Eye on Extremism, June 20, 2017

The Washington Post: Driver Dies After Ramming Car Into Police Vehicle On Champs-Elysees In Probable Terrorist Attack
“A car exploded as it crashed into a police vehicle on Paris’s famed Champs-Elysees on Monday in what authorities called a probable terrorist attack. Police were treating the incident as a deliberate act, and the Paris prosecutor opened a terrorism investigation. The driver, whose identity was not immediately released, was killed in the crash, Gerard Collomb, France’s interior minister, told reporters at the scene. No one else was injured, Paris police sources said. Police said the attacker — who was 31 and from the northwestern Paris suburb of Argenteuil — was known to French authorities, the Associated Press reported. He was reportedly listed on the government’s ‘Fiche S,’ a dossier of people suspected of posing a threat to national security.”
Newsweek: Al-Qaeda Coalition Claims Mali Hotel Attack That Killed Five
“An Al-Qaeda linked coalition of jihadi groups has claimed responsibility for attacking a tourist resort near Mali’s capital on Sunday and killing five people. The Group to Support Islam and Muslims—a coalition that was created by the merger of at least four groups, three with well-known ties to Al-Qaeda—said in a statement that three of its “martyrs” had killed Westerners in the attack on the Kangaba Le Campement resort, which the group called a site of “debauchery,” AFP reported. A total of five people, excluding the attackers, were killed in the attack. European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini confirmed that two of the victims were EU staff—a Portuguese soldier and a Malian employee of the EU delegation in the North African country.”
New York Times: Saudis Say They Seized 3 Iranians Planning ‘Terrorist Act’ At Sea
“Saudi Arabia said on Monday that its navy had seized three members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards piloting a boat loaded with explosives toward a Saudi offshore oil drilling rig. The claim was not confirmed but threatened to further fray relations between the rival powers, which have accused each other of fomenting terrorism and instability against a growing backdrop of tensions roiling the Middle East. Iran denied the Saudi claim and accused the Saudi Navy of having shot at boats belonging to “simple fishermen” from Iran’s southern Persian Gulf port of Bushehr in an unprovoked attack that had left one Iranian dead. About the only thing both sides appeared to agree on was that the episode happened on Friday, when Iran’s state media first reported its version of events.”
Fox News: Iran Says ISIS Strike Serves As Warning To US, Saudi Arabia
“Iran said its ballistic missile strike targeting ISIS in Syria also served as a warning to archrival Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a former Revolutionary Guard chief writing on Twitter that ‘The bigger slap is yet to come.’ The launch, which hit Syria’s eastern city of Deir el-Zour on Sunday night, appeared to be Iran’s first missile attack abroad in over 15 years and its first in the Syrian civil war, in which it has provided crucial support to embattled President Bashar Assad. It comes amid the worsening of a long-running feud between Shiite powerhouse Iran and Saudi Arabia, which supports Syrian rebels and has led recent efforts to isolate the Gulf nation of Qatar.”
BBC: Mosul Battle: Fierce Fighting As Iraqi Troops Push Into Old City
“One commander said penetrating the jihadists’ defences was very difficult, as they had blocked all entrances to the area and booby-trapped houses. Overnight, aircraft dropped leaflets urging civilians to avoid open spaces and to take any opportunity to escape. The UN says IS may be holding more than 100,000 people there as human shields. Pro-government forces launched an offensive to retake Mosul in October with air and ground support from a US-led coalition. They managed to take full control of the eastern half of the city in January and started an assault on the west the following month. On Sunday, commanders announced the start of the “final chapter” of the offensive, with Counter-Terrorism Service, Army and Federal Police attacking the Old City from all directions.”
The New York Times: Russia Warns U.S. After Downing Of Syrian Warplane
“Long-running tensions between the United States and Russia erupted publicly on Monday as Moscow condemned the American military’s downing of a Syrian warplane and threatened to target aircraft flown by the United States and its allies west of the Euphrates. The Russians also said they had suspended their use of a hotline that the American and Russian militaries used to avoid collisions of their aircraft in Syrian airspace. The episode was the first time the United States downed a Syrian plane since the civil war began there in 2011 and came after the SU-22 jet dropped bombs on Sunday near American-backed fighters combating the Islamic State.”
