndrome, which can be traced back to the US relationship with China, and the Kissinger doctrine which holds that strategic partnership with China or Pakistan is so important that any conflicts or disagreements must be tolerated for the larger cause of US and Chinese or Pakistani comity.”

“This doctrine is totally indefensible today,” added Alexander, “yet the US and most of its closest allies have still not moved beyond it. The so-called ‘pivot to Asia’ that started under the Obama administration has so far done very little to change the reality of this outdated doctrine.”

The consequences of letting Pakistan off the hook for its actions has led to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in recent times. “They invaded an entire country that was the focus of a NATO mission, but no government is proposing any form of accountability,” continued Alexander. “Everyone has to ask themselves what their role is in this. India should be advocating for this, and working with the international community to hold Pakistan accountable. If there are no consequences, the entire international system is made vulnerable.”

Following a classified briefing on Afghanistan last month, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) issued a statement saying that the briefing “confirmed yet again what we’ve known all along: the United States is now less safe than before President Biden’s disastrous decision to unconditionally and entirely withdraw from Afghanistan.” US media reported that the Biden administration informed US lawmakers that they were close to an agreement with Pakistan about using their airspace to conduct military and surveillance operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s foreign ministry denied the reports.

Last week Pakistan hosted representatives from the US, Russia, and China to discuss the unfolding humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan that is forcing Afghans to migrate to neighboring countries. In a joint statement, they appealed for international humanitarian aid for Afghanistan and called on the Taliban to cut ties with terrorist groups.

India also held a regional security dialogue on Afghanistan last week attended by Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Pakistan and China declined to attend.

It is high time for the world to move beyond rhetoric and take action against state sponsors of terrorism like Pakistan to ensure a rules-based international order. Justice needs to be delivered, and delivered in a timely fashion. Otherwise, the victims of Pakistan’s actions, like the families of those who perished in the Mumbai attacks, are simply denied justice.

Hundreds March to White House in Support of Afghan Women

Washington, DC – Hundreds of people marched to the White House to appeal to the Biden Administration to act immediately to protect and support Afghan women. They called for action to ensure the safety of women and promote their vision of the future of Afghanistan.

DC resident Sohaila came in solidarity with Afghan women back home. “We have raised our voices several times, and [it] looks like there is no action coming out of anything that we do. Right now I am disappointed, hurt, and feeling helpless that everybody is turning a blind to Afghanistan and its people,” she said. “All these females are going to stay home, and won’t get education and [they] are going to be forced into marriages. Afghanistan is going to go back to the stone age. And I would like for the international community, human rights activists, to hear Afghan women, to hear children, to hear our people, to raise our voices, to help us. ”

Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, and one of the organizers of the march expressed deep concern for the women in Afghanistan, saying that she was “so angry that we are betraying them and abandoning them without any protection of their rights. And we are here to shout together and we say we will not forget them. We will not stop until they are safe, until they are protected.”

Afghan activist Nabila spoke up for Afghan women’s rights, “right where they can hear our voice, and not forget about those poor women who are in Afghanistan.” Adding that the world needs to pay attention and take action to prevent Afghan women from becoming slaves in a male dominated culture, she said, “This is my wish and that’s why I’m here. I want to give my time, and my energy, anything that I have to have those womens’ voices heard through me to the world.”

The key demands of the marchers included prioritizing the evacuation of Afghan women leaders, ensuring the protection of women’s rights inside of Afghanistan, and amplifying the voices of Afghan women who were able to get out.

In a message to Global Strat View, Afghan American Shakella Mujaddidi said that the “efforts displayed by the courageous women of Afghanistan should be joined globally. Thank you to Angelina Jolie and other people who have voiced their opinion. Going forward, the demand for freedom, right to education and equality should be shared by all women throughout the world. It is the hope of the courageous women of Afghanistan that all iconic and influential people join our great cause.”

Pramila Patten, Executive Director a.i of UN Women, called on the Taliban leadership to include women in the upcoming governance entity. In a statement, she noted the public commitments made by the Taliban’s spokesperson to uphold women’s rights “within the framework of Islam”, including women’s right to work, to pursue higher education and to have an active role in society, as well as the right of girls to attend school. “The immediate inclusion of women in the governance structure of the new leadership in Afghanistan will be the ultimate litmus test for the Taliban,” stated Ms. Patten.

She added that Afghan women’s rights activists had fought for their rights and made considerable progress. “These hard-won gains cannot be reversed or rolled back. The inclusion of women in the governance architecture will be the litmus test for the new political leadership of Afghanistan. Urgent action is needed now to ensure the full participation of women in the public and political life of Afghanistan.”

