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Iran Behind Group That Killed 3 US Soldiers; 10% of UNRWA Workers Tied to Terror

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JERUSALEM, Israel – The Pentagon Monday released the photos and names of three U.S. soldiers killed in Sunday's drone attack in Jordan.

Oneida Sanders, the mother of SPC. Kennedy Sanders talked about her 24-year-old daughter.

“Kennedy was very outgoing, very athletic, very competitive," she recalled.  “All of these different things that she had plans for that, you know, were just cut short in the blink of an eye. So, you know, I just feel like somebody like her that's so full of life it's just unfair that she'll never get to realize those dreams that she had.”

Sanders' plans had included a homecoming to her Georgia home in June.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a Sunni nationalist group backed by Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack. Iran has denied any link to the drone strike that also wounded more than 30 U.S. soldiers.

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National Security Spokesman John Kirby briefed the press after the attack.

“We do not seek another war," he stated. "We do not seek to escalate, but we will absolutely do what is required to protect ourselves, to continue that mission and to respond appropriately to these attacks.” 

The attack drone reportedly slipped through U.S. defenses because it was confused with a U.S. drone returning to base.

Kirby asserted President Biden will respond in a time and manner of a commander-in-chief.

"We'll also do it fully cognizant of the fact that these groups, backed by Tehran, have just taken the lives of American troops. And I think I'll leave it there, " he said.

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Some Middle East analysts believe U.S. enemies in the region are sensing weakness, and any response from Washington must be as big as the U.S. rhetoric. 

Bradley Bowman from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies noted, “Full points in the administration for wanting to avoid a regional war. But we're doing classic mirror imaging here, where we think our adversaries think like we do. They do not. When they hear proportionality, reasonable, moderate, we don't want a regional war. That sounds so good in Davos but our adversaries hear that as weakness and a green light for aggression."

Bowman says Iran's goals are clear.

“The goal of the Islamic Republic of Iran here, if we're just being direct and blunt, is to kick American forces out of the region so it can more effectively control and undermine its neighbors and advance its radical ideology. That's its primary objective. And if we withdraw, it's more likely to see a resurgence of the ISIS caliphate," he explained.

10 Percent of UN Agency Employees in Gaza Are Tied to Terrorism 

Meanwhile, the U.N. insists it is taking swift action following the allegations that UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) staff members took part in the October 7th massacres against Israelis.

The Wall Street Journal reports that 10 percent of the workforce of UNRWA – roughly 1,200 people – are linked to terror groups in Gaza. At least a dozen of those UN employees participated in the terror attacks, including kidnapping, and were tracked to the sites where scores of Israelis were murdered. Most of them also served as teachers in UNRWA schools. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the UNRWA scandal. 

"It is imperative that UNWRA immediately – as it said it would investigate – that it hold people accountable as necessary and that it review its procedures,” Blinken demanded.

Adi Schwartz, co-author of the book, The War of Return, says he believes the current investigation may follow a pattern previously implemented by the U.N.

“Yes, there were a few bad apples (they said).  We will get rid of them, but please, give us back the money and we can all go back to normal. I think this will be a terrible mistake. I think (by) the international community and Israel and by anyone who wants to see peace for Israelis and Palestinians, because UNRWA is a detrimental factor in the conflict," Schwartz argued.

Hamas rejected a proposal Monday for the release of the hostages they hold. In a statement, Hamas demanded, "Israel must cease its aggression and withdraw from Gaza before any exchange transaction takes place."

Earlier reports had suggested the U.S., Egypt, Qatar, and Israel were close to a deal involving the release of the hostages in phases, a pause in the fighting, and the release of Israeli-held Palestinian prisoners. 

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Chris
Mitchell