Wall Street Journal: Iran Has Squandered Its Chance To Avoid Sanctions
“As the Financial Action Task Force convenes for its annual meeting this week in Spain, it’s an opportunity for the international governing body on combating money laundering and terrorism financing to call for a reinstatement of sanctions against Iran. This year’s meeting marks a critical moment for Iran, which along with North Korea are the only two countries in the world identified by the FATF as serious risks to global financial security. Iran received a 12-month reprieve from sanctions at last year’s FATF meeting following the nuclear deal. It was an opportunity for Tehran to prove its commitments to fiscal propriety and to distance itself from funding acts of terror. That reprieve has been for naught. One year later, Iran remains the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism. It has done little to enact the anti-money laundering policies requested by the FATF. With no proof of tangible results, the FATF must call on its members to bring back the sanctions against Iran.”
Newsweek: How The Finsbury Park Attack Plays Into ISIS’s Hands
“British security services are increasingly concerned about the threat of far-right extremism in the country ever since Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. Last year, police arrested the highest number of white people on extremism charges since 2003: Of 260 arrests, 91 people were white, 35 percent of the total. This wave of far-right extremism, coupled with Monday’s attack, could push Muslim radicals toward violence, say community figures and experts, particularly as anti-Muslim hate crimes have risen after three assaults claimed by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in as many months, leaving 35 people dead.”
United States
The Times Of Israel: US Experts Warn Israel To Take Islamic State Seriously
“When the Islamic State claimed credit for an attack on Israeli soil for the first time Friday and vowed to strike again, the response in Israel was not fear but incredulity. Israeli officials generally dismissed the militant Islamist group’s assertion that it was behind the shooting and stabbing in Jerusalem that left a 23-year-old policewoman dead along with her attackers. Top US experts on the group said the officials would be wise to think again. Callimachi and other US analysts warned that the Islamic State rarely bluffs about attacks. The group has long vowed to destroy the Jewish state, they said, and it may finally be trying to follow through.”
Reuters: White House Says It Retains Right To Self-Defense In Syria; Moscow Warns Washington
“The White House said on Monday that coalition forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria retained the right to self-defense as Russia warned it viewed any planes flying in its area of operations as potential targets. Tensions escalated on Sunday as the U.S. military brought down a Syrian military jet near Raqqa for bombing near U.S.-allied forces on the ground, the first time Washington had carried out such an action in the multi-pronged civil war. It was also the first time the U.S. Air Force had shot down a manned aircraft since May 1999.  In a move that will fan tensions between Washington and Moscow, Russia made clear it was changing its military posture in response to the U.S. downing of the jet.”
Reuters: By Keeping U.S. Focus On Islamic State, Trump Risks Wider Syria War
“President Donald Trump has ordered stepped-up military operations against Islamic State and delegated more authority to his generals, but without a comprehensive Syria strategy, his approach risks further confrontation with Syria, Iran and even Russia, according to U.S. officials and analysts. While the U.S. military’s shootdown of a Syrian jet on Sunday was a rarity in modern warfare, the first in 18 years, it was not an isolated incident. The United States has taken a series of actions over the past three months demonstrating its willingness to carry out strikes, mostly in self-defense, against Syrian government forces and their backers, including Iran.”
Newsweek: U.S. Will Lose Syria To Iran And Abandon Kurdish Allies, Former Ambassador Says
“The Syrian government and its allies, including Iran, will eventually overcome U.S. efforts to secure influence in the nation, and Kurdish fighters may pay for siding with President Donald Trump and his administration, according to a former U.S. ambassador to Syria. Robert Ford, who served as envoy to Syria under former President Barack Obama from 2011 through 2014, said during an interview Monday with the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that ‘Obama did not leave the Trump administration many options to achieve its goal’ of defeating the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and curbing Iran’s foothold in the region.”
