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Israel finds last tunnel, ending mission on Lebanese border

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Israel finds last tunnel ending mission on Lebanese border

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli troops discovered the sixth and final tunnel dug by Hezbollah militants for cross-border attacks, the military announced Sunday, saying it was wrapping up its operation along the Lebanese border.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the final tunnel was the largest one discovered so far, running hundreds of meters (yards) from under a Lebanese home and deep into Israeli territory. Israel launched the “Operation Northern Shield” early last month to detect and destroy what it called a vast network of Hezbollah tunnels aimed for militants to sneak across the border and carry out attacks.

Conricus said the latest tunnel originated from the Lebanese border town of Ramyeh. He said it was 55 meters deep and ran 800 meters inside Lebanese territory and also “dozens” of meters into Israel. It included stairs, a rail system and a wide a passageway that allowed for the movement of equipment and a large number of forces.

The tunnel would be destroyed in the coming days, Conricus said, adding that while more tunnels still existed on the Lebanese side of the border, this effectively marked the end of the ambitious military operation.

“We have achieved the goal that we set out to achieve a month and a half ago,” he said. “According to our intelligence, there are no longer any cross-border attack tunnels into Israel.”

Israel and the United Nations say the tunnels violate a cease-fire resolution that ended a devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006. Conricus says the U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as UNIFIL, had been updated on the latest development.

In the wake of its discoveries, Israel has asked the international community to impose tough sanctions on Hezbollah and begin to act against its state-within-a-state operation in Lebanon.

The military said its forces would stay deployed along the border area to monitor for any other possible underground activity, and said it holds the Lebanese government responsible for everything happening in its territory.

The powerful Shiite militant Hezbollah, which acts independently in Lebanon, has yet to comment on the Israeli discoveries.

Israel has long called for a crackdown on the Iran-backed Hezbollah, a heavily armed mini-army that is believed to possess an arsenal of some 150,000 rockets that can reach nearly all of Israel. In recent years, Hezbollah has been bogged down in fighting in Syria on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government. But with that civil war winding down, Israeli security officials fear Hezbollah is refocusing its attention on Israel.

News of the operation’s conclusion comes in the final week of Israel’s outgoing military chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot’s four-year tenure. The latest discovery, coupled with a weekend strike against suspected Iranian and Hezbollah sites near the Damascus International Airport that is attributed to Israel, was perceived in Israeli media as Eisenkot’s “parting shot” as he leaved office.

He gave a series on interviews over the weekend summarizing his term and focusing on shifting the Israeli military’s attention toward Iran directly instead of just engaging its lesser proxies, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. In a New York Times interview published on Friday Eisenkot said that Israel “has struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit” as part of a shadow showdown with Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

Eisenkot also revealed that the government approved his shift in strategy in January 2017, stepping up air strikes in Syria. In 2018 alone, he said Israel’s air force dropped 2,000 bombs in Syria.

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Immigration

Vice President reacts to Atlanta Mayor Bottoms’ move to turn away ICE detainees

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Vice President reacts to Atlanta Mayor Bottoms move to turn away ICE detainees

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms made headlines this week when she announced an executive order forbidding her city’s jails from accepting ICE detainees. It was a move that drew harsh criticism from both sides. The right obviously wanted her to work with immigration enforcement to ease the already-strained detention system for border patrol and ICE. The left told her this would only redirect ICE agents to use for-profit private jails.

But Bottoms was resolute despite the criticism.

“I, like many others, have been horrified watching the impact of President Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy on children and families,” Bottoms said in a statement. “My personal angst has been compounded by the City of Atlanta’s long-standing agreement with the U.S. Marshal’s Office to house ICE detainees in our City jail.”

Vice President Mike Pence brought up the issue in a speech he delivered to ICE employees in Atlanta.

Now, I know you’ve got a hard job. And unfortunately, with the debate in the public square today, sometimes it gets harder. I heard on my way down here that the mayor of Atlanta recently announced that the city government wouldn’t cooperate with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement when it comes to the detention of criminal illegal aliens in this city.

And I — it is amazing to think — the mayor actually said that she would, in her words, “not be complicit in an immigration policy that intentionally inflicts misery.” Well, I would say to the mayor that criminal illegal immigrants, gang members on our streets, are what inflict misery.

The flow of illegal drugs, like cocaine and meth and fentanyl, inflict misery and wreck our families and communities. Human trafficking inflicts misery. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the men and women who enforce our laws do not inflict misery. They bring safety and security to the people of Atlanta, and they deserve the respect of every elected official in this country.

My Take

It’s one thing to object to measures put forth by the federal government. This can be a good thing as the tenets of limited-government federalism teach us. DC is far too powerful right now and cities need to be willing to stand up just as individuals and states do.