This march was organized by Vital Voices, in partnership with the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security; Women for Women International; CODEPINK; 1 Billion Rising; Mina’s List; Alliance in Support of the Afghan People; and Equality Now.

Washington Update: US and the International Community Must Keep Their Eyes Open

Washington, DC – The events in Afghanistan must not distract the world from the catastrophe that is occurring in Ethiopia. The crumbling of the Afghan government, and the horrors that are already being imposed on its people, should serve as a reminder that U.S. policies must be rooted in accurate and unbiased information. Lies, fantasies and selective reporting led to disastrous failures in Afghanistan. The same is happening in Ethiopia.

U.S. Ethiopian policy has been distorted by a failure to understand the corrosive effects of a constitution that exacerbates ethnic divisions, by a willingness ignore human rights abuses, and a desire to simplify complex conflicts into fights between forces of good and evil.

In attempting to mediate the conflicts in Ethiopia, special envoy Jeffrey Feltman must not repeat mistakes the U.S. has made in the past when it excluded pro-democracy Ethiopian parties from negotiations over the nation’s future. The U.S. should not forget recent history, including the corruption, violence and human rights abuses of the EPRDF and TPLF.

OLF/Shenne terrorist group has struck a military alliance with the Tigray forces now pressing toward the country’s capital, as the conflict that erupted in the Tigray region last year spreads into other parts of Africa’s second-most populous country.  The TPLF and OLF/Shenne terrorist group activities might be a breeding ground for Al Qaeda and Al Shebab in Ethiopia.

In a recent statement regarding the looting and killings of innocent civilians in the Lalibela, Woldeya and Afar regions, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister said: “The action of the irresponsible group is testing the Federal Government’s patience and pushing it to change its defensive mood which has been taken for the sake of the unilateral humanitarian ceasefire.”

The statement added that the Ethiopian government is “being pushed to mobilize and deploy the entire defensive capability of the state if its humanitarian overtures for a peaceful resolution of the conflict remain unreciprocated,” and accused Tigrayan fighters of launching “new attacks in the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, which left more than 300,000 people displaced and thousands dead.”

The U.S. must also avoid sanctions that will merely annoy powerful individuals in Ethiopia while imposing additional misery on ordinary people. In developing policies toward the escalating civil war, the U.S. and the international community must keep their eyes open.

A recent statement by Rep. Gregory Meeks on the escalating violence in Ethiopia’s civil war is a step in the right direction. “The recent ejection of international humanitarian actors, the armed incursion into Lalibela – a holy site and home of renowned UNESCO World Heritage sites – and the grim discovery of bound and possibly tortured corpses in the Tekeze River indicate parties to this conflict remain callously indifferent to the suffering of the Ethiopian people. All parties must accede to an immediate cessation of hostilities and avoid taking Ethiopia down the path toward civil war and state collapse. I call on the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front to withdraw from Amhara and Afar regions, as well as on Eritrean troops and Amhara forces to leave Tigray. African and other international partners have an important role in bringing the Government of Ethiopia and other parties to the conflict closer to the negotiating table and to an inclusive national dialogue without further delay.”

State Department Announces New Resettlement Program for Afghans

Washington, DC – In remarks to the press today, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new resettlement program for Afghans who assisted the United States but who do not qualify for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) under Operation Allies Refuge. The Priority-2, or P-2, designation, grants access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for many of these Afghans and their family members.

“We take our responsibility to our Afghan partners deeply seriously, and we know the American people do as well. We have a long history in the United States of welcoming refugees into our country. And helping them resettle into new homes and new communities is the work of a huge network of state and local governments, NGOs, faith-based groups, advocacy groups, tens of thousands of volunteers,” said Blinken.

Outlining the process earlier today, a senior state department official said that individuals cannot apply directly, but have to be referred by their employer through WRAPSNET.org. Unlike the SIV process, applicants have to get themselves out of Afghanistan at their own expense before processing of their caseload can even begin, and the processing can take from 12-14 months.

Those eligible for the P-2 program include:

-Afghans who do not meet the minimum time-in-service for a SIV but who work or worked as employees of contractors,[1] locally-employed staff, interpreters/translators for the U.S. Government, United States Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), or Resolute Support;

-Afghans who work or worked for a U.S. government-funded program or project in Afghanistan supported through a U.S. government grant or cooperative agreement;

-Afghans who are or were employed in Afghanistan by a U.S.-based media organization or non-governmental organization.

Meanwhile, two groups of special immigrant visa applicants relocated under Operation Allies Refuge – around 400 people – have arrived at Fort Lee, Virginia.