Reuters: U.S. Urges Bigger Chinese Role To Combat Global Terrorism
“The United States wants China to become more involved in supporting the global fight against terrorism and efforts to defeat Islamic State, including in Iraq, a senior U.S. official said on Monday ahead of high-level security talks with Beijing. Susan Thornton, the U.S. acting assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said that China has taken only a limited role in counter-terrorism efforts, although it appeared to be becoming more interested. ‘We would like to see them step up and take more responsibility,’ Thornton told reporters as Washington and China’s diplomatic and defense chiefs prepared for a meeting in the U.S. capital on Wednesday.”
The Washington Post: A Look At Syria’s Conflict, As Mutual Enemies Close In On IS
“The Islamic State group is in retreat across Syria and Iraq, and the contours of a new conflict among the array of parties battling it are already starting to appear. The U.S. military shot down a Syrian government warplane on Sunday, saying it had targeted an American-allied Kurdish force that is battling the extremists in their de facto capital, Raqqa. That led Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, to warn that it would target U.S.-led coalition planes flying west of the Euphrates River. Another front is shaping up on the ground below, with Assad’s forces, which are also battling the Islamic State group, reaching the Iraqi border in the distant east. There they appear set to link up with Iranian-backed militias, establishing a vital land corridor from Damascus to Tehran.”
Reuters: Air Strikes Pound Southwest Syrian City Of Deraa
“Heavy air strikes hit the Syrian city of Deraa on Tuesday as a ceasefire declared by the government expired, a witness in the city and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The Syrian military could not immediately be reached for comment. Deraa is located at Syria’s border with Jordan. U.S. and Russian officials have been holding talks on creating a ‘de-escalation zone’ in southwestern Syria that would include Deraa.”
Reuters: French Journalist Dies In Iraq After Being Wounded In Mosul
“French journalist Stephane Villeneuve has died in Iraq after succumbing to wounds suffered in an explosion in Mosul earlier this week, the French foreign ministry said on Tuesday. The mine explosion killed Iraqi journalist Bakhtiyar Haddad and left reporter Veronique Robert wounded, while another freelance reporter suffered minor injuries. Islamic State fighters have been defending their remaining stronghold in the Old City of Mosul, moving stealthily along narrow back alleys as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces slowly advance.”
Reuters: Mosul Old City Battle Goes House To House As Islamic State Fighters Defend
“Islamic State fighters defended their remaining stronghold in the Old City of Mosul on Monday, moving stealthily along narrow back alleys as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces slowly advanced. The intensity of fighting was lower than on Sunday, when Iraqi forces announced the start of the assault on the Old City, a Reuters visuals team reported from near the frontlines. The historic district, and a tiny area to its north, are the only parts of the city still under the militants’ control. Mosul used to be the Iraqi capital of the group, also known as ISIS. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed alarm on Monday at the situation of the civilians in the Old City, estimated at more than 100,000 by the United Nations.”
Reuters: EU Considers Iraq Security Mission After Mosul Falls, Diplomats Say
“The European Union will consider sending a new security mission to help stabilize Iraq after the expected recapture of Mosul from Islamic State, EU foreign ministers said on Monday. EU foreign ministers held a first discussion in Luxembourg and agreed to consider the deployment of an EU Security Sector Reform Advice and Assist Team, which could train Iraq security officials, according to a statement released after the meeting. ‘I hope this can be put in place rapidly enough, hopefully in the coming months, so we can provide all our advice and assistance to the Iraqi authorities,’ EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference. Iraq has formally requested EU help, diplomats said.”
The Washington Post: What Happens After The Islamic State Is Defeated In Iraq And Syria?
“The United States is committed to defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but as that goal nears realization, another strategic question looms: What security order will replace it, and which of the outside powers enmeshed in the region will stand behind that order? The Trump administration doesn’t appear to have a strategy for that, but others clearly do — which helps to explain the incidents over the weekend in which the United States downed a Syrian government warplane , while Iran fired intermediate-range missiles from its territory at Islamic State targets in eastern Syria.”