But this move by Bottoms is nothing more than political fodder. She’s trying to build a name for herself as someone who stood up to the President’s immigration policy, but is putting her own city and citizens at risk as a result. When ICE has no place to detain criminal illegal immigrants, they often have no recourse but to release them. This may seem insane, but that’s the state of our immigration system thanks to people like Bottoms.

Keep in mind, they aren’t bringing “family units” or separating children from their families, which is the premise behind Bottoms’ protest. The people ICE brings to Atlanta jails are criminals. These are people who have, in many cases, done harm to people who live in Atlanta. For Bottoms to get political while putting her own citizens at risk is ridiculous.

Such is the state of a divided America where Democrats are willing to harm American citizens if it means scoring political points against President Trump. Mayor Bottoms should not be celebrated. She should be condemned for bowing to political expediency.

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Foreign Affairs

Mike Pompeo responds to Venezuela, Biden’s world tour, Hezbollah, and Israel

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Mike Pompeo responds to Venezuela Bidens world tour Hezbollah and Israel

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared on Fox News last night to talk to Shannon Bream about the tumultuous state of affairs around the world and how the United States is handling them.

First, he discussed Venezuela and recent developments where Nicolas Maduro’s regime has essentially framed members of Juan Guaido’s team in an effort to jail and stop the opposition to his presidency there. The Secretary of State said they would hold Maduro’s regime accountable for their actions, but would not elaborate on how U.S. intervention in the poverty-torn nation would manifest.

He jabbed at potential Democratic 2020 candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is being allegedly courted by world leaders to run for the White House in hopes he could bring back proper relations. As Pompeo noted, our relations with world leaders is in a current state of positive action despite the President’s harsh stance with many of them.

As for Hezbollah, Pompeo said the U.S. would press Lebanon for the sake of its people to facilitate change from the anti-Israel, anti-American Hezbollah rule that has basically made the nation a pawn for Iran.

As for the Israel front. where Pompeo was speaking from, he said calls by people like Beto O’Rourke and others to undermine the conservative base shared by the United States and Israel would not help the situation. Only through the President’s peace plan can the Middle East move forward, according to Pompeo.

My Take

Until the Venezuelan government asks directly for help, there should be no action by the United States other than aid for the people. This is an internal affair. Just because the leadership is challenged doesn’t make it our problem. If there was ever a time when the United Nations should flex its puny muscles, that time is now and the place is Venezuela.

Any foreign leaders calling on Biden to replace Trump are doing so because they do not want the United States to continue to maintain and improve upon its position of strength on the world stage. They prefer the good ol’ days under President Obama when the United States was a pawn for many other nations.

Hezbollah must go. That’s not to say we need to be involved with that, but Lebanon will never be free and prosperous as long as they’re the proxy for Iran.

Lastly, the Secretary of State seemed to be echoing a notion that the President would push for a 2-state solution. If that’s the case, it’s a huge mistake. Otherwise, Pompeo is correct in asserting the backwards notions of the Democrats lashing out against President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

We’re in a time when foreign affairs are starting to take center stage. Yes, we have problems of our own, but to ignore the growing threats abroad would be a mistake. It’s good the administration is handling these issues.

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Immigration

Illegal alien Juan Manuel Flores Del Toro identified as murderer of Kittitas County sheriff’s deputy Ryan Thompson

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Illegal alien Juan Manuel Flores Del Toro identified as murderer of Kittitas County sheriffs deputy

A reported “road rage incident” turned deadly for a sheriff’s deputy and the man they were trying to stop on Tuesday when the perpetrated opened fire after being pulled over. It has now been confirmed by ICE that the perpetrator was an illegal immigrant.

Juan Manuel Flores Del Toro, 29, died at the hospital after being wounded in another shootout with police. He killed Kittitas County sheriff’s deputy Ryan Thompson and wounded another police officer in the subsequent shootout.

“Juan Manuel Flores Del Toro, a citizen of Mexico, was unlawfully present in the United States. He entered the U.S. on April 11, 2014, through a Laredo, Texas, Land Port of Entry on a Temporary Agricultural Worker (H-2A) visa. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has no record of Flores Del Toro leaving the U.S., nor extending his visa after it expired.”

My Take

Conservatives are so focused on the border crisis that we often forget the other elephant in the room – visa overstays. Del Toro was recorded as entering the country on a H-2A visa, but he didn’t leave when he was supposed to as designated by his status.

We often point to the border wall as the solution, but this criminal didn’t sneak into the country illegally. He remained illegally, and it’s a problem that requires an entire overhaul of our immigration system. If we can’t keep track of and remove those in the country illegally, then our immigration system is worthless.

Regardless of the circumstances that allowed him to stay in the country, the bottom line is he wasn’t supposed to be here and a law enforcement officer is dead because the system is broken.

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