With the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the situation continues to deteriorate. Clashes between the Afghan government forces and the Pakistan-backed Taliban outside Herat city on Friday, forced residents to flee, and the UN’s main compound in Herat was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire. Kandahar airport also came under Taliban rocket attack.

The deteriorating security situation post the US announcement of withdrawal of most of its contingent has forced India, which is the largest regional donor to Afghanistan, to evacuate 50 diplomats and staff members from its consulate in Kandahar. While the US may evacuate some of the Afghans who supported its mission, the situation is expected to be grim for those remaining, especially women and minorities.

Statement For the Record Submitted for Congressional Hearing on “Conflict in Ethiopia”

Written testimony of Mesfin Mekonen for the Congressional Hearing on Conflict in Ethiopia

Honorable Chairman Gregory Meeks, Ranking member Congressman Michael McCaul, Subcommittee Chairwoman Karen Bass and Christopher Smith, and distinguished members of House Foreign Relation Committee.

I would like to extend my appreciation to all of you for granting the opportunity to submit my written testimony for this important hearing.

I am the representative of the Ethiopian/American community and have been working closely with Congress, especially with Congressman Christopher Smith and his Staff, Senate and the State Department on Ethiopia on Human Rights issues for the last twenty years.

The Ethiopian-American Community respectfully submits the following testimony for the aptly titled hearing on “The Conflict in Ethiopia.”

Ethiopians realize that the fate of their country rests in the hands of the Ethiopian people, but they also believe that the United States of America can help a great deal, and can serve as an inspiration in Ethiopia’s quest for human rights, democracy, and prosperity. Ethiopia has been an important ally of the United States in Africa. The stability of one of Africa’s most populous nations is critical to American policy, especially in the important Horn of Africa region.

The U.S. relationship with Ethiopia dates back to 1903, when King Menelik II signed a treaty of commerce with a representative of the U.S. government. Ethiopia supported the U.S. during the Cold War and has sacrificed the lives of its soldiers in the war on terrorism.

The U.S. has provided generous support for Ethiopia, on a humanitarian basis and in support of American strategic objectives.
American aid helped Ethiopians overcome drought and famine, even as the country was ruled by a corrupt, violent and repressive dictator, Meles Zenawi.

Meles was a leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and when he came to power, head of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRD). The U.S. government looked away as Meles and his government imposed a constitution on Ethiopia that swept away a centuries-long tradition of ethnic and religious tolerance in favor of a divide-and-rule strategy that pitted neighbor against neighbor in a struggle for access to food, land and security.

Reporting in the U.S. news media about the conflict in Ethiopia has lacked balance, focusing exclusively on the tragedy in Tigray, and has failed to put that tragedy in context.

The lack of balance in reporting about Ethiopia is exemplified by the world’s indifference to the fate of over 1,000 innocent people who were killed by TPLF soldiers and militia on November 12 in Mai-Kadra. The massacre, and the identity of its perpetrators, have been described by Amnesty International and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Ethiopian-Americans believe that Eritrean troops must withdraw from Tigray province in order for peace and law and order to be restored in the region. It is no less important for Sudanese troops to withdraw from Ethiopia territory.

The United Nations should be empowered to investigate killings and atrocities committed throughout Ethiopia, not just in Tigray, and all responsible individuals and organizations should must face justice. Violence, against all parties, is wrong and must be stopped.

Ethiopians can only live-in peace again if the root causes of conflict are identified and addressed. First and foremost, this requires replacing the constitution that has torn apart the country with a new charter based on national unity, democracy and respect for human rights.

The government of Ethiopia must carry out its basic responsibility to ensure public safety and security by ending politically motivated violence, especially on the Amahara in the Oromia, Benshangul and Southern regions of the country.

The priority of the U.S. Congress should in the short-term be to provide assistance to those who are suffering. As a matter of human decency and because a stable Ethiopia is in the strategic interests of the U.S., Congress and the Biden administration should help Ethiopia break out of the cycle of poverty, violence and repression. The U.S. should promote democracy and respect for human rights in Ethiopia.

U.S. policy makers should also learn from their past failures, from America’s coddling of Ethiopian dictators who mouthed soothing words about democracy while savagely repressing peaceful opponents and from the U.S. prematurely declaring the current Prime Minister Abiy a savior. The U.S. government has all too often acted on a limited understanding of the reality on the ground in Ethiopia.

Today Congress and the Biden Administration are being counseled to impose sanctions on Ethiopia that will have little effect on government elites or corrupt business leaders but could devastate innocent Ethiopians. Doing so would turn ordinary Ethiopians against the United States. It would also rip holes in fragile safety nets that are preventing the country from becoming a failed state and a haven for terrorists.