Reuters: Turkish Troops Take Part In Drills In Qatar
“Turkish troops have taken part in long-planned joint military exercises in Qatar, military sources and al Jazeera television reported on Monday, following a diplomatic rift between Doha and four other Arab states. Doha-based al Jazeera reported that Turkish troops had arrived in Qatar on Sunday. Military sources in the region told Reuters no new Turkish military unit had been sent to Qatar and a unit already present there was taking part in the drills. Al Jazeera posted a video on its website of armored personnel carriers moving through streets. Turkey’s parliament on June 7 fast-tracked legislation to allow troops to be deployed to a military base in Qatar that currently houses about 90 Turkish soldiers.”
Voice Of America: Journalists’ Trial Puts Spotlight On Media Freedom In Turkey
“In a packed Istanbul courthouse the trial of 17 journalists, accused of being involved in July’s failed coup, got underway Monday. All are facing long sentences, including life if convicted. Prosecutors allege the journalists belong to a network of followers of the U.S.-based Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey’s government blames for the coup attempt. Nazli Ilicak is a leading newspaper columnist who rejected the accusations, telling the court she was a supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before he came to power and spent her life opposing coups, pointing out her father was a senior minister who had been jailed following a 1960 military takeover.”
The New York Times: Afghan Government Quietly Aids Breakaway Taliban Faction
“It was a particularly bitter fight in the heavily contested district of Gereshk in Helmand Province. The adversaries deployed suicide attackers, roadside explosives and a magnetic bomb stuck to the undercarriage of a commander’s car, amid pitched firefights that went on for several days last week. When it was over, at least 21 people were dead on both sides — and all were members of the Taliban. As a result, Gereshk remained one of the few places in the province still mostly under the Afghan government’s control, thanks to a breakaway Taliban faction that has become a de facto ally of the government.”
The Washington Post: Taliban Kill 8 Afghan Guards Heading To Work At US Base
“At least eight Afghan security guards were killed when gunmen opened fire on them in the country’s northern Parwan province, a provincial official said Tuesday. The Taliban later claimed the attack. The shooting late on Monday night also left two other guards wounded, according to Wahida Shahkar, spokeswoman for the Parwan governor. The guards were attacked while they were on their way to work at Bagram airfield, the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan, she added. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the shooting in a statement sent to the media on Tuesday.”
The Washington Post: Opium Use Booms In Afghanistan, Creating A ‘Silent Tsunami’ Of Addicted Women
“Drug addiction in Afghanistan, once mostly limited to men who spent years as laborers or war refugees in Iran, has exploded into a nationwide scourge that affects millions of people, including a growing number of women and children. Over the past five years, programs of crop eradication and substitution have been largely abandoned as foreign funding has ended and insurgent attacks have increased. As a result, tens of thousands of farmers have returned to the lucrative business of growing opium poppies. Last year, 420,000 acres in Afghanistan were devoted to poppies, and opium production rose 43 percent over 2015, to 4,800 tons, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.”
Saudi Arabia
Newsweek: Saudi Arabia Claims To Arrest Iranian Military Elites ‘Attacking’ Oil Fields
“Saudi Arabia claimed Monday to have detained three members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps who allegedly were attempting an attack on one of its offshore oil sites. Saudi Arabia’s navy said that last Friday it intercepted three vessels approaching its offshore Marjan oil field at high speeds, capturing one after firing what it referred to as warning shots. A day after the incident, Iran accused Saudi Arabian border guards of opening fire on Iranian fishermen in the area, killing one of them, and denied Monday that any military personnel were involved. Saudi Arabia’s claim is likely to escalate tensions between the rival Persian Gulf powers at a point where relations are already at an all-time low.”
Reuters: Egyptian, Abu Dhabi Leaders, Eying Qatar, Discuss Terrorism Funding, Role Of Media
“Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan discussed on Monday the fight against terrorism, especially its funding and those who provide it with media cover, an apparent criticism of Qatar.  Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar two weeks ago, accusing it of supporting terrorism, meddling in their affairs and cosying up to Iran, all of which Doha denies. ‘Both sides stressed the importance of all Arab states and the international community fighting terrorism, especially stopping the funding of terrorist groups and providing political and media cover,’ Sisi’s office said in a statement.”