Rather than harm and alienate Ethiopians, the U.S. should support the Ethiopian people while pushing Abiy to respect human rights, release political prisoners, stop censoring news media, eradicate corruption and start a process of national reconciliation.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and for your focus and attention on this matter.

Sincerely and Respectfully Yours,

Mesfin Mekonen
Ethiopian-American Community

US Asks Nations to Reevaluate Ties with Burmese Military

Washington, DC – The United States on Wednesday (May 19) urged other nations to reevaluate ties with the Burmese military, while reiterating tough talk on junta’s coup and denouncing the atrocities on political protests against it.

Answering a question from IAT (Tejinder Singh), Jalina Porter, Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department briefing told journalists: “We condemn the Burmese military’s brutality and we encourage all countries to evaluate any links to the Burmese military, and we will continue to support the will of the people of Burma.”

On whether the US was considering sanctions on top Burmese brass, Porter replied that she didn’t “have any sanctions to preview from here (the podium).”

Hundreds of protestors across Burma have been killed since the February 1 military coup. There are protests taking place across the nation since the military seized control of the South East Asian country and declared a year-long state of emergency. There are also protests happening in Washington, DC, where Burmese diaspora is protesting in front of the Chinese embassy and monuments of national interest.

Israel – Palestine Conflict: US Coordinating with Egyptians and others for Ceasefire Efforts

Washington, DC – The United States on Friday (May 14) admitted being in touch with Middle Eastern countries and encouraging efforts by allies, especially Egypt, to bring about a much needed ceasefire to the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestine forces.

Answering a question from IAT (Tejinder Singh), Jalina Porter, Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department briefing told journalists: “We are actively engaging Egypt as well as other regional partners to work towards achieving a sustainable calm in the region.”

Earlier answering other questions on the subject of escalating violence Porter said, “We remain deeply concerned about the current violence, and we are working towards achieving a sustainable calm.”

On the question of Deputy Assistant Secretary Hady Amr’s trip in the region, she said, “He is in Israel and the West Bank to engage with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials. As you know that Amr has decades of experience in this issue. His trip is a part of an ongoing high-level engagement by senior US officials on these critical issues. But while he’s there, he’ll reinforce our message that we have stressed in many senior level engagements with the parties and other stakeholders this past week, which of course namely achieving a sustainable calm.”

According to a readout of the call, Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shukry, with his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi, while condemning Israeli attacks on Palestinian territory, called for both sides to avoid escalation and resorting to military means.

The call seems to have fallen on deaf ears for many reasons. Internal political equations are simmering as a new government forming process has been shelved and the present Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is nothing but a lame duck leader. There is talk from his supporters to keep him in the leadership position as the country faces this crisis.

This points to a simple answer for an eternal question asked by investigative journalists: Who benefits the most?

But when a journalist posed a question that Prime Minister Netanyahu may be using this crisis in order to bolster his domestic political standing as “There is no formal government. He’s in essence a prime – a lame duck prime minister right now. The efforts for Yair Lapid to form a government have been suspended because of the violence, and now Naftali Bennett, who is one of the prime minister’s supporters, is suggesting that perhaps Netanyahu should just simply stay in office open ended regardless of the last election’s results because of this existential threat to Israel’s security,” Porter gave an interesting answer.

Porter said she didn’t “have anything to offer specifically on your comment to Prime Minister Netanyahu,” but added, “As far as being concerned, I will say that we are deeply concerned about the current violence, and of course are working to achieving a sustainable calm. And this is what we’re encouraging from our side.Of course, we’ve been very clear that Hamas’s ongoing rocket attacks into civilian areas of Israel are completely unacceptable and that they must cease.”

The State Department spokesperson continued, “Israel has the right to defend itself from these rocket attacks, and both Israelis and Palestinians – I will just leave it there and kind of just reiterate that we are concerned. It remains that we’re deeply concerned about the violence that’s happening right now.”

The second equally important factor is the announcement from the administration of US President Joe Biden to engage with Iranians again and restore the nuclear deal.

With Hamas allegedly funded and supported by Iranian elements, its escalation of conflict with Israel is set to decelerate Iranian nuclear deal talks.

According to reports, Egypt’s diplomatic team is on the ground in Israel after talking to Hamas leaders.

The US state department in its staple statement reiterated the right of Israel to defend itself but failed to address the slow but steady grabbing of Palestinian land.

Even in this conflict one thing is certain, Palestinian infrastructure is going to suffer. The point to note is that most of it is funded and constructed with the large hearted and humanitarian efforts of the European Union.

Time for the European Union, especially the European Commission and the members of the European Parliament to bring a strong voice to the table so this off-on destruction can be stopped and peace can prevail.