The Times Of Israel: Egypt Said To Ease Gaza Power Crisis With Emergency Fuel Supply
“Egypt will provide hundreds of tons of fuel oil for the Gaza Strip’s only power station, a measure expected to ease the ongoing electricity crisis in the Palestinian enclave, local media reported Tuesday. The Safa news agency, which is close to Hamas, citing an unnamed official, said that 500 tons of fuel a day will be trucked through the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, enough to bring the power station back on-line. The power station was expected to return to operation by Wednesday, however, even at full capacity it cannot supply all of Gaza’s electricity needs.”
Middle East
Reuters: Israel Begins Reducing Gaza Power Supply After Abbas Cuts Payment
“Israel began reducing its electricity feed to the Gaza Strip on Monday, deepening an energy crisis, after the Palestinian Authority limited how much it pays for power to the enclave run by the rival Hamas group. The cutback, announced last week by the Israeli government, is expected to shorten by at least 45 minutes the daily average of four hours of power that Gaza’s 2 million residents receive from an electricity grid dependent on Israeli supplies, Palestinian officials said. The Palestinian Energy Authority said the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) had cut by eight megawatts the 120 megawatts it supplies to the Gaza Strip over power lines.”
Reuters: Revolutionary Guards Kill Leader Of Militant Group In Southeast Iran: State Media
“The leader of a Sunni Muslim militant group was killed by the Revolutionary Guards in southeast Iran during operations in recent days, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Monday.  Three members of the Ansar al-Furqan group, which has attacked security forces and civilians, according to Iranian officials, were also killed by Iranian forces in the southeast region of the country last week, state media said. Jalil Qanbar-Zahi, leader of Ansar al-Furqan, had been pursued by Iranian security forces for 25 years and was killed by the Guards near the city of Qasr Qand, IRNA reported. Iranian security forces have carried out a string of raids and arrests after a complex terror attack last week targeted the Iranian parliament in Tehran and the shrine of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, south of the capital, leaving 18 dead.”
The Jerusalem Post: Iran Missile Struck ISIS But Is Also Aimed At Us, Saudis, Israel
“Although Iran’s ballistic missiles hit ISIS in Syria on Sunday, the audience for the strike explicitly included the US and Saudi Arabia and, implicitly, Israel. Recently, tensions have escalated on multiple fronts, between the US and the Saudis on one side and Iran on the other. The US and Saudi Arabia were specifically mentioned by an Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps spokesman as part of its audience for the ‘message’ it sent by firing the missiles. Israel, although not explicitly mentioned, has been the focus of constant threats by Iran – both directly and indirectly – via its support for Hezbollah and Hamas.”
Voice Of America: Cameroon Detains 30 Of Its Soldiers Fighting Boko Haram
“Cameroon has detained 30 of its soldiers fighting Boko Haram in the northern part of the country. The Defense Ministry says the soldiers abandoned their positions in a protest over pay and working conditions. Military officials in Cameroon say the incident happened earlier this month. Several dozen Cameroonian soldiers erected barricades near the country’s border with Nigeria and asked to be immediately replaced. The soldiers were part of the Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram since 2015. Colonel Didier Badjeck, spokesperson of Cameroon’s military, said the protest was ‘unacceptable.’ He said so far 30 of the soldiers who took part have been arrested.”
United Kingdom
The New York Times: An Attack On Muslims Shakes Cosmopolitan London
“Like many of London’s Muslims, Mohammed Abdullah grew tired of defending himself, and his religion, after Islamist terrorists carried out two attacks in the city and another in Manchester during the past three months. Hostile glances followed him on the street, and rising fury greeted him on social media. Then came last week’s devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, a citywide tragedy that killed at least 79 people inside the 24-story tower, including many Muslims. ‘Good riddance,’ one far-right forum commented. But early Monday, a white British man rammed a rental van into a congregation of Muslims leaving prayers during Ramadan, the holiest month on the Muslim calendar. One person was killed and at least 10 were injured.”
The New York Times: London Attack Near Mosque Investigated As Terrorism
“The authorities in Britain said on Monday that they were treating an early morning attack near a mosque in London as an act of terrorism against Muslims, amid fears of retaliation for several recent assaults in the country attributed to Islamist extremists. Shortly after midnight, a van rammed into a group of pedestrians near the Finsbury Park Mosque, in North London, and the imam of a nearby community center was credited with preventing an angry mob from attacking the driver after worshipers subdued him. One person died at the scene and at least 10 were wounded, but the authorities said it was not immediately clear if the death was caused by the attack. The assailant was identified by the authorities as Darren Osborne, a 47-year-old man from Cardiff, Wales.”
Terror Financing
Dostor: Expert Warns Against Use Of Digital Currency In Terror Financing
“Banking expert Hany Abou-El-Fotouh claimed that digital currencies are used like any other currency in e-commerce transactions. Not only are they used in online shopping but can also be converted into traditional currencies. He noted that in total there are 327 virtual currencies. Using them poses significant risks in the sphere of money laundering and terrorist financing, because authorities are unable to track the funds or transactions due to the encryption involved in the usage of digital currencies. Therefore, some Arab central banks have warned against making transactions in electronic currencies. The UAE Central Bank, for instance, has cautioned against unauthorized digital investments, while Kuwait’s Federation of Banks has alerted the public against the risks of using electronic money.”
Al-Watan: ISIS Forces Money Transfer Offices To Use Its Currency Only
“ISIS ordered money transfer offices to use only its currency, which it introduced about a year ago in areas under its control. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIS’s so-called “Monetary Authority” closed 37 money transfer outlets in the city of Al- Mayadin in the eastern suburb of Deir Al-Zour claiming they don’t possess a work permit. Note that these offices were operating prior to 2014, when the terror organization seized control. ISIS also issued a decision circulated in the Syrian areas it controls, demanding “limiting sale and purchase” to the exclusive use of its currencies (Dinar and Dirham) in ISIS-controlled areas. It threatened that any “violator of the decision” would face a penalty ranging from the closure of his shop to imprisonment.”
Muslim Brotherhood
Afrigatenews: Destroying Books Belonging To A Prominent Member Of The Libyan Muslim Brotherhood
“Security services in the city of Benghazi confiscated thousands of religious books belonging to prominent figures in the Muslim Brotherhood. The security forces destroyed the books after having them examined by a Committee of the General Authority of Awqaf and Zakat Affairs in Libya. Chief of Al-Sabri Police in Benghazi, Major Tarek Najm, said that 6,000 books printed by “ISIS, Takfiris and Brotherhood” were discovered in a library belonging to Mohammed al-Taib, a prominent member of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Taib was a member of the local council of Benghazi city in charge of security issues. Later, after the launch of “Operation Dignity” led by army officers against terrorist groups in Benghazi, al-Taib left for Misurata.”
Alwatan News: Houthis Accused Of Seizing And Looting Hundreds Of Relief Ships And Trucks
“Head of the Supreme Relief Committee in Yemen, Abdul-Raqeeb Fath, accused the Houthis and forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh of blocking, seizing and looting more than 63 relief ships provided by the member countries of Gulf Cooperation Council in the ports of Salif and Al Hudaydah. Fath pointed out in a statement to the media that the militias seized and looted another 550 relief convoys at the entrances of the provinces under their control. These acts have significantly contributed to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, he stressed.”
Mshreq News: Palestinian Authority Government Accuses Hamas Of Imposing Illegal Taxes On Gazans
“Palestinian government spokesman, Tareq Rishmawi, asserted in statements quoted by the official news agency WAFA that Hamas must now dissolve the so-called Administrative Committee which runs the affairs of the Gaza Strip and hand over all government-related institutions to the National Reconciliation government. In this way, the government will be able to fulfill its duties towards the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.” He stressed that Hamas “continues to exercise de facto authority in Gaza and to impose illegal taxes on citizens. The tax-collection is done directly by Hamas (and not by the government}. Rishmawi added that Hamas continues to exempt its cadres from all obligations and to steal medicines delivered by the National Reconciliation government to Gaza. In addition, Hamas is imposing illegal fees on transactions involving money transfers for medical treatments. The Palestinian spokesman claimed that Hamas is implicated in the disruption of many projects in the southern provinces of the Strip, such as the desalination plant and other projects that could alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people there,” Rishmawi concluded.”

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